ST. LOUIS, Mo. — A New York college student was recently kicked off a flight back home after he wore a t-shirt bearing profanity and refused multiple options to cover the wording.
Daniel Podolsky sought to fly home from the “South by Southwest” film and music festival late last month, where he had obtained a free t-shirt to promote the Comedy Central show “Broad City.” He boarded a plane from Dallas to Chicago, and at the time was wearing a jacket over the t-shirt, which included an expletive completely spelled out and in large letters.
However, the plane had to make an unscheduled landing in St. Louis due to inclement weather in Chicago. As Podolsky planned to use the restroom at the airport, he took off his jacket.
At this time, a Southwest Airlines employee noticed Podolsky’s shirt and approached him about the matter. Podolsky told reporters that he was quickly pulled off the flight without an opportunity to change.
“Did they give you any opportunity to put your jacket back on, to change the shirt [or] put it inside out?” a reporter with local television station KTVI asked him.
“It just happened so fast,” Podolsky responded. “Within 30 seconds the flight was already gone. I would have gladly done so.”
However, video footage that the college student provided showed a different story, as Podolsky refused the multiple alternatives offered, citing his “freedom of speech.”
“Can you change the shirt?” the Southwest employee asked.
“No,” Podolsky replied.
“Can you put the jacket on and leave it on through the flight?” the male worker inquired.
Podolsky again refused, so a third option was offered.
“Can you put the shirt on inside out?”
“Nope,” he responded.
The employee then warned Podolsky that unless he did something to cover up the word, he would not be able to board the flight.
“Is there anything you can do not to display the shirt because at this point we can’t allow you to go,” the worker pleads.
“I have freedom of speech,” Podolsky responded.
As the Southwest employee advised that it is the company policy not to allow offensive sayings on shirts, Podolsky asked if a poll could be taken over the matter.
The college student then missed his flight. He was later allowed to board a different flight after he finally agreed to change his shirt.
Podolsky states that he doesn’t believe that his shirt should have been an issue.
“There are more than a hundred people on the plane trying to get to Chicago and the most important thing is my shirt?” he told reporters. “How does that work? Where’s the sense of priority?”
But Southwest Airlines stands by its decision to request Podolsky to cover the wording.
“We rely on our employees and customers to use common sense and good judgment,” spokesman Dan Landson commented in a statement.
In the 1872 book “The Abominations of Modern Society,” T. De Witt Talmadge, a pastor, lamented about the use of profanity during his time.
“There is today in all our land no more prevalent custom, and no more God-defying abomination, than profane swearing. You can hardly walk our streets five minutes without having your ears stung and your sensibilities shocked,” he wrote. “This whole country is blasted with the evil.”