Terrorism vs. Jerkism

The Assocciated Press reports that many airline passengers who have been convicted under anti-terror laws were merely drunk and disorderly — or just disorderly.

The justification for charging people under anti-terror laws for, say, shouting in an argument over stowing their luggage,is that it makes airline travel safer. People don’t dare to be disruptive and that makes it easier for the crew and/or air marshals to concentrate on spotting terrorists.

There is merit to this argument. And in the confrontations I’ve witnessed between passengers and cabin crew, the crew has been right at least 90 percent of the time. But in many of the cases where passengers have been convicted, the AP reports, there was clearly no intent to get control of the aircraft.

And the more troubling part comes with the other 10 percent of incidents. In some of those cases, passengers can be charged with a serious crime if they stand up for themselves in ways that wouldn’t support a breach of peace charge on the ground.


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