Penn State Professor Arrested After Incident On Airplane

17282445-mmmain20150318_inq_rrxpsu18-aPennsylvania State University Associate Professor Karen Bettez Halnon, 52, took her students on a memorable field trip this month to Nicaragua that ended in witnessing her reported meltdown and arrest on an American Airlines flight that landed in Miami. In addition to reportedly raving about how the United States was setting up Venezuela for “military aggression,” she also lit up a cigarette to reportedly show symbolize the United States as a “smoking gun.” She was charged with disorderly-conduct and breach-of-peace. She has accused the FBI and airport security of abusing her after her arrest. Her two research assistants reportedly made it home safely.

Benjamin_D._Maxham_-_Henry_David_Thoreau_-_RestoredHalnon was reportedly angry that the United States declared Venezuela a national security threat. She said that she felt compelled to speak out and apparently chose the middle of an airplane. She described it as her “Henry David Thoreau moment” — that is if Henry David Thoreau was an unhinged crank raving at strangers. I thought he preferred the solitude of Walden’s Pond but then again there were no airliners for Thoreau to vent about “unjust laws.”

She is shown on a video by a fellow passenger yelling “The United States has declared war on Venezuela! Venezuela has been declared a national security threat!” Another passenger responses by yelling “You’re a national security threat!” While she is shown yelling, she insisted on the interview below that women are often said to be yelling when they simply speak their mind:

At one point, a flight attendant appears and says “The police are meeting the aircraft to take you out.” Halnon dismisses the warning and says “I already know that . . . They are already arresting me so I’m going to tell you more.” She was also confronted about lighting up a cigarette on a flight.

When asked if she has been arrested before, she admitted that she had a prior public drunkenness arrest but is quoted as saying “I’ve had many, many sufferings in my life.”

Halnon says that her “great hero” is Hugo Chavez despite his record to denying basic freedoms such as the right to free speech, free press, and due process. She appears to have an affection of lefty dictators. She told media that she has pictures of Fidel Castro and Chavez above her desk at work. While her views are not relevant to these charges or any later school discipline, I find it bizarre to idolize someone like Castro who imprisoned and tortured his opponents, denied professors academic freedom, shutdown the free speech, and barred free speech.

Halnon has an impressive record. She graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College and then received her doctorate in sociology from Boston College in 1995. She also taught previously at Bowdoin College in Maine and the University of Vermont.

Webbing_Vicissit_53e21e3d486b2One of her books would seem to offer some potential support for her next appearance in court. It is entitled “Webbing Vicissitudes of Forgiveness.” It is described as

“From marriage to mythology and from revenge to reconciliation, an intriguing webbing of global, inter-disciplinary, and scholarly dialogue on the vicissitudes of forgiveness, the unforgivable, apology, ritual, and transgressions against Others.”

consumption_0That would be more promising for sentencing than her book “he Consumption of Inequality: Weapons of Mass Distraction,” which is described as

“The fads, fashions, and media in popular consumer culture frequently make recreational and ideological “fun” of poverty and lower class living. It is a phenomenon that puts poor whites, poor blacks, women, gays, handicapped people, and other traditional minorities back in “their place” by prioritizing self-aggrandizing materialism and individual desires over the collective good and constitutes a form of cultural denial.”

Penn State issued a statement that it “is aware of Dr. Karen Halnon’s behavior . . . and is looking into the matter.” This could raise an interesting question of what constitutes a disciplinary matter. Normally such a scene outside of school would be viewed as removed from the university code of conduct. However, she was with two students returning from a research trip. Then again, the University of California, took no serious discipline against a professor who led her students in stealing a pro-life display on campus and assaulting one of the young women at the display.

What is concerning is how unhinged Halnon appears on a trip with students. This is obviously bizarre conduct and Halnon, while saying that she regrets aspects of the incident, insists that it was an exercise of free speech and appears to be trying to justify aspects of her conduct.

48 thoughts on “Penn State Professor Arrested After Incident On Airplane”

  1. A person ( with flaws…. who would have guessed ? ) cracks up after years of seeing American govthugs mess with people around the world and in the USA.

    A typical response is to throw the book at her and end her life as she knows it. This is so illustrative of America’s love affair with proxies ( govthugs ) , violence ( govthugs ) , punishment ( govthugs ) , gun threats ( govthugs ) , etc.

    I wish the commenters who solve all problems by abusing ( or recommending abuse ) the perpetrator would take a long vacation. Drink your favourite beverage. Do some relaxing activities. Please notice you are advocating …. ( usually by proxy ) …. the same kind of behaviour you claim to abhor.

    Her breakdown does not require further action.

    BTW…… labeling is the action of prehistoric , lizard brain minds. It is a delusion ….. like Santa ….. there are no liberals , leftists , rightists , blacks , whites , 99% , ….. just individuals. Check out the movie “King of Hearts”

    #PrisonWorldAkaAmerica #ZeroethCommandment 99guspuppet

  2. Aren’t plane rides torturous enough, eh just sit down, shut up and mind your own business.

  3. “Feyd Rautha
    Pogo: Constant harping on ‘lefties’ does not help the discussion.”

    And what if, as here, their leftiness is central to the discussion?

    That’s part of the problem as I see it: leftists making the long march through institutions, then complaining when that very fact is pointed out.

  4. “ affection of lefty dictators”: sounds like some sort of porn thing. Better to be discussed in the article up above.

  5. “Feyd Rautha
    Pogo: Constant harping on ‘lefties’ does not help the discussion.

    Did you perhaps notice that Prof. Turley’s post read:
    “She appears to have an affection of lefty dictators.

    Which prompted my comment.

  6. Paul C. Schulte, the two research assistants were the students she was traveling with.

    1. SierraRose – research assts are adults, they can take care of themselves. 🙂 I do not consider them students. They are on the payroll.

  7. I hope a trend doesn’t start where the notion of civil disobedience works its way into aircraft flights in the hope that others will film the act and then post it to the internet–accomplishing the goal of reaching a wide audience. This will be greatly disruptive to both airlines and passengers.

    The politics of her statements are irrelevant to the elements of the crime she is charged.

    Since she was on a college sponsored event a disciplinary action against her has merit.

  8. As someone who has lived and worked overseas in various ‘developing’ nations, I can only say to folks that want to espouse Chavez and his ilk – go try it sometime. Being ex-pat will open your eyes in many ways. Yes, the US is not JFK’s shining city on the hill of the 50’s and early 60’s, we have lost our morality, but overall the US is still a damn sight better than everywhere else.

  9. I have a friend who was an FBI field agent in Anchorage for about 10 years. When you’re on call during off duty, it is becoming more common to get calls to the airport like this. In Anchorage, it was most often alcohol related. He hated having to deal w/ this ilk. But, this may be a concept Hollywood could turn into a flick, Fat Liberals on a Plane.

  10. What is it about people claiming the mantle of “free speech” that they cannot understand that there is a corollary right to not listen or be subjected to it? You want to speak some idiotic (IMHO) message, fine, but you can’t force it on me, which is exactly what she was doing on an airliner. Those people had no option not to listen, and that likens it more to a verbal assault.

  11. Just to be clear….I would feel the same way if it were the unhinged political ravings of some right wing loon.

    SHUT UP!!!!!

    Put a pillow over her face.

  12. Leaving aside the issue of Venezuela, were I on that plane, I would likely have either thrown something at her or tried to shut the biatch up in some way. Maybe get the rest of the passengers to sing loudly and drown her out. 99 bottles of beer on the wall !!!!!!!.

    She is disturbing everyone else’s right to have peace and quiet on an airplane and should have been slapped.

    It’s bad enough to be stuck in an enclosed space in uncomfortable seats, breathing the disgusting air, eating stale peanuts (if you are lucky) and no drinks…….without having to listen to the unhinged political ravings of some left wing loon.

  13. As a former airline captain, I would do the same as that flight crew, and I would make sure she was charged with a felony, even though what she said was correct. She will have a hard time keeping her job while in prison, though unfortunately such conduct as the kid in San Francisco who forced the plane to be evacuated had nothing done to him. Since she is white, she may have to pay a steeper price than that kid with the sagging pants.

    I am quite disturbed by the tendency to accept what the US says about Venezuela as good coin. The US history in Latin America makes the Soviet era in eastern Europe look like a paradise of freedom. The US has supported or initiated nearly one million people being murdered by the US and its puppet regimes. We were outraged at the suppression of the Hungarian revolution which claimed far fewer lives than only ONE coup in Latin America. In Chile alone, the death toll was about 10,000 murdered, and two US citizens were ordered executed by the US CIA or higher authority. NONE of the protests or revolts in Eastern Europe came close to that number.

    I am especially troubled by the support on this blog for the coup in the Ukraine which was orchestrated by the US. That any so called democrat could support the overthrow of a freely elected government by outright fascist groups is beyond the pale. Look at your own eye before you try and clean up the speck is your neighbors. There is little freedom of the press in the US apart from corporate propaganda. I grew up in the 50s during the McCarthy era when hundreds of people were sent to prison for their political views. In some parts of the country such as the South, you were killed for those opinions. Venezuela right now is fully free compared to the US back then. The US is waging war against the regime, and given the FACT, the US sponsored and supported the overthrow of Chavez with a coup, they have every right and reason to suppress such foreign, treasonable agents. The US does the same thing as the current regime in Venezuela. I think that our time and effort would be more productively spent fighting against the US government than the Venezuelan one.

    I had to laugh at the State Dept briefer when the AP correspondent asked how long the US had the policy of not intervening in the internal affairs of Latin American countries after she said the US had a long standing policy of non-intervention. Only an idiot or a fool could take such a statement seriously. So too with the protests about Venezuela. Let’s get real and try supporting freedom and democracy everywhere, not just in the places the US finds convenient.

  14. Yeah, she did not yell Fire! in a crowded theatre or airplane. But criticizing the American abuse of Venezuela is perhaps Fire to some. Like the author of this article. Jeso. We need a new Con Law Prof at George Washington University and George Washington is rolling over in his grave.

  15. She was merely exercising her free speech rights. The fact that she was not on the ground in the United States does not matter. She was on an American airline. What is at issue is that she is siding with the Venezuela folks who don’t side with the view of the United States (Home of the Free and not so brave) and that she was brave enough to speak her mind. Now the smoking on an airline offense is another matter. No one should smoke– ever. Those who do set a bad example. Those who prosecute Americans for exercising their free speech rights need to be lined up and shot. This is where the Second Amendment coincides with the First Amendment and is why the Framers sequenced things in the Constitutional Amendments in the manner they did. When she goes to court she needs some students and perhaps the Tinker Tour to attend and wear black armbands. Tinker v. Board of Education of Des Moines, Iowa is a case that JT should read. Heil Hitler.

  16. Venezuela and Colombia have been going at it over the FARC rebels using Venezuela as an escape route in and out of Colombia. This could get interesting.

    When we were kids and got our first ‘bachelor pads’ we papered the walls with Chinese Communist Propaganda posters. Then you grow up.

    Things are tough enough flying in the sardine cans they call planes, these days. You shouldn’t have to listen to this, whatever merit it may or may not have.

    1. I am glad the reseach asst. got back, but what about the students? It was certainly a “teaching moment” for them.

  17. If she were a student she would be expelled. So, as a faculty member, she should be fired.

  18. “while saying that she regrets aspects of the incident, insists that it was an exercise of free speech

    her “great hero” is Hugo Chavez despite his record to denying basic freedoms such as the right to free speech, free press, and due process

    Lefties don’t believe in “free speech.”
    They use our Constitutional protections in order to subvert the Constitution.

    She got used to university endorsement of curtailed speech (PC, hate speech, etc.) as proof that one can demand free speech and then, once in power, stop free speech.

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