The United Ethics Train/Plane Wreck Sails On: A New, Worthless Apology, Ann Althouse Buys A Ticket, And More!

[ And yes, it is worth the attention it’s getting on an ethics blog. Greater ethical lessons and enlightenment can arise out of a transaction at a lemonade stand than in nuclear disarmament talks; this basic, establishing principle of Ethics Alarms still is elusive to many readers, and I don’t know what else I can say to explain it for them. Of course other things are going on: Bulletin: this isn’t a news site. No, the fact that Sean Spicer said that “Even Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons” and the news media, knowing full well what he meant (and that what he meant was technically correct, though still a jaw-droppingly cretinous thing to say) still turned it into a big deal —because he works for Donald Trump, and there for is evil—and Nancy Pelosi even said the it mandated his removal (no, the fact that Spicer is incompetent mandates his removal—“Best people,” Mr President? Remember “Best people”?—but we knew that) is not a more important ethics story.

I am seriously considering just banning every commenter who makes one of those “Why are you writing about this when children are dying in the Congo and Flint still has bad water?” complaints. Write your own damn blog. I have clients, a full time job and many other responsibilities, taught for four hours yesterday, and most of all, had a Red Sox game to watch. Istill posted about 2000 well-considered words. I am not your Ethics Monkey.]

Reports from the still accumulating United Flight 3411 ethics carnage:

Look! A new apology! United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz performed a backflip and issued a brand new apology for the fiasco on United Express Flight 3411, and said in a statement;

The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment.  I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard.   No one should ever be mistreated this way.  

I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.    

It’s never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We’ll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.  

I promise you we will do better.  

Sincerely, 

Oscar

Quick reactions:

….Well, I hope you will do better, because it would be almost impossible to do worse.

…Wait, I thought the United agents were following procedures and that this was all the fault of the “disruptive” passenger? Didn’t you say that? I’m sure I read that you said that…

…”Outrage, anger, disappointment”? When did Munoz express any of those? The word he used before was “upsetting.” In his previous “apology,” which extended to the passengers who were “re-accommodated,” a weasel word if there ever was one, since they were “un-accommodated’…

…Yes it is too late to do the right thing sometimes, and this apology is a perfect example.

If the soon-to-be-forcibly retired United CEO had issued this apology immediately, contemporaneously with  placing every involved employee in Chicago on leave until the matter was fully investigated, it would have been a #1 apology on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, the best of the best, the top of the line….

1. An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.

However, when such an apology follows a previous apology that expressed none of this, but instead a reflex insistence that no wrong had been committed and that the victim of the wrong was at fault, the second apology becomes a #7 apology on the scale, one that is insincere and not a true apology at all:

7. A forced or compelled [apology], in which the individual (or organization) apologizing may not sincerely believe that an apology is appropriate, but chooses to show the victim or victims of the act inspiring it that the individual responsible is humbling himself and being forced to admit wrongdoing by the society, the culture, legal authority, or an organization or group that the individual’s actions reflect upon or represent .

Munoz’s second apology also insults the intelligence of everyone following the incident. We know what United’s attitude was: the United CEO expressed it:

“Be still peasants, and don’t scream like little girls when you get your comeuppance! We decide what your rights are! Next time, try walking to Louisville! I bet our surly representatives, cramped seats and stale pretzels will start looking pretty damn good before you get though Indiana.”

Now he’s suddenly horrified and contrite. Sure he is: he’s horrified because United stock is falling, and contrite because a public relations crisis management specialist told him to be.

Too late. We know what you really think, and we don’t forget that easily.

Ann Althouse jumps on board. The usually astute contrarian law professor/blogger wrote yesterday…

I can’t bring myself to look at the video, but I’m not as sympathetic to this person as most people seem to be. I don’t like the bumping of passengers, but if it’s going to happen, and if the airline uses some random method to select the ones to bump, I don’t see how the chosen person should be allowed to avoid the bad luck by refusing to leave.

Obviously, choosing people by race would be unacceptable, but this man seems to have resorted to that accusation only after his go-to I’m-a-doctor argument failed. That is, at first he argued in favor of discrimination, that he should get a special doctor privilege. That amounts to an argument that people with less important jobs should be discriminated against — class discrimination.

Maybe it would be a good idea for the airline to have a policy of giving doctors a special privilege over other passengers, but if it hasn’t, I don’t see why the doctor should get a different outcome through civil disobedience tactics, physically resisting. If the airline actually had a race discrimination policy, I would support resistance, but I don’t believe that accusation. I think this was someone who, like everybody else who didn’t volunteer to leave, wanted to stay on the flight. Should everyone willing to resist get to stay and the burden of the bumping fall on the people who are too polite and unselfish to go into resistance mode? I just don’t understand how caving into people like this will work.

And, again, I don’t like bumping, but my understanding is that airline fares are kept low by overbooking and bumping when needed. Doesn’t everyone know they are exposed to that risk when they buy an airline ticket?

Ann, Ann, Ann.

1. How can you presume to analyze  the incident without looking at the video?

2.  Talk about an ethics shrug: “if it’s going to happen”? This is rationalization 1A, Ethics Surrender, or “We can’t stop it,” one of the worst on the whole Rationalizations list. First, who says we can’t stop it, and second, if it’s going to happen like this, it absolutely must be stopped.

3. This wasn’t “bumping” as passengers have come to understand it, and you’re a lawyer: did you check to see if the ticket contract allows seated passengers to be ejected after they have been boarded? Because it doesn’t. Why are you blaming the passenger when you don’t know which party had the contract on their side?

4. This isn’t “bad luck.” This is an airline presuming to make its problems, due to its own internal ineptitude, more important than the lives of its passengers. Gee, United, I’m sorry your flight crew screwed up, but that’s not the problem of the the passengers on this flight, nor the doctor, nor his patients.

Make the flight crew take a cab to Kentucky.

5. Why is selecting by race “unacceptable” (I don’t believe he was chosen for ejection by race), but fingering him because he was old, or small, or looked harmless, or any other reason anything but arbitrary and unjust? Maybe he looked like a college professor that the agent hated. Maybe the agent had an uncle killed in the Vietnam war, and is biased against Asians. Who knows what biases were involved? Why should a passenger picked out of a crowd to have his day, schedule, responsibilities and perhaps the lives of others depending on him disrupted automatically assume that his selection was truly random? It would be random if the passengers flipped coins or drew lots, but not this. He was singled out. He has every right and reason to argue that he shouldn’t be.

6. That amounts to an argument that people with less important jobs should be discriminated against — class discrimination.” No, that amounts to a valid argument that in such a situation the obligation is to mitigate harm. If he were a heart specialist being flown to Louisville to perform a delicate and rare operation on, say, Justice Ginsberg, wouldn’t he have an obligation to let the United agent know that? Wouldn’t he have an ethical obligation to do everything he could to stay on the flight?

How does Althouse know how important his commitments were? Is she really saying that it doesn’t matter, that passengers, no matter what harm will be caused by their removal from a flight for no fault of their own, should not make the case that someone else should be chosen whose inconvenience would cause less harm? What a lazy, unethical position! You can’t tell me that a Senator on the way to a crucial vote, or a parent flying to be at the bedside of a dying child, or a lawyer flying to make a crucial Supreme Court oral argument would be subject to Ann’s objection, or that the United agent wouldn’t agree to substitute someone else in these cases, and many others. Is that “class discrimination” too?

7. “Should everyone willing to resist get to stay and the burden of the bumping fall on the people who are too polite and unselfish to go into resistance mode?” Yes, everyone who is threatened with force and ordered to leave a seat they have paid for after they are seated should resist until they are offered compensation that they deem acceptable, or until the airline arrives at another solution.

“Unselfish?” Are you kidding me? It’s selfish not to resist being kicked out of your seat when you have planned on the flight and paid for your ticket?

8. Did Ann not smell something fishy about the facts? Has anyone heard of an airline suddenly realizing it was overbooked after the plane was filled with passengers? Airlines know when they are overbooked; they have these things called computers. After they know who has checked in, they address the problem before the flight is boarded by anyone. Yes, the news media botched its reporting, and everyone just took United at its word that this was an overbooking episode. I know I did. However, that unwarranted assumption isn’t crippling if one  takes the position, as Ethics Alarms did, that the passenger’s treatment was unethical anyway. Althouse bases her lack of sympathy on  principles of overbooking, which in fact don’t apply, which she doesn’t understand, and which she’s heard somewhere are essential to keeping prices down.

9. Funny, that sounds a lot like the justifications for letting in illegal immigrants.

10. “Doesn’t everyone know they are exposed to that risk when they buy an airline ticket?” Ugh. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. I fly all the time. Do I know that I can be hauled off the plane at any time after I am seated if a flight crew shows up and wants my seat? NO. I still don’t know that. And if that’s true, I promise any airline that tries to do it will be sorry that it chose me to abuse.

 

 

84 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks

84 responses to “The United Ethics Train/Plane Wreck Sails On: A New, Worthless Apology, Ann Althouse Buys A Ticket, And More!

  1. Rick M.

    United screwed the pooch but finally got the apology right. What they really need is an adult operating the PR Department. Time to move on and see how United acts from this day forward.

    • Come on. Apologies are supposed to mean something, not be trial balloons that you stick with as soon as the polling is positive.

      Imagine this sequence:

      Bill Clinton apology #1: “I’m sorry that my actions allowed this ginned-up GOP smear has distracted from my important work. We were consenting adults, and you all know Hillary is a bow-wow: I deserve to take advantage of my hot young interns. I’m President, damn it.”

      Following the outrage, Bill says,

      “I am deeply sorry for my actions. I apologize to my wife, whom I betrayed; Miss Lewinsky, whom I cruelly exploited, and the American people, for debasing my high office and not accepting immediate responsibility for my actions.”

      Would you say that he “finally got the apology right” and that it was “time to move on and see how United acts from this day forward”?

      • With trepidation, it’s not the same. In Bill’s situation, he’s the directly involved person, the perpetrator. In United’s situation, it’s a company, something that could quite possibly be with us for the next 800 years. Sure, we can hound them until they change their name, hire a new CEO and yada-yada-yada. If the CEO were directly involved in this situation, I’d demand his resignation. However, he’s a little removed and a little tone-deaf. He’s coming around and he mentioned the things that do need to be fixed – primarily crew movements. Is United on the shit-list at the moment? Yes. Does that mean they are incapable of change or improvement? No. In fact, this situation might have the effect of pressuring them into creating a best in the industry policy and procedures for these situations.

        I mean, they basically have to now, right? How many repeat incidents will happen now because people know their rights better and want to stand up against these practices of abuse? Maybe the spartacus situation isn’t on that one plane, but on many different planes around the nation.

        • All good. But for corporations, the CEO is, to all intents and purposes, its personification. That’s one reason they get paid obscene salaries. They accept that role. Captain Werz wasn’t truly responsible for Jacksonville, and Adm. Kimmel wasn’t the reason Pearl Harbor was bombed. Sucks for them. Someone’s head has to roll, and it should be the biggest, most visible head of all.

          Besides, I enjoyed writing that first Clinton apology…

          • I get it, but it’s irrational. This is a viral situation and decisions as complex as CEO leadership in such a large and complex industry should not be knee-jerk decisions. Yes, he gets the heat, but he can’t get the heat if he steps aside and goes to a beach somewhere to enjoy his $5.2M signing bonus he got 16 months ago. Nah. That money paid for him to weather such storms. If he fails to rise to this challenge, then lets discuss that. He’s issued a timeline for the next 18 days, let’s see what comes next.

            There are some ethical values here about perseverance and accountability. Accountability should not be synonymous with quitting when facing adversity.

            • This might make sense, had he not immediately shown us exactly why his company has a terrible, anti-service, screw the customer culture. As a stockholder, I would trust someone who did not default to “it’s all the passenger’s fault” over one who did.

              • We are at an impasse, and that’s okay.

                The contract of carriage and the screw the customer culture pre-existed this CEO and is pervasive in many airlines throughout the industry. If it wasn’t pervasive, we never would have had the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights in 2011. I think if the CEO is replaced, the new CEO comes in and says “wasn’t on my watch” and little else changes. There’s better pressure on the CEO responsible and presently in the position to make changes and fix the culture. Any person who was CEO would be the face of this and many would have made mistakes in their press release; but the press release is only a small sliver of the reaction. I will take a more patient approach with regards to the CEO. I like his statement on GMA that they will never again use police to bump passengers.

                • philk57

                  ” I like his statement on GMA that they will never again use police to bump passengers.” That statement makes me wonder how many times in the past they have used police to bump passengers – it sure implies that it was part of policy in the past and was also a policy that was used in the past.

  2. The more I think about the process of “overbooking” the less ethical it seems. You have 98 seats in a plane, but you sell 100 tickets on the premise that someoen won’t show up and you can pocket the extra cash, and then if everyone does show up, you just send them on the next flight? In almost any other situation, I’d suspect I’d want to label that fraud. Low ticket prices be damned, if I buy a seat, I’ve bought the bloody seat.

    “Everyone is aware of this possibility”…. No, fankly, well… Maybe now after this shotshow, but previous to this, I would have been genuinely surprised if even the majority of people who have been on a plane knew that this was a legitimate risk. And now that the practise has been dragged kicking and screaming into the disinfecting light of day, I wonder how long it will survive.

    • There are lots of alternatives.

    • ‘you sell 100 tickets on the premise that someoen won’t show up and you can pocket the extra cash’
      Most of the people who aren’t showing up are rescheduling to take later flights, so they’re not collecting a whole fare for an empty seat. Car rental places do the same thing, if cars don’t get turned in as scheduled, you might end up getting “bumped” to a compact.

      I suspect that when we get down to the bottom of how this happened, one part of the answer is going to be that it was Sunday night, and at every rung of the ladder the experienced people were home with their families, leaving the field to people who didn’t know how to fix things if they went a little out of whack.

  3. Ethics Monkey. We need a graphic, stat.

  4. I agree with every word you wrote in your evaluation of United Airlines apologies and the comments by Althouse.

    United Airlines is dead to me. Personally I hope United Airlines goes down for this, it will show the airlines the power of a customer boycott based on ethical behavior. If United Airlines goes down, this could turn out to be a win win for the future airline travel.

  5. Now that’s funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Wayne

    The magic words: “I’m sorry: I’m not willing to vacate my seat. I’m an attorney!!.” Maybe I’ll use that one someday.

    • I’m thinking about emulating the Billy Bob Thornton hit man from TV’s Fargo. It would go like this, delivered with steady gaze and a moderate tone pf voice.

      “You can make me leave my seat. But if you care about your family and loved ones, as I’m sure you do, I strongly suggest that it would be in your best interests, and theirs of course, to move on to someone else. It’s your choice, however. If you do move on, I promise that you will never have to see or worry about me for the rest of your life. And I am a man of my word.”

  7. Bob

    Jack, I, for one, am sincerely grateful that you continue to cover this story. I think it’s nearly impossible to give this story too much coverage, as it seems to touch upon so many ills in contemporary America. The story of this poor man’s brutalization has struck a nerve with me, and I haven’t been able to get it, or its implications, out of mind.

    First, it underscores the brutal and uncaring default mode of corporate America. Someday, I fear, customers will have no recourse for bad corporate behavior of any kind.

    Second, the calls to either blame, or otherwise pillory, poor Dr. Dao are equally sickening. Have we become such sheep that anyone who suffers when they stand up to injustice … has it coming? What happened to the smart, savvy Americans who stood up for themselves?

    Third, police overstep has become a national problem (and this includes the police, airport security, TSA, and a host of other entitled thugs who see fit to trample your civil liberties). Our post 9/11 culture has empowered anyone with ‘authority’ to bully you without fear of reprisal, and reminding these people of your rights while you are being bullied is only to ask for more trouble.

    Finally, we, the American people, have allowed this to happen. We have allowed money to drive policy, we have enabled corrupt corporate cultures to thrive simply because we want things cheap, and we are willing to look the other way at any injustice, as long as we are not the ones personally inconvenienced, or the leaders of our own political parties (or identified victim group) ‘win.’

    Someone once said that the past is a different world, and they do things differently there. I’m beginning to feel like an exile from that world.
    Keep up the great work.

  8. E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

    Marshall is right. A non-apology one day then a down-on-the-knees mea culpa the next only means that the PR department got to him in the meantime. Funny, but I have found that a person’s initial reaction to a situation is often the real gut reaction — perhaps made thoughtlessly, but the first gut response nevertheless.

    And as far as his responsibility goes: He is CEO and must take the fall. Ever heard the term ‘but it happened on his watch” when leaders are criticized for the behavior of subordinates? It’s the name of the game and the price of leadership. And if he really didn’t know what was going on in his own company he should be fired anyway, because it only proves that he isn’t a competent CEO.

    Jack, please do encourage those morons who want you to stick to politics, ‘their’ issues and more ‘important’ topics to start their own blogs, I do suggest, however, that since it’s come up, you could find them some very interesting logos for their ‘ethics monkey’ blogs.

  9. …Of course other things are going on: Bulletin: this isn’t a news site.

    Damn right. I can go get my news at any of thousands of sites: THIS site has intelligent conversation (most of the time), insight into why as well as what, and is civil (more so than other sites.)

    Talk about ethics, not the next ‘shiny’ made up news item.

  10. Rob Palmer

    I watched the video, and I agree with Ann.

    My pilot friend explained this to me: The flight crew has union contract that says they get to fly. They could have kicked them, but that risks a strike. Moreover, sending them by car or bus delays numerous other flights down the line. It would be irresponsible for the airline to delay or risk cancelling multiple flights on behalf of one petulant customer.

    -“They could have offered more money”–maybe. The people on that flight were perfectly capable of negotiating a higher price to leave if they desired one. They seemed to value their seats more; take it up with them.

    -“Someone else should have gone”–why? They picked someone at random, that’s the only fair way to do it. Everyone’s plans are important to them. Should they have held a forum and give each person a chance to argue why their weekend plans were important enough not to be bumped, and then held a vote?

    -“He was a doctor he had important stuff to do”–Boo hoo. Everyone’s time is important. Air travel times are unreliable. You have to plan for flight delays or even cancellations. Buy your own plane if you don’t like it.

    This all seems like Special Pleading–arguing that the rules should not be enforced in this situation because the person getting the enforcement didn’t like it. I really think David Dao’s screeching triggered the natural human instinct to protect children, or the mentally disabled. I take a dim view of grown men acting like toddlers.

    • Which part of “this wasn’t overbooking, and the airline has no right to do this ” don’t you understand, Rob? YOU’RE special pleading: if a flight is late because United screwed up, then United pays the consequences? You sound like a corporate shill.

      “Moreover, sending them by car or bus delays numerous other flights down the line. It would be irresponsible for the airline to delay or risk cancelling multiple flights on behalf of one petulant customer.” Seriously? THIS is where “Boo-Hoo” belongs: this is United’s problem. Not the United passengers. And you dare to blame the delay on the passenger daring to assert that his life matters, contracts matter, and United may not sacrifice his needs to theirs?

      I don’t think you even read the post, or if you did, it exceeded your comprehension. I explained why an agent choosing who to victimize is NOT fair. Fair would be a random process that isn’t tainted by bias.

      Your comment is one of those that is so lame and tainted by awful logic that it makes the other side’s case. Ann wasn’t THAT bad.

    • brian

      They could have routed the 4 passengers to St. Louis via a different city.

      • brian

        Sorry, they could have routed the 4 employees to St. Louis via a different city, but still on a plane. This is another ‘We had no option’ argument that is just plain bogus.

        • brian

          And why did United not know in advance that these 4 employees would show up late, all incoming planes are tracked in real time. And you mean to tell me that United could not find four other crew members to get to that flight before it boarded AT THEIR CENTRAL HUB AIRPORT!!!!!!!! This line of argument, when dug into, makes United look even worse from an operations standpoint than they did before.

    • Chris Bentley

      For some reason, this response made me angrier than I usually get.

      “They could have kicked them, but that risks a strike.”

      Then, f’ing have a better plan in place, one that doesn’t require the prioritization of staff over paying customers. Always have extra seats saved for such a situation. Raise the bartering amount to levels that cannot be refused. There are obvious better alternatives that should have been in place before this situation.

      “The people on that flight were perfectly capable of negotiating a higher price to leave if they desired one.”

      What? When is the responsibility of the auction on the bidders to run the auction? The bidders (in this situation) aren’t the ones making the request, and aren’t the ones who needs the situation resolved; United was. They are now suffering the fall out. It was on them to have handled this better, not Dao. They run the damn auction.

      “They picked someone at random, that’s the only fair way to do it.”

      Nope. Making higher offers to resolve a situation of their own making is a more fair way.

      “Should they have held a forum and give each person a chance to argue why their weekend plans were important enough not to be bumped”

      Nice. Make a ludicrous extremist argument to prove a point (“the only fair way to do it”) not worth proving, for reasons provided above.

      ““He was a doctor he had important stuff to do”–Boo hoo. Everyone’s time is important.”

      No it’s not, not equally. For instance, Im typing away on this blog, on a day off, and if I were doing this at an airport and my flight was delayed, my time would be significantly less valuable than someone on their way to a time sensitive appointment. Is my time important to me? Yes. But it, in the situation I just described, is not objectively as important as someone who actually has to be some place at a specific time.

      “You have to plan for flight delays or even cancellations.”

      Agreed. This was neither. These 2 things are usually caused by issues that are outside of the airline’s control, or things that reasonably could not be foreseen. This situation was neither, as it was- all together now- CAUSED BY THE AIRLINE.

      “arguing that the rules should not be enforced in this situation because the person getting the enforcement didn’t like it.”

      The rules in place, are in place 100% to benefit the airline, and not the customer. Therefore, the rules, professionally speaking, suck. Few people, except contrarians, agree with these rules.

      “I really think David Dao’s screeching triggered the natural human instinct to protect children, or the mentally disabled.”

      Weak. I have not watched the video, and thus, have not heard his screaching, and yet am just as appalled at the situation (as described by the airline itself) as anyone else is, to want to condemn them for their self described actions. This is just an excuse to smear someone for not acting manly enough for your tastes.

      • Check…check…check…check….check…

        The auction isn’t truly fair, ether, as those who are wealthier have less incentive to sell their seats.
        Rob’s is about as ethically confused a comment as I can remember.

        • philk57

          Not to mention that the auction is normally for flight vouchers, not money. I took one of those once and found that it was nearly impossible to use due to the restrictions on it. This wasn’t a cash auction was it? That would be pretty unusual.

    • crella

      I read yesterday ( several sources) that he and his wife volunteered at first, and it was when they told him the alternate flight was 3 pm the next day he said if that was the case, he couldn’t do it as he’d miss his morning appointments. They were forcing him to get off because he’d offered to. I was wondering what made them keep after him and not just pick someone else.

      I stopped flying United about fifteen years ago because their seats were the narrowest even back then, and not comfortable for long haul flights, the food was atrocious, and their attitudes were poor. We were on United three years ago for a conference as they were the only airline we could get for a direct flight to San Diego, and they were even worse. I was reminded again why I’d quit flying with them. I was seated next to one of our employees who has an accent and speaks English a little haltingly as she doesn’t have many chances to speak on a daily basis and was the cabin attendant ever snotty to her! Condescending when she did finally speak to her, after ignoring her twice. I spoke up (calmly) and told her that my employees’ request was routine and reasonable and to please treat her with respect. She looked like she’d been slapped; either she didn’t think we were together, or she just thought everyone would agree with her attitude. Some of them must be this awful to passengers all the time.

    • crella

      More video has come out, from about a minute before they dragged him. Now on CNN-

      ” Dao and his wife initially agreed to get off the plane, passenger Jayse Anspach said. But once they found out that the next flight wasn’t until Monday afternoon, he demurred and sat back, saying he was a physician who needed to get to work the next day.
      The harder the officers tried to get the man to leave, the harder the man insisted he stay.
      “He was very emphatic: ‘I can’t be late. I’m a doctor. I’ve got to be there tomorrow,’ ” Anspach recalled.
      Joya and Forest Cummings were sitting behind Dao on the United flight and began recording video after an airline supervisor asked Dao to leave the plane and he refused.
      Dao was not belligerent when speaking to the airline officials, the Cummings said. Dao only started to get mildly upset when the second officer came on the plane after he continued to refuse to leave. The Cummingses both said Dao never raised his voice when speaking to the officers and airline officials, and that reports that Dao acted belligerent are simply not true.
      The doctor’s pleas didn’t work. Moments later, he was being dragged down the aisle. At one point, passengers said, Dao hit his head on an armrest. Video shows blood streaming from his mouth.”

  11. Neil Dorr

    Jack,

    “1. An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.”

    That’s where I’m trying to get. I truly feel terrible, and even more so that you seem resolute to both not accept my apology and ignore repeated attempts to make it right however possible.

    It is now my intent to call you directly (you gave me your number and invited me to call “any time” once, so I’ll assume the offer still stands, unless you say otherwise).

    That being said, I hope you’re well.

    • Actually, I’m terrible. Serious family troubles. Keep buggering on.

      • Neil Dorr

        I apologize as I did not know. I hope you (and the family members involved) are well or on the way there.

        As shallow as this offer sounds, please let me know if there’s anything I can do Best to you, good sir!

      • Jack Marshall wrote, “Serious family troubles. Keep buggering on.”

        Bummer.

        I’ve had some family troubles the last few weeks too. Empty nest here and it’s still seems like there’s always something family wise to deal with.

        Maybe it’s time for a month long cruise or that trip to Australia; oh wait, those are family things to do. What to do, what to do…

  12. Alexander Cheezem

    One of the better analyses I’ve seen, covering several points this doesn’t, can be found at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/04/united-passenger-removal-reporting-management-fail.html . It’s worth reading, including from an ethics standpoint.

    Also, best wishes regarding your family problems. I hope they work themselves out reasonably well.

    • Thanks, Alexander, and this link couldn’t be better timed, since I was forced to pause in completing a new post about additional issues in the case, and the main one discussed in the link, the misidentification of what happened as the result of “overbooking” is literally the section I’m half-way through! So thank-you, squared.

  13. Chris

    I hope Althouse’s stance here will help you come to the realization that she is an ethics dunce. She’s a defender of torture, and has heaped praise on Kellyanne Conway, and I’m not sure which is worse. (Kidding–the torture thing is obviously worse.)

    • Here is a typical Althouse post about torture:

      “(1) Is beating a detainee to death with a metal flashlight torture? Or merely a “harsh interrogation technique”? (2) Is beating detainees with butts of rifles torture? Or merely a “harsh interrogation technique”? (3) Is choking a detainee with your bare hands until he almost passes out torture? Or merely a “harsh interrogation technique”? (4) Is threatening to rape wives and murder children torture? Or merely a “harsh interrogation technique”?

      These questions are about the definition of “torture,” but my point is that the Washington Post has said that the techniques — whatever you want to call them — were effective, and, if this is true, it means that people who oppose their use are deprived of a pragmatic argument they normally make. I’m not saying anything about the choice of which term ought to be used, but I do observe that it is the usual practice for people try to make arguments by labeling. Saying “torture” to argue against the techniques is like saying “death panels” to alarm people about the experts who, under ObamaCare, will (it seems) decide who will get which medical treatments. I don’t approach these issues by asking what does the word “torture” mean, with the assumption that if it is within that definition, then we should never do it. I would look directly at the question what should we do and not do. I’m not going to weight the issue one way or the other by deciding first whether to say “torture.” Let’s look straight at the issue and not get abstract and linguistic.”

      Althouse doesn’t endorse policy or defend it. What she does, very well, is criticize the analysis of other and point out biases and inconsistencies. If you really think that last section is pro-torture…well, you missed her point by a mile.

      Here is a typical Althouse comment about Conway:

      “The “SNL” impersonation of Kellyanne Conway (by Kate McKinnon) does not get at what makes Conway an interesting character. There’s too much hate, too much disrespect, and maybe just not enough acting ability (or time on that show to develop anything deep). I think Reese Witherspoon not only looks like Conway — especially in the photo at the top link — but she has the acting ability to bring out all kinds of interesting detail in the character of an ambitious, high-energy woman, as we saw in the great political film, “Election.”

      “Heaped praise” is misleading. She’s correctly undone criticisms of Conway that were essentially sexist or biased, such as the criticism of her stance on the Oval Office couch (as have I) and pointed out where she has acquitted herself well in debates with journalists who should be talking an anti-Trump stance in the first place.

      There’s no justification for the savage attacks on Conway. She’s a gaffe machine. like her boss, and like her boss, about half the gaffes she attacked for weren’t as they have been represented. Also like her boss, she’s over her head, but she’s the best of a terrible lot as a Trump spokesperson, which is, I suppose, why she has to be destroyed. Conway’s role with Trump since the election has been essentially the same as Lanny Davis for the Clintons, except that Lannny is better at it, and would never say something as stupid as “alternative facts,” though that is exactly what he sells, for big bucks. Strangely, the news media never got indignant or abusive about Lanny’s pure BS about Monica madness or Hillary’s server.

      • Chris

        Jack, the first part of the quote you posted isn’t from Althouse. They’re questions from a blogger called Obsidian Wings directed to Althouse, who immediately dismisses the questions as irrelevant. At best, her argument, if not a defense of torture, is that whether or not such tactics constitute “torture” is irrelevant. This is not an ethical stance.

        Also, this portion is entirely non-factual:

        Saying “torture” to argue against the techniques is like saying “death panels” to alarm people about the experts who, under ObamaCare, will (it seems) decide who will get which medical treatments.

        No, it isn’t anything like that, because those techniques actually exist, and “experts who, under Obamacare, will (it seems) decide who will get which medical treatments” do not exist. That Althouse sneaks this misrepresentation in here (while using the weasel words “it seems,” even though any informed person at this point knew no such panel of experts existed) says everything about her bias.

        What she does, very well, is criticize the analysis of other and point out biases and inconsistencies.

        Is that really what you call what she’s doing here? I call it “playing devil’s advocate,” which in this case, as it often is, is a form of cowardice. Saying “I refuse to take a stance on whether torture is good or bad, but here’s a bunch of reasons why it might not be all that bad” is not some great intellectual feat of analysis, Jack. It’s actually pretty shitty.

        I’ve seen her express more admiration for Conway than she dd in those quotes, but even there she shows that she’s little more than a Trump apologist.

        • You can search her blog. I did. There is no extravagant praise of Conway. Npr does she play devil’s advocate: that implies she makes arguments she doesn’t believe. She thinks many positions ae facile and intellectually lazy, as they are.

          I didn’t say those were her questions. Her crticism of the questions was her commentary on torture, and her point is that calling something torture doesn’t make it better or worse, and that is true. It is a nice antidote to the dishonest Bush/Cheney approach to waterboarding,arguing that it isn’t technically torture. Althouse doesn’t defend torture in any way. She just says there isn’t anything maagic about the label.

          “Death panels” was Palin’s clever and not unfair description of what rationing health care amounts to. There are death panels NOW: I witnessed my mother-in-law being denied access to an experimental drug because she was not deemed a sufficiently good risk, essentially condemning her to death. Rationing health care is a reality of socialized health care, and the Democrats are still screaming.

          Why don’t you produce examples of Althouse defending torture and over-praising Conway? That will be fun.

          The fact that she is determined to be fair to Trump, identify the blatant double standards being used by the media, point out Democratic hypocrisy and use analysis rather than hate and bias to interpret what actually is happening doesn’t make her a Trump apologist. The words you want are “objective” and “fair.”

          • Chris

            Jack, that was a defense of torture, just a roundabout and cowardly one, and any fool can see it. She doesn’t come right out and say she’s going to defend torture; she simply posts nothing but favorable things about it, dismisses any and all criticism of it, and refuses to use the word. How do you see that as strong analysis?

            Then there’s this, where she accused a feminist blogger of dressing like a slut (she wasn’t), then responded to every critique of her actions in the most defense way possible:

            http://althouse.blogspot.com/2006/09/lets-take-closer-look-at-those-breasts.html#comments

            Unethical. Stupid. Juvenile. There is nothing objective or fair about her; she pretends to be a moderate while doing nothing but providing CYA for conservatives and smearing liberals. Your own bias against the liberal media is impairing your judgment here.

            • Pretty funny. She accurately skewers the feminists who gave Bill Clinton a pass, and you say the post is about slut-shaming. Maybe Ann is just over your head. She has never supported torture, and that post doesn’t. Can you find one that really supports torture? The observation that killing people horribly is better than torture because its not called torture is simply thought provoking, and a valid observation. She hates knee-jerk thinking. Good.

              • Chris

                Pretty funny. She accurately skewers the feminists who gave Bill Clinton a pass, and you say the post is about slut-shaming.

                Because it was. Read it again:

                parently, Jessica writes one of those blogs that are all about using breasts for extra attention. Then, when she goes to meet Clinton, she wears a tight knit top that draws attention to her breasts and stands right in front of him and positions herself to make her breasts as obvious as possible?

                You’re providing cover for her, in the same way she provided cover for torturers. This is incredibly gullible, Jack, and beneath you.

                • You’re seeing things that aren’t there. She felt a women who highlights breasts on her blog and poses in a sexy manner with Clinton while trivializing the Monica issue is a fake and a hypocrite. That’s not slut-shaming. Really: that and the post about torture are the worst things you can find among thousands of posts? I don’t always agree with Althouse, and I find her Socratic method and academic nit-picking annoying much of the time, but she is clear-eyed more often than not, and as a liberal, which she mostly is, she doesn’t follow the herd even when it goes through mud, which is refreshing. When she’s on the mark, I sometimes quote her; when she isn’t, I usually don’t. In the United case, he was just plain wrong.

                  • Chris

                    The blogger was not “posed in a sexy manner with Clinton,” as many commenters pointed out. It was Althouse seeing things that were not there, not me.

                    If someone responds to the torture issue by a) refusing to call it torture, b) bringing up only the pro-torture side, c) never bringing up any rebuttals to the pro-torture side, d) claiming that the torturers have been “vindicated,” then one is covering for torturers. Period.

                    And when someone does almost nothing but criticize other liberals and liberal positions, one is not a “liberal,” any more than Andrew Sullivan is a conservative or Camille Paglia is a feminist. These are people who appropriate labels so they can look principled, when in reality they are just contrarians who like attention. If Althouse calls herself a liberal, then this is what she’s doing.

                • Chris,
                  Your lack of effective comprehension is getting you into a mess and you just keep on digging trying to justify ignorance.

    • Chris wrote, “I hope Althouse’s stance here will help you come to the realization that she is an ethics dunce. She’s a defender of torture, and has heaped praise on Kellyanne Conway, and I’m not sure which is worse. (Kidding–the torture thing is obviously worse.)”

      Chris,
      What you just did was to try and prejudice everything she writes before anyone actually reads it. That whole general classification of Althouse being an “ethics dunce” sounds a whole lot like an intentional ad hominem based on either prejudice, bias makes you stupid, or just simple ignorance. Jack has commented multiple times on things Althouse has written that clearly do not fit into your generalized “ethics dunce” classification.

      I’m no big fan of Althouse, but you’re wrong about this general classification of her.

      • I give up on self. That whole thing wasn’t supposed to be in italics, just the quote from Chris. I completely forgot to put in the closing italics tag. Duh!

        • This kind of thing is so easy for me to fix. I would be making the same mistake constantly, but all I have to do from my control panel is highlight and click the “italics” or “bold” icon.

          • Your control panel is WYSIWYG? COOL!! That would be sooooooooooo nice for the rest of the users; come on WordPress get with it!!

            Thanks for fixing it.

          • joed68

            You have a control panel? I need to do yesterday over. It was a very unproductive day.

            • I was afraid everyone would want one if I let that slip…

              • joed68

                They can take a number.

                • joed68 wrote, “They can take a number.”

                  Make them wait their turn in line, how dare you! That’s going to seriously offend some snowflakes.

                • Pennagain

                  “You there! Yes, you. You have been selected to go to the end of the line. One of our employees must get that last spot to hear the Self-Control Panel speaker. . . Here’re some vouchers from our company. . . . They’re worth . . . Look! You can come back tomorrow; you don’t need to . . . What do you mean . . . It is essential that our CEO get to this talk today, on time. . . . Officer! Officer! remove this man at once! . . . He has two paperbacks with him, so he is already overbooked. . . . Of course, by any force necessary . . . drag him out by the hairline! This is urgent. . . . . Go on! Don’t pay attention to anything he says. Harden your drive! Change his settings for him! Our man must . . . he has to . . . this is his only chance to learn Control from the master. Someone …. I say, someone! … here on United Line must heed the alarm . . . oh, good! You’ve done a re-start . . . I’m sorry you had to delete the standee; it makes such a mess, but after all, if it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else. . . . What? He wasn’t in line? He was just waiting to take a pee? See? I told you it was his own fault . . . Now, there you go, Mr. Munoz — sorry for the sticky stuff on your seat. . . . What’s that they’re saying? I can’t hear . . . something about Mr. Marshall being unable . . . oh, no . . . he was wai . . . .

      • Chris

        Chris,
        What you just did was to try and prejudice everything she writes before anyone actually reads it.

        No, what I did was call her an ethics dunce, and then I gave reasons why. My intention was not to “prejudice” anyone, since I was specifically talking to Jack, who has followed Althouse for years. My designation of Althouse is no more ad hominem than any time Jack has given anyone the same designation, and it isn’t based on prejudice, but on experience with her writing and arguments. The fact that she has written some things that are not unethical does not mean she is not an “ethics dunce;” the principle of signature significance applies, especially when it comes to someone defending torture (and yes, I take Althouse’s “I’m not defending torture, but here are a bunch of reasons why it’s not all that bad” as a defense).

        • Chris,
          You’ve been chastised by a bunch of people around here for lots of idiotic things you’ve written; using your logic driving your generalized ethics dunce classification, everyone should be poisoning the well at every turn saying I hope Chris’ stance here will help everyone come to the realization that Chris is a blithering idiot and we should ignore anything that contradicts that statement.

          So let it be written, so let it be done.

          Most intelligent people would cut their losses in this thread and ride off into the sunset until another thread sparks their interest, what do you choose to do?

          • Chris’s positions are often helpful in finding a full spectrum of the considerations in complex issues, and I appreciate that. Sometimes, I feel he is obligated to take partisan decisions that can’t be justified objectively. Hostility to Althouse, who shares with Ethics Alarms a desire to eschew rationalizations, biases and partisan loyalties to get at what is really right and wrong, because she has recently been critical of progressive conduct and talking points—which deserve to be criticized– is troubling. That doesn’t make her unethical, or a conservative, or one of the bad guys. Asserting so is attacking the messenger.

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