Tom the Dancing Bug: Muslim on a Plane



  1. Sympathetic depiction of a bigot plus perpetuation of the myth that there is such a thing as Muslim clothing? Shouldn’t we be forming a lynch mob?

    1. > Sympathetic depiction of a bigot plus perpetuation of the
      > myth that there is such a thing as Muslim clothing?
      > Shouldn’t we be forming a lynch mob?

      “Tower to Moriarity, I noticed that your Humor appears to be in the “retracted” position. Double check the setting of the ‘Humor’ switch for us, would you?”

      1. “Tower to Moriarity, I noticed that your Humor appears to be in the “retracted” position. Double check the setting of the ‘Humor’ switch for us, would you?”

        Actually that was a pretty spot on satire of a segment of commenters here at BB. ;-)

  2. Muslim or not, armrest terrorists are the worst kind of terrorists* and he should be wrestled to the ground and interrogated.

    * except for the kind that hurt people

  3. Ridiculous.
    When someone sits next to me on a plane the only things I care about are:
    1. Are they going to spill over into my seat or elbow me?
    2. Are they going to try to engage me in conversation about a topic that does not interest me?
    3. Do they smell bad?
    4. Are they going to be slow and in the way when the plane lands and I want to get off promptly?

    I couldn’t care less what ethnic group or religion they are.

    1. What airlines are you flying with where you can get off the plane promptly?

      I always have a little internal laugh at the people who, in their haste to get off the plane “promptly”, jump out of their seats the moment the plane stops moving, put on their jacket, grab their carry-on bags, and then stand in the aisle for 15 minutes, sweating in their outdoor clothes. It’s perfectly understandable – I’d love to get off the plane for a stretch right away too – but it doesn’t make it any less silly.

      If I let you get out of your seat, but then sit back down and read my book a while longer, does it still make me a slow deplaning terrorist?

      1. There are some folks who need to just stand up after sitting in cramped quarters for a long time. I pop up and get into the aisle immediately when the plane stops, not so I can get off the plane any faster, but because I’m six feet tall and have arthritis in my knees that is aggravated by sitting in the same position for any length of time. I’m usually standing in the aisle with my stuff trying to stay upright while my joints rework themselves so I *can* walk off the plane once the door opens. :)

      2. I didn’t say anything derogatory about people who are slow. I was just being honest about being frustrated by being stuck behind them.

  4. Always glad when there’s a new TtDB strip released.
    These are the kind of irrational thoughts everyone goes through, whether it’s people on a plane, whether the plane will crash in turbulence, whether there are 2-way mirrors in public bathrooms, whether someone’s snooping your wifi whilst you study pr0n.
    We’re constantly being assailed by thought processes which make no sense. If we could peek into eachother’s heads we’d be shocked, so it’s a good thing that we’re judged on our actions rather than our thoughts.
    TtDB, true to form and funny as hell, as usual.

  5. The passenger is both inconsiderate and violating FAA regulations to leave his knapsack on the adjacent seat. It should’ve been stowed in the proper place.

  6. @mitch – I have to ask – have you watched the news lately? Are you aware of what this is referencing?

    1. I don’t have a TV, so no, I don’t know of any incident this cartoon is referring to. Maybe it’s a reference to Juan Williams remarks. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m indifferent to the ethnicity and religion of the other passengers on a plane.

      Who called anyone a terrorist, dragonfrog? In some situations if you’re quick about it you can be on your feet a split second after permission is given to unfasten your seat belt and make substantial progress toward the exit before the aisle standers get up. It’s like being at a light that turns green. Everyone wants to go, but some people take a few seconds to respond and others have their foot ready to move from the break to the accelarator the instant the light changes. Thanks for being condescending, though.
      What the cartoon made me think of when I looked at it a second time was being around black people I don’t know well and feeling some anxiety about inadvertently doing something that would offend them and be perceived as racist. I wonder if black people are aware of that.

      1. Are you the same around asian people? Jews? Muslims? Or any other type of person who is slightly different to you?
        Don’t worry about others’ perceptions, nor tread on eggshells. People who want to take offence will always take it, regardless of whether it’s given or not. In fact it can’t be given, it can only be taken.

        1. Well, I grew up in a community where the only black people were a handful of ABC students so I wasn’t socialized to know how to interact with them, plus I tend to have some social awkwardness and a lack of talkativeness which has often been misconstrued as a superior attitude, so it’s natural to have some anxiety about how to behave around them. I’d rather be a little too worried about whether people feel that I’m treating them as equals than not care.

          1. When a 6′-2″ blond guy shows up in an isolated village in the Himalayas, everybody comes over to be friendly and socialize, because you stand out like a sore thumb. If you’re in San Francisco, you might see people in sarongs, salvars, saris, Buddhist and Eastern Orthodox nuns in habits, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Cosmic Lady all in a normal afternoon, so nobody pays any attention. An airplane is much closer to the San Francisco end of the melting pot continuum than it is to the isolated Himalayan village end.

            Didn’t we used to try not to act like gomers in public?

          2. A minor point of etiquette: I thought that “act like a gomer” referred to Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.


            There is no doubt that Gomer was a bit thick and unworldly, but as a model for friendliness and welcoming of strangers, Gomer was tops. Aunt Bee always said, “If you can’t be nice, be nice”. There’s nothing wrong with acting like a gomer.

          3. Didn’t we used to try not to act like gomers in public?

            I’m gonna say ‘no’. But we certainly didn’t put as much effort into it.

        2. “Are you the same around asian people?” Actually, when I asked the Chinese guy in the cube next to me what was the best Chinese restaurant in town I remembered the Seinfeld episode where the Chinese mailman got really mad when Jerry asked him a similar question. We were having a conversation about food, though, so I went ahead and asked. He wasn’t offended but unfortunately he informed me that there is no good Chinese food in Madison.

      2. “Who called anyone a terrorist, dragonfrog? (…) Thanks for being condescending, though.”

        Hey, I was just kidding around – no condescension intended. Sorry if I offended you. I was going more for a response like Mark Dow’s, above…

  7. Call this a confession: something very much like this happened to me. In 2002 while waiting for a plane to DC I noticed a fellow passenger in traditional Muslim garb. He had a dark complexion and a neatly-trimmed beard and wore a loose-fitting black robe with a brimless hat. He sat far away from the rest of the waiting passengers studying a small book with great intensity. The logical side of my brain walked through a script much like the one in the above comic:

    “There are 1.5 billion Muslims and only a few dozen are actual terrorists. Maybe he’s a nervous flier, studying the Koran to calm himself. I don’t like these commuter flights either. Hell, maybe that’s not even the Koran. Maybe it’s a PG Wodehouse novel.” However, the emotional side of my brain was going into panic mode while simultaneously triggering a further “What the hell is wrong with me?” reaction.

    After a few minutes boarding started and we all stood up. That’s when I realized that the swarthy man in a robe was a Catholic priest studying his Bible. I felt like a complete dick. Not just because I’d freaked out over nothing, but because I let the fearmongers in our society get to me.

  8. What an idea! Instead of messy bombings, Al Qaeda(?) should hire men and women to take random flights and talk incessantly to their neighbors about stupid stuff. They should also make a practice of going to the restroom several times per flight, and fiddling around with their luggage and overcoats for long periods of time while blocking the aisle during boarding and exiting the plane.

    1. I don;t really see why they need any new plans.

      The aim of a terrorist is to grip people in terror. In most of the western world that happened long ago. When people esay ‘the terrorists already won’, that’s a literal summary, not a metaphore.

  9. I’m not Muslim but I wear a kufi all the time. I just like them. they fit well on a shaven head. :)

  10. I rode the train every day to Philly for five years. I was in a train that caught fire, a train that skidded for over half a mile on wet leaves, a train that lifted up off the tracks due to high water (plugged drain in tunnel), and once a kid dropped a huge rock from an overpass and it smashed through the window at 60mph and hit the engineer right in the face.

    I had smelly people and clinically insane people and humorless people and various kinds of outspoken bigots sit next to me and engage me in conversation.

    But the scariest experience I ever had was when a white man in a conservative business suit with a large leather briefcase sat next to me. He was sweating all over his face, pale as a sheet, and he took out a well-thumbed bible from his pocket and mumblingly read it aloud, quietly but continuously, for the two hour train ride. He was the very image of sheer terror barely held in check, you could tell he was trying not to scream all the time.

    His fear was infectious, and by the second hour I was convinced that his briefcase was full of dynamite, and we were all going to die.

    But apparently he was just pathologically afraid of trains.

  11. The Muslims (or any -ims) who are going to blow up planes don’t dress like “Muslims”. They dress like Joe from Dubuque, probably in a t shirt and jeans, so as not to arouse suspicion.

    1. I also worry about Joe from Dubuque (not them dressed like him). Gives me the willies when Joe is wearing a bad tux with bow tie.

  12. “I wasn’t socialized to know how to interact with them”.
    They’re people, not aliens. You interact with ‘them’ the way you would any ordinary person. Nobody requires any special treatment. As long as you show respect, you needn’t worry how that may be perceived. Respect is recognized even when languages aren’t.
    I didn’t see that Seinfeld episode, but you reminded me of a Friends episode where Chandler says (whilst deciding on a chinese takeaway) “of course, in China they just call it take-away”.

    1. They’re people, not aliens. You interact with ‘them’ the way you would any ordinary person.

      Yes, of course. That doesn’t help the fact that when you see someone who looks different in some way from all the other people you’re used to seeing, sometimes the reflex is to treat them differently.

      I grew up in a neighborhood with South Asians, Christians of European descent, Jews of both European and Middle-Eastern descent, and Athiests of all description – except black Africans. I watched the Cosbey show regularly on TV, saw all sorts of African Americans in the media and in the movies, but I literally never met a black Canadian until I was 13. Even at 13 I totally knew that “They’re people, not aliens”, but it was still something outside my personal experience, and I ALSO knew that my parents aren’t exactly tolerant, and nearly tied myself up in knots with angst over whether I might say something ignorant-sounding and/or downright offensive just because of hearing it so often.

      I can still totally tie myself up in knots like that over all kinds of stupid social things, but this is one I’m not as angsty about any more. I suspect I still look faintly startled when I look up and notice the person behind the cash register is black, but yes, I don’t get the introspective wangst any more.

      Obviously I’d rather be the kind of person who doesn’t notice at all, and it would be nice if everyone was. Until that happens, I’ll take surprise and selfconciousness as a moderate improvement over hostility.

      1. I had a similar experience growing up. First living in an Asian community, then being one of two white kids in a 99% Hispanic grade school. Both situations seem absolutely normal to me. Later, I had African friends (Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana). My childhood conditioned me to think that was “normal.”

        Moving to the Midwest, I found I was sometimes uncomfortable around African American strangers (but not African). I sometimes have the thought that “This guy hates me because I’m white.” A tad irrational, and all I can think is I picked it up from the media (or I’m psychic and really do irk the hell out of African Americans).

        All I can say is knowing it’s a dumb reaction is the first step to fixing it.

        Now I live in a 98% white community (small, rural), which totally creeps me out (I need some Mexican polka). It bothers my wife too. We don’t want our kids growing up thinking this is normal. We’re doing some things, but I’d be open to more good suggestions.

        1. Now I live in a 98% white community (small, rural), which totally creeps me out (I need some Mexican polka). It bothers my wife too. We don’t want our kids growing up thinking this is normal. We’re doing some things, but I’d be open to more good suggestions.

          Adoption! Give your kids some non-white siblings, it has worked great for my family.

          Most children in care are non-white. They need you.

  13. It’s funny coz the humour is about internal angst and insecurity – that thing that happens when two parts of our mind have a disagreement, and the resulting confusion causes us to embarrass ourselves in public. Happens to me at least weekly.

  14. For me, the weirdest experience I had on a flight was on a business trip. I was exhausted, but the guy next to me keeps jabbering on about the emergency landing procedures like it’s some kind of conspiracy. Then he tells me how to make napalm out of orange juice. The thing is, he was just another white guy like me. We even had the same briefcase.

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