A man was brutally dragged off of a United Airlines flight late Sunday night, and normal human beings were justifiably appalled. It may be true, as Dan Gross put it Monday in Slate, that the situation was partly a symptom of airlines’ outmoded overbooking practices. But it’s also a stark reminder of how casually corporations cast aside basic decency in the pursuit of logistical efficiency and profit maximization. As Derek Thompson put it in the Atlantic, the incident highlights “the profoundly unequal, and even morally scandalous, relationship between consumers and corporations in industries where a handful of large companies dominate the sector.”
And yet! Many people found ways to explain that United isn’t really the bad guy. Here are some of the most creative:
1. The most surprising thing is not the part where a passenger was seemingly knocked unconscious while being removed from the plane. It’s this:
2. The real villains here are the horrified passengers.
3. “U R ontologically aligned with capital.”
4. He totally deserved it.
There are some impressive mental Olympics going on here, though at least in the case of the last one, the author now admits she “didn’t emphasize enough that it was handled poorly.”
We’d also be remiss to not mention the contributions of Louisville’s Courier-Journal, which published a story this morning explaining that the man who was violently removed from the plane is a doctor “with a troubled past.” That past includes charges of fraudulent prescription writing more than a decade ago, for which he served probation. While the headline of that piece certainly makes it sound like the drug equivalent of the “Well, what was she wearing?” response to a rape victim, the story at least manages to avoid explicitly suggesting that the doctor’s personal history should have any bearing on his treatment by United.
Ultimately, and unsurprisingly, the worst take of all came from the airline itself, which managed to imbue the term “re-accommodate” with Orwellian menace.
Also: This is not an apology.