During yesterday afternoon’s JFK-to-LAX Virgin America flight, I suffered yet again from a sociopathic seat-reclining asshole. Reclining his seat about 10 to 12 degrees messed with my 18 inches of private space and caused the usual rage and discomfort. I leaned forward and asked this malignant fuck if he’d mind not doing that. He obliged at first, and then about 20 minutes later he leaned back anyway, and then leaned back a bit more. I should have upped the ante, but I wimped out and just sat there and took it like Neville Chamberlain.

And then this morning I came upon a Dan Kois Slate article called “The Recline and Fall of Western Civilization,” and said to myself, “What timing!” How many thousands had the same reaction?

Kois writes entertainingly and constructively about this problem. Boiled down he (a) restates what I’ve been declaring for years, which is that people who recline their seats too much are unregenerate fiends, (b) acknowledges that the real problem is airlines allowing seats to recline too much in the first place, (c) urges that they stop allowing this, and (d) supplies a URL for a device called a Knee Defender that prevents this. I’ve already ordered mine.

From a June 2011 HE piece:

“One should never get into a slapping match with a seat-recliner. The way to deal with this is to (a) politely ask the offender to grow some manners and decency and respect the 18″ private-space rule, and when he doesn’t (because they never listen) (b) ‘accidentally’ spill wine or Coke or coffee on his head. Offer sincere and heartfelt apologies and offer to get him some napkins. If he doesn’t adjust his seat, repeat the procedure.

“People who recline their seats in coach are scum — there are no two ways about it. The second-worst offenders are parents with infants who won’t stop crying, which is obviously due to over-coddling. The third-worst offenders are fat-asses and really old people who wait until the very last second when the flight is disembarking to stand up and take their carry-on luggage out of the overhead compartment (which always takes forever), causing everyone behind them to wait and wait and wait.”