Sexist ultra-Orthodox Jews continue to make trouble on planes

April 9, 2015 • 3:25 pm

Well, the New York Times has finally caught up to the prescient reporting of Professor Ceiling Cat, who has reported several times about the bad behavior of ultra-Orthodox Jews on airplanes (see here, for instance).  In their new piece, “Aboard flights, conflicts over seat assignments and religion,” the Times recounts what readers here have long known: in the past few months, those Orthodox religionists have delayed flights by refusing to sit next to women, which they claim is against their faith (they may, G*d forbid, actually touch a woman!). Flights have been delayed, passengers peeved at what is a sexist request, and there’s even been the spectacle of these Jews offering money to passengers to switch seats.

Several flights from New York to Israel over the last year have been delayed or disrupted over the issue, and with social media spreading outrage and debate, the disputes have spawned a protest initiative, an online petition and a spoof safety video from a Jewish magazine suggesting a full-body safety vest (“Yes, it’s kosher!”) to protect ultra-Orthodox men from women seated next to them on airplanes.

(Note: I’m looking forward to seeing that video!)

As the piece notes, it’s getting worse:

“The ultra-Orthodox have increasingly seen gender separation as a kind of litmus test of Orthodoxy — it wasn’t always that way, but it has become that way,” said Samuel Heilman, a professor of sociology at Queens College. “There is an ongoing culture war between these people and the rest of the modern world, and because the modern world has increasingly sought to become gender neutral, that has added to the desire to say, ‘We’re not like that.’”

Apparently in some cases the fear is not just “pollution” by accidentally touching a woman, but fear of temptation, the same fear that drives many Muslims to insist that women be covered.

Rabbi Shafran noted that despite religious laws that prohibit physical contact between Jewish men and women who are not their wives, many ultra-Orthodox men follow the guidance of an eminent Orthodox scholar, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who counseled that it was acceptable for a Jewish man to sit next to a woman on a subway or bus so long as there was no intention to seek sexual pleasure from any incidental contact.

. . . Mr. Roffe [a writer from Los Angeles] described his experience on a United Airlines flight to Chicago. When they started to board, he said, an ultra-Orthodox man stood in the aisle, refusing to move and delaying the departure for 15 to 20 minutes until another passenger volunteered to switch seats.

“My buddy who is Orthodox was saying this is a traditional thing — he doesn’t want to be tempted when his wife wasn’t there. And I said, ‘Are you kidding?’ This was just some woman flying to work or home and minding her own business.”

While many passengers refuse this requests—and I especially applaud the women who stand their ground—some people feel that they should move as a nice gesture to accommodate people’s faith:

Some passengers are sympathetic. Hamilton Morris, a 27-year-old journalist from Brooklyn, said he agreed to give up his seat on a US Airways flight from Los Angeles to Newark via Chicago because it seemed like the considerate thing to do.

“There was a Hasidic Jew sitting across the aisle, between two women, and a stewardess approached me and quietly asked if I would be willing to exchange seats because the Hasidic Jew was uncomfortable sitting between two women,” he said. “I was fine with that. Everyone was trying to be accommodating because on airplanes everyone is anxious about offending anyone for religious reasons.”

My own opinion is that it’s odious to go out of your way to afford respect to any beliefs that are sexist or misogynist, as these are. But others may feel differently. So here’s the question to readers: You’re on a plane, and an ultra-Orthodox Jew asks you to move so he doesn’t have to sit next to a women. (This could be asked to either men or women.)  Would you do it?

h/t: Greg Mayer

278 thoughts on “Sexist ultra-Orthodox Jews continue to make trouble on planes

  1. I probably wouldn’t. I’m Jewish although not Orthodox, and there’s nothing in Judaism that requires a man not to sit next to a woman in such a situation. Since it isn’t required, then there’s no reason to accommodate such a request. But even if I were willing to move, I certainly would never countenance holding up an entire flight if a man refused to sit down. He should be escorted off the flight.

    1. Since it isn’t required, then there’s no reason to accommodate such a request.

      Are you suggesting that if it were a requirement of a religion, then you’d feel obliged to accommodate it?

  2. “There is an ongoing culture war between these people and the rest of the modern world, and because the modern world has increasingly sought to become gender neutral, that has added to the desire to say, ‘We’re not like that.’”

    Well then, don’t fly in airplanes! Sorry, but I have no sympathy for those who want to pick and choose which aspects of civilization should be allowed. There are few things I dread more than flight delays, but I will applaud anyone who refuses to cater to these nutjobs.

    1. It amuses me to see the Amish in my area (N.E. Missouri)hire an “English” (their word for those not Amish) couple to drive them to the airport in St. Louis, where they board a flight to visit relatives in another state!

    2. Yeah, if you’re going to hold these beliefs, you should be the one inconvenienced, not everyone else. If I were asked to move, I’d not only refuse but also proclaim, loudly that seist behaviour should not be endorsed on this flight.

      If the wo, an was uncomfortable because of the behaviour of these sexistisch men, I’d help out there.

    3. “Well then, don’t fly in airplanes!” Right? If one insists on living in the Bronze Age, then it’s my suggestion that they adopt Bronze Age modes of travel. Want to get back to Israel for Passover? Hitch up a horse and buggy, and teach that sumbitch how to swim.

      1. HA! absolutely, as a wise jew once said,

        “…Your old road is
        Rapidly agin’
        Please get out of the new one
        If you can’t lend your hand
        For the times they are a-changin’…”

        and they’ve changed a helluva lot more since, so get the hell over it!

    4. If they want to live by ancient modes of behavior, then they should live without using modern forms of transportation as well.

  3. I would probably switch, not for the benefit of the man, but for the benefit of the woman. Who otherwise must end up feeling pretty uncomfortable sat next to someone that openly does not want to sit next to her.

    But yes, the whole thing is pretty ghastly.

    1. I am not a damsel in distress. Thanks for your kind thoughts, but I wouldn’t need rescuing. The a-hole needs to either shut up, sit down, and act civilized, or he needs to be escorted off the plane. I wouldn’t be uncomfortable if he sits down. He’s the one with the hang up, not me.

      1. I think that’s a somewhat extreme way of reading what I said (or attempted to say), everyone is different, I wouldn’t be trying to “rescue” anyone. I just don’t see much point in causing a scene. We can all have principles in our heads but really, we all just want to get to our destination.

      2. Not only would my wife not want rescuing. she’d probably go out of her way to annoy him. “could you pass me that magazine?”, “do I look fat in these pants?” :p

    2. I think that’s a nice thought, Chris, and that many women would appreciate it. Those who wouldn’t, obviously, seem to be outspoken enough to tell you so. 😉

  4. No. I wouldn’t move.

    And I would stare at the man for the entire duration of the flight to make him feel even more uncomfortable.

    I will not live in their theocracy.

    1. …or you could hold your finger several inches away from him and repeat, “I’m not touching you” for the duration of the flight. 😉

    1. Excellent twist… hadn’t thought of that. I’d like to see one of these guys trade first class for no class to uphold their principles. Bet it wouldn’t happen.

    2. This is a doubly good solution for the orthodox, if they’re willing to fly first class.

      Its good first because the odds of being seated next to a woman in a first class seat (one neighbor) is half of what it would be in a middle economy class seat (two neighbors). So buying the ticket reduces the likelihood of the problem even cropping up.

      And its good second because, as you say, if they do end up wanting to trade seats, if they’re willing to go to economy class they should have no shortage of willing traders.

  5. Nope, If you don’t want to sit next to someone else then buy three seats or preferably charter your own plane. Anyone refusing to sit in their allocated seat should be ejected from the plane immediately.

    Equally if you’re such a pervert that simply sitting near a woman gets you sexually aroused then perhaps you need medical attention and sectioning in a mental health institution.

    1. Yes, apparently god’s follower are delicate flowers, perhaps hothouse orchids who need special attention.

      But then, orchids aren’t telling me to move.

      1. Aren’t challenges to your faith supposed to be what it’s all about? Aren’t they supposed to welcome a challenge like this? That is what they say when it suits their purposes.

    2. I don’t really understand how these problems keep coming up. If the ultras know they are going to fly, they should plan in advance and get a block of seats for themselves.

      1. It’s not a problem that keeps coming up. It’s what they want to happen. “See how holy I am? I’m willing to piss off an airline full of travelers for my religious principles.” If they made arrangements in advance so they didn’t have to hold up the boarding because of the seating, they’d have to invent some other way to be publically sanctimonious. This is how a certain strand of religion works.

    3. “Equally if you’re such a pervert that simply sitting near a woman gets you sexually aroused…”

      Has anyone told them how much they resemble Muslims in this?

  6. It depends on how much they want to pay; I can’t be had, but I can be bought.

    Of course, our sincerely held belief that their irrational and misogynistic request is offensive to reason is a good reason politely deny their request.

  7. Excellent ethical question, Dr. Cat!

    I often refer to Kant’s Categorical Imperative (Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law) when considering a thorny ethical question. So, the question is, would it be better for humanity as a whole if everyone accommodated these crazy Hasidics or if no one accommodated them?

    The option of everyone accommodating these medieval guys would essentially create an obligation for everyone to accommodate them, including women, which would be all kinds of noxious to most reasonable people. But the planes would take off on time.

    The option of no one accommodating these sexually obsessed misogynists would result in planes continuing to be delayed until the airlines or the FAA finally stepped in and called this behavior what it is – interference with the operation of an aircraft – a crime. No one would feel obligated to enable this kind of childishness, and women would feel like they actually do have the right to be treated like human beings and not sex toys not to be touched accidentally for fear of an erection.

    So, no. I would not give up my seat.

    1. Hell, I want MY own person religion. If I were to fly- which I seldom do- I want the inflight movie to be Puss ‘N Boots with Antonio Banderas. And should anyone object- or not fully appreciate the movie, they are not allowed to say a word.

      1. Now MY own personal religion (when I get round to starting it) will require, no compromise accepted, that I sit next to the most attractive woman on the plane.


        (I’d feel sorry for the ultra-orthodox who can’t appreciate feminine company, if it wasn’t so obviously self-inflicted).

  8. I would not abide such requests. Don’t the airlines require very obese people to buy 2 seats? These orthodox Jews should be required to do the same, purchase 2 or 3 seats.

    It is also akin to the very tall usually buying a ‘more legroom’ or first class ticket to accommodate their long legs.

    1. Back when I was a tall, young, and sinewy 80’s goth guy and flew often I found the best option was not reserving an assigned seat. When I showed up at the airport, they’d put me on the wing exit row. Seats in front of you don’t recline and you get a few extra inches of legroom.

      1. Nowadays, many airlines (especially on long distance flights) explicitly market those seats as “premium economy” and of course charge you extra for that.

        1. Long legs – oh, dear. Years ago on Austrian Airlines, while crushed into an economy seat that was certainly economical for the airline, though not for anyone else, we were handed one of those questionnaires asking us how the airline’s service might be improved. I passed the time by filling it in, and began by remarking that I knew that filling in this sort of thing was a total waste of time because the airline didn’t actually want suggestions, and certainly wouldn’t act on any, however good, since these questionnaires were designed to make it look as though the airline cared about passenger comfort and in this way to keep their victims content, and then went on to say that since 99.9 (recurring) percent of their passengers were not legless dwarfs… well, you’ll get the rest. Perhaps if I had behaved like a rabid pit bull and bitten an air hostess, or the person next to me…

        2. Yes, all my main options charge extra for them. And I usually travel with my (under 16) child, so it’s not really an option.

          I’m 2m tall and over 300#. A big guy. Long legs. Most airline seats are simply torture for me. (Don’t even talk to me about “regional jets”.)

          One of my friends (who is 5′-2″ tall) was going on and on about how uncomfortable “coach” class seats are on airplanes. I looked at her, gave her the you’ve-got-to-be-kidding look and said, “Really? Tell me more…”

          I’ve also had on a few occasions had to engage the flight attendants to protect myself from having the seat back in front of me crushed into my knees the entire flight. (Sometimes they are able to reseat me.) Usually they are throwing the “I paid for my ticket and I’m reclining my seat (crushing your knees, damn you!)” fit and I have to have the flight attendant adjudicate. (I also paid for my seat and I don’t expect to need medical attention following the flight.)

          1. I can sympathize with the other 5’2″er. They no longer have foot rests, and our feet sometimes don’t touch the ground…Not as bad as your situation, though, I know…

            1. I take my shoes off and sit lotus like. I think I pulled a muscle once though on a long haul flight.

              1. I’ve tried that, but sometimes the seats are too narrow. I have been known to put my feet on my bf’s lap, if there’s enough room. I think I mentioned that flying home from Colorado recently I had a whole duffle bag full of deep-frozen wild boar that my neighbor let me put my feet on, but I suspect that’s gonna be a one-off.

              2. Merilee, would we interpret that as you kindly let your neighbour stash his duffle bag in your footroom? Sounds like win-win to me. 🙂

              3. I travel with a camera bag that I put other junk into and a bigger backpack camera bag. I’m able to stow the square smaller one under the seat and the backpack nicely fits under the feat as well plus I can access my headphones & such with it.

                I swear they have made the seating smaller though. I found Air NZ was okay but Air Canada has been getting more & more squished – you can barely put your stupid tray down.

              4. Exactement. I was hoping the guy would offer me few lbs of boar to take home, but I might have had trouble getting it through Canadian immigration after my second flight.

  9. You’re on a plane, and an ultra-Orthodox Jew asks you to move so he doesn’t have to sit next to a women. (This could be asked to either men or women.) Would you do it?

    Does he have a good aisle seat near the front? Then yes. Is he in the middle seat between two large people? Absolutely not. Other trades will be evaluated based on the relative quality of my current seat vs. his.

    Put another way: I have little problem with switching seats with anyone, as long as its a switch of truly ‘equal value convenience’ and doesn’t inconvenience anyone. I will even trade up. I will generally not trade down. I buy my seats early and intentionally pick aisle seats close to the front because I like them. I’m not giving that up for some crummy back of the plane middle row discomfortfest.

    In case people think I’m being self-centered about this, I’ll note that I’m generally willing to trade (and even trade down) with someone sitting next to a small child. I don’t mind kids and I know that’s a lot of people’s definition of hell, so my loss of utilitarian ‘utility’ is generally much smaller than their gain.

      1. (Pssst… so do I, but keep it quiet. The more people want aisle seats, the better our chances of scoring a window seat, no? Now say after me…)

        Aisle Seats Good, Window Seats Bad…

        1. Two can play at that game…window seats are the best! Everyone, reserve your window seat early so that nobody else gets it!

          1. Hey! Not fair! There are twice as many aisle seats as window seats already, without you encourage people to use up the window seats!

            (I won’t even mention the despised middle seats.

            This is why I like the Airbus A340 with 2-4-2 seating. The window seats only have one other seat between them and the aisle – way more civilised than 3-3-3. Nobody is more than one seat away from an aisle).

              1. Nice thing about the A340 (or any plane with 2-4-2 seating) is if you’re travelling with your wife [/companion] and book ahead you can get one window seat and adjacent aisle seat. This makes it much less awkward for getting to the toilet in the middle of a long flight since the window-seat-occupier only has to clamber over their companion.

                I have flown on a 747 with 2-5-2 seating, I pity anyone in the middle of the ‘5’. But those seats were excellent for sleeping in on the final near-empty 6-hour leg from Perth back to Auckland.

                Oh yes, who is the absolute *best* person to sit next to? A: An empty seat.

              2. Yeah, I always carefully choose my seat to make sure I’m in the aisle. If I end up in the middle seats, I still make sure it’s on an aisle!!

              1. Depends on the seating configuration. On a widebody with two aisles, you get four aisle seats per row but still just the two window seats. On a narrowbody with just a single aisle, you’ve got two and two.


              2. What Ben said – on ANY plane with two aisles, there are twice as many aisle seats as window seats. (On a single-aisle plane, the number of aisle seats and window seats is the same).

  10. My first thought would be to loudly say that I would be willing to switch seats for $1K. And I would also loudly explain that I would donate the money to the woman (singular or plural) who had to emotionally suffer from the misfortune of sitting next to a bigot.

    The entitlement of professional religionists
    is always amazing. They want all of the modern conveniences but insist that those should be altered to fit their superstitious beliefs.

    Remember Feynman talking about some religionists asking him if electricity was fire? They were using an elevator on Saturday but afraid to push the buttons because then they might violate a primitive religious “law” about not using fire on Saturday. So they relied on others to push the buttons for them to avoid breaking the “law”. This, they imagined would avoid breaking their idiotic “law”. Intellectual honesty is the first thing to abandon when becoming incurably religious.

  11. No, I would most likely not change my seat, on the principle that I refuse to be suckered into behaving as a member of someone’s religious denomination if I object to the behaviour in question. I wouldn’t want to encourage sexist attitudes or the expectation of routine validation of religious nonsense.

    OTOH, if my present seat is uncomfortable (near wailing babies, between obese or smelly people), and the proffered seat were to be a much better alternative, I might choose immediate gain over general moral principles.

  12. I would change seats to be accomodating for almost any reason . . . except that one. Grow the *%@# up already. I stopped thinking like that hen I was 11 years old for crying out loud.
    I would work my ass off for the rest of that flight trying to make these people feel as mortified as humanly possible.
    Nickswearsky nailed it when he said if female passengers are that offensive to their religious traditions, then they get off the plane and walk home.

  13. No. I would probably respond with that he insults me by assuming I would support sexism.

    1. I don’t know. If I was the woman I would indeed tell him to go #!%§ himself. If I was another passenger and was asked to switch seats, I would probably agree to do so. Not because I support this sort of behavior but because I want to get on with the flight. I’m probably not prepared to make a political statement if this statement affects the arrival time of all other passengers.

      If I was the flight attendant I would get this guy one of the shitty safety seats in the galley (not sure if this is allowed, but he would certainly deserve it).

  14. I think the best thing would be for every other passenger to refuse to change seats. Let these guys know the rest of us insist on living in the 21st century. We’re not going to revert to some superstitious dark ages rigamarole because they think men can’t control themselves on a plane for a few hours. Good grief!

    1. One man or woman overhears the request to switch seats and announces on behalf of everybody “Nobody will move!; and we are all watching you. If you so much as accidentally glance at the woman or accidentally touch her even a little — we will yell “pervert!!”

    2. The problem is that they have a tendency to refuse to sit down thus delaying the plane until the can be forcibly removed.

  15. Though I would have an initial resistance to the idea of swapping seats to accommodate such a request, whether or not I’d be willing to trade seats would depend entirely on which seat I preferred to sit in.

    I’ll take an aisle over a middle or window seat any day, principles be dammed.

  16. I thought I wouldn’t, but then I remembered what the Bible says about plane travel (1st Boloneyans 3:17) “yield not, unless compelled to take an aisle whilst forsaking a middle.”

  17. If it doesn’t inconvenience me and it gets the damn plane off the ground, I’d do it – not to accommodate the moron, but to end the mishegas for everyone else.

  18. PS. The airlines should not give in to this musical chairs auction every time these guys fly. Give them 2 minutes to get in their seats, or boot ’em off, and fly the plane.

    If a kid pulled this crap about “I don’t want to sit there…because…icky…yucky” they’d get a quick reprimand to sit down, shut up and behave!

    1. I absolutely agree. Most of religion and about half of politics is just children’s cootie games played among adults.

      1. Indeed, “cooties” is precisely the traditional term we used in my heritage, when I was 6 years old.

  19. “Would you do it?”

    This is a tough one. I don’t want to be anywhere near THEM, either, but the idea of reaching out to enable their frank bigotry is, you know, icky.

    Also I usually go out of my way to get an aisle seat, so if I had to give that up, forget it.

    Basically, if they’re so primitive they can’t handle sitting next to a woman, maybe they shouldn’t be on a plane.

  20. To stay true to their stone age beliefs, the jack-asses should only travel on their namesake animal.

  21. I would not move. They are basically demanding that other passengers must defer to their particular brand of religion, I ser no reason anyone should comply.

  22. By nature, I am about as considerate as one could possibly be. If one asked nicely and sincerely, I would switch seats with anyone who looked like they were in need. (I might even *volunteer* even if they didn’t ask, but looked uncomfortable.) Because they needed more leg room. Because they didn’t get the window seat they were promised. Because they wanted two armrests. Whatever.

    But the moment someone proudly declares that he’s a misogynist bigot who cannot tolerate my very presence “BECAUSE GOD”… “NO.” Just no. Fuck ‘em.

    1. A man or woman overhearing the request to switch seats stands up and says:”Nobody will move!! And if you so much as glance at or accidentally touch the woman beside you we will all point at you and yell “PERVERT!!” and demand your immediate arrest by the religious police when we land for thou hast committed adultery in your heart — so sayeth your Lord!!”

  23. I’d ask the “offending” female which of us she would rather be seated next to then I’d switch if that is what she wanted to happen. That makes it more clearly her decision and largely cuts cooty-boy out of it.

    1. But, but have you thought of your poor original seatmates who will have to suffer the presence of the religious bigot (I know, somewhat redundant), if you accept to change seats… 🙂 A real dilemma.


  24. You could say “I’m a gynecologist, and it’s been a long work day, so I’m not interested in pandering to your sexist BS based on your imaginary friend’s demands. Charter a private plane if you have a problem with it. Join the 21st century you nutjob. And don’t try and hog the armrest!”

    Or, you could say “I just got off work at the pig farm, so leave me alone.”


    1. or wait till he switches with you because you agree, then say in a loud voice “I am a pig veterinarian gynaecologist and forgot to wash before coming on the plane — I have cooties all over me — seeewwweee!!”

      See who is taken off the plane first – you or the religious miscreant.

      Any bets?

  25. I would request that he pay $300. That would be $100 to me and $200 to the woman. I would ask as well that he apologize to everyone for subjecting us to his disgusting misogynistic beliefs.

  26. I’m happy to switch seats so friends can sit together. Or family can sit together.

    But in the words of Obama:

    Even worse, if producers and distributors start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody who frankly probably needs their sensibilities offended. That’s not who we are. That’s not who Americans are.

    I would classify the female cootie thing as sensibilities that need to be offended.

    1. Wait, what? How does Obama justify saying that in the context of “The Interview” but the exact opposite in the context of Charlie Hebdo?

  27. I am sure that if prayed for a seat away from women that god would provide, amiright?

    If this guy sat next to me I’d do everything I could to make him feel even worse, not accommodate his ultra-crazy bs.

  28. “There is an ongoing culture war between these people and the rest of the modern world, and because the modern world has increasingly sought to become gender neutral, that has added to the desire to say, ‘We’re not like that.’”

    And this specific situation has added to my desire to say, on behalf of the modern world, “We’re not like that.” I hope I would refuse. I’m not sure, because like most people I have a sneaky tendency to be “nice” as a default, but perhaps thinking about this in advance would help steel my resolve.

    There’s a saying to the effect that you have to “pick your battles.” As battles go though, from my point of view this is easier than most. They choose this issue? Seriously? One which makes them look like bigoted idiots and total tools? One which obstructs air travel?

    Fine. Let them die on this mountain if that’s what they want. I’m not budging.

    “Everyone was trying to be accommodating because on airplanes everyone is anxious about offending anyone for religious reasons.”

    I see. That could be taken more than one way.

    1. Like Sastra, once upon a time I probably would have moved, just to be nice and so everybody could get on with their day. Hard as it may be to believe, I’ve never some across ultra-Orthodox Jews in the real world, so I wouldn’t have thought about it. The likelihood is that most people haven’t thought about it, and in many cases the person who refuses to change will be made to feel bad rather than the person who is causing the problem.

      Because of reading articles like this one, I’ve become more aware, and I wouldn’t change, and I would have my answer ready as to why I wouldn’t change, and be able to debate the subject with anyone spontaneously.

      So thank you Jerry, and everyone else who has come up with reasons not to enable these people that I might not have thought of myself.

    2. I read that the same way. What if it was unclear if the man was Jewish or Muslim? What if it was strictly a Muslim request? What if everyone and the stewardesses knew the man was a Muslim and not a Jew? What if he was in full Muslim religious dress and beard? What if he quoted the Koran before asking the stewardess?
      What if he asked which way he would be able to face at different points of the flight so that he could face Mecca? What if he asked if he could see the cockpit – just an innocent question from someone who doesn’t watch the news?

      Just asking. Maybe a double standard is at play here. Maybe not.

  29. Sure am glad I don’t have to fly any more. It’s either a glorified bus ride or a nightmare.

    1. Louis CK would have a problem with your attitude toward the “miracle of flight.”

      Search video for “Louis ck everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy” and it’ll set you straight.


  30. Not only would I not accommodate him, I would remind him that girls don’t have cooties, and suggest if he can’t control his penis he ought to stay home.

  31. I’d want to be the guy that he sits next to after moving to a new seat. Then halfway through the flight, in my most concerned voice, tell him that I hope he doesn’t mind that I used to be a woman.

  32. I’d say, “No. My religion forbids acquiescing to other religions.”

    If you cannot stand to be around women, please move to another planet.

  33. My final answer is — The airlines can easily solve this mess by doing what they do with everything else. Charge a fee to accommodate this crazy business. One big fat extra fee to ensure you do not have to sit next to a female. Should probably be $100 bucks minimum. Admin. fee.

    So accommodate every nutty religious request with a large fee. Eventually, atheist will be getting the cheap ride.

      1. so make it higher. The words were minimum. But think – if the fee is higher than the fare, it’s no longer a fee is it.

    1. Not a great precedent to set. How much should they charge to not have to sit beside a Jew? Muslim? Christian? Black man? white man? brown man? etc.

      Religion can pretend to justify anything.

  34. Its not just El Al flights and flights out of JFK; happened to my 87 yr old friend last summer, Rome to Honolulu (via JFK), on Alitalia. Delayed three hours! Bullet-proof vested swat team came aboard, at least some of the Hasidic sat in their assigned seats for take-off. Once the seat-belt sign went off, they spent the rest of the flight clogging the aisles. My friend missed his connection at JFK, spent an extra night in what was already a 20 hour flight.

  35. I wouldn’t and what about transsexuals-think that is what their called.I’d say hey i used to be a man does that count.Joking ofcource but these days who knows.

    1. Or tell him that genetically you are XY and see what he says.

      One of the biggest issues with religious gender splits is that even purely biological/physiological sex is not a purely digital male/female divide in humans. There is a continuum, albeit with a heavily bimodal distribution.

      I probably have some of my mother cells in me. I’d ask if that is too female for him?

      There’s a great opportunity for a plane-wide Spartacus/Life of Brian moment for *everyone* to claim to be a woman and see how he copes.

  36. If I was in a better seat, I’d certainly not swap. If I wasn’t and it was causing a delay, I might swap out of pure frustration, purely to get the plane moving. (And then complain to the airline.) If I was feeling contrary and not in a rush and someone next to me swapped, I’d refuse to sit next to an orthodox sexist on religious grounds. (Probably not really, but I like the idea.)

  37. Frankly I don’t understand why there’s a flight delay. The flight attendants should simply say “are you coming or not” and then give them a couple of minutes to decide before selling their seat to someone on the waiting list. After all who’s plane/airline is this anyway?

  38. It’s an airline problem. If they want to re-seat me in business class, perfect, else, I’m staying where I am. I have zero sympathy for this shit.

  39. No doubt this is going to draw some criticism, but I’m shallow and not afraid to admit it. What does the woman look like? Is she attractive? If I’ve heard her speak, does she sound like an interesting, educated woman? Does she seem friendly? (Looks aren’t everything, after all.) If I think I might enjoy her company for the trip, I’d be glad to trade. I may be an old man (I’m 75.); but I still like the company of attractive, intelligent, young women. On the other hand, of course, it would depend whether I was flying alone or with somebody I care for.

      1. It’s also worth noting that, if the only reason one would think to talk to a woman is in the hope that you might get in her pants…you’re missing out on lots of really good reasons to talk to women.

        And I imagine it’s likely not all that much fun for the young attractive women who have to put up with all the guys who only want to talk to them in an effort to get in their paints.


        1. He’s 75… probably past getting into anyone’s pants. Like me. However – and here I’ll answer for myself – even though I know there’s no chance of that, it’s still pleasant and refreshing to talk to an attractive young(er) woman. And a little bit flattering that she would talk to an old wreck like me…

          In fact I’ll stop being sexist and be age-ist instead – I generally prefer the company of people younger than myself. It sometimes seems like most people my age are decrepit old fogies ready for the geriatric ward, why would I want to talk to them? The ones who are active mentally or physically always seem much younger than their chronological age anyway.

          1. As a male friend told me, guys like talking to attractive women. They just like the attention.

              1. Yeah, I figured they all really thought they had a chance but my friend said they just like the attention. I thought they were always on the make.

              2. I think a good way to tell the difference is whether the guy focusses all his attention on the pretty women and his male peers, or if he focusses his attention on the interesting and attentively reciprocating people.

                Honestly, I haven’t noticed that pretty women pay any more or less attention to me than anybody else, so I’d almost tend to think that the guy in question might have a touch of Narcissus in him….


              3. “Yeah, I figured they all really thought they had a chance but my friend said they just like the attention. I thought they were always on the make.”

                I assume by ‘they’ who like the attention you mean the guys?

                It’s true. It’s nice to talk to an intelligent person and if she’s attractive I’m subconsciously flattered that she has time to talk to me. That’s plenty. If (by a one-in-a-thousand chance) we should be romantically attracted to each other that would be the icing on the cake. Like I said, one in a thousand chance, there’s absolutely no point in entertaining that possibility because I’ll be eternally disappointed.

              4. Infinite, I know you mean well but I think you’re unaware of just what you’re saying when you keep mentioning the “attractiveness” angle.

                Let’s play the old substitution game, here:

                “It’s nice to talk to an intelligent person and if she’s white I’m subconsciously flattered that she has time to talk to me.”

                It’s not nice to harp on something that to a large extent people don’t have a choice in. (And please don’t reply with the importance of grooming, etc. We’ll take that as a given.)

                I’m not speaking out of bitterness here; when I was young I attracted more than my share of men. In fact, one reason I got married was to get away from them! I’m mostly talking as the mother of a son & daughter, who thinks life is tough enough without the ever-present lookism. And sure, it’s a fact of life; but there are a lot of facts of life that we nonetheless develop some compassion about.

              5. Diane, thanks for that postscript.

                At the risk of digging a hole deeper, I suppose I should emphasise that ‘attractiveness’ doesn’t (only) depend on looks, personality plays a major part.

                I’m afraid ‘lookism’ is a factor in everybody’s life, try as we might to counter it. I suppose the reason it’s flattering if an attractive woman chooses to talk to me is the unconscious presumption that there must be dozens of guys who would love to talk to her. I would imagine you would get the same feeling if a really good-looking guy is talking to you?

                I’m not trying to justify it, just pointing out that it exists.

                Once you get into conversation though, there are factors that outweigh appearances. I’d say hullo to Sarah Palin if I didn’t know who she was, but I doubt if I’d want to talk to her for long… 😉

              6. OK, you ‘went there.’ Sarah Palin? Stuck on a plane next to her screeching, grating voice? I would demand to be seated elsewhere, and if invoking god’ would help my chances, I would so do that.

              7. That was a bit more than “a bit harsh.” That was my inner sanctimonious shithead speaking. I hate that voice. Please accept my sincere apologies!

              8. Now you’re being way too harsh on yourself. You caught yourself, which many (most?) people wouldn’t have.

                I have an aversion to being ‘PC’ in my own statements which sometimes leads me to seem more provocative than I intended. There’s a fine line to tread between being (or seeming like!) an unreconstructed sexist dinosaur and a PC SNAG and I wobble sometimes. 😉

              9. No, no, I was egregious. Thank you for not giving me the same.

                There are men who attract me more than others, of course, but it’s not really about looks. (If anything, I tend to think extra hot people of any sex might be full of themselves–there’s a bias right there, eh?) Still, any criteria are just that, criteria. Including the “I know it when I see/hear it*” kind. Guilty as charged.

                (If I’m feeling social, which isn’t often, I’m open to talking to anyone who looks pleasant, I guess. It’s really only after a person starts talking that one knows whether or not to stay or bail.)

                * or smell it? Possibly–pheromones & all… 😀

              10. And thanks for the new acronym. Would you believe the first hit was, “Society of North American Goldsmiths?”

                Happily the 3rd was Urban Dictionary. 😀

              11. I thought everyone knew SNAG. But I dread to think what Urban Dictionary might make of it (or any acronym). It’s actually blocked by our censorware at work.

                And –
                “It’s really only after a person starts talking that one knows whether or not to stay or bail.”
                Very true.

              12. Me too but I’m not exactly hip to these things. I often have to ask cooler friends to explain things to me.

              13. There is something to what you say, Diane. I think it is this: there is nothing worse than wanting to talk to someone because you have something interesting to say or you are interested in what they have to say, only to be brushed aside because you are not physically appealing to them. I’m sure this happens to both sexes but it probably has happened to women more often given the history of ingrained sexism we’ve come up through.

                When I was young, many older women disliked me for catching the eye of men more “appropriate” to their age. I wasn’t interested in these men and it sucked to have unwanted attention and the ire of other women just for showing up.

                Now, I find I feel pressured to be as beautiful as these young women (which I can’t possibly, as a middle aged woman wh keeps finding cellulite (curse it!) in fun new places on my body) and I think it is because I, like many women have been conditioned that our worth is in our appearance. No one will want to talk to you if you are not pretty.

                Dustin Hoffman said it best when, playing Tootsie, he realized that he had not bothered to speak to many women because they were not attractive to him and that he had missed out on a lot of great conversations. I think he almost came to tears as he admitted this because he got to experience life as a female, middle aged woman.

              14. Thank you, Diana. Much as I cringed at my sanctimony, I’d hoped there was a point in there somewhere. Glad you had the tact to say it better.

                I identify with just about everything you say and remember so well that Hoffman comment. I think I cried too when I first heard it.

              15. I’ll wade in again:

                “there is nothing worse than wanting to talk to someone because you have something interesting to say or you are interested in what they have to say, only to be brushed aside because you are not physically appealing to them. I’m sure this happens to both sexes ”

                I’m sure this doesn’t happen, or hardly ever. Sure someone who looks like Michelle Obama will have all my attention instantly, BUT I’d don’t think I’m ever going to ignore anyone who has something interesting** to say or who is interested in what I have to say, just on grounds of their appearance.

                Generally speaking, anyone interested in what I have to say is another of those mildly flattering things (‘gosh, (s)he wants to know what _I_ think?’) and will have my full attention.

                Caveats: 1. The ‘something interesting’ they have to say – that is judged by my interest, not theirs. I don’t want to hear about advanced accounting techniques, or the treatment of parasitic worms, or the state of my soul, or how their favourite nephew is doing with his potty training.
                2. Their ‘interest in what I have to say’ should not be conflated with nosiness, I don’t necessarily want to tell some stranger all about my personal business even if they ask.

              16. I’m not accusing you, Infinite. I just wanted to provide some perspective of how it feels as a woman to go through this type of experience.

              17. I wasn’t taking it personally, in fact you should probably read “most people” where I put “I” in that reply, because I think most people would react in the same way. That is, if you’re saying something interesting to the person you’re talking to, I don’t think you’ll be ignored. That’s what I was claiming.

                But on reflection that may not be quite right. Peoples’ receptiveness does vary, and after fighting their way through the queues and past the TSA into a crammed seat, they may just be wanting to shut down.

                Oh, and I do know the feeling of being invisible, only too well. Happens to guys too, frequently.

          2. It sometimes seems like most people my age are decrepit old fogies ready for the geriatric ward, why would I want to talk to them?

            You know how you old farts like to recycle the same dozen-or-so stories, and, in so doing, annoy the shit out of your close associates?

            Well, for those not your close associates…they actually really are almost always good stories worth telling, and the teller has plenty of practice polishing them. So, the old fart gets the pleasure of a new and appreciative audience for the story, and the audience gets the pleasure of a good new-to-them story well told.


            1. It all depends who’s telling the tale and whether they have any talent for it. Some people do, some don’t.

  40. How well do these appalling people cope with queer atheists… ?

    I might show some leg myself.

    “Is that a homburg on your head or are you just pleased to see me big boy? I’ve always preferred bearded, cut men so you’re welcome to sit with me. ”

    I expect he’d be desperately looking for an escape hatch by the time I’d licked my lips sensuously on the word ‘cut’…

    1. It depends how much money is being offered, the location of the seats and what these women look like.

  41. If these people weren’t inherently (inculcatedly or self-taught) ultra-misogynistic, they’d find a different sect of Judaism. They’re merely hiding behind this medieval bullshit to give an imprimatur of respectability to their phobia.

    And in these cases, does the Ultra ever move, or is the objective always to get the woman to move? Either way, if the swap would mean that the Ultra wound up sitting next to me, and I said, “Sorry, my religion doesn’t permit me to sit next to Jews,” there’d be an enormous flap.

    In any event, Jimmy Carter’s recent book, “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power,” which I’ve just started, deals with the rising worldwide tide of religiously-shielded misogyny, but since I’m only at pg 26 I can’t quote anything specific from that re. this.

    1. This contains a hidden important point – a lot of these rules are *more recent* than the holy books, because they came from creating more rules to prevent the first ones from being broken.

      (I understand that’s where, for example, “don’t carry money on the holy days” comes from – to prevent “don’t *spend* money on the holy days.” from being violated.)

  42. Airlines could include a prohibition in their terms and conditions against anyone causing delay by deliberately not sitting in their seat by take off; the condition making clear to violators that they would immediately be escorted off the airplane.

    It’s a common sense condition for the benefit of other passengers – nothing to do with the tenets of any religion. It would apply equally to drunks or those insisting on standing while they retrieve their hand luggage, for example.

    1. Right. I don’t understand why airlines put up with this crap. It’s not like most of the flights I’ve been on lately don’t have a stand-by line at boarding.

      1. The premium is on efficiency and on maintaining harmony in the cabin. An argument of scuffle in the cabin is a serious thing.

        The cabin crew will do whatever they can to smooth over whatever happens. (Safety requires that.)

        So, if they can figure out a solution (switching seats is extremely minor stuff) then they will do so.

        They will never be instructed and trained to confront passengers — unless the passenger is acting in an unsafe way.

        I totally disagree with the guy’s reasons for wanting to move; but I’ve moved on many occasions for many reasons. I try to cooperate with the cabin crew as much as I can.

        Stand-by line: Unless a paying passenger does something unsafe worthy of ejection from the flight (pretty high bar) they will not be removed in favor of a stand-by passenger.

        1. And as someone pointed out, if they throw someone off the plane they have to find their luggage and throw that off too – BIG delay. Because bombs.

  43. Would it be wrong of me to assume that if the plane crashed, that the ultra orthodox would let the women die rather than help them and get cooties?

  44. Late to the party; haven’t read other replies.

    You’re on a plane, and an ultra-Orthodox Jew asks you to move so he doesn’t have to sit next to a women. (This could be asked to either men or women.) Would you do it?

    Two possible answers.

    The first, of course, is, “Fuck no!”

    The second, though…would be to collude with a seatmate such that the one or the other of us agrees to the seat swap, and then the one who stays put makes a similar fuss about not wanting to sit next to a misogynist and asks to swap seats with a woman — ideally, of course, a woman who’s also already in on the deal.


  45. Generally I don’t mind swapping seats – for any number of reasons, and I probably wouldn’t even demand to know what the reason was (assuming it was an even swap – if I was being asked to move to a manifestly worse seat I’d ask why and judge the case on its merits).

    However, if I knew that someone was asking for an idiotic reason like this, I would stand my ground, no matter what.

  46. These are just ultra-weird people worthy of our sympathy (if you’re nice) or disdain/abuse (if you’re not).

    I tend towards sympathy. They seem to be victims of a fairly specific set of cultural conditions which turn them into ridiculous assholes.

  47. You can treat these people with sympathy (if you’re nice) or disdain (if you’re not).

    I think I’ll go for sympathy. It’s maybe not their fault they grow up in a bizarre culture which turns them into assholes.

  48. They are delaying the takeoff of the plane.
    Each traveler that misses their connection deserves compensation for the loss.

  49. How about switching seats for the sake of avoiding a substantial flight delay? You could still tell them they’re mysoginistic idiots or something, so that they pay *some* price for their behavior, and then happily enjoy sitting next to a woman for the ride.

      1. Love the picture there of Charlton Heston as Moses. He looks like Brian Blessed camping it up.

  50. “You’re on a plane, and an ultra-Orthodox Jew asks you to move so he doesn’t have to sit next to a women. (This could be asked to either men or women.) Would you do it?”

    As crass as this may seem, and because I want the plane off the ground, I would have to ask, “How much money will you pay me for your stupid, misogynistic belief not to sit near a woman?”

    If it’s enough I’d take it …and split it with the lucky woman I get to sit next too.

    1. It’s a good reply because, if he is sincere in his belief, it SHOULD be worth a good deal of money to him. If it’s not worth any money to him, you can call him the hypocrite he obviously is.

    2. I suspect that, were I in a good enough mood, I would require him to compensate everyone involved in the switch—me, for moving; my original armrest-sharer(s) for having to put up with him; and his original armrest-sharer(s), for having to put up with me for the duration. ;-}

      1. That’s a point that hasn’t been considered so far – what about the poor sod sitting next to the move-ee. Like, previously he only had some average schmuck sitting next to him and now he’s got some ultra-religious nutter. Doesn’t he have some say in the matter? If lady-cooties are contagious, how about Yahweh-cooties? 🙁

    3. I like your suggestion, but I would insist that the jerk personally pay all of the “fee” to the offended woman, along with a public apology (written by me) to both the offended woman and the rest of the passengers.

  51. I would be inclined to trade seats if I could participate in (or engineer)a subsequent trade that would result in a woman sitting next to the jerk.

    Bwah ha ha ha ha!

  52. I’d tell him: “I would switch out of courtesy to you but I can’t switch out of courtesy to my neighbor who is a Nazi that doesn’t want to sit next to Jews”

  53. I’m really quite amazed that a) this still goes on, and b) people are so accommodating of it. If this were a member of the KKK, and it wasn’t a woman but a black man, would we think that’s a valid reason to move? Of course not! Only goes to show that sexism is still way more permissive in our society than it should be.

    1. I agree about the sexism. I’ve been quite disappointed with how some men have reacted to women being asked to move seats or have been moved to other stations when members of certain religious sects enter security lines. The response is that it didn’t really harm the women. My reply is that it shows that women don’t matter. It makes me feel like a second class citizen.

      1. So…would you be up for my multi-way swap?

        Dipshit is some aisles away. I’m in the middle seat, you next to me in the window. Guy to my other side, in on the plot, “graciously” swaps seats with dipshit. I then raise a loud moral objection that I don’t want to sit next to a misogynist dipshit and ask you if you’ll swap seats with me.


        1. Errm, what, me lose my window seat AND end up sitting next to dipshit? You must think I’m as stupid as I look. I assure you appearances are deceptive, the vacant open-mouthed look and glassy stare are just symptoms of my brain going into overload trying to imagine one possible reason, no matter how absurd, in this or any conceivable universe, why I should contemplate for a millisecond acceding to your request.
          [I assume you’re not waving at me a thousand bucks in crispy new notes or the business end of loud bangy thing that the TSA missed]

          1. I think you missed both the point of the exercise and to whom (Diana) I was proposing it.

            The idea is to give Dipshit a Pyrrhic victory. He gets to have his hissy fit and the coddling and special acknowledgement of his special specialness. And then it all gets turned around on him. First, he’s now the object of unclean derision and subjected to the humiliation of being subhuman scum whose unclean proximity is intolerable…and then, the final stroke is that he winds up right back where he started, seated next to an unclean woman.

            And by this point, we’ve already pushed back from the gate so he’s fucked. Can’t get off. Not only is there no time for him to swap again, he’s already spent all that social capital; he doesn’t have any sympathy left to trade.

            Diana would agree with it, I presume, because she’d like the chance to turn the tables on Dipshit. For once, Dipshit can be the bottom of the heap, that fact made all the more bitter for him by the fact that icky female Diana is not only the one at the top of the heap, not only right there breathing down his neck…but it was his own idiotic thuggishness that backfired and put himself in the even worse position he’s now in.


              1. Yes — it’s all those free cooties you’re handing out that makes these Dipschitzes scared. You might as well be handing out free bacon-wrapped shrimps with cheese dip!


            1. Ahh… okay. You were proposing it to Diana (as a female) specifically. I thought you were proposing it to the commentariat in general.

              Seeing as how it lands Diana in a middle seat (whereas she much prefers an aisle seat) this is still non-optimum from her point of view… but if she’s prepared to sacrifice her comfort for the sake of showing up mr dipshit then I admire her principles but not her common-sense. But I guess that’s only to be expected from someone who installs the rolls backwards 😉

              1. Maybe Diana could sit backwards in the seat and glare at M. Dipschitz (love Ben’s spelling);-)

              2. He’d really hate it that I constantly hugged him to allow me to squish by him to use the bathroom.

              3. Just don’t forget to sell him your seat first. Then we can split the $$ after we land!

    2. I think I have to disagree entirely. This is about coddling religion, not condoning sexism.

      Look at how the authoritarian left attacks anyone critical of Islam, hurling accusations of Islamophobia and racism. And this in defense of specific people who advocate and/or perpetrate horrific violence.

      For the SJW far left, religious belief (or, perhaps more accurately, cultural relativism a la Critical Theory) seems to trump all other concerns. That’s what I think is happening here.

      In contrast to your assertion, I think our society is hypersensitive to sexism, to the point where the identity politics PC brigade sees it around every corner whether it’s there or not.

      Sam Harris has an anecdote in The Moral Landscape that seems on point here, about a supposed expert in ethics who explicitly denied the validity of calling horrific behavior immoral if the behaver’s religious beliefs permitted or demanded it.

      1. “I think I have to disagree entirely. This is about coddling religion, not condoning sexism.”
        It’s sexism in the form of religion – something that’s still largely tolerated.

        “In contrast to your assertion, I think our society is hypersensitive to sexism, to the point where the identity politics PC brigade sees it around every corner whether it’s there or not.”
        Some of the sexism they see seems either trivial or what they are reading into it, but they neither represent society as a whole, nor does it mean that their labelling of sexism is the end of there actually being sexism. And especially when it comes to religion, sexism shrouded in religious tradition is the hardest thing to flinch. Just look at how the “moderate” Anglicans divided over the idea of women priests within the last decade!

  54. I question the religious commitment of these “Orthodox” Jews. Avoiding sitting immediately adjacent to a woman is clearly a half hearted effort at best. What if one brushes against you in the lobby, or in the security line, or on the automated walkway? What if you see one dressed alluringly in the baggage claim area? What if one, right in front of you, bends over to pick up her bags? How will the “Orthodox” avoid temptation then? And on the plane, what of the female flight attendants? Their hands might have touched your drink at some point. Just the thought of womanly hands on the same glass you now put your lips on, even if she did it out of your sight, is sure to generate enough lust to make a holy man’s loins burst into flames. But what really shows their lack of commitment is that they only ask for adjacent seats to be male. Any person half serious about maintaining their purity from sin would surely want to clear out at least several rows in front of him as well. What if, two rows ahead, there is a co-ed showing some side boob? This is sure to happen if you fly enough, and no Orthodox soul could possibly survive the maddening lust that would enflame.

    Orthodox my ass. They aren’t even trying.

    I think, if they really can’t manage to band together and fly on all-Orthodox male flights, that the least they could do, if they are sincere, is to bind their arms and hands, blindfold themselves, stopper their ears, and plug their noses (lest some female perfume, or pheromone pollute their nostrils). That way they could actually achieve the goal of avoiding temptation on the flight rather than merely being sanctimonious for show (they could still be sanctimonious, of course, so it’s win-win). While I’d never give up my seat for one of these retrogrades (unless as many have noted, theirs is a really good seat), I could probably find the kindness in my heart to help lead the deaf, blinded, and bound religious person to their assigned seats that they, in their religious sincerity, can not see.

    1. Isn’t there another reason for avoiding contact with women– not just temptation, but the idea that women are unclean?

  55. The older I get the less I am willing to tolerate crap. I am a 65 year old woman of not unsubstantial girth. If the orthodox fool were objecting to sitting next to me I would be sure to rub my body firmly against him and smile sweetly.

  56. I’m an anti-theist/atheist. Guess what my answer is. As the Hitch has often loudly exclaimed, “Religion poisons everything!”

  57. As others have pointed out, switch if it is a net benefit to you, switch if it helps someone in genuine need (e.g., reuniting a family that couldn’t get seats together when booking or allowing someone with a disability an aisle seat). Note that one reason the airlines may be reluctant to just kick the obstructive passengers off is that they would also have to get their luggage off[1] (and in the case of El Al they might also worry about the political fallout in Israel).

    [1] Not as a courtesy to the passenger but for fear of a ruse to smuggle a bomb on board.

  58. People should not be given special accommodation because they hold a psychotic faith that non-existent sky-fairies are giving them special instructions on how to behave. These people are insane, the only accommodation they should be given is a padded cell.

  59. Yes, of course I’d switch seats with him. I may sometimes come across as angry and curmudgeonly and the like, but I’m pretty meek and quiet and abhor uncomfortable situations. I’ll do a lot to make sure everything goes smoothly; I don’t wanna make a fuss, let’s all just be polite and get along. Doesn’t mean I agree with the prick, in any way at all, or have any sympathy for his stupidity, but life’s too short to give a f^ck about him, besides, I’m rather fond of women, even though I know I would immediately go through my panic and anxiety, worried about my body odor, my breath, that I’ll say something stupid to them, or accidentally fart, or even move in my seat and make a sound that mimics the sound of a fart; I’d be in a perpetual state of flushed, blushing nervous tensions….maybe I’m the one who needs to be accommodated, or medicated…

  60. “You’re on a plane, and an ultra-Orthodox Jew asks you to move so he doesn’t have to sit next to a women. (This could be asked to either men or women.) Would you do it?”

    Absolutely not. Accommodating the irrational bigotry of others is never acceptable. This particular situation with airlines accommodating this lunacy is particularly disturbing.

    I can understand those completely blinkered by their faith treating women like subhumans (but don’t confuse understanding with justification), but it’s those people that think we should accommodate them that really get under my skin. There will always be bigotry, idiocy, and fear of reality present in some people, but societies can combat those people as long as they refuse to acquiesce to bigotry, idiocy, and fear of reality.

  61. “You’re on a plane, and an ultra-Orthodox Jew asks you to move so he doesn’t have to sit next to a woman. Would you do it?”

    It would depend how good-looking the woman was. 😉 (Sorry ’bout that, teh Devil made me say it).

    Okay, being serious. Makes no difference to me who I sit next to (so long as they’re not obnoxious for some reason). While I might be disinclined to accommodate his religious stupidity, if she were sufficiently personable to cause him to worry about the temptation, I’d regard that as a plus. And in reality it would probably depend on how nicely he asked me.

  62. Hi Jerry,
    First of all, thanks for keeping me updated on relevant stuff. Loved your book with the blog title and have pre-ordered your new one. As to your question: I would welcome the situation and exploit the opportunity to ridicule the person in the most polite manner possible!

    Have a nice day and keep up the good work!

    Best regards,
    Stig Aune

    PS: btw I’m reading Erik Tunstad’s Evolution – based on a true story (translated from Norwegian). Excellent!

    Fra: Why Evolution Is True []
    Sendt: 9. april 2015 22:26
    Emne: [New post] Sexist ultra-Orthodox Jews continue to make trouble on planes

    whyevolutionistrue posted: “Well, the New York Times has finally caught up to the prescient reporting of Professor Ceiling Cat, who has reported several times about the bad behavior of ultra-Orthodox Jews on airplanes (see here, for instance). In their new piece, “Aboard flights, c”

  63. “You’re on a plane, and an ultra-Orthodox Jew asks you to move so he doesn’t have to sit next to a women. (This could be asked to either men or women.) Would you do it?”

    Absolutely not. I’m offended by the bloody question!

  64. I probably would switch but under protest. By their behaviour, these arseholes are inconveniencing the complete flight so if by my actions the flight could get away quicker then I would change seats….

    Greatest good for the greatest number and all that.

    1. And civility. I agree.

      But it stills burns me. Knuckleheads imposing on the good behavior of others. Free-loading. Playing the prisoner game by grabbing the prize rather than cooperating.

  65. I think it’s like accomodating a Ku Klux Klan member to his wish to not to sit next to people of colour. If you’re not able to live in the world where women have right to move around freely, maybe you’re the one who should stay home. If you decide to change a seat in this kind of situation, male surr you let people know it is to save the woman from having to sit next to a misogynist, not the otherway around.

  66. I have read all the comments and posted a few myself. At the end I just think the idea of agreeing to switch with the Jewish guy completely singles out and offends the woman who is the original “cause” (in the Jewish man’s eyes) of the whole fuss.

    There is no good way to accommodate his request without at the same time making the affected woman a spectacle.

    I now think that the women on the plane (and the men) but mostly the women, should band together in support of the woman who had the misfortune to be sitting next to the ridiculous religious sexist bigot and ask the man to determine which of them have the least likelihood of arousing his boner, and then that chosen woman saying “OK, I win (lose) and you get to sit beside me!”

    Now that is true accommodation!!

    I jest of course. Can you tell? It’s all so ridiculous that all of the comments are both parody and real “solutions” to a problem that is not a problem



      That will never happen when someone is just asking to be re-seated.

      They only way you could do that is to have it specifically written into the contract for carriage that no religious requests will be accommodated. As much as we’d like that, it’s never going to happen, especially in the US. The airline is never going to make a rule like that against religious accommodation. We are all probably subsidizing at some low level the religious food requirements of our fellow passengers. (What is a vegetarian refuses to sit next to a burger-munching meat-eater and asks to be re-seated?)

      You could also prohibit anything that delays the flight. Well, that’s likely already in the contract for carriage; but to you expect to see it enforced in some kind of draconian way? Don’t hold your breath.

      Airline passengers are a motley crew and the cabin crew’s job is to keep this mess of all-comers, all religions, all prejudices, all body sizes and smells, all eating habits, calm and ensure they make a safe passage. Whatever simple things they can do to quickly ensure that, they will do.

      The flight attendants are always going to try to find a solution (switching seats is really minor stuff).

      They can’t make you change seats, so they will just keep going until they find someone who will switch.

  67. The criterion I think typically works is: People should be free to do whatever they want, however ridiculous it may seem, as long as it doesn’t harm or inconvenience others. In this case, it obviously inconveniences others. As Diana wrote, if you’re going to hold these beliefs, you should be the one inconvenienced, not everyone else.

  68. If he didn’t want to sit next to me I would not move. I would tell him it is against my beliefs to accomodate bigots during my monthly “lady time.” And smile.

  69. So, as opposed as I am to this sort of nonsense, I would have done what the last guy did (unless I was going from an aisle seat to a middle seat!).

    I do my very best to help the flight attendants do their job and keep harmony in the cabin. (I used to work for an airline. I sympathize with these hard-working people.)

    However, I would never say I was doing to go easy on a religious person — only that I was helping out the cabin crew, nothing more.

    Kind of a weird situation.

    Like you Jerry, I respect women for standing their ground on this; and I hope all do (and are supported by other passengers for doing so.)

    Another side of this may be using an excuse to angle for a better seat (the last anecdote could be some of that), which I would have no truck with: Find them a middle seat in the way-back between two big guys!

  70. To not trade seats would be a violation of the “Religious Freedom” law. Unless of course you belonged to a religion that said you must sit next to a man.

  71. I would not. I am the one who deserves their respect. I have supported my father, my uncles, my cousins, and many of my friends who were in the US Army, US Navy, and the US Marines to allow the Jewish people their personal freedom and religious freedom. That’s 3 generations of my family, and counting, that gave up their freedom to fight their war. I expect these orthodox Jews to sacrifice just a tiny little bit, considering all the lives of the men,women, and children they have disrupted in the last 50 years, and those lives lost for their religion. What have they done for me lately? I’m keeping my seat.

    1. As you should. The woman in such a case should never be inconvenienced, pressured, or made to feel uncomfortable.

      I’d (as an XY person) switch seats to quickly defuse the situation and make the ruckus go away: For the woman involved and the rest of the passengers, not for the dork who didn’t want to sit next to her.

    2. “…to allow the Jewish people their personal freedom and religious freedom.”

      “I expect these orthodox Jews to sacrifice just a tiny little bit, considering all the lives of the men, women, and children they have disrupted in the last 50 years…”

      Say what? This wording sits very badly with me. I can’t think of a modern-day war the Jews have started, for one.

  72. I would. This isn’t a battle I want to pick. I’d want to make life easier for the dozens of passengers and crew on the plane with me, even at the cost of catering to one idiot.

    1. I agree. (Though, as I stated above, the woman should not be inconvenienced in any way — I am willing to inconvenience myself to resolve the situation.)

      We end up catering to idiots all the time. Just to keep the wheels on the bus going ’round and ’round.

      1. Yes, the beauty of living in a modern and educated society is that there are people who will sacrifice to “keep the wheels on the bus” even though there are people on the bus who don’t choose to live in the century that created the bus.

  73. So let’s think this thing through–or try to: I wonder what the O.J. (orthodox Jew) would do if he were seated next to a TRANSGENDER woman (incomplete transition, male to female–i.e., still biologically completely male, but feeling, and dressed, as a woman). Then the other hand: transgender male (female to male): person “feels” and behaves and is dressed as a male, but actually a female. Would the O.J.’s head explode, would he start to stutter, call his rabbi, or what?

  74. People ask me to switch seats all the time. I don’t really care why they want to switch. I’ll do it as long as the seat they are offering me isn’t awful.

    What burns me up about these people isn’t their silly reason for wanting to switch seats. What gets me is their self centered insistence that someone must give in to their wishes, and that the flight can’t leave until someone does. I’d be just as angry at someone who did this in order to be able to sit next to a friend or family member.

  75. Ultra-orthodox = those who really believe this crap.

    Of course the Hobby Lobby decision means “deeply held beliefs” is something for the Supreme Court to decide.

  76. This is more ridiculous religious nonsense.
    If I asked people to swap seats because I didnt want to sit beside a Jew/Muslim, whatever, Id be called a bigot. Why is it excused for those who believe in the supernatural???

    1. Such picky passengers do know that the air in the plane is continuously recirculated, right? That they are breathing God Knows What in the air…?

  77. They should not be afforded religious PRIVILAGE. If they intentionally delay a flight they should be removed and possibly banned. If they want to ensure not sitting beside a woman. Buy two seats. So they don’t have to sit beside anyone.

  78. I was told that you couldn’t change seats as, in the event of a crash, the bodies are initially identified by reference to the seating plan. Would be somewhat ironic if the Jew who insisted on moving seats was then identified as a Muslim in the morgue.

    1. That assumes there’s enough left of the plane, the seats and the occupants to make the seating plan even vaguely relevant.

      In a proper crash it’s more like doing a jigsaw with the bits. Dental records, DNA, yadda yadda…

      Though I do like the irony of your scenario.

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