Monday, January 18, 2016

Please Pass the Turkey?

About ten years ago was the first time that I saw something on the Internet where I couldn’t figure out whether or not it was a legitimate news story or a creative work of fiction.  This type of puzzle has become more and more common since then.

The latest comes from Fox News, and I had to read the entire article to make sure it wasn’t from the Onion or another satirical site.  It involved a turkey allowed to board a Delta flight as a support or comfort animal.  “The passenger provided proper documentation proving the fowl was indeed their emotional support animal, so Delta let the bird on board, and even gave it its own seat.”  No information was available to determine if the passenger was pulling someone’s leg, trying to win a bet, or putting one over on the airline; but according to Federal law, airlines are required to accommodate support animals or face fines up to $150,000 for refusing legitimate requests.  The article points out that airlines have little recourse since “as those requests increase, so does the threat of a lawsuit.”

Increasingly and regardless of the paperwork, there is some question about the legitimacy of these claims as it is very easy to get a therapist to write a note, which is all it takes.  In addition websites are available where, for a fee of between $60 and $200, people can order emotional support vests and necessary letters allowing them to fly with their pets for free at any time while possibly faking the disability.

A few questions come to mind.  Aren’t airlines crowded enough with the smaller seats, less legroom and the mad dash for overhead bin space to avoid baggage fees without having to share the row with someone’s “support” critter?  After the turkey precedent to what ridiculous lengths will some people be willing to take this privilege to overcome their fear of flying?  Will you be sitting next to a parakeet cage or a goat on your next flight?

The most important question is whether America, with all our compassion, is turning into a “victimocracy,” a form of government, or at least a form of commerce where the vote of one victim outweighs the votes of dozens or even hundreds of other people just trying to live routine lives?  Will the claim of having a disease, a phobia, or some minor disability override the rights of the majority in more and more situations.  Notice that these people are never asked to compromise.  They insist on their full rights (sometimes threatening to sue if they don't get them).  As I have pointed out before, every right granted to one introduces an obligation to everyone else to respect that right, regardless of cost or inconvenience.

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