By now you’ve likely seen the April 9th video of a 69-year-old Asian doctor being forcibly dragged off a United Airlines flight at the Chicago O’Hara Airport.
If not, check it out here.
According to United Airlines, the flight was overbooked. There were enough seats for passengers, just not enough for the entire flight crew. Therefore, passengers had to be removed to open seats for members of their crew.
At first, the staff offered money and a free night’s stay at a Chicago hotel for anyone willing to give up their seat. Only two accepted the offer. When no one else offered up their seats, the staff had to decide who else would need to give up their seat. Through some sort of random selection process, Kentucky doctor, David Dao, was chosen.
However, Dao refused to leave, informing the staff he was a doctor and had patients to see the next morning. After multiple requests to de-board the plane, security was ushered in and took matters into their own hands.
As the video shows, the doctor didn’t go quietly and was literally dragged off of the plane. The situation escalated when Dao, somehow, made it back onto the plane before takeoff. The video of the incident shows Dao bleeding from his head and repeating the phrase, “just kill me”.
Following the episode, Dao had two broken teeth and severe bruises on his body.
Once the video was posted and cycled through numerous social media outlets, nationwide outrage followed.
United Airlines went into crisis mode with the airline’s CEO’s referring to it as an “upsetting event.”
With Great Fame Comes Much Publicity
No doubt, the doctor is likely to be legally compensated for his troubles.
However, Dao suffered some additional backlash following the incident. Not from supporters, but from the media. Journalists went digging into Dao’s past and uncovered many disturbing facts about him.
- In 2003, he was arrested as part of an undercover operation.
- In 2005, he was convicted of six felony accounts of obtaining drugs by fraud and deceit, sentenced to five years’ probation.
- Dao was also convicted of writing prescriptions and checks to male patients in exchange for sexual favors.
Dao lost his license to practice medicine for 10 years. He regained it in 2015 with strict restrictions of duties he could perform.
So, what does his criminal past have to do with the airline incident? Well, nothing.
Dao was, in fact, mistreated by United Airlines officials and should be compensated for his troubles. Yet, this entire situation is a perfect reminder of what comes with celebrity status.
As soon as you’re in the spotlight, there’ll likely be journalists seeking another angle to your story; searching crime archives and other random background searches. They’ll find out where you live, where you work, how many children you have, the number of times married, and if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime.
Therefore, if you have skeletons in your closet, or if family members have secrets, finding internet fame could end up bringing everything into the open. Your reputation and those closest to you may be at risk. Prior convictions and other family secrets could fall into the wrong hands, redefining who you are to your friends, family, employers, as well as the public.
Again, the airline situation with Dao has nothing to do with his prior convictions. There’s no link between the two stories. The only viable reason to bring up his past is to feed the gossip-starved public, even if the information presented is unrelated or outdated.
No telling how many people who originally supported the Kentucky doctor may now have a different view of him. Not that it changes the fact that Dao deserves to be compensated for his trouble with the airline.
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Public opinion, sadly, usually follows the lines of ‘guilty until proven innocent’.
For example, the famous Donald Trump audio leak. Let’s just say, those covering it certainly wanted to ‘grab him by his …’ well, you know. Fortunately, it didn’t cost him the presidency. The incident, however, certainly caused quite a stir with the media, especially those who opposed him.
Even today, a popular catch phrase the president said is still used, and many feminists and democrats continue organizing marches and hoping to get the president impeached.
Let’s go back even further.
Who can forget pop star Michael Jackson’s troubles following his comments about sleeping in the same bed with other people’s children? The musical entertainer had won over millions of fans across the globe. Yet, after several accusations and court trials, much of the American public turned on him. Even inciting a raid on his Neverland ranch.
And finally, more recently, Bill Cosby has certainly fallen from stardom with accusations of drugging and raping women decades ago.
To think, the comedic entertainer spent decades as America’s fatherly role model. Both on stage as a comedian and hit television sitcoms. Now, for the last part of his life, he’s going to be remembered as a rapist.
The lovable Cliff Huxtable now perceived to be more of a Zed from Pulp Fiction.
The limelight brings the good and the bad.
So, if you’re hoping one day you’ll find internet fame, you need to consider what you may be hiding in your closet. If it should be revealed for the world to see, will you be able to handle the pressure? Or, will it require you to change your identity and live as a hermit in the hills of a foreign country?
As much as the public acts disgusted by the media’s attempts to increase ratings, exposing shortcomings of celebrities or even the average Joe is what draws ratings. The very people, critical of journalists who dig up the dirt on others, are the same people who tune to each broadcast.
If you can’t say anything nice about someone, then it’s likely to lead the ten o’clock news broadcast.