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January 20, 2010

What is it about the UK and pedophiles?

Or should I say "suspecting everybody of being pedophiles?"

Another ridiculous story out of the UK, similar to their refusal to allow parents who haven't been screened to accompany their kids on playgrounds.

Now British Airways has a policy where, if they discover a child (either unaccompanied or with parents in a different row) sitting next to a man, the man will be asked to move.  Even if the man is with his own family.

Is there something in the water over there?
Mirko Fischer, an Australian businessman living in Luxembourg, is suing British Airways for "sexual discrimination."  He was sitting in the middle seat, next to his pregnant wife who thought the window seat would have more room, and next to a 12-year-old boy.  British Airways crews evidently stroll through the cabin before take-off and if they notice this kind of situation, they ask the male passenger to move.  Fischer said that he was with his pregnant wife, and the cabin crew started getting louder, drawing other passengers' attention to the altercation.  Finally, Fischer moved, but he was humiliated in the process.  He's suing, and he's going to be donating any winnings to the NSPCC (National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children).

"Mr Fischer, who lives in Luxembourg with his wife and their daughter Sophia, said: 'This policy is branding all men as perverts for no reason. The policy and the treatment of male passengers is absolutely outrageous.
'A plane is a public place  -  cabin crew regularly walk down the aisles and passengers are sat so close to each other. The risk of any abuse is virtually zero.

'Furthermore statistically children are far more likely to be abused by a member of their family. Does that mean that BA are going to ban children sitting next to their own parents?'"

I have to agree.  This policy basically says that any man is a suspected pedophile, and it's so ridiculous that I want to scream.   Have we all gone insane?

There are a couple of other things that I wish to note about this.

First, British Airways "Skyflyer Solo" policy states that a BA official will be with the child at all times.  So why would this child sitting next to a man be any danger?  Isn't it the official's job to keep an eye on the kid anyway?

Secondly, if this policy is so important to have in place, why can't it be that the *child* should be moved?  That has to be easier, especially in cases (like Mr. Fischer) where the man is traveling with *his* family.  And surely the child should be sitting with his/her guardian anyway, if traveling alone?  And if traveling with family but separated, how about Dad give up his seat for the kid?

But that's all practical matters.  What really pisses me off is the implication behind this policy.  It's just more "thought crime" legislation, this time without the thoughts!  It's not common knowledge that this policy is in place (I couldn't find it on their web site), so the other passengers must have really been wondering what Fischer was doing to be moved like that when voices started getting raised.

The nanny state is becoming more and more a reality every day.


  1. On the flip side I recently flew with my 11 year old (his first time flying) and the sold out (non assigned seating) flight refused to ask anyone to move so we could sit together. Yeah. My kid sat next to strangers for his first flight which he was super nervous about. I was not pleased.

    However this is ridiculous. Seriously. Where do you hear about all of this stuff Dave? lol

  2. Actually, I heard about this on Fox News' "Red Eye" show. LOL

    They did a segment about it.

    That's a horrible story about your child and flying! What a lack of customer service. And shame on any passenger in earshot who would have been able to move for not offering to, even if the clueless flight crew didn't do anything.

  3. I think that social change happens in waves between extremes. Society never settles upon the happy medium right away.

    The '80s were a time when a lot of child abuse issues started to come out into the open, so now society is swinging too far in the other direction and getting hyper protective. The same thing happened with the women's rights movement and the birth of ultra feminism, as well as the civil rights movement and reverse discrimination.

    Give it time, and the pendulum will swing back toward the other direction again.

  4. Dave,

    Although I agree that this may have gone to far as a parent of 3 girls I believe there is way to much child exploitation in the world today & until we find better ways to protect our children it's better to be safe then sorry. Children can't even go to the bathroom in Wal-Mart without being kidnapped & exploited...enough is enough.


  5. Bill

    While I agree with you, there has to be much better ways to do this. While we have to be protective of our children, we shouldn't make the pendulum (thanks, Jenn :)) swing so far the other way that we live in such fear that *everybody* is a potential threat.

    You're on a plane, an enclosed environment. Either the parents are also on the plane in another row (most of the time, I they're usually in the row next to them, either behind, in front, or across the aisle). What can happen here? Even if the parents are sitting somewhere else, shouldn't they be occasionally interacting with the child once the plane is in the air?

    And if the child is flying alone, then they're supposed to be part of that service BA is offering, and they're supposed to be accompanied by a BA official to begin with. Again, what can happen?

  6. Jenn: Thanks for your comment! And the word choice. :) Hopefully the pendulum will swing back soon. But in a society that has the most closed-circuit cameras per capita in the world (the UK), I don't see it happening any time soon.

  7. I agree with you on this one Dave - why was an innocent man's integrity doubted in this situation? I would question BA's organisational response to this and their ability to devise an appropriate strategy for this situation.

    I have left a tag for you over at my site, if you have time it might be a bit of fun to complete.

    have a great weekend

  8. Thanks for the comment, livemorenow!

    I think I will have to wait to address your tag, until I have the brainpower to actually come up with something. :)


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