Some Things are Off Limits

Last night I watched a hockey match between the Czech Republic and Belarus. I was quite relieved when the Czechs won (in overtime) because we lost the first two games (to Russia and Switzerland) and I was worried we wouldn’t even make it past the group round.
I wasn’t even thinking about the hijacking, which just goes to show that more than one thing is happening in a country at a time, and even though Belarus is apparently a nightmare dictatorship now, some people are playing hockey, some are watching it, and others are doing other normal, everyday things.
But Roman Protasevich, blogger and journalist, is going through hell there right now, and it’s kind of bizarre. He was not actually in Belarus. He was flying over it, on a commercial flight, headed for Vilnius, Lithuania (from Athens). Belarusian air traffic control contacted the pilot to say there was a bomb on board (that was a flat out lie) and they should land in Minsk. They sent up a couple of fighter jets to emphasize the suggestion.
On the one hand, everybody should be angry that Belarusian dictator Lukashenko is arresting a journalist just for saying he’s a dictator, and most of the nation’s (with the notable exception of Russia) of the world are condemning him for that, but also for claiming there was a bomb on board.
Air traffic safety is kind of a sacred thing. Pilots everywhere need to know that when they are contacted by air traffic control, they are being told the truth. This erodes that trust.
It’s like pulling a fire alarm to get out of school, it’s like calling 911 just for a laugh. It’s wrong, it’s dangerous, and it is not any more acceptable because it was the government doing it. In fact, that makes it worse. Much, much worse.

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