Here’s A First Amendment Issue That Hits A Little Close To Home
On Friday, a Muslim man received a $240,000 settlement for being discriminated against because of the tee shirt he was wearing. Man, I wish it were one of mine — Oh wait, I don’t actually sell tee shirts.
Raed Jarrar tried to board a JetBlue airplane in August of ’06 wearing a tee shirt with Arabic script on it. He was told it made other passengers uncomfortable because, and I quote, “an Arabic-inscribed T-shirt in an airport was like “wearing a T-shirt at a bank stating, I am a robber.” Haha, I love it. I wish I could have actually heard the airline representative saying that to him. Anyway, Jarrar covered his shirt with another supplied by JetBlue, and his seat was changed from the front of the plane to the back, because I guess a Muslim near the front of the plane is like an actual fire in a theater.
I gotta tell you, I’m on the fence on this one. I know I would be a little scared if I got on a plane and there was a Muslim-looking guy wearing a tee shirt with Arabic script on it sitting there. And my level of fear would go up or down based on his amount of facial hair. And JetBlue has a right to keep their customers satisfied, and fearing for one’s life falls a bit short of satisfied.
I should mention that there is a racial profiling component to this case which, I’m sure you can guess, I could care less about. Sure there are gonna be exceptions to profiling, but I’ll take my chances with that. Hell, you could name a crime or a news story , and with a 3% margin of error, I would be able to tell you what races were involved. Watch the news for a week, then try it yourself.
But I digress.
It comes down to this with me: If we take away this guy’s right to wear the shirt he wants to wear, then we take it away from ourselves. And believe me it will be even easier to give up the next right when that time comes. Man, it was a whole lot easier when the biggest fear getting on a plane was that you might be seated in a middle seat with two fat people on either side.