Mile High Couple Cited Under PATRIOT Act
A couple trying to join the Mile High Club has insteadrun afoul of the PATRIOT Act.
A couple’s ill-concealed sexual play aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles got them charged with violating the Patriot Act, intended for terrorist acts, and could land them in jail for 20 years.
According to their indictment, Carl Persing and Dawn Sewell were allegedly snuggling and kissing inappropriately, “making other passengers uncomfortable,” when a flight attendant asked them to stop. “Persing was observed nuzzling or kissing Sewell on the neck, and … with his face pressed against Sewell’s vaginal area. During these actions, Sewell was observed smiling,” reads the indictment filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. On a second warning from the flight attendant, Persing snapped back threatening the flight attendant with “serious consequences” if he did not leave them alone.
The comment was enough to have the couple, both in their early 40s, arrested when the plane reached its destination in Raleigh, North Carolina, and charged with obstructing a flight attendant and with criminal association. They have been placed under legal surveillance until their trial on February 5. If found guilty, they both could be sent to jail for up to 20 years.
Persing’s lawyer William Peregoy said his client was not feeling well when he placed his head on his companion’s lap, and that he only threatened the flight attendant with reporting him to his superiors on landing.
Let’s stipulate that the seats of a commercial airliner filled with other passengers is an inappropriate venue for sexual exploration. Can we nonetheless agree that this is not what the PATRIOT Act was aimed at?
Laws which radically depart from the norms of the Bill of Rights in order to go after particularly heinous criminals who are good at evading the law will inevitably be abused and applied to those who are not even remotely associated with the original intent of the law. We use RICO to go after anti-abortion protesters at clinics and PATRIOT to go after those who tamper with the smoke detectors in airplane restrooms. If it weren’t so serious it would be absurd.
Because flight attendants theoretically have extraordinary responsibility during certain emergencies, we have anointed them with extraordinary status in response to the 9/11 attacks. The problem with that is that, on 99.99% of all flights, they are essentially cocktail waitresses. They bring passengers pillows, snacks, and collect our garbage. Let us not transform them into Texas Rangers.