By nature, I am not particularly forgiving. It's not that I am routinely wronged or anything; it's simply that I have a tendency to assume that people should know better before they pull that kind of crap. Admittedly, this assumption is corroborated hardly at all by the experience of a lifetime, or a significant fraction thereof, but some vaguely-egalitarian impulse demands that I presume, until shown otherwise, that someone else's recommendations are not necessarily any worse than my own.

The exception that proves this particular rule falls under the general heading of Unwanted Advice. Admittedly, my life fits the common definition of FUBAR, which would indicate room for improvement, but though other people's suggestions are not likely to make things any worse, I have little reason to think they're going to make things better. The Deeply Religious occasionally attempt to break through my circle of defenses, and while they are routinely unsuccessful, I am inclined to cut them a smidgen of slack; unlike most people who come across as though they're on a mission from God, evangelicals and such are, well, on a mission from God, and tend to score points for not causing major deflections on my Cynicism Meter. Purely secular attempts to impel me to improve my sorry lot, however, are resented with great vigor.

I am not a smoker — never tried it, never will — but I consider the ongoing efforts to demonize the manufacturers of what is, and what remains, a perfectly legal product for adults, to be a blatant attempt at extortion, a product of deluded utopianism and elitist arrogance, a mission not from God but from those who, lacking omnipotence of their own, would have the government conjure up some and exert it on their behalf. It would be shameful even if it were the failure it deserved to be, but somehow it has succeeded, and relishing that success, its proponents are now ready to take on a target even less deserving of their irrational hatred than Big Tobacco: food that doesn't taste like reprocessed cardboard.

We are, of course, a weak-willed people, or so assume the Waistline Warriors. It is necessary, therefore, to compel us to follow the correct path. Since the likelihood of getting the Administration to establish an activist Office of Food Control Policy headed by some sort of Cheeseburger Czar is next to nil, the Warriors seek to advance their cause by forcing the producers of food that doesn't meet their definition of "healthy" to revise their products, or to reprice them (possibly with the "assistance" of punitive taxation) to make them less desirable. Their weapon? The same one wielded against tobacco companies: lawsuits en masse.

One of the charges likely to be leveled against the manufacturers of grocery products in general, and fast-food firms in particular, is that they market some of their products to children, an offense the Warriors consider to be just this side of suicide bombing. Should they be successful, expect future incarnations of Ronald McDonald to look like Ralph Nader in a better suit, and watch for essay questions on environmental awareness to be stuffed into every Crappy Meal. About the only potential benefit I can see is the demise of green ketchup.

At the very least, this is going to push prices up, if only because the industry will have to build up some additional cash reserves to fight off the Warriors' lawyers. Hypocrisy will escalate. (Sooner or later, some self-anointed crusader from, say, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is going to get caught on video while pulling out of, say, the drive-thru at Wendy's, and won't that be fun?) In the meantime, since the War on Flavor benefits no one but its generals and their legal staff — certainly not the 60 percent of us who allegedly could stand to lose a few pounds, or the 40 percent who are going to have to suffer right along with us — it is incumbent upon us all to do our part for the Resistance. Supersize it. Insist on Thousand Island dressing. In fact, make it two thousand. And always practice Safe Lunch: be sure to use condiments.

The Vent

24 May 2002

 | Vent menu | E-mail to Chaz

 Copyright © 2002 by Charles G. Hill