There was quite an uproar over United Airlines this past week. If you only skimmed the headlines, then you probably think that the company is some outdated, draconian enterprise that keeps its customers on a short leash. If you’re even remotely reasonable, then you know that this outrage is just another example of fake news.
When you learn about the real story, it points out that there is a component to fake news that we tend to overlook, and it is possibly the most insidious part of the whole problem.
What Actually Happened
The details of the actual event are pretty straightforward and nothing like what has been represented on Twitter and other social media outlets. There were passengers who were not allowed to board a flight because they were wearing leggings, but it’s a little more complicated than all of that.
The three ladies turned away are what are known in the industry as non-revenue passengers. In simpler terms, they were flying for free as an employee perk. Those free flights come with a few caveats. First, non-revenue passengers get leftover seats. If a flight is fully booked, they’ll have to look elsewhere.
Secondly, and this is true for every major American carrier, there is a unique dress and conduct code that applies only to non-revenue passengers. The idea is that these passengers are representatives of the company. Because of that, attire is supposed to conform to a professional dress code, and leggings are specifically mentioned as a banned item of clothing.
Every non-revenue passenger gets a chance to see this before they try to board a flight, and it’s why the passengers in this instance did not raise any fuss.
The confusion came when a regular revenue passenger overheard the mention of the dress code and mistakenly assumed it applied to them. This was not the case, and this distinction has been completely missed by the masses.
The Celebrity Uproar
So, now that you know the details, it is clear that any paying passenger on United or other U.S. carriers can wear leggings without issue. The real problem here isn’t United. It is celebrities.
As per usual, they took up a banner and went to war for a cause that they didn’t understand under false information. Seth Rogan, Andy Richter, Chrissy Teigen and many more jumped on the bandwagon to shame United for “policing women’s bodies.”
The ridiculousness of these statements is hard to fathom. In the first place, dress codes have literally nothing to do with policing bodies. Typically, they exist for the sake of liability. Inadequate clothing increases the risk of injury.
More importantly, the employee dress code doesn’t just apply to females. Males are equally prohibited from flying with leggings for non-revenue travel.
Celebrity Contributions to Other Problems
What this really is, is the latest example of celebrities putting their collective feet in their mouths to the detriment of society. While grilling an airline over a dress code may feel like small potatoes, the general irresponsible use of such loud voices has caused real problems over the last decade.
The resurgence of measles in America only has one true blame, and that’s the rise in anti-vaxing. I’m as big a proponent as anyone of allowing parents to raise their children as they see fit. That we even need to discuss mandatory vaccination is the sole product of celebrities pushing an anti-science agenda that has steered good people away from common sense.
And, they’ve hurt us a lot more than twice. The celebrity endorsement of Black Lives Matter escalated racial tensions and has been linked to dozens of slayings over the last year. The Dakota Access Pipeline protests, which got its legs from celebrities, caused more damage to the Sioux land than any oil spill could hope to match. Remember Flint Michigan? It was the celebrity distraction that slowed relief efforts and left people without access to drinkable water for over a year.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying entertainment. Celebrities are often extremely talented individuals whose art can help us through the day. It’s important to remember that none of that art requires education. The average movie star is less educated than the average manager at McDonalds.
While there are exceptions, it’s important to remember that the popularity of these people does not qualify them to make any social, political or scientific claims. They are almost criminally out of touch with the daily lives of most Americans, and continuing to give credence to their voices only serves to celebrate uneducated and unsubstantiated approaches to what could otherwise be reasonable discourse.
Let them continue to make their art, but it’s high time to turn off their Twitter feeds and fill our days with more useful conversation.
~Facts Not Memes