Sure, but at the end of the day that's where I get off. If you're apportioning blame, 100% of it goes to somewhere between the airline, the employees of the airline who didn't "think out of the box", and the police. Sure, the victim could have done some other things to have avoided this encounter, but that doesn't put them in line for blame here. Hell, the victim could have decided to take a different, less crowded airline, which would have put them out of the way of this issue. The victim could have driven to where they needed to go instead of taken a plane. The thing is, regardless of what that individual victim did in this one situation, I don't think that you can say that if the victim in the UAL incident had done something differently that this wouldn't have happened somewhere else to someone else, and I think that's at least part of the essence of why victim-blaming just doesn't work all that well here. At the end of the day, most people *are* going to silently and meekly get off a plane they have every right to be on when they are told to do so. The issue here isn't that 100% of the population doesn't do that, it's, well, several things... the people in charge of determining who needs to deboard a plane need to do it better, the airlines need to not hide behind long, arcane contracts, and police probably need to be really, really watchful of not beating the crap out of a person. None of those things involves the victim, like, at all.
Seat belts and interacting with the airport police are far cries from the OP about cancer. It is much easier to apportion blame to someone not wearing a seat belt in a car wreck than it is for someone developing colon cancer. Hell, we know of life long smokers who live longer than normal lives, the confounding factors are so great and genetics play such an integral role that it is difficult to compare.
Oh yes, I agree that it's highly situational. I was just trying to think of an example where I COULD apportion some blame to the victim. But in this case, refusing to get off the plane does not justify a beat down.
Maybe the tricky bit here is that the Just World Fallacy is, like, very deeply ingrained into our psyche as humans? I mean, long before we had airplanes, before we had the relatively rudimentary understanding of weather and natural disasters that we have today, we made up gods that controlled all of that stuff. They were fickle and mean but there was a sense that you could control whether or not your house got washed away in a flood by giving the right offerings and stuff. It seems to me that this is a basic aspect of human understanding - basically it's Type A errors applied to philosophy - and as such it is *really* hard to counteract and also really hard to notice a lot of the time when you're submitting to the fallacy. We *want* stuff to make sense and part of that means blaming victims when they really didn't do anything "wrong" per se.
The bolded bit really got my attention because, by and large, any time someone suggests that the victim could have done something differently it is argued that it is victim blaming. It's as if there's this line between "because of the things the victim did, they deserve whatever they got" and "things the victim could have done X that may have reduced the risk".
Now, I don't think anyone would dispute that there are things that the passenger could have done, and perhaps future passengers should do, differently to avoid being the victim of this type of violence. Identifying these factors (as well as further training for security and so on) could be of benefit to people in future situations.
Failing to learn from this (both from the perspective of a person who does not want to be forcibly removed from a plane and from an airline who wants a person to deplane) is to fall foul of the "just world" fallacy. (i.e. assuming that the passenger has the right to be on the plane, standing by that right was not going to prevent him being hauled off once the airline called in uniformed officers with the apparent authority and intent to do so forcibly). Whether or not the passenger was lawfully justified in retaining their seat, there are things that a passenger can, and future passengers should, do if they want the reduce the risk of facing the same fate - getting up and walking off calmly is a perfect example.
Now is that "victim blaming" or simply a resignation to the reality that, from the point that uniformed personnel were called, he was disembarking from the plane (regardless of his rights) - it was his choice whether that was walking or being dragged off? (like telling bank tellers "just give robbers whatever they ask for, because that's the most likely way to ensure that they don't harm anyone before taking what they want").
One can say "to avoid the beating, he should have walked off", without saying that "he deserved a beating" - the implication of fault or blame is not inherent in the first statement, unless you're committing the just world fallacy. Whether or not the beating is deserved or the fault of the passenger - there were things that he could have done (regardless of his rights) that would likely have prevented him coming to physical harm. Assuming that sticking to his rights would have protected him, is the just world fallacy at play.