Before you lynch United Airlines, get the whole story, and stop defending the ridiculous behavior of David Dao

By Ben Alonzo

On April 9, 2017, United Airlines had to remove a passenger with a history of trouble, but that wasn’t the headline you’ve probably seen. Bits and pieces of videos and passenger accounts tell only half of the story. The internet is a great thing, but it’s also full of stupid people that could care less about facts. America has a perpetually outraged culture that finds anything it can to be angry about and the mainstream media is happy to feed that culture. A fabrication or misleading story can make it around the world in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, if you’re the business owner, you may be at the receiving end of a digital lynching. This is 2017 and we should be past lynching people, but the ignorant court of public opinion is continuously finding its next victim. There’s more to the story and people should not call for a boycott of the company without first considering all of the facts.

Before You Lynch United Airlines, Get the Facts

Dr. David Dao, a 69 year old man, was taken off United Express Flight 3411 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Sunday (4/9/17). Social media blew up with short clips of what appeared to be an older man babbling something and bleeding from his mouth. A full video of the entire incident has not been publicly available. United Airlines regularly has to bump people from flights, but it’s only a small percentage, usually as a necessity to allow for other employees to get to where they need to go. This is standard practice, not new, and happens all of the time. In fact, most people are compensated more than their original ticket price and go about their way. It might be inconvenient for the average passenger, but what happened on United 3411 was discussed all over the internet this Monday.

It’s easy to play quarterback as an anonymous person on the internet, fueled by outrage hashtags and Facebook posts. However, those of us that are professionals and have been bumped off of flights before know this behavior is unacceptable, especially for a doctor.

I have been bumped off of countless flights because I regularly fly. You might be angry or inconvenienced, but if you have any experience with flying at all you have a backup plan. Certainly, if you’re some kind of critical doctor, you should be leaving earlier, have a backup plan, purchase another ticket, or make a more reasonable plea, as a professional, to the company and passengers. I immediately questioned the claims of needing to see patients or that this was some kind of critical doctor. Maybe this was because I think with a scientific mind, focused on evidence, facts, logic, the whole picture and reason, instead of blind outrage and emotion.

Some of the pictures and a few Twitter videos looked bad, but this wasn’t the whole story. Before lynching United Airlines, it would be smart to find out more information.

As far as the premise of him being a doctor needing to see patients? There is a lady in one video repeatedly saying “this isn’t right, oh my God.” If any one of these selfish, gutless, hypocritical passengers said this doctor should have a priority, be allowed to break the rules after being told to leave, then why didn’t they give up their seat for him? Hypocrites are disgusting. Not one of these selfish people on that flight bothered to stand up and give their seat for this fool, which is just typical. Dau has a history of behavioral problems, made an ass out of himself, caused all of this by his actions, and these people are just turning this into a sensational mess.

At the end of the day, this is a company that has a right to ask you to leave their aircraft at any time. You may be compensated later, but you must leave the aircraft, if you’re asked to leave. A professional, acting like a civilized human, knows this already. This has happened to me multiple times, even overseas, but I remained professional and avoided this kind of incident.

It’s easy to get hurt, especially if you’re resisting a lawful order where police are forcefully removing you. A professional would likely have the intelligence of avoiding this or finding other options before the situation even escalated to the point it did on Sunday. If you fall while someone is executing a lawful order because you were resisting, is that the airlines fault? Does it mean that police roughed you up? So far, the videos do not show excessive use of force. How else would you get an unruly passenger, who refuses to comply, off of your plane? It was not United Airlines that forcefully removed the passenger, it was police executing a lawful order.

Dao can be seen telling a police officer that he would sue the airlines, they have to drag him away, and to go ahead and take him to jail. He clearly plans to resist and even says he will make them drag him.

It immediately occurred to me that this passenger didn’t act like a professional. There were rumors that he claimed to be a doctor. I had originally questioned this because of the way he was acting, but he is indeed a troubled doctor from Kentucky. Not surprisingly, his behavior has been justified by various random internet social justice warriors as normal or even “PTSD” because of what had happened to him.

Some people say he was acting the way he was because he was traumatized by being forcefully removed from the plane, which was his own fault. However, this seems to be his regular behavior and is clearly unjustifiable, especially as the professional everyone is making him out to be.

His behavior was very unprofessional, seemed to exhibit mental illness, he refused to comply with lawful orders on multiple occasions, he’s a convicted felon, lost his medical license, and lied to the United Airlines staff. Dr. David Dao’s past would seem to suggest he should have no business being around patients, especially after he was arrested and convicted of trading drugs for sex. Why is a doctor that was convicted of drug dealing as a doctor being allowed to practice again? The State of Kentucky is insane for even considering letting this guy practice medicine.

Various news media organizations, such as Daily Mail, are also reporting that Dao had well-known mental problems, noted in court documents:

“A psychiatric report prepared for Kentucky’s medical regulator revealed a series of issues, including that he is generally not forthright, tends to have poor decision-making and needed anger management.” news reports:

“Dao was arrested in 2003 after being accused of trading prescription drugs for sexual favors from a male patient he later hired. He denied paying for sex, but was charged with 98 felony drug counts for illegally prescribing and trafficking painkillers, including hydrocodone, Oxycontin and Percocet.”

Dr. Dao’s own ridiculous behavior caused the situation to escalate to the point of him being forcefully removed from the flight. Even after he was removed by force, he continued to defy a lawful order and ran back onto the plane. Maybe Dao needs a mental evaluation?

Whoever is defending Dao’s ridiculous behavior needs to check on their own reasoning capacity. This guy is not a professional and has a history of trouble. His actions on United 3411 were just another example of his failed reasoning capacity.

What you do see on the videos being passed around is a public that doesn’t know his history, witnessing something they don’t see all of the time (an old man being forcefully removed), the guy making a big scene, and people being upset over witnessing all of it.

The voice of reason is almost always buried under a pile of ignorance and often goes ignored by most.

When you look at just the facts, the whole story, and reason, Dr. Dao caused this entire event to unfold. He acted unprofessionally and refused to comply with multiple, reasonable, lawful orders.

Agenda-laden, highly manipulative, censored websites, such as, quickly manipulated posts to the top, feeding the digital lynch mob. Forget the whole story, we’ve got a lynching! Get your pitchforks! Digital lynching is a dangerous trend on social media and could potentially hurt someone and or destroy a business.

When you look at blind emotion, sensationalism, and outrage, you just see an old man that was beaten up by United Airlines for not giving up his seat. That sure sounds outrageous. Too bad that isn’t true.

Before you digitally lynch a business, think about the facts, whole story, and be reasonable.

The facts are United never “beat up” David Dao, he broke the law by refusing to leave (yes, even if you paid for a ticket or already sat on the plane, it’s in the fine print, you have to leave), refused to move when police showed up, and ultimately was responsible for this whole mess. It was the police that forcefully removed him, not United. He has a history of dishonesty, aggressive behavior, and decision-making problems, as a matter of public record, which is relevant because his behavior led to the viral videos you see.

Thinking of never flying United again? Every other major airline bumps passengers, sometimes forcefully removes people, and has similar carriage policies. People need to calm down and be reasonable, but that’s hard to do when you’re high on emotions and perpetual outrage. Reason would have prevented this whole thing from happening.

There are a lot of uninformed people making comments on social media (completely making up their own rules) about what United’s “Contract of Carriage” actually says. Please read it here so we can stop misinformation. Rest assured, you can be removed from a flight, even after paying, boarding, and sitting down. This has happened before, regardless of whether people like it or not.

There are still uninformed people claiming Dao was never convicted. Please, verify this for yourself because Dao is a convicted felon and numerous news agencies have confirmed his identity and record.

In fact, reports the State of Kentucky once thought of him as a danger to the safety of his patients and general public:

Dao’s medical license was suspended on October 16, 2003 by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure because of his transgressions. He applied to have it completely reinstated in 2007, but the board shot it down.

It cited Dao’s practice as constituting “a danger to the health, welfare and safety of his patients or the general public.” The ruling added that it has “probable cause to believe that the physician has committed certain violations in the recent past that present probable cause to believe that (Dao) will commit similar violations in the near future.”

Need more evidence? See the State of Kentucky record.

You should consider all of the facts, including public record history, when trying to understand what happened. A smart person wants the most information possible, not just bits and pieces. His history is a matter of public safety record and is relevant to why he acted the way he did.

No, there’s no secret rule that says a doctor gets to stay on a full flight, even after being asked to give up his seat, just because he’s a doctor, that’s Hollywood stuff.

People are being unreasonable, suggesting the airlines play a game of auction onboard the flight, offering huge amounts of money to entice people to get up and walk off. This is probably why most of the people making stupid, unrealistic suggestions like this have not/are not/and never will be leading a company of any decent size. You would bankrupt your company doing something like that. Imagine how expensive tickets would be. It’s kind of damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. The airline did indeed offer a substantial amount of money to entice people to leave, but it didn’t work this time, and you can’t just increase the offer to infinity amount of money.

No, you can’t just blame the airline for needing to get their crew somewhere. Airlines are extremely complicated with millions of factors and special computer algorithms that keep thousands of flights operating smoothly every hour all over the world. The uninformed, armchair expert solutions being offered by random internet commenters are not realistic, feasible, efficient, smart, or effective for a large airline operation.

I do not work for United and I’m not associated with them in any way. However, I bet most of the people claiming they will never fly again hardly did to begin with or would still buy a United ticket, if it was the cheapest option. People are all talk on the internet.

There’s a lot of people attacking journalists for providing more details about Dao’s background. Whenever you have no argument or anything tangible to add to the actual facts, it’s always best to attack the author, get personal, and whatever else (every experienced author is used to this). Historically, how many people have been hurt because people in an outrage rushed to attack and silence anyone they didn’t agree with?

You will find that the second someone takes a stand, they will immediately tick off roughly half of their audience. The more important the issue, the more bold the stand, the more specific the reasoning, the more divisive it will become, especially among the American public. Maybe someday we will value science and reason more than outrage, tradition, and emotion.

As far as people accusing me of being a corporate shill… please see my websites and articles all over the internet. I’ve done far more for the public than most of the people attacking me. I’ve dedicated a large portion of my life to public service, emergency medical service, education, helping others, and informing people. My articles are about informing the public, not feeding blind outrage or sensational media coverage. I’m doing my part to inform people about science and technology matters, including things like this that have internet social media buzzing. Over 7,000 people have read this article, as of Friday, April 14, 2017. At least triple that amount have seen it elsewhere on social media. Most people do not bother commenting or liking on articles, but they see the information. I’ve always thought of the consumer first, but I will not compromise just to make everyone happy, that’s impossible. You just can’t please everyone, especially if you take a stand on something.

It’s crazy for so much of the public to attack anyone that wants the full story, more details, background, and whole picture, as if there’s something wrong with being informed before rushing to lynch United. America has a culture of political correctness, turning the problem individual into the innocent, encouraging perpetual outrage and victimization. This culture of sensationalism and political correctness is dividing and destroying an entire nation – taking us futher away from reason. Too many people are generally not interested in science, facts, or reason.

As for myself, I will continue to act professional on a flight, keep my dignity, follow the rules, and leave the flight upon being asked – whether I was already seated or not. I would rather keep my dignity and walk off the flight, instead of being dragged off by police. Again, this has happened to me before and I’ve always complied with the airline crew. I was always compensated, given a hotel, and a free flight the next day. Why should this be different for anyone else?

You may find the idea that an airline can ask you to leave (even if you paid and already sat down) as unfair, but rules are rules.

David Dao knew (he stated it in a video that he wanted them to drag him) this would happen. David Dao could have acted like a professional and calmly left the plane, but he didn’t.

What I’ve said above doesn’t have to reflect your exact opinion and I do appreciate every one of you taking the time to read my articles. Everyone has opinions, but some are more informed and reasonable than others. The lightning speed of social media makes it easy for misinformation, sensationalism, and blind outrage to utterly destroy people and business. This is why it’s important to get as much facts as possible and to avoid being a part of the digital lynch mob.

I will say that events like this seem to resonate with the general public because people often see airlines as evil. Passenger incidents like this give the public something that collectively brings them together under one umbrella of outrage. For example, I hate being assaulted by the TSA every time I travel, but it continues and there’s hardly any outrage or lynching over it. Corporate greed and terrible policies are a real thing, I agree. We have to be reasonable, if we expect others to be reasonable with us. Out of all of the things we could be outraged about, maybe we should pick our battles a little more carefully.

Be More Outraged About TSA Assaults

Where is the outrage over the TSA assaulting men, women, and children every single day? When the lynch mob was proud of itself for costing United $600 million in a temporary stock slide, what about the TSA assaulting people? Do we have such a huge double standard with dignity?

You want airport outrage? Check this out. Where is the outrage over this?
You want airport outrage? Check this out. Where is the outrage over this?
You want airport outrage? Check this out. Where is the outrage over this?
You want airport outrage? Check this out. Where is the outrage over this?

Where is the outrage and lynch mobs about the TSA assaulting men, women, and children? Why are you guys angry about what happened in this case to Dao, but not the daily assaults that occur in the name of a false sense of security? Think of all of the innocent people being assaulted every year.

Passengers getting bumped off happens all the time, but what made it different this time is David Dao refused to leave after airport the crew told him to, and then after security came to remove him from a flight. At that point, regardless of whether you think it’s fair or not, especially after 9/11, you must leave the flight. Maybe people should be mad at the airport security team that actually touched Dao? United didn’t beat him up or drag him off the airline. This was the perfect storm of someone with poor decision-making capability refusing security orders to leave a flight as well as poor handling by the security officers.

Again, the video seems to indicate United didn’t touch this guy. Therefore, the issue is the security team. Regardless, every other civilized person typically gets up and leaves with dignity. In the age of internet video, most of us know that once officers ask you to leave and you refuse, it can get ugly. In airports, there’s more of a zero tolerance policy than in the streets.

Despite the facts that are now out, various news sources and social media posts continue to spread misinformation about this event.

More reading: LA Times: No, the media did not identify the wrong David Dao as United’s passenger

There’s a great blog post about this from a pilot’s wife…

More reading: check out “I Know You’re Mad at United but… (Thoughts from a Pilot Wife About Flight 3411)”

For the people commenting (reminder): Name-calling and ad hominem, as a way to disagree with an author, represent the bottom-feeders of Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement.


Update 4/14/17: Digital lynching is absolutely a thing. The only difference between a digital lynching is that it’s safer for the victim because at least the mob are just keyboard warriors typing comments online – nothing more than pixels on a screen, thankfully. At least nobody (yet) has physically done anything or followed through on their threats. Many people have knee-jerk reactions to sensational media coverage, which is exactly what they want. However, this is dangerous and real people can get hurt. Innocent people are getting death threats because an unreasonable bloodthirsty public wants a target and they don’t care who gets hurt. Bringing down an entire airline can destroy an entire economic ecosystem. Blind outrage is a serious problem because people, despite feeling they’re informed, act out of emotion and ignorance, which can harm people. This recent story is an excellent example of digital lynching. People are so emotional that they act like anyone that even remotely presents an argument that doesn’t flat out attack United becomes a target of the mob mentality.

The fact is people get removed from airlines. This ridiculous notion that you cannot be removed from an airline once seated is just delusional. Even after you pay and are seated, you could be asked to leave. My point was that a professional, especially doctor, had no reason to act the way he did. Keep in mind that this individual threw a fit *before* he was dragged off. This individual told them on camera to drag him off and they did. Keep in mind an entire plane sat by as this all happened. Nobody bothered to offer him their seat. We have an immediate problem with this picture because either everyone is a hypocrite or they believed it “looked bad” but they were right for “removing him after he refused the crew’s order and securities orders.” Which is it?

One interesting thing is PR. United’s CEO did flop around like an idiot and absolutely didn’t make his company look good. I can agree with some of the comments that he was just “covering” or sounded “disingenuous.” United also made an odd comment that they would no longer use police to remove people. Would you feel safe flying on an airline that says it will not use police to remove people? How will they remove people? I have to admit United has a terrible PR department and leadership. This was a rare situation (person dragged off aircraft because they wouldn’t leave for flight crew to travel). Because of the sensational coverage and culture of perpetual outrage… this has become a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. In a politically correct culture full of “outrage of the day” mob rule, large companies know that a payout is often demanded as a “blood sacrifice” to the masses, whether they were right or wrong. It’s interesting to see what large companies do to appease the masses. Will people still care in 1 month? We will see.

Did this highlight policies that need to change? Sure. It’s concerning that people are ok with the TSA abuse and have a double standard with their outrage and money. Attacking people that had nothing to do with this event accomplishes nothing, doesn’t change bad policies, and only takes the blame away from the corrupt actors that made and utilize such policies. Maybe the lynch mob should encourage independent media, bloggers, and anyone else with a voice to write more about this stuff to raise awareness – within reason. We all lose when we attack each other.

My overall point is for people to clam down, don’t immediately react to every sensational news piece with blind rage, embrace all the facts, be reasonable, don’t attack people that had nothing to do with this situation, and think of the fallout this will cause for regular flyers. Stop the death threats to people that had nothing to do with this event. Once again, most people will act civilized and walk off a plane with dignity, especially after a crew and security tells them to, which is why you hardly ever see things like this happening – it shouldn’t happen. Excessive use of force is something real and it would also be great if people were this outraged over the regular abuse of power that occurs in this country. Imagine the power of people being consistent and applying the same standard to everything and everyone. If you say you’re not going to fly, then follow through. Talk is cheap and most people are all talk. I encourage people that feel strongly to do everything they can *legally* to prevent something like this from happening again.

What will change after this? If this was so bad, why did everyone on that plane sit there and do nothing? If people really believed this doctor was a priority and needed to “see patients”, why not give up their seats? It would seem an entire aircraft watched this and didn’t seem to think he was really a priority. If you’re going to use the excuse people were in shock and disbelief, that’s a weak argument. In this time of internet videos showing police dragging people off and countless examples of excessive use of force, what adult hasn’t seen abuse of power before? We’ve had decades of video accounts and sensational media coverage — it’s nothing new. Do people have such poor reasoning skills and lack of compassion that they just pull out their cameras and don’t bother to give up their seat for this doctor? Are people just being hypocrites? Could this have also been prevented by passengers being less selfish and giving up their seats for this man? Could it be possible that con artists can abuse situations like this to get huge sums of money – is it just possible that this may happen? Does this now set a precedent that people don’t have to leave an aircraft – even after being asked to by the crew and security? What happens when people refuse to get off the plane – even after upping the payout to $50,000 and a free hotel? Where does this end? Should rage be with the actual people that touched Dao or the flight crew? Where is the reason? These are questions that don’t seem to be of concern for the bandwagon mob. These are valid questions.

TL;DR… In general… for those lacking the ability to reason or have a civilized, respectful discussion… basically:

Author: Ben Alonzo is a unique science and tech expert, professor, entrepreneur, and journalist. He founded and is the CEO of the tech firm Storm Sector, LLC. Ben holds an MS in Information Technology, MS in Geoscience, MS in Health & Nutrition, and a BS in Geoscience. He is a highly rated professor that teaches a wide variety of college courses within earth, environmental, computer sciences and public health. His diverse background spans enterprise information technology, healthcare, weather forecasting, consumer electronics, digital media, web development, and business leadership. He holds numerous professional licenses and certifications, ranging from information technology to healthcare and emergency medical technician. Ben is a tech entrepreneur and is business partners with multiple restaurants. He is also a private pilot, fitness pro, musician, and loves filmmaking. Alonzo has written about science and tech for over 10 years. You can see some of his past articles on the Houston Chronicle, Heart, and other networks. In his free time, he likes scuba diving, storm chasing, and the gym.
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