I had to post this as soon as a comment on the original post mentioned recent revelations about the abused passenger on—and then off– United Flight 3411 yesterday.
David Dao (that’s his name) will naturally be the object of research by the news media, because he’s now a public figure and they are overwhelmingly scum. However, whatever exposure his past and present receives as a result of his unwelcome celebrity due to a United employee fingering him for no particular reason as a passenger to sacrifice to solve problems of the airline’s own making, none of it has any relevance to the episode. There is no justification for further injuring Dao by invading his privacy. It is a cruel and unethical thing to do. It is unethical journalism, because the details of the doctor’s life do not contribute anything to an understanding of the story and the issues that the conduct of United raises.
Never mind! This is the Paul Newman film “Absence of Malice” crossed with “Airplane”—an innocent bystander is swept up in a controversy, and as a result is embarrassed before the world because journalists never consider the Golden Rule, and seldom care about fairness, decency, compassion or the consequences of what they publish. “The public has a right to know,” they posture. Really? Why does the public have any right to know about Dao, besides what they see on the YouTube videos?
TMZ, a bottom-feeding celebrity site, first dug up Dao’s history, posting a click-bait headline. The Courier-Journal, a Kentucky affiliate of USA Today, then piled on with a story about the “doctor with [a] troubled past.’ The New York Daily News, The New York Post, The Washington Times, The Chicago Sun Times, D.C.’s ABC affiliate and People Magazine all joined the fun, the game being “Let’s see if we can further embarrass and humiliate this man, because United didn’t do enough already.” People’s expose was titled “Revealed: All About the Doctor Dragged Off Overbooked United Flight — and His Troubled Past.”
Did I mention that the woman whose life is put on the front page in “Absence of Malice” kills herself? (Melinda Dillon received an Oscar nomination for the role.)
What was done to Dao by United is made no better nor could it be regarded as any worse, no matter what he had done before boarding United 3411, by his life history. If he were an escaped Nazi war criminal who had been secretly maintaining a harem of chained 12 year old girls, it wouldn’t change the nature of his mistreatment: all he is and should be to United is a customer, a passenger, and a human being, and that’s it. The same is true if he were a Medal of Honor recipient, the discoverer of a cure for cancer and the proprietor of an institute for disabled orphans. You must agree with this, or adopt a bizarre principle that a company’s service, kindness and respect should be calibrated according to a customer’s life achievements and deficits.
You want an extra Coke, sir? Tell me, what have you done to deserve it? What? You have a DUI conviction and voted for Donald Trump? Sorry, no way. In fact, give me those pretzels back!
To anticipate the inevitable, I’ll address the Mike Brown comparison now. After Brown was shot, the video of him apparently shop-lifting and battering a store clerk shortly before his death was released by police. This was widely attacked as an effort to smear Brown, and make the victim look like a villain. The release of the video, unlike the negative information being publicized about Dao, was defensible. Brown’s family, the media and the Outrage Machine were hard at work selling a false narrative to the public in which the police were unambiguous villains. Brown was shown in photographs smiling and graduating from high school; his parents told the press that he was a “gentle giant,” a sweet lad who would never pose a threat to anyone…hence he must have murdered in cold blood. The objective was to find the police guilty before the facts were known. The message was that a Ferguson police officer executed a promising teen because he was black.
The video was released to show that narrative for what it was, pure, race-baiting hooey. I am not certain it should have been released, but I understand the reasoning by authorities, and the fact that Brown was not an innocent, law abiding victim was relevant, barely, to the questions about his conduct prior to his death.
That is emphatically not the case with Dao. The only information about his past that would be relevant to his treatment would be if he had stolen his ticket. He hadn’t.
I don’t care what Dao did or didn’t do before he was treated like odiferous week-old trash, and neither should you. There was no excuse for what happened to him, and he does not deserve any further embarrassment related to the incident.