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Paul Campos on Bullying

Paul Campos has an article in today's Daily Beast: Michelle Obama's Let's Move Campaign Is Helping Bullies

Some plum quotes:

The first lady would, no doubt, be horrified by the suggestion that her Let’s Move campaign, which is dedicated to trying to create an America without any fat kids, is itself a particularly invidious form of bullying. But practically speaking, that’s exactly what it is. The campaign is in effect arguing that the way to stop the bullying of fat kids is to get rid of fat kids.

And, on the necessity of public policy that is evidence based and risk-assessed:

Given our political climate, it’s more important than ever for liberals not to assume that a particular government initiative to stop something from happening is a good idea. Rather, we need to be reasonably certain that a) the something in question is actually happening; b) we know why it’s happening; c) we know how to stop it from happening; and d) the benefits of stopping it from happening are worth the costs...

The Let’s Move campaign fails this test spectacularly. It has had one notable success, however: According to a Pew Foundation poll, nearly three in five Americans now believe that the government should have “a significant role in reducing childhood obesity.”

Some other good articles on the same topic:
• Two Whole Cakes: Fat Children are to Blame for the Economy, Says Michelle Obama, by Lesley Kinzel
• Red No. 3: A Radical Idea, by Brian
• The Daily Caller: An open letter to First Lady Michelle Obama, Brandon Macsata (speaking for NAAFA)
• Slate: Leave the Fat Kids Alone, by Daniel Engber
Dear Mrs. Obama, by Allison Dickson
• Live Once, Juicy: Do You Think Michelle Hears Us?, by Shaunta
• Newsweek: Fat Kids, Cruel World, by Lesley Kinzel
• The Huffington Post: Lessons From My Life as a Fat Kid, By Jane Shure
• And of course our own Fat Kids Targeted

Pattie Thomas in 'Psychology Today' | NOW Foundation's Love Your Body Poster Contest Winners

vesta44's picture
March 16th, 2011 | Link | The bullying of fat kids is

The bullying of fat kids is going to get worse now that Michelle Obama has blamed the tanking economy on them. You can read all about it here. I read it and I'm so pissed I could spit enough nails to build a house.

It’s an issue that has people talking all across the nation, but it’s not always one we think about as a local issue. But, if ignored, it's an issue that can drastically alter the economic landscape of our cities and towns for generations to come.
And I am obviously talking about the epidemic of childhood obesity. Now, usually, when I talk to groups like this, I start by discussing the statistics: how the incidence of obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years; how nearly one out of every three of our children is overweight or obese; and how small, personal choices like what you serve your kids at the dinner table, or how getting them away from the computer and getting them out into the fresh air can really make the world of difference on this issue. And all of this is absolutely critical if we’re going to start turning the tide on this issue.
In the 10 cities with the nation’s highest obesity rates, the direct costs connected with obesity and obesity-related diseases are roughly $50 million per 100,000 residents. And if these 10 cities just cut their obesity rates down to the national average, all added up they combine to save nearly $500 million in healthcare costs each year.
And that’s just the beginning. Childhood obesity is affecting your workforces, too. I mean, studies show that obese children are less healthy and miss far more days of school on average. So for the parents of those kids, that can mean more tardiness, more early departures from work, and higher absenteeism to stay home to care for these kids.
And all that doesn’t just affect businesses that are already located in your communities. It also affects whether new businesses will set up shop in your towns and cities in the first place.
A recent report by the Trust for America’s Health explains why. And this is a quote from that report. They say that, “Businesses are reluctant to locate in areas where the population, particularly the future workforce, is unhealthy.” They go on to say that, “High health care costs and lower productivity are unattractive to employers and investors.”
So make no mistake about it: When we talk about childhood obesity, we’re talking about the workforce that you're trying to build. We're talking about the businesses that you’re trying to attract. We're talking about the budgets that you’re trying to balance each and every day.
And you aren’t the only ones whose priorities have started to shift because of the impact of childhood obesity. Just take the military, for example........... But from the day we launched “Let’s Move” -- and that's our nationwide campaign to tackle this issue –- high-ranking military leaders have been some of our strongest supporters.
And that’s because right now, today, nearly 27 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds are too overweight to serve in our military. And for many who make the cut, years of inactivity and poor nutrition mean that they often are still overweight, and out of shape, and they’re far more likely to injure themselves in basic training.

There's more about bringing grocery stores to poor neighborhoods and how grateful and proud the people of those neighborhoods are to have those grocery stores (no mention is made whether the people can afford to shop there, however), that those stores created jobs and brought other businesses to the areas (why am I not believing this?).
Saying that fat kids are sicker than thin kids without any statistics to back her up is irresponsible (and are those kids really sick, or are they just missing school because of being bullied by peers and teachers?). I know that when I was in junior high and high school, I was late to school every day when phys ed was my first class of the day, simply because I didn't want to be bullied by my phys ed teacher (I hated her and she didn't like me much either). The only year I actually liked phys ed was my sophomore year, when I had a different teacher who didn't care how athletic I was or how good I was at whatever sport, as long as I tried. When she transferred to another school and I got the other teacher back, it was back to the bullying and back to skipping her phys ed classes. So I don't blame kids who don't want to go to school because of kids or teachers who bully them, been there done that.
For Michelle Obama to say she wants to get rid of childhood obesity, well, she might as well say she wants to get rid of fat kids - same thing. And to come out and say she's against bullying? That's the height of hypocrisy, when her campaign to get rid of childhood obesity is contributing to bullying of fat kids (of course, maybe she means that only some kids shouldn't be bullied).

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

Meowzer March 17th, 2011 | Link | That stuff about "military

That stuff about "military unreadiness because of fat" is a bunch of horsehockey.

From Gina Kolata's 2006 article, So Big and Healthy, Grandpa Wouldn't Even Know You (quote is on page 3):

They discovered that almost everyone of the Civil War generation was plagued by life-sapping illnesses, suffering for decades. And these were not some unusual subset of American men — 65 percent of the male population ages 18 to 25 signed up to serve in the Union Army. “They presumably thought they were fit enough to serve,” Dr. Fogel said.

Even teenagers were ill. Eighty percent of the male population ages 16 to 19 tried to sign up for the Union Army in 1861, but one out of six was rejected because he was deemed disabled.

And the Union Army was not very picky. “Incontinence of urine alone is not grounds for dismissal,” said Dora Costa, an M.I.T. economist who works with Dr. Fogel, quoting from the regulations. A man who was blind in his right eye was disqualified from serving because that was his musket eye. But, Dr. Costa said, “blindness in the left eye was O.K.”

From my understanding, the Union won. How many of the kids being rejected from the military today would have passed a physical fitness test if they hadn't been disqualified by their weight?

It's the same old BS from politicians -- they won't go after the real reasons for massive unemployment, because that would mean a total restructuring of how we distribute wealth and other resources across society, and we can't have that! So it's time to blame individuals for getting sick, and to top it all off, blaming the kids for their parents being out of work. Awesome. I can't wait to see the therapy bills ten years from now. (Mental health care expenses count too, Mrs. Obama.)

richie79's picture
March 17th, 2011 | Link | "How many of the kids being

"How many of the kids being rejected from the military today would have passed a physical fitness test if they hadn't been disqualified by their weight?"

Given that muscle weighs more than fat, I wonder how many fit, active potential recruits are being lumped into this category by the inflexible application of the BMI scale, a reliance on which is likely not only falsely inflating the numbers deemed 'too fat to fight' but counterproductively excluding much of the best 'cannon fodder'.

The Campos article, as always, is spot on. From the text posted by Vesta44 above (and by Rebelle on the forums) I can only conclude that Michelle Obama is a scaremonger and an extremist who despite all the genuine problems facing the US and the world has singled out probably the softest target imaginable for what ultimately seems to be a self-indulgent crusade. However the comments, as always, are a depressing insight into the degree to which the vox populi have been brainwashed by sizist propaganda and biased reportage. For instance the way in which some consider any criticism, however legitimate, of anything in which the Obamas have involved themselves to be primarily motivated by political bias highlights just how polarised US politics has now become.

Moreover, arguing for sensitivity when dealing with fat kids demonstrates exactly the sort of concern for 'the children' which so many of the commenters simplistically accuse critics of 'Let's Move' of lacking. Unfortunately the current buzz-word of the public health lobby is 'denormalisation' - using social stigma and peer disapproval to discourage what they consider undesirable behaviours and traits - and although they probably won't admit it in so many words, and despite all the research to suggest how utterly counterproductive it can be, the bullying of fat children is nevertheless considered a key aspect of that wider strategy.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

Bree's picture
March 17th, 2011 | Link | For someone who is concerned

For someone who is concerned about bullying, she doesn't even realize everytime she opens her mouth to condemn fat kids for the downfall of America, she's being a bully as well. I wish she would just give it up and find an actual concern to address than jumping on the bandwagon of OH NO FAT KIDS! It's tiresome.

vesta44's picture
March 17th, 2011 | Link | There was a post about

There was a post about Paul's article at Lawyers, Guns, & Money (either yesterday or the day before), and the comments there are all over the place - taking him to task for participating in oppression olympics, disbelief that people can have "fat" as part of their identity (like being black, asian, hispanic, gay, trans, etc), that the government wanting to get rid of obesity is a slippery slope to eugenics (anyone saying that doesn't know what eugenics is), and the whole bullshit thing that Let's Move doesn't target fat kids, it's for all kids, in spite of the fact that the program is dedicated to ending childhood obesity within a generation (and that's a good thing, we need to end obesity, it's a killer, it costs too much money, it causes too many diseases, you name the stereotype, they blah-de-blah'ed on about it). The few voices of sanity were not believed or told they didn't know what they were talking about. When I checked back late last night, there were almost 250 comments on that post, most of them not complimentary.

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

richie79's picture
March 17th, 2011 | Link | "I wish she would just give

"I wish she would just give it up and find an actual concern to address than jumping on the bandwagon of OH NO FAT KIDS! It's tiresome."

Unfortunately Bree most people have not only been brainwashed into considering 'obesity' a Problem requiring a Solution but 'the single biggest threat we face'.

I hear that all the time, not only in the media but in policy documents and political discourse, as though peak oil, climate change, civil unrest in the Arab world, natural disasters which cause the deaths of tens of thousands, economic Armageddon, the growing divide between rich and poor, skyrocketing commodity prices and all the rest are mere trifles compared to the existence of a minority of already despised and targetted people / kids who happen to fall on the 'wrong' side of an arbitrary line on a graph.

And yes, as the war intensifies and the sheer volume of column inches, webspace and transmission time dedicated to weight and fat swells I do increasingly find myself wondering if it's the world that's gone stark raving mad, or yours truly; these are dark and ignorant times in which we live, and as i've been saying for a while, with FA now seemingly on the back foot I suspect things are going to get a lot, lot worse before they get better.

"the whole bullshit thing that Let's Move doesn't target fat kids, it's for all kids, in spite of the fact that the program is dedicated to ending childhood obesity within a generation"

I don't know how anyone can sit there and make that argument in good faith. The last British Government tried to claim their 'Change4Life' campaign was more about health than weight (it wasn't) and indeed the accompanying guidelines for professionals advised against the use of the O-word where possible. On the other hand Mrs Obama is not the slightest bit afraid to weild it and does so liberally and at every opportunity to ensure everyone knows where the 'problem' really lies.

As far as the powers that be are concerned it's not 'unhealthy' kids that are the 'problem' but fat ones. The overwhelming message seems to be 'do what you like so long as you don't get fat, it's when it becomes VISIBLE that it suddenly constitutes an issue representative of all these alleged behaviours in which we know (but choose to ignore) thin kids also partake'. I'm not a big fan of big Govt and the media making 'healthy lifestyles' a moral imperative, but it's a whole lot less divisive than singling out a small subset of society and mobilising multi-million dollar campaigns and the might of the media machine to smash them into oblivion.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

rebelle March 17th, 2011 | Link | I have long said that the

I have long said that the answer to abuse should not be to conform the abused to the preference of the abuser. This just reinforces that belief.

pani113's picture
March 18th, 2011 | Link | It is hardly surprising that

It is hardly surprising that the First Lady is pinning the poor economy on fat kids. Her husband supported the banker bailout. So many of his staff are Wall St insiders who helped create the crisis. They try to blame it on anyone and everyone except their greedy, corrupt, immoral selves. Absolutely sickening they would stoop to this level, but they are as low as they come!

"Fat can be beautiful. Intolerance is ALWAYS ugly!"

DeeLeigh's picture
March 19th, 2011 | Link | You know, honestly, I don't

You know, honestly, I don't think they're as low as they come. I've seen lower. I'm not anti-Obama administration, although I'm not a fan of the wallstreet bailout either. But yeah. On this topic, Michelle Obama is toxic - but she's just coming from the same upper middle class American viewpoint that I was raised with. She thinks she means well.

pani113's picture
March 19th, 2011 | Link | I was referring to Wall St.

I was referring to Wall St. I believe they are deliberately looking for scapegoats. First it was the homeowners themselves. A few weeks ago there was an article in MSM that Arab terrorist were to blame for the financial crisis. Now its fat kids.

Of course another issue is that Mrs. Obama is getting her information from Trust for America's Health. They have been funded among others by our old friends at the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. She obviously wants pharma's help in getting her husband reelected!

"Fat can be beautiful. Intolerance is ALWAYS ugly!"

DeeLeigh's picture
March 21st, 2011 | Link | Ah, sorry! I see what you

Ah, sorry! I see what you mean. Sorry for misreading your post.

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