Wednesday, February 13, 2008

They're Coming to Take Me Away

The Mississippi legislature recently introduced a bill that would make it illegal for restaurants to serve food to obese people. The bill reads in part:

"An Act to prohibit certain food establishments from serving food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the State Department of Health; to direct the Department to prepare written materials that describe and explain the criteria for determining whether a person is obese and to provide those materials to the food establishments; to direct the Department to monitor the food establishments for compliance with the provisions of this act."

The bill proposes to revoke licenses of food establishments that violate the provisions of the act.

There are of course many comparisons to the campaign against tobacco users. The first phase explains that it's unhealthy, then it's immoral, and finally it's illegal. (Except in the case of tobacco taxes, which the government can't live without.) Remember how the campaign for seat belt use started out in the late 60's? It was all about safety. Then the message changed to "Parents shouldn't let their kids ride unbuckled." And now we have seatbelt laws.

We've had fifty years of various foods being labeled unhealthy. (The list changes frequently, with yesterday's "miracle food" today's killer, and vice versa.) Now the campaign has started to label obesity as "immoral." Charges of neglect have been levelled against parents for letting their children become obese. In any public discussion of the subject, watch the comments for the sneer and obvious distaste some people have for obese people. Obesity is now considered a character flaw.

Regrding the Mississippi legislation -- if they make it illegal for fat people to eat in restaurants, then fat people will eat at home. The only ones eating in restaurants will be thin people. (Guess what's just happened to the restaurants' business?) So if a legislator goes into a restaurant and sees only thin people, in his mind the legislation worked.

But did the fat people quit eating?
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Lawmakers, like teachers, have very nebulous ideas of whether their efforts have been successful or not. Unfortunately, they have the power to control all aspects of our lives if we let them. If the Mississippi legislation had been successful -- it was not passed -- it would have spread to other states. And if it was tried once in Mississippi, it will for sure be tried and passed someplace like San Francisco or Berkeley.
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How long before the fat police start working on supermarkets, and eventually make it illegal for you to have fatty foods in your refrigerator? "Raiding the icebox" takes on a whole new meaning.

1 comment:

gern blansten said...

Well, after I picked up my jaw off the floor, I began to wonder: How do they decide what foods are bad for obese people? Normally you would think high-fat foods wold be bad, but when I was on my low-carb diet and lost 25 pounds, I didn't worry about fat, just carbs!

This will cause a revolution in the country even before $4-a-gallon gas!

VIVA LA BURRITO!!