| 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,
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.
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."
Taub is a boycott export and the President of Boycott Watch (www.boycottwatch.org) which monitors and
reports about consumer boycotts, and Divestment Watch (www.divestmentwatch.com) 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.