John Gilmore censored by British Airways

Jul 21, 2003 18:48 · 260 words · 2 minute read

John Gilmore was removed from a British Airways flight for wearing a button that said “Suspected Terrorist”:

After the whole interaction was over, I offered to tell her, just for her own information, what the button means and why I wear it. She was curious. I told her that it refers to all of us, everyone, being suspected of being terrorists, being searched without cause, being queued in lines and pens, forced to take our shoes off, to identify ourselves, to drink our own breast milk, to submit to indignities. Everyone is a suspected terrorist in today’s America, including all the innocent people, and that’s wrong. That’s what it means. The terrorists have won if we turn our country into an authoritarian theocracy “to defeat terrorism”. I suggested that British Airways had demonstrated that trend brilliantly today. She understood but wasn’t sympathetic — like most of the people whose individual actions are turning the country into a police state.

This account does raise interesting questions. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that British Airways is (I believe) a British company and the flight was heading toward a foreign country and BA quite possibly does not have to follow our First Amendment.

John is right to point out, though, that we all need to be vigilant to ensure that our rights are not being trampled upon by people who are overzealous in trying to protect us. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are written as they are for good reason, and those are the standards we should be upholding.