Thingish Things

The Fat Police

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Feb• 11•11

I promise to lay off on the Nanny-state griping, but New York is such a target-rich environment these days.

On a subway last night I got bombarded with health-police signage — an entire car of billboard ads  — chastising passengers for drinking beverages with calories.

The one my face was squeezed into watching read (I’m closely paraphrasing here; my arms were too restricted to snap a photo): “Afternoon Sweet Tea?: You’re Drinking 18 Packets of Sugar.” And then, beneath, in small print and parentheses, “for a 23-ounce can.” The visual depicted a cup of dark liquid with either a large dollop of cellulose or a small interplanetary alien being spooned into it — presumably the former.

It was lovely. Around $60,000 worth of taxpayer loveliness, I would guess, in that one car alone.

One of the Subway Ads

As an occasional fat bastard myself, I try never to drink calories. Seems like a waste to me with all those grilled cheese sandwiches out there.  So I understand and agree with the message, and I would have zero problem with the ad campaign if it were privately funded.

I also understand there is an obesity epidemic. One trip to Disney World, where fully ambulatory fat people ride around in motorized geriatric scooters, traumatized me for a full two years.

But is government responsible for changing our behavior in ways so minute as what we drink?  And, moreover, if it assumes that responsibility, where does that responsibility end?  Does government really want to make itself the arbiter of what legal behaviors are right and wrong?

If it does, it will have to get very busy.

I traveled to Hanoi in 2002 and marveled at the public address speakers on every street corner.  Morning, afternoon, and night the government pounded audio messages into its people, not one of them north of 110 pounds.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. Your Friend says:

    It seems like a pretty far step from a NY subway with a public health print ad to Hanoi. The thing that always gets me about railing against government is the idea that someone other than government is going to fund these kinds of messages. Who’s going to fight the sugar and HFCS lobby? Me? Our entire culture is built around profit for the shareholder. What we all fail to acknowledge is that competing corporate entities have no reason whatsoever to look out for our best interests. The health care industry actually benefits from the fast food and soft drink industry, who deliver them their most profitable patients. Bill Gates is the richest man in the world but even he couldn’t fund all of the public health campaigns in our country alone and he’d have leave Africa to malaria to even try.

    So, when are you going to write an article about the bloated U.S. Military and the $1 Trillion annual price tag it has hanging like a millstone around our necks? Entitlements may not be 100% funded but the military is and we all have blood on our hands because of it. Help us stop the madness, Bill.

    – d

  2. […] The New York Times photo-shopping a leg off a man appearing in one of its controversial — and in my opinion, overreaching — subway ads.  Posted in Uncategorized , Carolyn Ryan, New York Amputee ad, […]

  3. […] seemingly normal people who have expressed agreement with these police-state tactics after reading prior posts on this site. The argument is always the same:  If we have to pay for the effects of obesity […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.