Sooner or later the do-gooders were going to get around to the fat people. Picking on the smokers, tokers, gun-toters, and taxpayers was never going to sate their lust for lovingly-applied power, and fat people make such an inviting target for even the most well-meaning bullies.
The crusade suffered a setback on Monday when a court threw out New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on “sugary drinks” larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, but that surely won’t be the end of it. Bloomberg, a media magnate-turned-municipal nanny who seems intent on proving the old Wallis Simpson adage that you can never be too rich or too thin, has already vowed an appeal. Having already prevailed in his war on smokers and gotten away such heavy-handed anti-heaviness tactics as his ban on trans-fats and salt shakers, Bloomberg has every reason to expect that he’ll prevail yet again.
We had hoped that the court would find a citizen’s right to order any size soda he damn well chooses somewhere within all those penumbras and whatnots where they found a right to abortion, but instead they found the ban merely “arbitrary and capricious” because it was enacted by the mayor’s health board rather than the city council and applied only to restaurants and not convenience stores or other purveyors of jumbo-sized pop. This means that the mayor need only ram it through an equally self-righteous majority of councilmen and then make it even more far-reaching, so we expect that the beautiful people of New York City will soon be spared the unsightly spectacle of their heftier fellow citizens waddling around sucking up caffeinated calories from bucket-sized cups. The meddlesome mayor has graciously announced that he “probably” won’t mandate gym memberships and no-pain-no-gain workouts, and thus far his assaults on too-loud earphone use are only rhetorical, but by the time Bloomberg is finished even the most fashionable New Yorkers will likely be pining for the decadent freedom of a small prairie town.
Whatever the fate of Bloomberg’s soda ban he can count on the continued assistance of Michelle Obama, the famously buff First Lady who has made fat kids her favorite cause. Obama’s latest effort against childhood obesity came in a speech at George Washington University, where she suggested that “product placement” in grocery stores could create a world in which “kids are begging and throwing tantrums to get you to buy more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.” Setting aside the question of whether Madison Avenue’s most sophisticated techniques could ever cure a normal child of his sweet tooth, there’s something slightly discomfiting about the notion of the government compelling private enterprises to employ shrewd marketing techniques to promote its own notions of what individuals should do in their private lives. This sort of thing is sometimes called fascism, at least when Republicans do it, and good intentions make it no more palatable.
Those of you who don’t smoke, stay trim, and keep your earphones turned to a Carpenters level of volume should be congratulated on your virtuous lifestyles but should not feel immune from the nosiness of the nanny state. You’re doing something they don’t like, and after they get all those fat people whipped into shape they’ll sooner or later get around to you.
— Bud Norman