Buzzfeed News reports that American Airlines recently forced a woman wearing a “Hail Satan” shirt to either change her outfit or get off the plane before it took off.
Swati Runi Goyal, 49, is a member of the Satanic Temple, a non-theist group recently recognized by the U.S. government as an official religion that promotes egalitarianism, social justice, and the separation of church and state. Members of the group do not, in fact, worship Satan.
On October 30, Goyal and her husband were boarding a flight in Key West, FL, where they live, to Las Vegas, NV. Shortly after they got settled in their seats, a member of the crew asked Goyal to collect her things and follow him to the front of the plane. Goyal initially thought she was getting an upgrade to first class, but the crew member then instructed her to either change shirts or get off the plane:
“He said, ‘Our crew has found your shirt to be offensive.’ We initially just thought it was a joke. But he repeated the directive, and there was another female crew member who was behind him with her arms crossed looking very angry.”
“The man said, ‘Your shirt is offensive. Do you know what that means?’ I said, ‘I’m a foreign-born minority woman, I understand ‘offensive,’ and this shirt is not offensive.’”
Goyal refused to get off the plane or to change her shirt, which she claims to have worn on airplanes before without incident. Takeoff was delayed, and a customer service agent was brought on board to reinforce the airline’s official policy, which says that passengers are required to “dress appropriately” and avoid “offensive clothing” while leaving the definitions of those terms to the discretion of the flight crew.
Goyal eventually relented and covered up her shirt with a layer lent by her husband. The flight took off, but the crew avoided making eye-contact with her for the rest of the flight and didn’t serve her any beverages.
While claiming to be concerned about how the airline’s practices could unfairly target people for their religious beliefs, particularly Muslims, Goyal took a bit of a swipe at metal and metal-adjacent cultures, even if unintended, saying:
“I’m just an ordinary-looking person. I’m not goth. I don’t have piercings. I wasn’t wearing a shirt that had a goat being beheaded on it. [I was] wearing L.L.Bean hiking pants and vegan sneakers. I mean, I couldn’t look like more of a nerd.”
American Airlines initially ignored a formal complaint Goyal filed after her flight, and eventually responded with vague promises to investigate. Goyal didn’t hear from the airline again until she tweeted about the incident, after which she was issued an apology and refunded the cost of her tickets.
[via Metal Injection]