In the comments thread Al Bundy has some kindly advice for parents who want to ban junk food from schools. Nic White says that kids should be able to eat what they like, while Andrew Norton and Michael Warby think that the real problem is that governments are running the schools.
As "an unashamedly fat bastard" Al Bundy, has a suggestion "for all the handwringers collectively tut-tutting over obesity". They should "kindly fuck off." But wait… there’s more:
…you’ve got the Arthurs of the world frantically trying to ban unhealthy food in schools. And you can probably pull out health statistics showing just how much fat bastards like me are to blame for, well, everything smokers and drinkers used to be responsible for.
But guess what, puritan. You condemn Donnelly for trying to stuff the ‘immoral’ into the ‘illegal’ category, but think that it’s just fine to move the ‘bad for you’ category into the ‘illegal’.
Yeah, yeah, I know you’re not arguing for criminalisation, but neither is Donnelly. For the sake of my argument, wanting to ‘ban’ something is just as good.
Here’s a tip to all for all you leftist inclusivists who so want to embrace every sexual, racial and social minority – Go hug a fat person.
You might not get your arms all the way round, but you could find that under the sweat and double chins we have rather more depth than you might think.
Al’s got a point. American researchers Rebecca Puhl and Kelly D. Brownell report that obese individuals suffer from bias and discrimination. No surprises there. Many people assume that if you’re fat you’re stupid, lazy, and lacking in self discipline. There are all kinds of nonsensical prejudices out there in the community – anti-fat attitudes are one of them.
Nic White says that "I’d be on the side of letting the kids make their own decision." I’m not sure I’d agree. If I had a tween there are some decisions I wouldn’t want them to be making on their own. Would they like to stay home and watch tv instead of going to school today? Probably. Would they like to eat french fries for lunch every day? Maybe. Would they accept a lift home from their best friend’s drug-impaired big brother? I hope not. Children, especially young children, are not the fully fledged consumers economic liberals had in mind when they theorized about market freedom. As Michael Warby says: "they are not yet adults and fully able to decide for themselves."
Al Bundy says "the government sure as hell doesn’t know any better than me what’s good for my kids." I have to say that the idea of bureaucrats deciding what children eat worries me. I never suggested that the government should be packing your kid’s lunch box or running the local supermarket. All I was saying was that school tuck shops shouldn’t be undermining choices parents make for their own children. If Al wants an argument he’ll have to work harder.
Andrew Norton says that "there is nothing wrong with [schools] banning things that are bad for kids" but there is something wrong with the government running schools. Michael Warby agrees. Warby thinks that the government should regulate schools but not own and run them. It’s an interesting idea. Economist John Quiggin isn’t sure private alternatives would be any better than the public system. But what would happen if schools had to compete for students in order to survive?
Also… See Nic White’s post on compulsory community service where he says: "Yes, let’s restrict choice and force people to do things that we think are good
for them, what a wonderful way to run a country."