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News You Can Use
By David Bachelor, PhD
Elections were among the most common headlines last week. From the residual effects of the 2020 election to Turkey’s presidential race to ballot issues in San Antonio and El Paso, there was plenty of polls to read about. One of the strangest campaigns involved passengers on a plane.
The May 5th edition of USA Today carried the headline, “The Crowd Decided: Passengers on this Flight Voted to Remove Fellow Traveler, Videos Show.” After an altercation on a Frontier Airline flight from Trenton to Atlanta, two passengers were escorted off the plane by ground support personnel. This ejection temporarily settled the airplane’s cabin until another passenger started canvassing fellow passengers to eject a woman who had been arguing with the first two ejectees. On a video of this altercation making the rounds on Tik Tok, a man’s voice says, “If you can hear me, raise your hand if you want her removed from the flight.” The videos of this “election” have already received over 16 million views.
In Canada, the Ottawa Sun asks its readers on May 5th, “Is Getting Voted off a Plane the New Way to Deal with Bad Passengers?” The article describes the above incident, “Straight out of a scene from Survivor, a badly behaving female passenger was taken off a Frontier Airlines flight.” Despite its title, the Sun article does not explore if these elections will be used in the future. The article sheds light on the events that precipitated the election on the Trenton-Atlanta flight. The first couple ejected had argued with Frontier staff about changing seats. It was during this process that the woman next to them started adding comments about their request. These unsolicited asides infuriated the couple. It was because of this woman’s provocation of the two disgruntled passengers that a fellow passenger called for the vote. The Tik Tok video shows the woman collecting her belongings and being escorted off the plane.
The Bible account that involves ejecting a disruptive passenger followed a different kind of election. In the book of Jonah, instead of casting ballots, the people drew lots to see who would be put off the ship. Like the Frontier flight, there was tension between crew and passengers, particularly towards Jonah (Jon 1:6). However, it was the turbulence in the weather rather than interpersonal turbulence that led to the election (Jon 1:7). When the lot fell to Jonah, he was the one who put forward the idea of his ejection (Jon 1:12). However, the crew did not want to be held responsible for Jonah’s expulsion (Jon 1:14). After other measures were tried and to calm things down, Jonah was thrown off the ship (Jon 1:15). Jonah had to take a different mode of transport (a big fish) to finish his cruise (Jon 2:10).
The trio on the Trenton-Atlanta flight and Jonah on the ship would have been wise to consider Romans 13:1, “Let everyone be subject to proper authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” They all found out that elections have consequences.