Nattering

14 May

One of many reasons I stopped watching television is that I got tired of the constant health scares. The vast majority of them were a consequence of some reporter misunderstanding the gloss he had read of a much more complicated issue. Others are simply lies. The doctor who started the “Vaccinations cause Autism” scare has had his license pulled for multiple ethical violations connected to that hysteria. Among other things, I believe he had a financial interest in an alternate vaccine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Wakefield).

I am particularly under-impressed by the current “viewing with alarm” being done in connection with a supposed “obesity epidemic”. Yes, Americans are, on average, fatter than they were a few decades ago. Nevertheless, two thoughts occur to me. First, could we spend a little time celebrating the fact that we have achieved a society where the chief dietary problem of our poor is that they are too fat? There isn’t, after all, a great deal of precedent in human history. Secondly, The West was won, the Industrial Revolution was fought, and the rise of the middle class occurred on a diet that would give a California Health Consultant the vapors. William Howard Taft was 6 feet tall and, at the end of his administration, weighed 300 lbs.. He was considered a fine figure of a man. Most Victorian ladies made the fashion models of the modern era look like the anorexic waifs that they are. It really seems to me that what we have in the “Obesity Epidemic” is a shift in fashion regarding body image of which the Right People Do Not Approve.

The permanent obsession some folks have with what other people eat, drink, or otherwise ingest, is one of the major defects of life. Each generation has it to at least some extent, and very generation derides the obsessions of the generation before, while pressing forward with their own. THEY, after all, know better than their ancestors did. THEY are Right.

A pox on them. I am deeply skeptical of a pattern whereby every previous generation of social leaders was composed of religiously deranged busybodies, and THIS generation is miraculously lead by enlightened geniuses, unsullied by misinformation or dogma.

I remember, back in the ’80’s, when the cigarette companies warned that if they were held liable for the consequences of vices people undertook voluntarily, then the next step would be suing the fast food companies. And I remember how all Right Thinking people laughed and laughed at the very idea. I notice that nobody is laughing now.

There have always been people who thought they had a right to tell other people how to live; what to eat, what drugs to take, who to bed. And the progress of civilization has, to my mind, been measured by the degree to which it was possible for the common man to tell such people to go climb a tree.

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