Bravery and Civility

Dear Constant Reader,

A couple of weeks ago Maggie McMuffin was traveling back to Seattle from New York with a lay-over in Boston. It was at our own Logan Airport that a JetBlue employee told her that she couldn’t board the plane unless she changed her clothes. Apparently the pilot thought that Maggie’s shorts (by J. Von Stratton) were “lewd, obscene, or patently offensive”, which is what JetBlue’s Contract of Carriage forbids (and all it has to say on how passengers dress). This was despite the fact that a JetBlue pilot had just let her fly in the same outfit from New York to Boston without problem.

But I’m not actually here to debate whether what she was wearing was appropriate or not. You can judge for yourself. But I don’t want to hear your opinion. This isn’t about that.

It’s about Maggie’s bravery. Her story went viral. It was reported in several countries, she was interviewed by local news stations, it was hot on social media, it was even trending on Facebook’s news feed.

That means a lot of people saw her story and felt the need to express their opinions. And those opinions were not always kind or polite. It’s so easy to be cruel to someone you only see on the internet. After all, it’s not like they’re a real person with feelings and complexity. They’re just some pixels to judge and mock and feel superior to.

Thousands of people said horrible things about Maggie without knowing her or caring that she’s kind and funny or that she can do impressively big hair or that she likes clowning or that she recently had a major upheaval in her life. They just saw a target.

By taking her story public and pushing it to go viral, she knew this would happen. And she did it anyway. That’s brave. She shouldn’t have to endure insulting commentary on her body, her intelligence, her morals, &c. to tell her story about feeling discriminated against because of how she was dressed. But that’s the reality today. It’s sad.

So, please, Gentle Readers, when you see a story on the internet and you feel compelled to comment, stop for a moment and think before you write. Does the entire world really need to know your opinion? Can you express it clearly and without attacking anyone? Do you need to use insults or foul language to make your point?

Just a little civility, my friends, would make the world a much better place.

And, Maggie, thanks for fighting against arbitrary discrimination. You are a hero in shorts.

M2

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Published in: on 2 June 2016 at 3:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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