Earlier today I wrote about my short journey on United Express from Monterey to San Francisco, a flight of only 77 miles. A warning sign about joking caught my attention at Monterey Airport.
Warning Sign At Monterey Airport: No Joking About Guns Or Bombs
While waiting for my flight from MRY to SFO, a sign caught my attention in the gate area:
Comments about guns, bombs and firearms are taken very seriously. Please do not cause yourself unnecessary delay, or possible fine and imprisonment, due to a careless joke.
It is not clear to me how old the sign, though I suspect it is not recent and probably goes back to just after the 9/11/2001 attacks when tensions were high and fear was rampant.
In 2013, 12 years after 9/11, I was thrown off a United flight, ostensibly for joking that I was not a terrorist (I used the “T” word). Now we in 2023, a decade later, and there are still ongoing fears about terrorism. I saw it last night on a flight: drink carts and extra flight attendants are still used to barricade the front galley when a pilot comes out to use the lavatory mid-flight. Compare that to a recent flight I was on in Asia in which the cockpit door was simply left open for much of the flight.
Admittedly, I find it somewhat sad that we cannot joke (if clearly a joke) without fear of being arrested. That’s because I lament that fear still drives so much public policy (like our response to the pandemic) and see this policy based on fear. A joke about a bomb could be construed as yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre, but this warning appears to go beyond a threat (which should be punished to the fullest extent of the law) to merely banning a word regardless of context.
Whether you agree or disagree with my assessment, I think we can agree that the prudent path is simply never to actually use the word “bomb” or “gun” or “explosion” or “terrorist” at an airport. It’s simply not worth the risk.
Monterey Airport makes clear that jokes around guns, bombs, and firearms are “taken very seriously.” The subtext is clear: it is best not to discuss those items at MRY or any airport.
> Read More: Seven Words You Can Never Say on an Airplane?