I've been following Kevin Smith on Twitter for a while. This came after he stopped regularly writing on his blog, which I read for a while before then. I'm a Kevin Smith fan. Although I don't think I'm hypersensitive about profanity and such, I have occasionally been slightly stunned by his remarkable candor when talking about sex. But it's never been so offensive as to stop me from reading what he writes, watching video of his performances, and enjoying his movies.
That said, his candor has been a gargantuan wellspring of excitement in the last couple days, as the man was beat about the head and shoulders with Southwest Airlines' Fatty Fatty Two By Four Mood Swings. As of Sunday evening, Google shows 919 articles about the incident.
Long story short, if you've somehow missed it, after buying two tickets on a Southwest flight (in compliance with said FFTBFMS policy), Smith attempted to get onto an earlier flight via standby. Southwest boarded him onto the plane with a single seat, and he was sitting -- seatbelted with lowered armrests -- when a flight attendant told him that the captain was booting him off the flight. Through many machinations and a couple of poorly worded public apologies, Southwest claims that his 'person of size' status dictated the move.
Smith launched a Twitter attack of epic proportions. The news channels quickly seized on it and started banging away at this new angle of the daily OMG Teh Obesity Crisis!!!11!!! discussion. As much as I feel for the guy having to go through this (it's another post, or perhaps a book, in which I discuss my personal air travel issues), it's a remarkable gift from above that a celebrity with a fan base and a platform or two has experienced this nightmare. I can only hope that his righteous ranting will shed enough light on the situation that the airlines realize something different must be done to deal with the issue of cranky customers who complain about us fatties daring to occupy the same mode of transportation with them.
I fear, however, all the red herrings that will be thrown out, and in fact, are already popping up. Claims like "fat passengers increase the aircraft's total weight, which will crash the plane" (a few hundred extra pounds when talking about a vehicle that is many tons?), "fat passengers block the path in case of emergency" (because they're just sitting still when everyone else is evacuating?!), and my favorite, "don't the poor, stupid fat passengers know it's bad for their health?" Oh, and the comments. Lordy.
So, I'm sorry Kevin Smith, that you have to fight this battle. But I'm glad you're fighting it, and loudly. There are millions of fat folks who suffer such indignities (at the hands of corporations, individuals, governments, and systems) who have neither the temerity nor the voice to wage such a war. In my perfect world, you wouldn't emphasize quite so vigorously that you are not THAT fat, though (i.e. you were able to sit comfortably with the arm rests down and no seat belt extender). Those people who are not able to do those things still deserve to be treated with dignity.
As always, there's a lot more to this discussion. But I've already spent far too much time talking about it tonight -- especially considering that I haven't even gotten into the whole First Lady anti-obesity crusade, the raft of craziness at a certain grocery chain, or the general demonization of food.