About that $240,000 T-shirt case

The AFP reported earlier today on the case of a Muslim man who was awarded $240,000 from an airline (JetBlue) that made him cover up a T-shirt that apparently had a provacative Arabic message on it:

NEW YORK (AFP) – An airline passenger forced to cover his T-shirt because it displayed Arabic script has been awarded 240,000 dollars in compensation, campaigners said Monday.

Raed Jarrar received the pay out on Friday from two US Transportation Security Authority officials and from JetBlue Airways following the August 2006 incident at New York’s JFK Airport, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced.

“The outcome of this case is a victory for free speech and a blow to the discriminatory practice of racial profiling,” said Aden Fine, a lawyer with ACLU.

Jarrar, a US resident, was apprehended as he waited to board a JetBlue flight from New York to Oakland, California, and told to remove his shirt, which had written on it in Arabic: “We will not be silent.”

He was told other passengers felt uncomfortable because an Arabic-inscribed T-shirt in an airport was like “wearing a T-shirt at a bank stating, I am a robber,'” the ACLU said.

Jarrar eventually agreed to cover his shirt with another provided by JetBlue. He was allowed aboard but his seat was changed from the front to the back of the aircraft.

There is a lot more to this story, which the AFP – of course – leaves out. Tigerhawk’s got the background on Jarrar’s case and emphasizes why this was no “victory” for free speech, nor is Jarrar any kind of “hero” for the “stand” he took against the airline.

Think about it this way: You and I both know that when the ACLU gets involved, rarely does any good come out of it. This case is no exception.

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