In pursuit of corporate deep pockets, a substantial number of
Americans seem willing to portray themselves as complete idiots.
Yes, we are talking about the lawsuit filed against McDonald's
on behalf of eight teen-agers who have become obese and have other health
problems after years of gobbling Big Macs and fries on a daily basis. One
15-year-old named in the suit has already topped 400 pounds and told ABC
News that he had "no idea that the Big Mac, Supersize fries and milkshake he
consumed every day added up to nearly 1,800 calories and almost 60 grams of
fat." Not just every day, but sometimes three, four and five times a day.
This is beyond satire. Where does one begin? With the parents of
this unfortunate lad, who are so lazy and/or incompetent as to let their son
eat at McDonald's every day? With the 15-year-old who is so greedy for money
(as well as fat) that he is willing to tell the world he's too stupid to
know that milkshakes are fattening? And please note, these folks are seeking
to begin a class action. Step right up to join the first class action in
history on behalf of stupid fat people!
But of course, not one of these plaintiffs is actually that
stupid. They are simply following the logic of the times, which permits one
to excuse -- no, reward! -- one's foolish or negligent behavior by blaming
the manufacturer of products one freely purchased. Particularly unstupid are
the trial lawyers who rake in huge fees in this scam.
The cigarette suits set the standard: You smoked for 40 years
fully understanding the risks, but now you have cancer and are suing the
tobacco companies because their advertising lured you and their nicotine
addicted you. Right. As if we haven't known for decades that cigarettes are
health hazards. As if we hadn't had warnings on every pack. As if schools
hadn't drilled us on the dangers of smoking. It's quite amazing, really, the
lengths to which some will go to evade responsibility for their own actions.
I do not speak as a fast food fan. Though my kids consider
McDonald's fine dining, I am one of those who would rather go hungry than
eat a burger and fries for lunch. It's awful for your arteries, and it
doesn't taste nearly good enough to be worth it.
A spokesman for McDonald's claims that its food "can be part of
a healthy diet based on the sound nutrition principles of balance, variety
and moderation." Well, not exactly. People would be better advised to treat
McDonald's (and its competitors) as the equivalent of Baskin Robbins -- a
treat, not daily fare. The omnipresence of fast food establishments is a
blight on the landscape and the waistline of America.
But fast food chains are not entirely to blame. They are simply
part of the wretched excess that has taken hold throughout society on the
subject of food. Restaurants now routinely serve platters laden with
servings large enough for three adults. Appetizers have become more and more
fat-laden: fried potato skins, tortilla chips dripping with cheese, fried
onion rings, etc, etc. Breakfast restaurants offer a huge stack of pancakes,
plus sausage, toast, orange juice and coffee as an ordinary start for your
day. Even treats are more excessive than they used to be. Ice cream shops
don't just serve single or double scoops or banana splits. No, now they all
add chopped brownie bits or M&Ms to the mix. Restaurants compete to provide
the most caloric and "decadent" desserts.
One could argue that if Americans are exercising little more
than their God-given right to waddle their Supersized bodies from McDonald's
to Burger King and back, so be it. But there is a serious point here. One
cannot legislate self-control. And yet all of the Founders believed it to be
the essential foundation of self-government.
It's bad enough that so many Americans are gorging themselves
and spilling over their chairs, but its downright disgusting that some seek
to blame anyone else. And it's absurd to expect a nice court-extracted
annuity from McDonald's because you were too self-indulgent to refrain from
eating far too many Big Macs and fries.