Before I begin this post, let me say that I am biased. I work in the airline industry and have loved aviation since I was a child. So that does "color" my opinion quite a bit.
Having said that, I must say that I am tired of people in the media and entertainment industry saying how afraid they are to fly. "But wait," you say. "It's a free country and people are entitled to say whatever they want." I agree. Hey, I love freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc. Heck, I love all the freedoms we have in this country and I am forever indebted to those brave souls who have given their lives to protect those freedoms. But, I think that a certain amount of discretion is necessary when you voice your opinion. Freedom of speech does not protect you from yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theater. Granted, there is a difference in between causing a stampede in a darkened auditorium and telling a national TV audience that you won't get on an airplane, but the effects are similar in a way. In both instances, you are spreading fear and panic.
What exactly am I talking about? I was watching a re-broadcast of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and he had Arsenio Hall as his guest. Arsenio was cracking jokes about airline security and Jay was playing off of that, throwing jokes in where he could. I realize that they were making light of our new, more somber reality since 9/11, and that, in itself, is not such a bad thing. But when I say "flying is still safe" who hears it? Just the people within the sound of my voice. When Jay Leno says "I won't get on an airplane", millions of people hear it. Who know more about aviation, me or Jay? Me, of course; it's my job. But, he's a celebrity and people are going to listen to his comments and take them to heart, as innocent as he might believe them to be.
Now a few of you are probably saying, "Flying isn't safe! Look what happened!" OK, I am painfully aware of that and no, I am not sticking my head in the sand. To those people, I admit that the system is not perfect, but the government and the airlines have taken steps to improve airline security and I defy you to find a safer mode of transportation than commercial air travel. And who would have ever believed that terrorists would have used passenger aircraft as guided missiles? Now that it HAS happened, I would argue that flying is safer now than before those tragedies earlier in the year.
My example with Jay is just one instance of this "irresponsibility". I've heard similar statements on "Dateline" and "60 Minutes" as well as local talk radio stations. I don't have a problem with personal opinions, but I do have a problem with people who are spouting their own personal fears and trying to put a factual spin on them.
Before I started this topic, I said that I am biased. Negative press affects me more directly than those of you who have chosen aviation as a hobby. A few of you might say, "So what? I hope that all the airlines go under and that we have to take trains everywhere." You too, are entitled to your opinion, as misguided and unrealistic as it may be. Just try telling that to all the furloughed airline employees who are scrambling to provide a decent Christmas for their families. And who knows, YOU might be next, because when people lose their jobs, they aren't buying the goods and services that YOU provide and maybe your company will have to let YOU go. That's why I think that those people standing on the platform of celebrity need to think before they speak.
OK, I'm done. Flame away.