Ranting, Smoking Woman Who Disrupted Flight Is a Sociology Professor


Foreign policy is a touchy issue. Everyone’s got an opinion, but how do you get people to listen? How do you get your voice heard outside of the angry comments you post on the internet? One Sociology professor chose to do it by disrupting a flight with an incoherent rant about Venezuela. And smoking.

Telling the Washington Post that “all revolutionaries smoke,” Karen Halnon made headlines over the weekend when a video of her ranting about The United States declaring war on Venezuela was posted to YouTube. The 52-year-old associate professor of sociology may have believed she was taking a stand (on something), but the result of her incoherent rambling was probably not what she’d hoped: People making fun of her on YouTube and the possibility of losing her job. According to The Post, Penn State- Abington, where Halnon teaches, is “aware of her behavior and investigating it.”

I’ve now watched Halnon’s rant several times and still have trouble deciphering exactly what her aim is. There’s a lot of talk about oil fields and her personal hero, Hugo Chavez, but in the minute that she has the undivided attention of the other passengers and cabin crew she fails to make any salient points about the war against Venezuela that The United States has started. There’s something about Exxon in there? It seems like she got really drunk before the flight and doesn’t have any idea what she’s doing. In addition, a second video shows Halnon lighting up a cigarette, putting it out on the seat in front of her and then blaming the passenger trapped next to her (oh, the horrors of the window seat) for the whole mess. Honestly, it’s a train wreck.

It’s likely that Halnon will either be fired or harshly disciplined for her behavior. Philly.com reports that Halnon was returning from a week of research in Nicaragua (which is possibly why she was so impassioned on her return flight?) but the actual subject of the research is unknown.

Halnon was arrested for disorderly conduct when her plane landed in Miami and was released after she paid bond, which was set at a paltry $500. In an email to The Post, however, she wrote that her ordeal had been awful.

“In a democracy one must speak up and against injustice,” Halnon said in an e-mail to The Post on Tuesday after claiming she was mistreated during her arrest. “To be tortured is not democracy!”

Image via Miami-Dade Police Department

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