Light is Right Joe Campbell

Light is Right Joe Campbell

“I suppose you’ve heard,” Molder said, “that the airlines are buying lighter planes.”

“Lighter than what?” Bimsom asked, as dangling comparatives irritate him.

“Lighter than they used to be,” Molder said.

“What’s wrong with darker planes?” Bimsom asked.

“It’s not about hue,” Molder said. “It’s about weight. For every pound they reduce the weight of their planes, the airlines say they save up to $60 annually in fuel costs.”

“Pounds are imperial units,” Bimsom said. “Do they save anything if they use metric units? You know, grams and telegrams.”

“They didn’t say,” Molder replied. “But if they don’t, I imagine they can convert to imperial units.”

“Maybe if they worked it out in both, they could avoid the conversion cost,” Bimsom suggested.

“I suspect they could,” Molder said. “But however they work it out, lighter planes save fuel, the environment and money.”

“So would lighter passengers,” Bimson replied.

“It’s easier to order lighter planes than lighter passengers,” Molder said. “Planes don’t have rights.”

“Passengers have a right to be overweight?”

“They may have a right not to be discriminated against if they’re overweight.”

“What about the rights of the rest of us not to lose part of the seats we paid for if we have to sit beside them?” Bimsom said.

“We’re not a constitutionally protected group,” Molder replied.

“I’ll say we’re not,” Bimsom retorted. “If the extra weight causes their seats to collapse or their seat belts to fail during heavy turbulence, we have no protection against their squashing those of us they already squeeze.”

“I suspect our best hope is that the testing of seats and belts in simulated turbulence is up to date,” Molder said. “Although the test dummies are based on average passenger weights, flyers on average are heavier than they were just a generation ago.”

“I wonder if test dummies are a protected group,” Bimsom said.

“If they were,” Molder said, “we wouldn’t be allowed to call them dummies. Anyhow, the airlines try to accommodate everyone and, if planes are not full, may sell or give passengers of size extra seats.”

“Passengers of size?”

“That’s airline language. I’ve also heard ample passengers and passengers with high body mass or with special needs.”

“What about fat or obese passengers?”

“We may not be allowed to call them that,” Molder replied. “If they have rights because they’re disabled, we have duties, not only relating to what we do, but to what we say.”

“If they’re disabled,” Bimsom said, “for most of them the disability is voluntary and reversible. Not long ago obesity was so rare we paid to see it in circus sideshows. Now we see it for nothing anywhere people gather. The time between then and now isn’t long enough for evolution to have made it integral to their identity.”

“Are you suggesting genetics has no role?”

“Maybe it has for some, “Bimsom replied,” but the difference between then and now indicates that for most of them excess weight depends on what and how much they eat and what and how little they exercise.”

“That’s not the only difference between then and now,” Molder said.

“Of course it isn’t,” Bimsom replied. “Then, I was very young. Now, I’m much older.”

“Then,” Molder added, “we discouraged gluttony. Now, through a culture of indulgence and media promotion we encourage it. We can say the same about lust.”

“Speak for yourself, Molder,” Bimsom said. “Gluttony and lust are among the seven deadly sins.”

“I know they are,” Molder replied. “Both contribute to illness and early death.”

“Maybe if we banned them from flying,” Bimsom said, “passengers who don’t fit airline seats because of lifestyle choices might be encouraged to reduce. Besides saving fuel, the environment and money, we could save the passengers.”

“The courts wouldn’t allow us to ban members of a protected group,” Molder said. “I doubt they’d even let us set ticket prices that vary with passenger weight, as Samoa Air does.”

“You may be right,” Bimsom said. “The courts are rather good at ruling in favour of deadly sins.”

“I guess a protected ideology takes precedence over a protected group,” Molder said.