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08 December 2005

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Beth!

Maybe he ran into Tom Cruise in Equador and that's why he went off the meds.

Wendy

And this is what 9/11 has done to our mindset. We are all afraid and suspicious of everyone. Even people who are ill--we question if it's a sham or for real. It's sad really. Score one for the terrorists.

Jeff

It is sad that this mentally-ill man engaged in life-threatening (to himself and potentially others) behavior that ultimately resulted in his death. I'm sure that thousands of mentally ill people engage in life threatening behavior every day. I don't see this as any sadder than any of those other cases - just more sensational and unfortunate that he endangered others.

If you yell "bomb" on a plane, you gotta go down. Pre 9/11, post 9/11, air marshalls, no air marshalls, whatever.

The cops aren't supposed to play fair and they're not supposed to take a chance that a nutty guy and his frazzled spouse are just bluffing. They're supposed to eliminate threats and they're supposed to err on the side of caution (in this case the safety of many over one). That's their job. They're not there to protect nuts from themselves.

I have no problem with what happened yesterday. Had there been no air marshalls on board, I would hope the passengers would've done whatever they felt appropriate to protect themselves.

And that has nothing to do with 9/11 and I don't feel that the terrorists should "score one". Dangerous individuals in volatile situations were a source of concern well before 9/11.

Jeff

And speaking for myself only, I'm not "afraid and suspicious" of everyone... Just dudes on my flight who say they have a bomb and may or may not be of sound mind.

In that case, yeah - you've got my undivided attention.

Wendy

My,my...where to begin. I seem to have struck a chord. Perhaps I should make myself a bit more clear to any and all with a deep burning anger within their heart towards those of us who can find the empathetic side to situations like the air marshall shooting. I am not opposed to what happened--clearly the man shouting, "bomb" could only be viewed as a valid threat. And I hope said Air Marshall and the deceased's family is getting the support he/they need. HOWEVER, to suggest that 9/11 and terrorist threats have NOT affected our mindset as individuals and as a nation is utterly naive. Pre-9/11 the man would definately have been subdued but I really doubt an air marshall would have been present to shoot him dead. Terrorism has changed the rules of engagement. Shoot first, ask questions later. Protect America. Terrorism scored a hit when they forever changed the way in which Americans protect themselves. Further, cops "not supposed to play fair"???? All these years I thought cops were protectors (as in this sad case)and their entire credo is to dole out justice when the rules get broken--which, by the way--is a very fair way to play. While some may live in a black and white world...I choose to see the shades of gray in between.

Beth!

Actually, they didn't shoot and ask questions later. They tried to talk to the guy, and went through all other official air marshall protocols before firing. At least that's what I read about the incident.

You're right Wendy, there probably wouldn't have been air marshalls on that flight pre 9/11 BUT we did have a limited number of air marshalls back then so on a flight from Equador... who knows? There could have been one.

Also, I doubt this is the first mentally ill person to be shot by police, just the most recent. Sad but true.

Beth!

sorry, I meant flight from Miami, not Equador.

Jeff

Wendy, I have no anger at all. But my opinion is that your emapthy is misplaced. There were a lot of completely innocent, sane people on that flight. People that were probably relieved to see that guy droppped by the Marshalls without a bomb detonating and killing them. They have my empathy.

"Further, cops "not supposed to play fair"????"
Yup - exactly. Not to say they're crooked, they play by the rules (for the most part) - it's just that the rules are all set in their favor. Try pulling a cop over for speeding or shooting a cop because you think he's dangerous some time. They're endowed with powers that we don't have. I think they used their powers (and judgement) correctly here.

"Shoot first, ask questions later..."
None of the accounts that I've read so far have indicated that the Marshalls silently drew their weapons and blew this guy away. The investigation and eye witness accounts will sort that out, but I don't think anyone at the scene is accusing them of "shooting first...".

While I think 9/11 changed a lot of things, I don't think it changed anything here. A nut on a plane claiming to have a bomb has always been a threat and a nightmare. And while the odds of an Air Marshall being present pre-9/11 were less, the means for dealing with such a threat probably haven't changed that much.

I think if you were there, you would probably feel very differently about this.

BLAUGRA

Severely mentally ill people who are untreated can endanger themselves and everyone around them just by their very existence.

I find this case to be very disturbing and yet I hope it has raised more of society's awareness about the dangers of people afflicted with bipolar disorder "going off their meds." which is a common occurrence in the course of treating the disease and only makes the person worse in the long run.

I do not find the US Marshalls at fault. A cop can not be a social worker too. And it's easy to understand how this situation got out of control. It's a blameless tragedy which is hard for americans to comprehend. It's easy to just blame the guy-off-his-meds because now he's dead.

Now I'm dreading the guilt-by-association labels to start spreading around - "oh, you have bipolar disorder? where's the bomb, you psycho?" because now more than ever people who deal with this illness have to be able to talk about it.

Wendy

It is with extreme relief that I say "thank god you are not a soldier or an officer". No offense, Jeff, but your opinions regarding this situation scare me. And please don't tell me where I should and should not place my empathy. Frankly, the discussion between you and I is fruitless as you appear to have a much different mindset regarding society than I do. I don't care to continue this dialogue with you and will refrain from posting on the BLOG again regarding this topic. Perhaps when you've experienced a bit more of life you'll be more interesting to talk to.

BLAUGRA

oh my! this is almost as controversial as our "football is gay" discussion.

but I hope you all get the very important point that Tom Cruise is a horrible influence and I fear for his unborn alien child. (wink)

Jeff

Wendy, didn't mean to scare or offend. And we are both extremely relieved that I am not an officer or a soldier (or an Air Marshall), so we do have that in common. If you're scared of me for merely siding with them, then actual Air Marshalls must be terrifying.

If you'll go back and review my comment, you'll see that I wasn't telling you where to place your empathy. I was offering another perspective and stating where my empathy lies - noting that your empathy did not seem to extend to the many people involved who had nothing at all to do with that incident, but were almost certainly impacted by it. Maybe you just failed to mention them...?

I also agree that we probably have very different mindsets here. But, I disagree that conversation between people like us is "fruitless". On the contrary, I enjoy discussions with people who feel differently that I do and often find these discussions to be fruitful. I feel that my perspective on this issue is broader now because of Blaugra's post and the ensuing discussion.

Maybe additional life experience will change this, but for now I like it this way. Maybe someday, I'll only talk to people I agree with and who agree with me and people like you will view me as interesting.

Seriously though. Sorry if I upset you.

Tom

The first news reports of this incident contained unequivocal statements about the deceased man stating he had a bomb. Since then, I've heard at least one statement claiming that the man said, "I've got to get off this plane," (oddly reminiscent of Blaugra's fictitious account of the incident). I'm not saying that the initial accounts are incorrect, only that the situation now seems potentially more ambiguous than originally described. Like the guy who was shot by the London police last summer, I think what we saw here was another tragic consequence of heightened alarm on the part of people charged with protecting the public. Split second decisions are often wrong, and mostly made for completely understandable reasons.

Especially when those decisions are made by inexperienced people. Odds are these air marshalls have not been on the job more than 24 months (there were less than 50 air marshalls before 9/11, more than 4,000 today.) I doubt that either of these two officers had ever drawn his weapon while on duty before, certainly never in an airplane. I'm not second guessing, only suggesting some of what will occur during the "after action review" that gets conducted after any incident
like this one.

I think you'll usually find that a complex set of circumstances create tragedies.

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