Sunday, August 28, 2011

Technohumanist Persecution

Have you heard about Vance Gilbert? He was the black man looking at a picture of a 1921 Italian tri-plane on a flight out of Boston that returned to the gate so he could be questioned by Massachusetts state police. Because the flight attendant thought his book looked suspicious. He was wearing a shirt with airplanes on it. He was CLEARLY a fan of airplanes. Here's his letter to the American Civil Liberties Union.

My first impression is that this was prejudice against technology. Nobody would have blinked if he'd been looking at People magazine, even if he was coloring in teeth and drawing mustaches on the models and otherwise being antisocial. If people were more accepting of technohumanists this wouldn't happen.

But I realize a flight attendant HAS to know there are people who are fans of airplanes. They have those special toys for kids and stuff. I think Vince Gilbert is right that they were suspicious of him because they think black men don't read books.

And also because the flight attendant was utterly ignorant of technology. What did she think the picture of a triplane WAS?! She thinks he's studying a diagram of an elaborate weapon that he's carrying in the bag at his feet? RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER? Does she imagine the 911 hijackers passed the time before takeoff stropping their razor knives on their belts? And why didn't she just say, "Oh, that's a cool schematic! What is it, an old clothes dryer?" I mean her job skills are being able to deal with people. She can fake caring about the drawing.

Well I guess the good news is the instructional designers will have a new assignment coming up with a Lunch-n-Learn to teach flight attendants one more thing not to do. They probably already told them not to question suspicious passengers. Now they just need to hire people with a well-rounded education who aren't technophobes.

*Update: I've decided the more precise name for this affliction is "schematophobia."

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