Wednesday 16 November 2011


The opinion piece we link to below perfectly illustrates the slippery slope in which we are now well engaged ever since we allowed our governments to control people’s smoking behavior without raising our voices loudly and unanimously to protect our fellow citizens’autonomies. 

As much as they like to gloat that it is thanks to their heavy handed policies that smoking prevalence decreased significantly in the last decades, the reality is somewhat different.  While it is true that public health campaigns against smoking did well in lowering the number of smokers, they stopped being effective the day they became a ruthless war against smokers themselves.  Very few people like to be bullied and shamed into compliance for the betterment of the ''collective we'' and this is exactly what public health has been doing to smokers in the last decade.  The unintended, albeit predictable, consequences are that smoking rates have been more or less stagnating both in the U.S.A. and Canada and even increasing in some countries ever since public health went from educating the people to brow-beating them into complying with its dictates.  Did the writer consider how human nature works before advocating to follow the same path for people who are overweight or obese?   

If we obstinately refuse to learn valuable lessons from the war on smokers and foolishly repeat the same error of allowing the state to go into a heavy artillery war against another ‘’drain on the economy’’ (their words) and shame the obese like this writer suggests, why would we expect to be able to stop the state when one day they wage wars against people who want to bring to term their less than perfect fetus or who wish that their old and sick parent dies naturally?  If we accept that public health policy is based on collectivist and economic perspectives rather than human and compassionate bases and we irresponsibly jump on the bandwagon of shaming overweight and obese people , we would be clearly inviting eugenic and Soylent Green type of ethics to take over our societies sooner than we realize.  

Is this what we want? 

What can we as individuals do to stop it?  Be proud of who we are and respectful of ourselves and what we want or don't want out of life.  Keep informed, critical and alert and explore various perspectives that we don't necessarily hear from the mainstream media.   Be tolerant and respectful of our fellow citizens' differences.  Offer our unconditional assistance and compassion only to those who solicit it.  Tell alleged do-gooders that our minds and bodies are ours and not open to public scrutiny or criticism.  Express to our politicians, the media, forums and on open lines how we feel about public health stepping way out of line and robbing us of our most precious belonging - our intimacy.  

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