A quick review of some of the behavior seen on airlines over the last two years. There was …
- The passenger who bit off one passenger’s ear off after beating another passenger.
- The passenger who peed in his seat as a protest against being asked to wear a mask.
- The passenger who knocked out a flight attendant’s teeth, then got on the next flight.
- The passenger who threatened to kill a flight attendant and track down her family.
- The passenger who followed a flight attendant to the galley and beat her brutally.
- The passenger who refused to sit and started throwing luggage at other passengers.
- The passenger who refused to wear a mask because he was busy snorting cocaine.
- The passenger who tried to break into the cockpit, then tried to open one of the emergency doors until he was taken down by other passengers and a coffee-pot wielding attendant.
The most terrible thing may be that these are just a few of the 5,981 reports logged by the Federal Aviation Administration in the last year. Out of these, a horrific 4,290 incidents were passengers who turned to violence or other disruptive behavior that delayed, diverted, or turned around a flight for one reason: refusing to wear a mask.
There’s something else that all these ear-biting, incontinent, violent assholes have in common: The support of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and at least seven other Republican senators. Those senators are opposing placing those who have violently disrupted airline flights on a no-fly list, because they claim such a list would draw an equivalence between terrorists and those who react with violence to being asked to wear a mask for the safety of others. And on that point, the Republicans are exactly right; that equivalence isn’t just there, it’s well deserved.
As The Washington Post reports, the eight Republicans dispatched a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland. In that letter, Republicans claim they “strongly condemn” violence toward airline workers, but they don’t want the good names of people who are biting, punching, and peeing their way through American skies to be damaged. Or their ability to do it again to be threatened.
Cruz & Co. argue that the Department of Justice can’t use the Transportation Security Administration to block those who have brought an unprecedented rate of violence and disruption to the air because the agency is intended to guard against “future horrific attacks, not to regulate human behavior onboard flights.”
In other words, because one guy—in England, in 2001—put a small amount of explosives in his shoes, we can still be told to remove our shoes before boarding flights an ocean and 20 years away. But 5,000 people beating up airline attendants, biting other passengers, and causing flight delays and diversions isn’t even worth keeping those same people off the next available flight.
Of course, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Cancun Cruz would be a big defender of passengers behaving badly:
Among the others, Sen. Mike Lee was out there trying to lift the mask requirement from all public transportation in June 2021 at a point when vaccines had barely become available to most Americans and both delta and omicron were still just symbols on fraternity walls.
Sen. James Lankford went from urging Republicans to wear masks, even at a Trump rally, to spreading conspiracy theories about how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed mask guidelines.
And then there’s Sen. Marco Rubio, who made “protecting children from masks” a part of his campaign theme, has repeatedly insisted that masks are only for those who are “no mood to get even a little sick,” and both attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci for not insisting on masks more forcefully and declared that wearing a mask is a “fetish.”
Unsurprisingly, the set of eight Republicans who signed onto this letter to Garland is a pretty good match to those who have also signed onto going-nowhere legislation that would have both condemned mask mandates and criticized the CDC for not being more effective on getting more masks. Presumably for fetishists.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos