QANTAS, ban the lawyer who directed hate speech at a 6 yr old girl with Down syndrome.

QANTAS, ban the lawyer who directed hate speech at a 6 yr old girl with Down syndrome.

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Why this petition matters

Started by Kat Abianac

A flight from Sydney to Port Macquarie was delayed by up to two hours as a man in his 60s verbally abused a six-year-old girl with Down Syndrome and then her family members who called out the hate speech used by the man.

He was eventually removed from the flight so they could take off.

The man is a barrister, Doctor Stephen C. Thornton.

52-year-old woman Jackie also has Down Syndrome and was seated nearby, and was“reduced to tears” by the incident.

Dr Thornton has admitted to his behaviour in an off-air phone call with The Ray Hadley Morning Show.

“I told the flight attendant, ‘There’s some retarded people sitting in my seat. It’s not very good.'”

“Yes, I admit I referred to the girl as retarded,” says Dr Thornton.

“But I never swore and I never directed my abuse at the child.”

Asked if he understood why a father would take exception to such comments about their child, this was Dr Thornton’s response.

“The father wasn’t a part of the conversation so had no need to respond the way he did.”


QANTAS, unless you condone hate speech and major flight delays caused by this behaviour, please ban this man from your service. You have a provision to issue a Notice of Refusal for a set timeframe- why haven't you done this?? This incident was almost a month ago.

Is it because he is a professional businessman, and not someone juicier that makes a good, interesting news story?

Is it because it didn't 'trend' on social media?

I do not want my son, who has Down syndrome, to ever sit next to that man on a plane. Nor anyone like him- who feels justified as he or she knows the consequences of their hate speech would be minimal.

If he had, and directed hate speech at my child, I suspect I would also have been kicked off the plane... I admire the family’s decorum which made QANTAS' job a little easier on the day during the up to two hour delay he caused for an entire planeful of people.

After speaking to the 2GB radio producers he continued to justify his use of hate speech and poor behaviour- from a man with all the genetic gifts in the world, a law degree, a doctorate, and apparently zero empathy or common sense.
It’s quite simple, really. 

I fly QANTAS and I don’t ever want him on a plane with my son who has Down syndrome. 

Please sign this petition if you agree he should be banned. I don't care if it's forever or a time frame. I just want him to know that right now, he doesn't deserve to be on a plane with good citizens who don't use hate speech.


10.1 Refusal of Carriage

Even if you have a Ticket and a confirmed reservation, we may refuse to carry you and your Baggage if any of the following circumstances have occurred or we reasonably believe will occur:


if carrying you or your Baggage may put the safety of the aircraft or the safety or health of any person in the aircraft in danger or at risk
if you have used threatening, abusive or insulting words towards our ground staff or a member of the crew of the aircraft or otherwise behaved in a threatening manner
if carrying you or your Baggage may materially affect the comfort of any person in the aircraft
if carrying you will break government laws, regulations, orders or an immigration direction from a country to which you are travelling or are to depart from
because you have refused to allow a security check to be carried out on you or your Baggage
because you do not appear to have all necessary documents
if you fail to comply with any applicable law, rule, regulation or order or these Conditions of Carriage
if you fail to complete the check-in process by the Check-In Deadline or fail to arrive at the boarding gate on time
because you have not obeyed the instructions of our ground staff or a member of the crew of the aircraft relating to safety or security
because you have not complied with our medical requirements
because you require special assistance and you have not made prior arrangements with us for this
if you are drunk or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
if you are, or we reasonably believe you are, in unlawful possession of drugs
if your mental or physical state is a danger or risk to you, the aircraft or any person in it
if you have committed a criminal offence during the check-in or boarding processes or on board the aircraft
if you have deliberately interfered with a member of our ground staff or the crew of the aircraft carrying out their duties
if you have put the safety of either the aircraft or any person in it in danger
if you have made a threat
because you have committed misconduct on a previous flight and we have reason to believe that such conduct may be repeated
because you cannot prove you are the person specified on the Ticket on which you wish to travel
because you are trying to use a Flight Coupon out of sequence without our agreement
if you destroy your travel documents during the flight
if you have refused to allow us to photocopy your travel documents
if you have refused to give your travel documents to a member of Our ground staff or the crew of the aircraft when we have asked you to do so
if we reasonably believe you will ask the relevant government authorities for permission to enter a country through which you are Ticketed as a transit Passenger

 Please sign this petition if you agree QANTAS should have done more about this.



4,936 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!