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« Beating a Kiai Master About the Head and Neck With the Foot of Reality The Rants Is This Thing On? »

We'd Rather Wait for Lemon-Soaked Napkins
2007.04.09 (Mon) 19:38

Language Log took a moment to point us over to a Reuters article that just...fucking...floored us.

Northwest Airlines cancelled a flight set to leave from Las Vegas to Detroit after the captain cursed on a cell phone in a bathroom, then swore at one of the 180 passengers on the plane, officials said on Saturday.

Are you fucking kidding us? We have so many questions for the utter fucking morons who think this makes any sense whatsoever, but we'll be happy to address just a few of them.

First off: a pop quiz for morons, particularly addressed to those who have some sort of problem with profanity (for whatever reason). Given the choice, would you rather:

a) have your flight cancelled because somebody swore;


b) actually get to your destination at the time you had planned to arrive?

Seriously, is "potty-mouth" that fucking important to you? Apparently so:

[Ian Gregor, FAA spokesman, says,] "At some point during the boarding process, he left the cockpit, went into the front lavatory, locked the door and continued his conversation.

"Passengers who were boarding the aircraft could hear his end of the conversation through the lavatory door."

When the captain emerged from the bathroom, a passenger confronted him about his behaviour, reportedly prompting more cursing by the pilot of the B757 aircraft.

Here's an even easier question: how many people on that flight do you think would rather beat the shit out of the passenger who complained to the pilot rather than the pilot, if given the choice? Because we're willing to bet a hefty fucking sum that, out of the 180 passengers aboard, at least 150 of them would agree with our preference here. For fuck's sake, some of these people were delayed by an entire day because some dimwitted prude took exception to the rude language used by the pilot (which was not initially directed at the dimwitted prude). To add to the impact of this overreaction, this was Easter weekend — we've got a pretty good guess that at least some of these people were trying to get somewhere on Saturday so they could celebrate Easter with their friends and relatives on Sunday; thanks to the outlandish reaction to this asinine non-issue, they instead found themselves stranded in the airport on Easter Sunday rather than spending time with their loved ones. Yeah, that makes a lot of fucking sense. God for-fucking-bid our passengers should ever hear "dirty words," but we won't think twice about fucking up their celebration of his only begotten son's resurrection for no good reason.

Who knows what particular words or phrases upset this prudish, prissy, puritanical passenger? Well, thanks to the wonders of ludicrous media censorship, we may never fucking know.

"He used what was described to me as rude language," Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said about Friday's incident on Northwest Flight 1190.

"He used what was described to me as rude language"? Therein lies the ridiculous stupidity of problems like this one. People are so stupidly "careful" about profanity that we can't even learn what the pilot said in order to judge for ourselves the merits of the offense or the resulting executive decision! Seriously, does Ian Gregor even know exactly what the pilot said? Or has it been only "vaguely referenced" to him, as well? People: they're fucking words. Get over it.

This entire article is completely nonsensical and pointless if we don't even know what it is the pilot said, either on the phone or to the plaintive passenger. How "detailed" can this article be — how much of an opinion can we really form on this incident — if Reuters can't even publish the words they're reporting on? At this point, we'd even settle for some suggestive asterisks, "at-signs," and exclamation points, as long as the number of characters printed was equivalent to the number of characters they're replacing (you know, so we could try to puzzle it out). There comes a point where "freedom of the press" should include being able to print any fucking word necessary in order to accurately report a story. Language police: stop obscuring our fucking language and thereby making it even harder to understand any fucking thing we read or hear!

And speaking of police:

Local police questioned the captain, whose name was not released, and determined there was no cause to conduct a sobriety test, Gregor said.

Uh, no shit, fuckholes. What, only drunk people swear? Do you have fucking holes in your heads where your brains slowly leak out?

There are so many potential reasons to swear (we at the Two Percent Company employ all of them, obviously); and, more importantly, there may be utterly reasonable and understandable reasons to swear even in a "customer relations" environment such as the one the pilot found himself in.

On the phone, that was his fucking conversation, and for all we know (since Reuters can't seem to give us any details, and the FAA won't), he'd just found out that his wife of 15 years had been cheating on him for 10 with his old co-pilot, was filing for divorce, and was going to seek sole custody (with no visitation) of their three wonderful children — as far as we're concerned, that scenario certainly justifies a bit of profanity from any sane person. Again, we don't know what the pilot's situation was, but there are any number of possibilities that may explain — not necessarily justify, but certainly explain — his initial behavior. Profanity, as a psychological release of tension and/or anger, seems to be a great deterrent of physical violence — get it out verbally, and you won't have to get it out physically. When we badly stub a toe or get a finger briefly trapped in the trash compactor, we're certainly emotionally incited to hit something — but we let out some pretty fantastic swears instead, and the visceral need for physical violence dissipates quite rapidly.

To the passenger who complained — we don't think we should even have to explain this, but fine, here goes. Hey, asshole! You should have shut the fuck up and kept your bullshit puritanical pedantry out of the pilot's face. You have no idea what the pilot was involved in, no idea what situation he was dealing with, and no idea what elicited the "dirty" words. You just took it upon yourself to "police" the actions of another person. Get over yourself, you fucking asshat.

Should the pilot have cursed out the passenger? Well, no, and we completely understand that — there are standards to be upheld in any field that includes customer relations. These standards have nothing to do with strong language, however — we refer only to "comfort level" and manners, an understanding of which includes policing your own language as appropriate to the environment and situation.

However, we also completely understand that an infinite number of possible circumstances could push us to lose our cool and, frankly, to not give a shit about "decorum" or business relations. Holding another person, in any profession, to a higher standard than we hold ourselves would be ludicrous.

So again: should the pilot have cursed out the passenger? No, probably not. And perhaps the passenger was justified in broaching the subject with the pilot; again, we can't know, since nobody will explicitly tell us what fucking transpired. But should the fucking flight have been cancelled due to an exchange of fucking words? Not on your life, bucko. To us, it's just another tick-mark on the bedpost of Nanny State Overkill.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Bullshit  % Media & Censorship  ]


TimmyAnn, 2007.04.09 (Mon) 22:24 [Link] »

I couldn't believe it when I heard this story on the news. The teaser for it said something about his "lewd behavior" or something and "Wait until you hear what he did!" So I was expecting that he had done something really terrible. Then I hear the story and I was astounded! They cancelled the flight because the pilot was swearing?!? That is very possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard!

Brian, 2007.04.09 (Mon) 23:30 [Link] »

since Reuters can't seem to give us any details, and the FAA won't)

Since we don't know what was said, I speculate;

For a professional to curse in those circumstances could indicate that he had head-space problems. We're about to launch into the wild-blue yonder and the last thing I want my pilot to be is anything less than 100% on top of his game. Most accidents in civil aviation are a result of human error ...

Since we simply don't know this is speculation. But I do like to think the best about people.

TimmyAnn, 2007.04.09 (Mon) 23:50 [Link] »

In what circumstances? We have no idea what the conversation on the phone was about. As for swearing at he passenger, my guess would be that it was something along the lines of, "Mind your own fucking business, asshole" in response to someone butting in and telling him how he should talk in a private conversation. I understand that you wouldn't want a pilot with "head-space problems", but I would think that the same evaluation that determined that there was no need for a sobriety test would also give some indication of his state of mind. If the flight was cancelled due to a determination that he was suicidal or not in his right mind, why wouldn't the news story mention THAT instead of just saying that the flight was cancelled because he swore?

Tom Foss, 2007.04.10 (Tue) 02:19 [Link] »

Furthermore, the fact that he left the cabin to carry on the conversation in the bathroom suggests to me that he took appropriate measures to try to ensure that his private conversation remained private. Are we to believe that his swearing in the airplane bathroom is any more objectionable than what normally goes on in those things?

I suppose you'd get in trouble for that, too. But only if you said something stronger than "Oh Gosh!" and "funk me harder!" and "Jeepers Creepers, I'm coming!"

Bronze Dog, 2007.04.10 (Tue) 09:44 [Link] »

My gut currently says that this was a situation of someone being over-prudish, followed by the mentality of 'one complaint equals 1 billion viewers' among the higher-ups.

If my gut is correct, I'd like to see the prude put on the no-fly list. Unlike most people on that list, he'd probably deserve it.

Rockstar Ryan, 2007.04.10 (Tue) 12:51 [Link] »

When a pilot is heard saying...

I'm gonna crash this fucker into the Empire State Building.

Bobby, what does that fucking blinking warning light mean?

It is OK to cancel the flight.

When a pilot says...

I'm gonna sue that fucking bitch/asshole! She/He can't get away with that shit!

Man that guy is a fucking dick.

It is not OK.

I assume it was not the case of the former. The whiny moron who complained should be placed in a room full of liquored up baboons.

Jenna, 2007.04.10 (Tue) 12:52 [Link] »

I had a woman approach me in a mall once while I was talking on my cell phone. Imagine the noice of echoes and children screaming, etc that one hears in such a place. Now imagine trying to talk over that noice on your cell phone and give directions. Well, I believe that the word I used was"hell" as in "what the hell are you talking about". A woman approached me and said, "would you mind watching your language? There are children around" How fucking original, lady! In response, my face said "Fuck off", but in avoidence of being escorted out when this lady notified mall security (which I completely expected her to do), my actual words were, "No I will not watch my language. Mind your own business. I am a 26 year old woman not a child you can police while her parents aren't around!" She said, "How considerate of you" or something to that nature. And I said, "Have a nice day" and smiled. Point of story...shit happens and I don't think anyone should have to walk around censoring their language. Even if he wasn't being very professional, it is absolutely ridiculous that they would cancel a flight because someone used unsavory language...unsavory to the minority that is. And if they were trying to please the customer who was offended by removing the pilot from that flight thus cancelling it, why the fuck would they anger all 179 other costumers just to appease this asshole?! And this was a flight from LA to Detroit?! I doubt anyone coming or going isn't used to hearing that language while they drive everyday...it's not like the flight was from Des Moines to Little Rock where I could see a majority of sanctimonious ignorance playing a part. Sheesh...no make that FUCK!

Jenna, 2007.04.10 (Tue) 13:48 [Link] »

Correction. It was Las Vegas to Detroit. But my suggestion still stands. From Sin City to Rock City...I doubt most would have agreed with this nosey ass. After all, what happens there stays there? I know...I apologize.

Belinda, 2007.04.10 (Tue) 19:12 [Link] »

Hey at least it was only swearing. Can you imagine what they would have done if the prude who complained came across Lisa Robertson and Ralph Fiennes going at it? (For those who don't know, Lisa is the Qantas hostie who got sacked for joining the mile high club with Ralph).

The Two Percent Company, 2007.04.10 (Tue) 20:23 [Link] »

Brian, you're absolutely right that all we can do, right now, is speculate. TimmyAnn is also absolutely right that, though your speculations may be closer to the truth of the situation, that is simply not how the story was reported by Reuters — which only makes the airline and the FAA look bad, if that's the case.

Jeff's father was a private pilot for most of his adult life (and owned a variety of planes), and Jeff himself has logged quite a few hours in the air (time constraints have put the possibility of getting his license on hiatus for now). We can certainly understand that you want your head to be clear when you're taking a heavier-than-air flying machine up to a few tens of thousands of feet, especially if you have a couple of hundred people aboard. However, your speculation doesn't ring quite right to our ears, for two reasons.

One regards your statement:

For a professional to curse in those circumstances could indicate that he had head-space problems.

See, to us, a professional cursing in those circumstances doesn't indicate "head-space problems" — it indicates that he's human. (Don't worry, we did notice the vital word "could" in your statement, and appreciate its importance in the context of what you're saying. We're just responding to the general assertion.)

Our other problem extends what we were talking about in our Rant: we just don't think that "cursing" alone is any reason to assume the pilot won't pretty immediately regain his composure and do his job. Just as our profanity can make our stubbed toe feel better, and we then calmly proceed with the rest of our daily activities, we believe the pilot would (and should) also be able to get out a few "fucks" or "shits" or "assholes" and then go on with his day. The difference here is not that the pilot's job involves the safety of a couple of hundred passengers and crew (after all, you folks don't really know what we do for a living), but rather that somebody felt the need to unfairly "call" the pilot on his very human behavior; if someone had a lofty, superior word to say about our swearing in response to a stubbed toe, you can bet your ass we'd tell them to fuck off, too (you've all seen that kind of thing on our site, numerous times!). Our gut reaction to this story is similar to Bronze Dog's — given what we know about people, and some of the currently popular trends in social interaction, we tend to think it was some prude who butted her nose in where she shouldn't have. We also think Tom Foss makes a good point, in that the pilot's retreat to the lavatory suggests he was at least making an effort to keep his excited utterances out of everybody's way (and we're aware of even more disturbing things going on in airplane lavatories than a few choice swears, no matter how loud they may be; an old college roommate proudly claimed membership in the "Half-Mile High Club" — half the number of people involved than are required for the Mile High Club, if you get the picture).

Of course, the fact remains that you've got at least one bit dead-on: your thoughts on the matter, our thoughts, TimmyAnn's, Tom Foss', Bronze Dog's...it's all just speculation, because nobody will let us know what the hell happened! We appreciate that you'd like to think the best about people — but do you mean you're giving the pilot the benefit of the doubt, or the passenger and the rest of the Swear Police? (Or Northwest, or the FAA, or Reuters...?)

Since posting the story, we've heard and read a bit more. On the afternoon radio show, the hosts went on and on about the pilot "going nuts" and "cursing out the passengers," which is not how this was originally reported — we took this with a grain of salt, of course, since these are the same radio guys who made a big deal about the "unremarkable anus" on Anna Nicole Smith's autopsy report (calling it the "headline" of the report — we know you're just entertainers, but get your facts straight, boys). In general, when the radio guys start exaggerating, we tend to believe the exact opposite of what they're saying.

However, another report of the same story has a slightly different take than the Reuters report we quoted:

...flight was canceled because the pilot was yelling obscenities during a cell phone conversation...

"He was having a fit, swearing up a storm," a passenger on the flight told CNN. "He was saying 'F this' and 'F that.'"

When confronted about it by passengers, the pilot became "obscene" and began cursing at the customers, she said. "He made a big disturbance."

This paints a very different picture — but is unfortunately not very convincing, coming as it does from some random eyewitness. (Anyone who believes eyewitnesses are typically reliable should spend a few minutes talking to an experienced police detective.) So again, we just don't know what happened in this instance...

...but our point about profanity (as usual) still stands. This fucking story would be simple to understand if the FAA and Northwest could just say what the fuck happened (and what the fuck was said, and how), and if the media could just report it without having to walk on eggshells for the virgins ears of idiots.

On a lighter note, though, this bit makes us feel better:

Passengers were accommodated on other flights to their destinations, the airline said.

So while we know that some of the passengers were delayed until Sunday, at least some of them may have made it to their Easter dinners on time. That's a good thing, after all the work those egg-laying rabbits put in for the occasion.

jenna, 2007.04.10 (Tue) 21:53 [Link] »

Dammit, the word is "noise" I hate when I re-read my posts and realize that there is a stupid typo like that (twice!). No time to proof read these things when your boss is just feet away and you are posting blogs on company time with your fingers in the alt-tab position during pauses.

jenna, 2007.04.10 (Tue) 21:56 [Link] »

Once again, I look like an idiot. I accidentally double clicked and posted twice. Please pardon.

[Double post deleted. No need to apologize for those. Despite the fact that our blogware is supposed to prevent that from happening, it still manages to happen to the best of us. We'll delete 'em when we see 'em — Ed.]

Infophile, 2007.04.13 (Fri) 19:49 [Link] »
...but our point about profanity (as usual) still stands. This fucking story would be simple to understand if the FAA and Northwest could just say what the fuck happened (and what the fuck was said, and how), and if the media could just report it without having to walk on eggshells for the virgins ears of idiots.

I've noticed the very same problem recently; the media gets all up in arms about some word that someone said and they can't even tell you what was said. Even euphemisms like "The F-word" might not help people who are just learning the language and haven't picked up all the vocabulary (not to mention it sounds childish).

So with that in mind, I'm sure you'll appreciate my efforts to reverse this form of censorship to point out how ridiculous it sounds. For instance, no longer will I say the letter "F"; it is now "The Fuck-letter." My current list of recommended profanities to replace letters is here. I still need recommendations for L, X, Y, and Z, so let me know if you think of anything.

TimmyAnn, 2007.04.13 (Fri) 20:03 [Link] »

Well, it's not really a swear, but if "vagina" counts than "L" could be The Labia-letter". EEEEEW!! Did I just type that?

Jason Spicer, 2007.04.13 (Fri) 23:57 [Link] »

Since you've got queer for Q, you could have lesbian for L.

While you're at it, I recommend uvula for U. It not only sounds dirty as hell, but I believe it sees plenty of x-rated action. Though I have to admit that unclefucker is inspired.

Speaking of which perhaps X could be the xxx letter.

I believe testicles are referred to as "yarbles" in A Clockwork Orange.

I'm stumped for Z, but it seems unlikely there isn't something that fits.

On the whole, however, I agree that the concept of referring to dirty words as "the F-word" or the "N-word" seems more likely to be something that third-graders do in order to avoid punishment, rather than something that adults do in order to avoid harming third-graders.

Tom Foss, 2007.04.14 (Sat) 00:15 [Link] »
you could have lesbian for L.
That would go well with the Showtime series "The L Word," about lesbians.

Belinda, 2007.04.15 (Sun) 19:23 [Link] »

I must be really really sheltered (or English must be my second language as I really speak Aussie)...but the N-word? That had me stumped until I checked out Infophile's great list. (And here I was thinking the N-word had something to do with my nether regions....)

IYce, 2007.06.01 (Fri) 10:21 [Link] »

Belinda-I'll go out on a limb here and ass.u.me that you're not from SE Queensland, otherwise you'd remember the attempts by a certain activist (Stephan Hagan) who was campaiging in 1999 to change the name of the E.S. 'Nigger' Brown stand in Toowoomba.



He then went on to mount a legal challenge in 2003 to force Dairy Farmers to change the name of its 'Coon' chedder cheese because the word coon is racist; despite it being the surname of its creater Edward William Coon and has always been stated on the packaging and advertising.
Fortunately common sense won out and his cases were dismissed (though the ES 'Nigger' Brown debarcle made it to the UN & has probably resulted in Toowoomba being rated as a place of human rights abuse).
And this juxtaposes quite nicely with the whole arguement for correct context when reporting things like a flight being cancelled because of a pilot's poor choice of words.
In this instance we see only one instance of a passenger being distressed by the pilot's faux par.
The way it is reported leads the reader to conclude that, as objectional as some of them may have found those naughty words, none of the other passegers felt that those words were uttered in a context that made them fearful of their safety.
But then again, the media loves to hold people in certain positions they designate to be positions of responsibility, to be more accountable for utterances that really are no different to those voiced by members of the common masses.
An instance springs to mind where a drunken idiot was pulled over by the police and, like any drunken belligerent, mouthed off his views on people not of his race or beliefs. The media beat up was not about what a total moron he was for endangering the lives and safety of any person travelling on that road by DUI, but what an asshole he was for saying what he said. Are we expected to believe that no other drunken asshole has made derogatory remarks when being arrested? Is slandering the Jews a more socially and ethically irresponsible action than driving when drunk?
That's the problem with the self-appointed thought police, they always miss the relevant context when looking for the beat up.


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