Politics & Policy

Have We No Decency?

Why was a man in panties and a bra allowed to fly?

On June 9, a man boarded a U.S. Airways flight from Fort Lauderdale to Phoenix, dressed in women’s panties, a bra, and thigh-high stockings.

No U.S. Airways employee at the Fort Lauderdale airport asked him to cover himself. Nor did any flight attendant ask him to do so. And obviously, no one demanded that he get off the plane.

U.S. Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder was asked how the airline allowed a nearly naked cross-dresser to board a plane and sit next to other passengers who, one assumes, did not appreciate being seated next to an exhibitionist.

As reported by the San Francisco Examiner, she “said employees had been correct not to ask the man to cover himself. ‘We don’t have a dress code policy. Obviously, if their private parts are exposed, that’s not appropriate. . . . So if they’re not exposing their private parts, they’re allowed to fly.’”

The decline of American civilization since the 1960s has been so fast and so dramatic that it takes one’s breath away.

That a woman speaking on behalf of a major airline can say with a straight face that her airline allows anyone dressed or undressed to fly on its airplanes, so long as they do not expose their genitals, perfectly encapsulates this decline.

The only question is: How did we get here?

For one thing, the concept of decency is dying. I suspect that if an adult were to say to a group of randomly chosen American college students that this man indecently exposed himself and should not have been allowed to fly, that adult would be (a) not understood  (what does “indecent” mean?) or (b) roundly condemned for intolerance and bigotry.

To judge this man as acting indecently — not to mention to bar him from flying — is to engage in violating the only values a generation of Americans has been taught: not to judge, not to discriminate, to welcome diversity, and to fully accept those who are different, especially in the sexual arena.

That is why I think it is very difficult to have a dialogue on this matter. For those who believe in public “decency,” the matter is as clear as a bell: This was profoundly indecent. And for those who do not believe in such a concept, the matter is equally clear: “Decency” is an anachronism.

One caller to my radio talk show simply could not understand my outrage at both the passenger and the airline. I asked my caller if he thought an airline should ban naked passengers. While he acknowledged that public nudity is against the law, he saw no reason that it should be so. Basically, I suspect that in my caller’s view, my opposition to this man’s being allowed to fly constituted a “hangup.”

So the god of tolerance is one reason for the death of the concept of “public decency.”

Another is the age of secularism in which we live. In a more religious America, the human being was regarded as created in God’s image, a being that ideally aspires to a level of holiness. As secularism proceeds with the increasing force of an avalanche, however, man is increasingly regarded as just another animal.

One way in which higher civilizations have demonstrated the human-animal difference has been the wearing of clothes. Animals are naked in public; humans are clothed. But secularism eats away at such religious ideals. Thus religion-based concepts such as holiness and decency die out. You can see it in the widespread acceptance of public cursing as well as in public exhibitionism, among many other manifestations.

I don’t know if U.S. Airways is alone among airlines in allowing anyone to fly as long as their genitals are covered. But it seems to me that if restaurants can post dress codes and announce that they reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, an airline — in which people, unlike in restaurants, are forced to sit two inches from strangers — should be able to do so.

In the meantime, this is the Brave New World that mindless tolerance and diversity — and lawsuits in their behalf — have wrought.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. He may be contacted through his website, dennisprager.com.

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