Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.”     Alexis de Tocqueville

July 31, 2009

Obesity! (Women And Minorities Hardest Hit)

by Brad Warbiany

Chalk this one up to the sloppy language and anthropomorphism. Marc Ambinder is responding to points Megan McArdle made about obesity, and he takes a few steps too far (via Democracy in America):

If you tend to blame individuals for their choices, then your answer will be no. But the crucial fact is that obesity does not treat everyone equally. It discriminates according to status, class and geography.

Obesity does not discriminate. Obesity is not a virus, it is not a sentient bacteria targeting the poor. Obesity is a non-contagious condition. Obesity doesn’t “treat everyone” unequally.

The fact is that some groups are disproportionately obese. And there are countless reasons for this, whether genetic, educational, environmental, socioeconomic, etc. To try to discuss those reasons would be well beyond my depth. But from a rhetorical standpoint, it has to be made clear that anthropomorphizing a condition like obesity doesn’t make Marc’s point any stronger.

This may be criticized as nit-picking, and potentially justifiably so. Sloppy language, though, encourages sloppy thinking. That’s the last thing we need in this health care debate.

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  1. I’m sure the CDC will tell us when we can get vaccinated for obesity at Walmart.

    Comment by Drew — July 31, 2009 @ 1:50 pm
  2. Will there be an express lane for 20 lbs or less?

    Comment by John222 — July 31, 2009 @ 4:11 pm
  3. I’m lookin for the Obesity who killed my pa!

    Comment by Akston — July 31, 2009 @ 10:16 pm
  4. Maybe Obama will invite Obesity to the White House for a Bud to talk things over.

    Comment by Quincy — August 1, 2009 @ 9:03 am

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