Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Different Perspective

This story made the news late last week: The Canadian High Court has declined to review the decision of Canadian Transportation Agency that the obese are functionally disabled and are therefore entitled to two airline seats for one fare. It spawned predictable jokes and predictable outrage and I just figured I'd offer a different perspective.

First, let me just say that I don't think it's any of the government's business how airlines price their seating- if they want to charge extra money for people who take up more space or people who require more attention, they should be free to do so. I don't just mean the obese but the handicapped as well. But given that we're dealing with government policy to begin with, I don't think this sort of ruling is as ridiculous as it sounds. After all, obesity may well be a medical condition of sorts, beyond the control of the individual. Certainly, it can't be argued that some obese individuals may be less responsible for their conditions than some handicapped individuals. So why should an individual who became handicapped through some stupid choice they made be granted more privileges than someone who's obese through no fault of their own. And just as we don't demand proof that someone's handicapped wasn't their own fault, why should the obese be put on the same medical notice.

My point is, it is discriminatory to assume that obesity is a personal issue over which every obese person has control while assuming that every handicapped person has no responsibility for their handicap. Do I think fat people should get an extra seat for free? Of course not- I just think everyone should pay equally for the services they use without having to get into people's personal business.


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