-- June 21, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 282
Fat People Terrorized By Fear Of Buying A Ticket For Their
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
ZERO, New York City, June 21--America is bombarded with all shapes and
forms of Terrorism. The gravitas of it all is often more than one
can handle. Now, there's a new page in the Terrorism book--being too fat to fly!
Before we look at the new
page, let's take a quick spin through other pages that pop up daily.
Take smallpox, for example.
Just the other
day, the government elected not to vaccinate the U.S. population against
smallpox. Instead, it opted to vaccinate 10,000-20,000 key government
employees—those who are involved in “first response.” The decision was
based on the "lack of immediate threat." It was also based on the
fact that 300 of the nearly 300 million Americans might die from reaction
to the vaccine. The point is, Americans won't have a choice on the
matter. The government has made it for them. Many think this an
arbitrary decision, limiting the protection of the public—and claim the
decision is another example of government tyranny.
Is this defacto Terrorism? It
would be if the smallpox virus was released and the public made a mad rush
to try and protect itself
Here's another new one. Second-hand smoke. For years flight attendants have been
trying to win a lawsuit against the tobacco companies regarding
second-hand smoke litigation. Recently a jury awarded an airline flight
attendant $5.5 million to punish the Terrorism of tobacco companies upon
the “innocent.” But this case was unique. The judge
ruled it wasn't necessary to prove a link between second-hand smoke and
cancer--a battle the tobacco companies have used to thwart other lawsuits.
Will appeal upset the award and leave the public vulnerable to more
second-hand smoke? Is there a difference between the long-term effects of second-hand smoke and the immediate poisoning of the human
system by Terrorist's anthrax
How about "Financial Terrorism?" Who can we trust to audit
America's businesses and keep us wary of "financial Terrorists" who prey
on our wealth? Major accounting firms have lobbied against regulators
for years to swerve their way around "ethical" rules and regulations.
How many more Enrons are in the wings waiting to suck out more of
America's hard-earned public wealth? Does the Terrorism of
losing one's "nest egg" and living in "poverty" rank with the threat of a
"dirty bomb" or a "suicide bomber?" Hmmmmm.
Then there's the
Terrorism of the "Globocourt" William
Safire’s recent Op-Ed in the New York Times brought to the public's
He's upset worried European
judges Terrorizing American journalists and citizens as the UN War Crimes Tribunal
tries to prosecute global war criminals and Terrorists.. The “globocourt," as
Safire calls it, indicts international criminals, including
Terrorists. He claims the "globocourt" is violating
Americas judicial and Constitutional system by demanding witnesses testify
against such criminals. Specifically, he’s worried about American journalists
being forced to disclose their sources.
According to Safire, the UN War
Crimes Tribunal judges don’t respect the U.S. Constitutional Rights,
including the freedom of the press to keep their sources privileged.
By divulging privileged conversations, American journalists would not have
access to troubled areas of the world and any "off-the-record" comments
would become fodder for future prosecution. Journalists would be
viewed as "spies" rather than reporters. Safire was concerned the
usurpation of Constitutional rights attacked America's judicial
foundations. His implication was: U.N. Terrorism!
Headline-by-headline, I could paint a
portrait of constant attacks on America’s foundations—mostly not from
Osama bin Laden--but from our own insatiable desire to find fault with
ourselves or from others seeking to limit our power.
So I threw a dart at the Terrorism tableau
staring me in the face. It stuck in
Southwest Airlines recently announced their hard-and-fast policy
of charging a “fat person” two tickets if their body consumed more than
its share of "seat space." In other words, if one is
overweight, he or she has to buy a ticket for each buttock cheek.
Euphemistically, Southwest calls
these people "large fliers," but we all know it comes down to the girth of
the buttocks--it's a matter of whether one's butt cheeks oozes over, around, or under the armrest to
invade the passenger's space next to it.
On June 26 the airlines will start
charging "persons of size" for two seats on its 2,800 daily flights
serving 58 U.S. cities, according to Christine Turneabe-Connelly,
spokeswoman for the airlines. Southwest is the fourth largest
domestic airlines based on passenger numbers. (Whether they count
"persons of size" twice in their passenger numbers is not known).
Southwest isn't alone. United
Airlines, according to its Chicago spokesperson, Joe Hopkins, also charges
larger passengers if they do not comfortably fit into one seat. Most
airlines have that option, he noted.
This battle of Fat Terrorism When
Flying has warriors in the wings to fight for "persons of size." The National Association
for the Advance of Fat Acceptance has a website that reminds "large
people" they have a "right to accessible transportation."
Miriam Berg, president of the
Council on Size and Weight Discrimination, questions the fact each agent
can make a "judgment call" on whether the individual needs to purchase an
Diana Cronan, a spokeswoman for
the Air Transportation Association representing major carriers, says the
industry does not have a general policy on airlines' accommodation of large
passengers. Ultimately, it ends up being a "judgment call" by the
Of all the Terrorism news I scanned the last two days, this
little "fat bomb" exploded in my face.
It hit close to home. I'm six-feet four inches tall, and
weigh 275 pounds. I'm a "Big Guy!"
Post Vietnam...6-4 160#s
But I wasn't always. I grew up
as a "skinny kid." Upon my return from Vietnam, I weighed 160
pounds. Over the years--far too many for me to want to
report--gravity has taken its toll. My metabolism has slowed.
Even though my weight distributes fairly evenly, there's more by far than
And, in rebuttal to the airlines,
the seats they offer have been shrink wrapped over the years--at leas in
Smaller and smaller seats have met my hips and buttocks over the years until on some
flights I end up with bruises from the compression. This shrinkage
in seat space has resulted in a state of Terrorism.
Terrorism, for those who do not know
my definition of it, has three
vital elements: Fear, Intimidation and Complacency. When mixed together,
these elements send one into a deep sweat,
body trembling, heart racing and renders its victim helplessly unable to react.
Vigilance, on the other hand, is the
antidote. It counteracts Terrorism's venom with Courage,
Conviction and Right Action. Fear is rendered impotent
by muscling up one's Courage; Intimidation is emasculated by one's
stalwart Conviction to not shun his or her responsibility; and Complacency
is shoved to the wayside by Right Action, hopefully fueled by a desire to
face one's duty to protect one's Loved Ones.
But how can one this Vigilance
antidote be stimulated when one is standing in a ticket line at an
airport, approaching a potential Terrorist who may pass judgment on whether your butt cheeks are too
large to fit into one seat without oppressing other passengers?
This is certainly a dilemma I gave much serious thought to resolving..
To help visualize the scene,
I imagined myself standing in a ticket line at a major airport, eager to
make a flight. Under normal conditions I would be figuring a way to
talk the ticket agent into a "Big Guy" seat, one in an Emergency Row, or
an aisle or a prized bulkhead seat. I would plan my tactics of
smiling, joking, and trying to win the good side of the agent who might
just unblock those precious seats that would provide me leg and butt room.
But not under the new "double-ticket" rule. Now, instead of
seeking a "favor," I would stand as a sore, swollen thumb on a
I would struggle not to let the sweat on my
forehead drip, fearful I would be singled out as a "Fat Guy" instead of a
I would suck in my gut, trying to hold my breath
so the eyes of the "double-ticket-sniper" didn't ferret me out, put me in
Probably, I would flex my knees, reducing my
height so I didn't spear up above the crowd. Maybe I would
duct tape my gut prior to getting into line, to give myself a "flat-belly"
look, gasping short breaths to keep from fainting.
Instead of my normal "eye-contact attitude"
I would flick my eyes around, pretending to be nonchalant, nonplussed by
the Fear, Intimidation and utter Complacency that I had no say in the
matter were I to be singled out.
I might even have joined the ACLU, and
carry their card with me to threaten anyone who pulled me aside and
claimed my butt was too big, and one cheek had to pay extra.
I would try and hide my anger that the U.S.
Government in 1998 changed the body-mass index, resulting in 30 million
Americans going from government-approved to overweight or obese by the
flick of a pen. This change, according to the Center for Disease
Control, doubled the number of "obese" Americans and has placed 61% of
Americans in the "overweight" or "obese" category.
Yes, I would think, it was a
government-airline Terrorist plot to keep guys like like me from eating
Ben & Jerry's, or inhaling the second helping without a twitch of remorse.
The closer I approached the ticket counter,
the faster my heart would pound. I would use Sylva Mind Control
techniques, trying to slow the blood rushing to my face, hoping it
wouldn't pool in my gluteus maximus.. What
more humiliating event could happen than for some skinny ticket agent to
scan my body and whisper--"Your ass is too fat...you have to buy your left
cheek another ticket."
My Marine nature could boil to the surface.
I might be inclined to grab the
agent and pull him over the counter, bounce him up and down a
few times, and say: "I think you need a new pair of glasses, don't
I have been known to "lose it."
On too many occasions I have let my more "aggressive nature," rule.
But since airports are manned these days by armed guards any attempt on my
part to Intimidate the Intimidators might result in an arrest, or worse
yet, some National Guardsman fresh out of boot camp shooting me by
mistake. (Probably in the buttocks!)
I would fall into Complacency.
I would be at the "mercy" of whomever, and whatever standards were being
decided that day on my "fatness." If ordered to "sit in the seat," I
would probably have to try and wedge my body into the mock airplane seat
the attendants would have at the ticket counter, as they have for the
carry-on baggage, and suffer the humiliation of standing up with the seat
stuck to my hips. Oh, woe is me. I could hear the
"hissing" of the slimmer passengers.
Then I stopped daydreaming.
I didn't want to take the dream to
the countless confrontations between the marginal "large people" and the
airline ticket officials.
I began to think of the irony of it
all. I wondered why airlines were making seats smaller while
people were getting bigger. If the facts were right,
Americans are becoming fatter while airlines are shrinking
seats. The two facts just didn't match up.
And, I wondered why I was dwelling on
the issue of airline seats to begin with, when there were far more
important issues such as the continual Terrorist attacks on
Israel, or the comment made by the chairman of Starbucks about the growing
anti Semitism in Europe, or the massive reorganization of the Homeland
Why was I singling out the "fat-cheek-airline issue?"
Was I being Complacent?
Was I tiring of being Vigilant in my
reporting, of losing my priorities?
Was I playing into Osama bin Laden's
hands. I figured he'd love it if we
all got so busy fighting one another within our borders we forgot the real
defense against Terrorism was keeping an eye out for who boarded our
planes and flew them rather than the weight of the passengers?
Or, perhaps, was my ego bruised?
Was I just protecting my unalienable
right to "be fat" at the expense of others' comfort?
I scratched my head.
I patted my tummy.
I laughed at myself.
I laughed at Southwest Airlines.
I realized my job was to keep the "main thing
the main thing." That meant I had to keep my focus on
Vigilance, not on Terrorism.
There is little doubt in my mind the issue of discrimination will
rise out of this new airline policy, and our nation might end up
conducting "fat-cheek" Senate investigations ala the Enron and FBI and
Intelligence hearings underway.
When nearly two-thirds of the American
public are deemed by the government either "overweight" or "obese," the
general population is poised to storm Congress and ask for redress for
being "double charged" because of their excessive fat cells. If the
government wanted to protect America, it should pass a law against all the
fast-food businesses, and make the FDA put "Fat Warning" signs on any food
product that might expand one's buttocks and belly beyond the width of an
But was it my business to clang
garbage can lids together and rally Americans to take the "Pledge Of Fat
I didn't think so.
I chose to stick to what think I do
best--report on Vigilance.
And while being overweight is a state
of constant Terrorism, repeatedly thrown in one's face when one stands
before a mirror and sees his or her body growing disproportionately, the
final solution to such Terrorism comes down to personal choice--personal
If I have the Courage, Conviction and
take the Right Action, I can choose not to consume that delicious pint of
Ben and Jerry's, or, I can push the plate away instead of licking it
clean. I can go to the gym and work out. I can strive to
treat my body with Vigilance rather than with Complacency.
Instead of fighting for the "right to
be fat" I can consider the Southwest Airlines "Fat-Cheek-Policy" a warning
shot over my gut--and the guts of all Americans who have become flaccid
and lethargic about their weight. I can realize that the larger I become, the
more I broadcast to my children and grandchildren an unhealthy attitude
toward my own body. By default, I can turn my Loved Ones into future
"fat cells" who won't fit into airplane seats either.
If Vigilance ultimately is not about my "rights," but
about setting an example for the safety and security of my children
and their children, and their children's children's children, then I have
a duty and obligation as a Citizen of Vigilance to fit both my buttocks
cheeks into one Southwest Airlines seat. This responsibility
is not a concession to Terrorism, but an act of Patriotism.
My weapon in this battle is the Pledge of Vigilance.
By taking it daily, it helps remind me to muster the Courage necessary to
fight the Fear of being "fat." The Pledge braces me with the
Conviction to admit that being overweight is a state of constant
Intimidation, evidenced by my shrinking belt and expanding waist
Most importantly, The Pledge of Vigilance drives me to take the
Right Action and set myself a realistic goal of losing weight rather
wallowing in the Complacency of self-justification that shouts: "I
have a right to be fat!"
Vigilance, after all, is about
responsibility not only to one's self, but to others and society as a
Southwest Airlines, in their defense, has
chosen to make a Vigilant stand in behalf of its majority of passengers
who, sitting next to a "fat-cheeked person," must suffer throughout a
flight as the "large person's" body Jell-O's its way over into their "space."
I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision. It took Courage,
Conviction and Right Action to "bite the fat bullet."
In light of the decision, I must salute Southwest Airlines.
I offer them an honorary Citizen of Vigilance Award. Their
decision, in the long run, may save countless lives. It
may even force people to lose weight. And, it could stop
a Terrorist trying to attack another American icon.
Let me explain my reasoning.
If a Terrorist group was able to penetrate one of Southwest's
planes and I were a passengers prior to the "large person"
rule, I might find myself wedged into one of their seats.
If a situation arose where I might be called upon to help thwart
the Terrorists, I would be unable to help. I would be
"stuck in my seat." I couldn't stand and
charge the Terrorists. I would be a useless blob of flesh
clamped in place by the armrests, wriggling like a fish out
of water, flailing my arms. My fellow passengers
and citizens would be robbed of any assistance my combat experience
might have provided.
Strangely, I thought seriously
of this parody. I would be a useless tool.
In any emergency, being overweight would slow my reaction time,
hinder my ability to help others, and perhaps turn me into a
hindrance rather than an asset.
So, in respect to the "large
people" seat decision, I offer this pledge to Southwest
Airlines--that I will take your policy to heart.
I will consider my responsibility
to fight my own Terrorism of being overweight based on your
I will not rush to the
ACLU or join the National Association for the Advancement of
Nope, instead, I'll join Weight
To June 20--Cycles Of Vigilance Roar Into NYC
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