Kevin Smith Controversy: “Disabled” and “Obese” are Not The Same!


OK, this whole Kevin Smith incident is really starting to get to me. For those of you living in a cave, Kevin was forced to buy two seats on a recent Southwest flight because the airline considered him a “customer of size”. He claims that even though he is large, he can still fit into one seat, so under the airlines own regulations he should not have had to purchase a second seat. To be honest, I have no opinion on that, as I wasn’t there.

But what really irritates me is the media’s lumping of “obese” and “disabled” people together as far as this issue is concerned.

And this happens every time the topic of “should you pay extra if you occupy more space” comes up. Like when United implemented their policy regarding oversized passengers.

And then of course I was inundated with media inquires when Canada’s “One Person One Fare” went into place.

That’s normal, but a lot of folks wanted to focus on the oversize passenger issue. Maybe because it’s so controversial. But again, I have no opinion on that. What I do know is that this very important piece of legislation has allowed many disabled people to fly. Why? Because they need in-flight assistance because of their disabilities, and since the airlines don’t provide this assistance, they have to bring along their own attendants. “One Person One Fare” just levels the playing field, by allowing these folks (with medical approval) to bring their attendants along for free.

Yes, there is also an “obese” component to the law, but in my not so humble opinion, it’s totally separate. Now don’t get me wrong, I do have compassion for Kevin Smith, and if he was treated unfairly, then Southwest should answer to that. But come on folks, let’s not mix apples and oranges here. It’s not a disability issue.

Today one blogger had the following comment on the Kevin Smith incident:

“In Canada, the government and courts have ruled that airlines must provide ‘clinically obese’ passengers with an extra seat for no charge. Supporters of the policy said it will allow more disabled people to travel.”

Which somewhat implies that the obesity component and the disability component of the law are the same. The obesity component is in place strictly because of size, while the disability component is in place due to the need for assistance because of a severe disability.

Now, I have no desire to be drawn into the debate of “should clinically obese people be considered disabled”? It?s pretty much beyond the scope of what I do. I’m just saying, let’s not make this a disability issue. Again, apples and oranges.

Come on guys, let’s not irritate the redhead!