10A018 Slater's Exit by Jim Davies, 9/6/2010

Sunday's breaking news was that a flight attendant and his employer agreed to terminate their contract.

Steven Slater used to work for the airline, Jet Blue; but not any more. The parting seems to have been by mutual consent. In August Slater lost his cool after some passenger was stroppy with him, opened the plane's door, deployed the escape chute, grabbed some beers and jumped out, saying he quit. As a way to resign a job it was creative enough to get him immediate nationwide news coverage along with a handsome following on a social network.

He was being paid to be polite to the airline's customers, but also to control them in the interests of safety, in an inherently dangerous environment. That is a basic contradiction or tension in the responsibilities of all air crew, and while Slater had managed it for several years, there came a point that day when he snapped. It's not hard to understand and empathize. Some woman stood up while the plane was still taxiing, and opened the overhead bin to remove bags; had the pilot had to brake suddenly, others could have been injured. So Slater asked the lady please to sit down, as previously reminded. She responded with unladylike language, and then the above exit was executed. Now, the severance is complete.

None of the parties involved suffered much damage. Slater vented his frustration, Jet Blue cleverly de-planed the lady and all other passengers before government people arrived to delay them, then got some unusual publicity after having to re-stow the escape chute and replace the beers. So that should be the end of that; but it isn't. An unwanted fourth party, government, has got itself involved. Tomorrow, Slater has a court date.

The government is charging him with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and criminal trespass. If convicted, he might have to live seven years in one of its prisons. This is ludicrous. Nobody is harmed, yet Slater could be punished. This is a fine illustration of the chasm between law and reality; between equity (the fair settlement of disputes) and crime (the breaking of a government law.)

In the coming zero government society, since there will be no government there will be no laws, and therefore no crimes. Any and all disputes will be settled on the basis of compensation, restitution; and if none can be shown to be due and owing, that will be the end of that. As it should be.

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