Steven Slater, Hero (?)

The news item about Steven Slater, Jet Blue’s rogue flight attendant who cussed out a defiant passenger, activated the emergency chute, grabbed a beer or two, and slid out of the plane at JFK Airport, was available online on Monday night at the NYT website:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/nyregion/10attendant.html?hp

Included in the article was information about Slater’s recent history of parentcare: “Neighbors in California, where Mr. Slater grew up, said he had recently been caring for his dying mother, a retired flight attendant, and had done the same for his father, a pilot.”

You think maybe the man was feeling overwhelmed?

Yet the two accounts of the story that I watched this morning on TV–both on NBC–didn’t seem to think the parentcare element was worth mentioning. Apparently it was a lot more fun to act incredulous. On the Today Show, a couple of minutes past 7 A.M., Matt Lauer interviewed a Jet Blue passenger and seemed mildly amused at Slater’s rashness; two hours later, Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford grinned while they chatted about whether Slater deserved the heroic status accorded him by a surprising number of viewers.

Yes, the story is interesting. Yes, many of us can sympathize with Slater’s frustration at having to deal with a stubborn, uncooperative passenger. But it’s silly to make him a hero. The poor guy will deservedly lose his job for acting so unprofessionally and irresponsibly.

On the other hand, it’s silly, unprofessional, and irresponsible of NBC (and, I’m betting, many of the other “news” outlets) to tell the story without including the blatantly extenuating circumstance of Slater’s ailing mother and recently deceased father.

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4 Responses to Steven Slater, Hero (?)

  1. Old School Grump says:

    Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m not exactly the reader you dream of. But remember, I’m the one who refers to CF as a FATMR (foaming at the mouth republican), and who often categorizes myself as a “Dem in despair.”

    If I had to state the core of the despair in one sentence, it would be this: Why have the Ds let the Rs completely hijack the idea of personal responsibility?

    If I were given the chance to elaborate on that, I’d ask … a whole bunch of stuff. Why shouldn’t public school teachers be evaluated by classroom results, and rewarded, or not, or fired, accordingly? (I understand the system of evaluation would have to be quite different from that in any for-profit situation, but it could be done.) Why should anyone be immune from layoffs, and why should anyone enjoy an ironclad pension agreement? (I was a 1990 Drexel Burnham refugee, one of thousands with an unimpressive salary in the five figures, so I’m gonna be a tough sell here.) Why am I supposed to help people who “got in over their heads” with their mortgages, when I see their bass boats and four-wheelers whenever I drive past their homes? (Remember, I don’t live in Greenwich anymore!)

    You get my drift. Somehow, helping people who have been genuinely, often profoundly, disadvantaged has morphed into helping people who have decided to abdicate their responsibilities as adults. I want to help the former, but I seem to have been drafted to provide financial clean-up services for the latter. Not happy ’bout this.
    Please advise. Remember … I’m on your side (or, at least, I want to be).

    • Grump,

      I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to post your message as an original item rather than as a reply, because (a) it deserves attention on its own merit, and (b) it doesn’t really apply to the “Steven Slater, Hero” entry where you posted it as a Comment.

      • Old School Grump says:

        LLS, you’re right that my comment was off topic, I just didn’t know where else to put it. And of course I think it’s great that you’ve put my name up in lights!

  2. Pingback: Challenge from Old School Grump! | Last Liberal Stand

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