A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bloody Awful business for BA in Phoenix!

British Airways gets into some scrapes, it seems. When Lord King was running the show, he got very tetchy on the day there was a fire drill and someone left smoke cannisters down some of the seats of a plane. "Now I could do without that!" he barked. BA could have done without an awful lot of "that!" over the years.

Now there has been a spot of bother as hundreds of people had to be evacuated from a British Airways plane in Phoenix after the cabin filled with fumes. BA said there had been reports of smoke as the plane was pulling away from the departure gate. Engineers are trying to find out what happened. But it is what a passenger said that gets me.

Corinne Casazza described a scene of panic inside the plane. She said, "People were coughing and choking and those with children were very worried and so they brought them to the front where they could breathe. We asked if we could open the doors but were told we couldn't because we were still moving. There was a lot of pushing and shoving - everyone just wanted to get off the plane," said Ms Casazza, who is from Sedona, Arizona. "Then I heard someone yell 'fire' and the doors were opened."

So basically if you shout "FIRE!" in a crowded fume-filled plane you get the doors opened but if you do as you're told, you get to see the doors stay shut! This is a wonderful situation, much the same as that discussed by Oliver Wendell Holmes about shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre. In his thoughts, free speech and the First Amendment did not allow for falsely shouting fire but it did if it obtained the right results.

It seems that when it comes to the travelling public, there is a supine acceptance that the planes, trains and automobile companies know best at all times. Not always, it appears. Because if that person had not shouted "FIRE!", thereby being protected by the First Amendment, it is highly possible the whole lot could have been in a far worse state.

A salutory lesson for free speech advocates and jobsworth functionaries!


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