After declaring “Let’s go Brandon” on his flight sign-off, a Southwest pilot may lose his job, but is this fair or constitutional?
A Southwest pilot is facing a potential job loss for signing off from a flight with the phrase “Let’s go Brandon.” This phrase originates from a NASCAR race in Alabama that took place in October. During an interview with NASCAR driver Brandon Brown, chants can be heard in the background. The people in the crowd are clearly saying “F*** Joe Biden,” but the interviewer claims they are saying “Let’s go Brandon.”
The phrase has become popular among conservative circles in the weeks following the interview because of what it is synonymous with. It has become “a sort of verbal secret handshake, a way for those deeply opposed to Joe Biden’s presidency to identify other members of their tribe,” according to CNN.
Given the political connotation of the phrase, the pilot’s declaration of “Let’s go Brandon” was unprofessional in the context of his situation. The pilot was at work, and sharing his political beliefs through his end-of-flight sign-off was not the right time nor the right place.
While yes, the pilot’s statement disregard the feelings and opinions of those on the flight who disagree with him, that is not the main issue at hand. Instead, it is his behavior and representation of the Southwest company that is at stake here.
There has been much discussion on Twitter about this incident, and, as expected, there are people who feel strongly for the termination of the pilot’s employment and others who take his side.
Whether we resonate with the pilot’s statement or not, the fact still stands: it was not his place to express his political beliefs and views while at work — especially when we consider the phrase and its meaning. It’s one thing to show favor for a political party or specific candidate, but when one’s statement is a euphemism for a phrase that directly disrespects the current President, the actions of the pilot become more serious.
All that said, does the Southwest pilot deserve to be fired for his declaration? I say no. While yes, the pilot on the flight headed from Houston to Albuquerque acted unprofessionally on his sign-off, he does not deserve to be fired simply for expressing a statement that disrespects our president.
This is not the first time the disrespecting of a president has occurred. If we take a look a few years into the past, we’ll find that disrespecting the president was not only common during Donald Trump’s era, it was all over the place. Celebrities and other professionals had no shame in expressing negative opinions against Trump. Kathy Griffin even shared a picture of herself carrying Trump’s bloodied head back in 2017.
This double standard between Trump and Biden is not only unfair, it must be taken into consideration when we examine the case of the Southwest pilot. Although the pilot’s actions were unprofessional given the circumstances, this action compared to the many Trump naysayers that came before him is minuscule.
This incident not only brings up the issue of double standards, it is also an issue concerning free speech and First Amendment rights.
I’ve established that the pilot acted imprudently for what he said, but was he within his rights? This is what it all boils down to. Whether the pilot was following Southwest’s guidelines for their employees, I don’t know. But in terms of expressing his opinion, he had the right to do so, and therefore, does not deserve punishment for it.
The pilot’s words, similar to the negative statements said about Trump, were no doubt offensive to some, but we cannot value feelings over the right to free speech and the freedom to express our opinions. Free speech must take precedence over the feelings of others, otherwise, censorship will ensue.
At the end of the day, we can all agree that this Southwest pilot acted unprofessionally. For that, Southwest can manage. As for his expression of opinion and declaration of “Let’s go Brandon,” he was within his rights and deserves to keep his position despite any hurt feelings or disrespect towards our president.