This Fat Doesn’t Fly

Pearl Before Swine - Sept. 18, 2007

I have little sympathy for fat people, and even less when they’re sitting next to me in an airplane. Apparently at least one fat person thinks he ought to be allowed to try and squeeze his bulk into a single seat with no thought for the poor person(s) forced to share 2/3rds of (their) seat(s) with him. This is selfishness, and I support Southwest Airlines in their decision to require people to purchase two seats if they cannot lower the armrests past their gluttonous bodies.

Thankfully, the gentleman who was compelled to buy a second seat to store himself has taken the terrible “shame” he experienced and used it to drive himself to lose weight. Good for him. Give it a bit more time and he’ll be thanking Southwest for shaming him into actually doing something good.

The sad part of this story is the fact that shame is seen as something which ought to be assuaged, the guilt is bad because it is guilt, not because it indicates how the person is in the wrong. Mr. Hill ought to have been ashamed of his weight long before he got to the airline ticket counter. Shame is a good thing, it tells us when we’re wrong and ought to change.

There is a significant difference between merciless taunting and true shame. I do not need to act any less loving or caring to cause shame in another. To taunt one for their difference or deformity is wrong at all times and in all cases. It is when the over-reaction to taunting causes all commentary and truth telling to be considered taboo that the whole culture loses its ability to self-regulate and now we have ugly fat people, and ugly fat kids, and walking medical bills, and public stupidity, and so many other visible scars walking the streets and sleeping on park benches.

I do not discount that these are humans who need love more than most. But Jesus came for those who knew and admitted they were sick.

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