I would hope you are the only one mystified by it.
The reason for the stew's popularity? He did what so many of us would like to do when the rude people win. Tell them off and get the last word.
As a frequent traveler, I won't condemn him/ however, I will say that his actions, although excessive and illegal, are indicative of a reaction to the change in attitude toward others I have seen while traveling. Most, but not all, passengers on flights ignore the stews all flight except when they want something from the stews. Meanwhile they put up with rude people who feel that what they want and need is more important than anyone elses needs on the flight, no matter what.
The stew was hit in the head because someone opend a overhead bin into his head. When confronted and asked to apologize the person in question refused. Common courtesy and manners says apologize, but the attitudes I see these days says that they should tell the stew where to go.
Is it too much to ask that we go back to treating each other the way we want to be treated?