Peter Singer – perhaps unsurprisingly – has some opinions about fat people.
Things don’t bode well from the beginning:
We are getting fatter. In Australia, the United States, and many other countries, it has become commonplace to see people so fat that they waddle rather than walk.
That’s objective rational discourse right there. But it gets better. Singer’s main argument is that people who weigh more should have to pay more to fly. Says Singer:
I am writing this at an airport. A slight Asian woman has checked in with, I would guess, about 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of suitcases and boxes. She pays extra for exceeding the weight allowance. A man who must weigh at least 40 kilos more than she does, but whose baggage is under the limit, pays nothing. Yet, in terms of the airplane’s fuel consumption, it is all the same whether the extra weight is baggage or body fat.
And you can imagine how it goes from there. Fat people cost more. Fat people are a drain on resources. Fat people should have to pay for it. He concludes:
Many of us are rightly concerned about whether our planet can support a human population that has surpassed seven billion. But we should think of the size of the human population not just in terms of numbers, but also in terms of its mass. If we value both sustainable human well-being and our planet’s natural environment, my weight – and yours – is everyone’s business.
So clearly what we should do is make sweeping generalizations about “the overweight”. Then we should engage in some not-very-subtle fat shaming, in which we blame individuals for what is clearly a social phenomenon, and demand more money from those who can often least afford it. Flying can then become just another thin privilege.
While we’re at it, we should probably charge disabled people more to fly, given the extra airline resources it can take to get them to and from their assigned seat, and the extra weight of any assistance devices they might need. We will probably, for similar reasons, also charge the elderly more. And don’t even get me started on parents that travel with children.
Or we could try not listening to Peter Singer. That works too.