Not long ago, United demanded a black passenger remove her official Marvel "Black Panther" hat because it made someone uncomfortable. This weekend, United refused to even challenge a white passenger wearing a "Rope. Tree. Journalist" shirt, no matter who it made uncomfortable.
Jessica Sidman on Twitter:
My brother is on a @united flight from LA to Boston and saw this guy boarding with a shirt that reads “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required.”
He told the flight attendant and she asked what he wanted her to do.
He told her he didn’t want one passenger threatening to kill other passengers.
He told her @United should do the right thing. She went to talk to the captain.
Then security pulled my brother off the plane. He talked to a security official.
The security guy said they couldn’t do anything just because it was offensive.
My brother said it wasn’t offensive, it was THREATENING.
They offered to put my brother on another flight. They didnt say anything to the guy with the shirt.
Then, in a statement to Forbes,
Sidman’s brother said he chose to bring the matter to United’s attention because, “I did not think one passenger should be allowed to threaten other passengers (be it on a shirt, on a sign or verbally) and that United should do the right thing.
“I didn’t want this to be about United appeasing me, a single customer,” he wrote.” I wanted the airline I flew not to sanction the threatening of murder of any group.”
One arguable defense is that the shirt is rhetorical hyperbole, airlines shouldn't apply security theater to attire, and that neither man should be removed from their flights. This would at least be consistent. But the fact is they constantly police passengers' appearance and the inconsistency here—United's staff making an exception to policy for a racist, fascist message that they don't personally feel threatened by—would occur even if the policies were reasonable.