In 2006, Raed Jaer, an Iraqi-born U.S. resident, was forced by TSA officials and JetBlue to cover his t-shirt—it read, “We Will Not Be Silent” in both Arabic and English—before he could board a flight. The airline and the two TSA officials (TSA was not named in the suit) settled out of court last week for $240,000, although JetBlue still denies they did anything wrong, and the TSA says they don’t “condone profiling in any way shape or form.”
Here’s what happened back in August 2006:
After passing through security… [TSA and JetBlue officials] came up to him and asked him to change his shirt as, “people are feeling offended.”
Jaer replied, “Why do you want me to take off my t-shirt? Isn’t it my constitutional right to express myself in this way?” Inspector Harris said, “people here in the US don’t understand these things about constitutional rights.”
He added, “You can’t wear a t-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a t-shirt that reads “I am a robber” and going to a bank.”
When the settlement was announced, JetBlue took pains to make it clear that they’re only settling to avoid a protracted legal battle, and that they don’t think they did anything wrong, according to this email to the Washington Post:
“JetBlue continues to deny, outright, every critical aspect of Mr. Jarrar’s version of events,” airline spokeswoman Alison Croyle said in an e-mailed statement. Croyle added, “JetBlue believes diversity adds great strength to our company; diversity among our crewmembers as well as our customers.”
Diversity, and silence! And obedience! Lower your heads, cattle passengers of all colors, and submit to the skittish herd!
Anyway, we’re happy for Jaer. We’re also trying to come up with a good pseudo-terroristy tshirt design so we can try this ourselves.
“JetBlue, TSA Workers Settle in T-Shirt Case” [Washington Post]