When the Karen getting kicked off the plane isn't a Karen

It sounds like the media is getting a bit too obsessed with the whole “Karen” thing these days. The woman who got into an argument with the birdwatcher in Central Park could potentially fall into the general Karen category if further investigations don’t reveal that the birdwatcher started it. The situation was still worth a couple of laughs and it certainly generated more than its fair share of clicks. But the story that made the rounds yesterday from an airport in Ohio doesn’t seem to fit that mold at all. According to published reports and a video from another passenger, a White woman on the plane refused to put on her facemask. After starting an argument with one of the flight attendants, she was removed from the flight, with the rest of the passengers breaking out into applause. (NY Post)

Passengers on an America Airlines flight burst into applause when a woman who refused to wear a face mask was kicked off the plane, according to video footage and a report.

Passenger Jordan Slade filmed the older lady — who has since been dubbed a “Karen” — after she claimed to have a medical condition preventing her from wearing a mask on a July 19 flight from Ohio to North Carolina, according to the Daily Mail.

In the footage, the unnamed woman is shown taking her time to gather her belongings from an overhead bin as a passenger shouts, “Just leave!” She then turns to exit the plane — prompting loud clapping and cheering.

“You can clap all you want!” the woman snaps back angrily.

You can view the passenger video mentioned above at the New York Post link. It’s not very long. (I would have embedded it for you here but their player lacks the option to kill autoplay in its embed code.)

Assuming all of the reports from both the airline and the passengers are correct, this unnamed woman probably deserved to be booted off the flight. She claimed to have a medical condition making masks unsafe for her to use but didn’t bring any documentation to support that claim. Also, she had been argumentative with the staff from the moment she arrived at the boarding gate, insisting on being boarded before everyone else, though she seemed physically fine.

The airlines have established and clearly posted their rules about face masks. Whether you agree with those rules or not is obviously up to you, but that’s a requirement to fly during the pandemic era. If you can’t go along with that you’ll probably need to make alternate transportation arrangements.

The main reason I brought this story up, however, is the eagerness everyone seems to display in labeling this woman a Karen. While entirely unofficial and part of internet memes far more than the standard rules of English, a “Karen” is generally understood to be a White woman who instructs others, usually minorities, on how they should be behaving and/or threatens to call the police on these same people for presumably minor offenses not worthy of taking up the time of local law enforcement. That’s why I brought up the Central Park Karen. She fills the bill, at least according to the information we have so far.

But this lady wasn’t doing anything of the sort. She was hassling the flight crew and airline workers at the gate. She was refusing to follow the rules and creating a scene. Because of that she was booted from the flight and suffered the verbal abuse of her fellow passengers. It wasn’t a good look for her, but she simply doesn’t meet the criteria for being “a Karen.” Just saying…

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