Boycott Watch
December 12, 2006
Op-Ed: Miranda Rights for Air Travelers
By Fred Taub
Boycott Watch
    There has been much discussion about the Muslim Imams who were removed from an aircraft recently after passengers were worried about a potential terrorist attack based on strange behavior they observed. Rather than rehashing the case and asking if removing the Imams was the right move as so many others have, the more fundamental question is what are the basic instinctive guidelines everyone can follow?

    First, everyone must understand that your own personal safety is your responsibility and nobody else's. Police officers will tell you they react after the fact and do not stand guard for you. Thus, if you feel going into a certain area is not safe, then do not go there. If you still have to go there, take appropriate measures to ensure your personal safety and security. Otherwise, keep away.

    Second, when on an airplane, know that the Captain is designated the "Pilot in Charge" by the Federal Aviation Administration, and is thus responsible for the overall safety of the aircraft and everyone aboard, but that does not abrogate you from taking personal responsibility. If you see a non-safe condition, have the flight attendants alert the Pilot in Charge who can then take appropriate measures.

    The Pilot in Charge has the final word regarding all matters on an aircraft, and has the right to refuse to allow any specific people or cargo on board.

    Before you even get near an aircraft, you will be searched as if you are a criminal to make sure you are not a threat to the aircraft, crew and fellow passengers. This includes the confiscation of dangerous items such as toothpaste and mouthwash, items you may really want to give to the person sitting next to you for your own personal protection. With security procedures designed to treat customers as criminals, airline passengers may as well have their own version of the Miranda Rights which police officers read to those they search and arrest. The following is my version of the Miranda Rights you should be read at the security checkpoint before being x-rayed, searched, scanned and otherwise interrogated.

    "You have the right to remain scared. Anything you fear can and may be used against you by terrorists. You have the right to speak up without an attorney, as you do not need an attorney present to exercise free speech. If you cannot afford a lawyer or find one in the seat next to you, someone will eventually stand up to help you protect your constitutional rights, possibly even pro-bono."

    I would also add that it is better to be safe and have the ability to protect your name after the fact than it is to be a victim who is no longer able to voice anything, ever.

    Let's examine these rights.

    Fear is a natural response when something is wrong and it can be good. If you sense something is wrong, don't be silent. You may have spotted something that is important and you should convey what you fear to the appropriate people who can take action if warranted. There is nothing worse than not taking simple preventive measures that may save lives. If you fear or see something wrong, it may either be you being careful of your surroundings or perhaps others have seen the same thing and are afraid to speak up. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety, so speak up even if others do not.

    Freedom of speech is not something which requires a lawyer. If you have something to say, then say it. If someone wants to complain about what you said, you can deal with that later, but you must remember that if you do not stand up for yourself, nobody else will.

    To most people, calling a lawyer ranks second in pain only to visiting a dentist. If you are dealing with a small case, legal aid societies can give you basic legal assistance for free and it never hurts to call them. In fact, many law firms offer free initial consultations, so you again don't have much to lose by making a phone call. Additionally, every attorney is required to do some pro-bono work every year to remain in their state Bar Association, so do not be afraid to take advantage of that, especially if offered. In the event you have a very big case, many lawyers will jump to your defense for the publicity alone.

    More importantly is the part I added which does not fit onto the Miranda Rights card but may as well be law - If you do not speak up you may not be around to defend yourself later, so you may as well protect yourself now and not be a victim. This is probably the most important rule and one many people do not think of. There is an old and wise saying along those lines: "It is better to be judged by twelve than carried by six," and as one of Israel's founding fathers Ze'ev Jabotinsky said, "Silence is despicable."

    Fred Taub is a boycott export and the President of Boycott Watch ( which monitors and reports about consumer boycotts, and Divestment Watch ( which exposed the illegal nature of the divest-from-Israel campaign as well as why divestment is bad for the US and is anti-peace.

E-Mail This Page to a Friend
Enter the recipient's e-mail address:

(Click here to return to top of page)
 ©2006 Boycott Watch