Opinions, Opinions, Opinions…

A wise man once said that opinions are like armpits: everybody’s got ‘em, and they all stink. Still, at the risk of causing an olfactory meltdown, we’d like to share a sampling of what opinion writers have to say about the activists who want to control your food choices.

In Massachusetts, Patriot Ledger columnist Ingrid Shaffer bemoans the “so-called ‘epidemic of obesity’ that’s lately led our nation’s nannies… to ramp up the “war against fat” to a crusade level that is tiresome at best, bossy and costly at worst.” Shaffer correctly notes that “nutritional activists increasingly equate the consumption of ‘fat’ to the evils of smoking,” but reserves her most potent vitriol for ice cream truck-chasing lawyers who aim to fatten their own wallets.

“When the costly trials conclude,” offers Shaffer, “these lawyers and their experts will be richer – in money and/or power – than the food in question, and a few hefty plaintiffs will win free meal tickets to more upscale dining. The American public, meanwhile, will be thinner in the wallet, but not the waistline, because the causes of obesity are more numerous and complex than this business blame-game implies.”

In the December Atlantic Monthly, Jonathan Rauch plants tongue firmly in cheek while arguing that governments should “tax people by the pound.” On a more serious note, however, Rauch argues that “snack taxes that pay for public-health campaigns, and lawsuits against food companies, seem pretty likely to fatten the wallets of the people advocating them — public-health activists and lawyers — without necessarily making anyone any thinner. Besides, most people snack sensibly, so why should they pay to harangue lazy gluttons?”

“And I know of no conclusive evidence that people are fat because food companies fail to disclose that fries and bacon cheeseburgers are fattening.”

Shifting from the nutrition nags to the animal rights zealots, we find Shreveport (LA) Times columnist Dan Turner, who has heard quite enough about a recent PETA ad campaign featuring the image of white-supremacist David Duke. Turner calls PETA’s efforts both “insensitive” and “offensive.” The PETA campaign, Turner writes, “was designed to be unabashedly in-your-face, we-don’t-live-in-Louisiana-so-we-could-care-less offensive.”

Turner asked PETA’s Bruce Friedrich “whether PETA has considered using a similar campaign with, say, pictures of Terry Nichols in Oklahoma City.” Friedrich’s answer? “No, we haven’t gone in that direction yet.”

Lastly, we turn to advice columnist Margo Howard, who writes the “Dear Prudence” column for the Chicago Tribune. Prudence was asked last week by a 20-something husband what he should do about his wife, who recently “attended an animal rights activist conference and was ‘enlightened’… she feels she cannot achieve her goals in life being married to someone who eats animal products… She is getting more radical as time progresses.”

“Prudence” replies: “Any girl who agrees to disagree about what you both eat, then decides that ‘animals are more important than our marriage’ and insists you help organize rallies deserves her freedom. And Prudie hopes she and Bambi will be very happy.”

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