American Eagle doesn’t quite get the whole “rights” thing

Published June 6, 2012

An American Eagle flight attendant apparently got into a shouting match with some unruly passengers, and basically said, “If you want off this flight, now’s the time. Otherwise you’re stuck with me.” Thing is, he didn’t say it in a very nice way. And some people shot video.

Forget him and what he did. Here was American Airline spokesman Ed Martelle’s comment about the video: “Unauthorized photography or video recording of airline personnel, other customers, aircraft equipment or procedures is strictly prohibited. This video is was not authorized by American Eagle or American Airlines.”

Um, guess what, Ed? You don’t have to authorize video. Rights work the other way — the right to shoot is the default, unless you take it away. And a lot of time you aren’t allowed to take it away. With 100-something people on the plane, no one had an expectation of privacy, especially because the flight attendant was speaking to the entire cabin. So no, whoever shot the video was perfectly within his rights. (Further, it could be argued that there was news value to the footage, making Martelle’s claim even less relevant.)

We really, really, need to disabuse people of this notion that you require permission to take pictures or video. Remember, rights aren’t granted, only taken away.

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