I feel like incidents like these just fuel the culture war and bring needless attention to immature people, but it is so important to be precise in our language. A man was told by an Allegiant Air gate agent that his “Let’s Go Brandon” mask was not permitted onboard because it was against Federal Aviation Administration regulations. No, that’s not right. It’s actually a critical distinction.
Allegiant Air Employee Claims “Let’s Go Brandon” Mask Is Against FAA Regulations
You can watch the video below, which clearly shows an Allegiant Air employee telling a man that he would have to exchange his mask or not be permitted to remain on the flight, then justify it on the basis of an FAA regulation:
This guy was reportedly kicked off a flight because he had “let’s go Brandon” written on his mask and refused to change masks. @Allegiant employee claims it’s an “FAA regulation” pic.twitter.com/4ipRbqggEB
— Libs of Tik Tok (@libsoftiktok) February 16, 2022
That’s a pretty damning video…
Even so, keep in mind this story comes from The Daily Wire (a partisan news source) and that we do not have the video in context. Indeed, we don’t even have any images of the man actually wearing a “Let’s Go Brandon” mask (tough it was purportedly scribbled onto his surgical mask, which I cannot see).
My point is simple and generally applicable: when government policy is blamed for blocking speech, it plays into the hands of those who wish to undermine societal norms and create self-serving disruption. Allegiant Air is free to regulate the wording on masks as it sees fit: it is not subject to the U.S. 1st Amendment to the Constitution. But I hope all constitutional scholars would agree that the FAA cannot pick and choose what political messages it will allow as part of the federal government’s mask mandate.
An Allegiant spokesperson hinted that there was more to the story, yet failed to provide additional background:
The video in question depicts part of an incident involving a passenger who failed to comply with repeated crew member requests to adhere to the federal face mask policy…. The passenger was removed from the flight and issued a refund for his fare. Disregarding instructions from flight crew members is prohibited by federal regulations and is grounds for removal from a flight where such conduct creates an unsafe environment…
The decision to remove a passenger is never made lightly and is always done with the safety of our passengers and crew in mind. In April, the FAA adopted a zero-tolerance policy against unruly passenger behavior, which includes failure to comply with crew members’ instructions. We welcome the FAA’s renewed strong stance on unruly passengers, understanding the safety risk such incidents can create for both passengers and crew.
But the video seems clear enough: the man was targeted for his message (fair enough…I think the “Let’s Go Brandon” shtick is incredibly childish and clearly a cover for a vulgar statement) and it was justified on the basis of government regulation (false).
Kyle offered a thoughtful piece on “Let’s Go Brandon” masks and the struggle for airlines as to where the draw line is real…this is not a simple issue. But blaming the FAA for prohibiting a political mask…goodness no.