Australian Man Booted From Plane After Passenger Complains About His 'Terroristic' Notepad Doodles
from the pen-beats-common-sense dept
The apparent spike in terrorist activity — a perception mainly due to the ongoing release of beheading videos by ISIS/IL — has resulted in the Australian government setting its national threat level to the highest it’s ever been. This has, of course, “heightened awareness” in other venues normally associated with terrorism (i.e., airlines), leading to the sort of reactions detailed below.
A Melbourne interior designer flying to the Gold Coast on Tiger Airlines was removed from the flight and questioned by authorities over some sarcastic doodles he made during the flight.
Oliver Buckworth, 28, claims he was removed from a Gold Coast-bound flight after a fellow passenger saw the contents of his notebook over his shoulder and informed Tiger staff.
Here’s the page in question as photographed by Buckworth:
According to Buckworth, it was the passenger sitting next to him who brought it to the airline staff’s attention.
Mr Buckworth said a neighbouring passenger told a flight attendant: “Look what he’s writing.” “I turned to him and said, ‘Yes, look what I’m writing. Read the whole sentence. I’m just writing some notes.’ “
Yes. Look what he’s writing. Some people see the word “terrorism” or “terrorist” and refuse to look further. Both Buckworth’s seatmate and Tiger Airlines couldn’t get past those words, even if true terrorists wouldn’t sketch out terrorism plans in the open during a flight and very definitely wouldn’t refer to themselves as “terrorists” or their planned acts as “terrorism.”
Here’s the context:
“The irony is I was writing a sentence about the absurdity of the fearmongering when we live in such a happy country of ice-cream and beaches and fluffy things,” he said.
A page of Mr Buckworth’s notebook seen by Fairfax Media contains the sentence: “In a land of melting ice-creams, sandy feet and fluffy bears, how could anyone be fearful of terrorism.”
Other doodles include a sketch of a chandelier – Mr Buckworth is an interior designer – and the play on words: “Terrorismadeup.” In a cartoon of a child clutching his head, Mr Buckworth wrote in a thought bubble: “Tyrannosaurus Rex. Terodactyl. Tarantula. Terrorist.”
He may as well have been carrying an [f] bomb. Off the plane he went to be questioned by the Australian Federal Police, who, to their credit, let him go with as minimal hassle as is possible when airplanes and terrorism are the subjects being discussed.
An AFP spokesperson confirmed they had “responded to a request for assistance” from an airline at Melbourne Airport. “The AFP briefly spoke to the individual concerned. No further AFP action will be taken.”
Tiger Airlines hasn’t acknowledged whether the incident was prompted by Buckworth’s drawings, instead inferring that it was Buckworth himself who was the problem.
A spokeswoman for Tiger has defended the airline’s conduct, claiming air crew were responding to a “disruptive passenger”.
“Tigerair has a zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate and antisocial behaviour. Safety and security of staff and passengers underpins the operation at all times and is never compromised,” she said.
Yes, this sounds like the sort of “disruptive” behavior that gets kids kicked out of school, even though the only people actually being “disrupted” are the person lodging the ridiculous complaint and the staff members overreacting to it.
My guess is that the most disruptive person on the flight was the passenger who wouldn’t shut up until the airline did something about the perceived threat seated next to him or her. Stuck with the unsavory prospect of convincing a paying
customer alarmist that he/she would make it through the flight alive no matter what Buckworth drew in his notebook, the airline opted to take the easier route: boot the “offending” person. This decision probably irritated Buckworth, who likely expressed his irritation in a verbal fashion, turning him into a “disruptive passenger” — something the airline has “zero tolerance” for — and salving the mildly-troubled conscience of airline staff.
Tiger Airlines was in a terrible situation and did what it could to mitigate the damage. The real problem was the passenger who — despite flying at the same altitude — had the satire sail over his/her head. But if the airline had decided to boot the offended passenger, the story would have been “Airline Boots Passenger For Warning Staff About Potential Terrorist.” There’s no winning here, only the minimal gratification of erring on the side of safety.