This article made me think back to one of my first year law classes, where we discussed how the law often gives a pass to children who cause harm — in the civil sense, like destruction of property — because we were all children once and as a society we see utility in letting them learn from their actions.
They get the same pass on airlines, I feel. I would love to eject the family next to me who have kids I know are going to shriek, cry, kick my seat, and maybe pull at my sweater. But as a society we seem to have decided that we will complain about this on airlines, but not take action — because we were all children trying to travel, once, or parents with children, or have the potential to be parents with children.
We do not want to give this grace to fat people — because we don’t want to think that we may someday be in that position ourselves, or acknowledge that we are currently in that position. Speaking up invokes this social contract, and people react against the visceral idea that there is the possibility that they someday might be the fat friend.