The TSA agent—a police employee of our State—is engaged in a new duty, that of Official Shaming. Shaming is being floated as the solution to the growing “obesity epidemic” which plagues our nation. It might not be TSA agents who enforce the plan, but I suggest it, as it gives them something worthwhile to do.
Shaming is supposed to “nudge” fat people—though it’s hard to imagine nudging a 400-pound man—into behaviors which conform to State approved comportment, into more environmentally conscious eating habits, and finally into pairs of skinny jeans favored by hipsters who want to show off their scrawny legs.
We’ve tried everything else. Poverty didn’t work: study after study shows that poor people don’t have enough to money to, well, I’m not sure what. “Poor” is flexible term, and many who are “poor” have a lot of things. But whatever they don’t have, they do have money to buy too much food and eat it.
Diets of every possible combination exist. Eat just meat, eat no meat. Drink only juice, drink only water. Have food delivered, prepare your own meals. Fast, eat steadily. Swallow this pill; no, that one. Buy that exercise machine; no, this one. Wine is good; no, it isn’t. Weight is gained regardless.
“Raising awareness”, the go-to solution of the Enlightened, succeeds marginally: fat people are now aware they are fat. They know why they prefer sweat pants over skinny jeans and why they don’t fit on Delta Airlines. Their raised awarenesses haven’t caused them to lose any weight, though.
Awareness raising has more problems. Daniel Callahan, the academic who thought up shaming, said a “large number” of people “are unaware that they are overweight.” He probably means females, who actively seek information on their adiposity but who are consistently (but wisely) misinformed on the subject by their mates.
Scientists are still at this, but theory suggests the historical confluence of the universal availability of cheap plentiful food and masses of human beings whose main source of pleasure is eating is causing this epidemic. The real answer may never be found, but it doesn’t have to be. Let people figure out how to grown thin by themselves; we’ll shame them into it.
Other academics are giving Callahan grief, but I like this shaming idea. And not because I need to lose weight and lack the self discipline. Yours Truly is 6’2″, a strapping 200 pounds of hardened sinew and manly muscle. The only fat in me is the half-pound slab of bacon I daily consume. No, I like the idea because it shouldn’t cost any money.
Gluttony—though obesity sounds more scientific—is one of the seven deadly sins. It should be railed against from the bully pulpit politicians occupy (temporarily, it is hoped). Just as sermons bemoaning it should come from normal pulpits. And from parents.
One of your glutinous kith and kin waddles over to you, you owe it to him to say what Marlene Dietrich said to Orson Welles in Touch of Evil, “You’re a mess, honey.”
But to a stranger, your obligation is your silence. His eating habits are none of your business. Wait, strike that. They are none of your damn business. That statement is true even if you are a doctor (and the man is not your patient), or you hold a PhD from an Ivy League institution like I do and know what’s right and wrong with sublime precision.
That gluttony is bad and temperance good is indisputable. But that does not imply that the State should mandate thinness and regulate eating. Right, Mike? Not a dollar of the public purse should be frittered in the pursuit of the porky.
The argument advanced by progressive puritans is that gluttony costs the public money because the public foots the bill for medical care, especially via Medicare and soon Obamacare, therefore it is the public’s duty to spend money to prevent gluttony.
Allow this kind of reasoning and there is nothing the State won’t see as its business to regulate. Anything can be said to influence the budget because everything touches human health. If freedom means anything, citizens must be allowed to eat whatever and however they please. (Some wag is sure to bring up cannibalism.)
Though if we’re intent on this plan, maybe we could have the TSA display our body-fat content as we go through “screening.” Might as well do something useful with those expensive toys.