Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When more is less

I had a different post planned for today, but I scrapped it in order to vent on behalf of filmmaker Kevin Smith [Silent Bob of Jay and Silent Bob fame] who was recently ejected from a commercial airline flight for being ‘too large’.

Mr. Smith, fully aware he’s a plus-sized individual, had purchased two tickets for himself accommodating the airline industry’s money-grabbing tactic for overcharging people who cannot fit in the cattle-car type seating they prefer to foist upon their passengers.

In order to make his destination sooner, apparently Mr. Smith agreed to be put on standby and was placed on a different flight, given only one seat – not the two he paid for – and then was removed from the flight because the pilot insisted his size posed a safety issue. Mr. Smith contends he could fit comfortably in the torture device [er…seat], could lower his armrests and buckle his seat belt. Nevertheless he was asked to leave the flight. He was given the consolation prize of a $100 voucher [very likely not even close to the price of one seat, let alone two] and placed on yet another flight where he also fit comfortably into one seat, despite having still paid for two.

The airline has since offered a lame apology to Mr. Smith over the phone and on their blog and received hundreds of comments from the public. Some were like me, outraged that the airline could treat a paying customer this way. Others jumped on the bandwagon, blasting Mr. Smith for being overweight because it’s politically correct to do so.

They could not complain because of the color of his skin, or his religion. They could not take issue with his age, his inability to speak or understand English or his hailing from a region of the planet known to produce terrorists. That would be discrimination and it’s illegal in this country. But being fat, overweight, plus-sized, big boned…that’s fair game. I don’t necessarily blame the people who supported Southwest’s abuse of Mr. Smith – they can’t help themselves. Most of them have probably never been discriminated against and most would probably waste no time calling their lawyers if they were. I blame the airlines, the media, and the government for declaring war on anyone who is not the perfect height, weight or width. If you are bigger than the average person, you are somehow less. Less human. Less in possession of feelings and dignity.

Everyone believes it well within the power of an overweight person to become thin. Just stop being lazy, eat less and exercise more. How hard can that be, right? Celebrities especially do it all the time – one day they’re fat, the next day they’re thin and going on the talk show circuit to discuss how ashamed they were of themselves when they were closer to looking like a normal person than looking like a cadaver. It’s funny how no one can legally expect another person to change their religion even though it should be as easy as simply believing something different than you already believe. No one can legally expect a person to renounce their citizenship to a country that has declared war on freedom…all that takes is saying some words and signing a few papers, but it’s okay to legally expect someone to starve themselves in order to fit into an airplane seat.

I wonder what kind of discrimination will be legal next.

1 comment:

  1. I've got to wonder if the person next to him complained.

    I actually feel for everyone involved. Everyone, unless you're under 5 feet and under 100 pounds, would like a bigger seat.

    Being seated beside a quote "normal" person is uncomfortable. I've had the misfortune of sitting next to larger people and having someone encroach on your personal space for hours is extremely unpleasant

    BUT people don't want to pay higher airfares (because they're already high) so the airlines can't justify making the seating more comfortable.

    I'm not justifying Southwest's actions at all, they should have never thrown him off.