The VigilanceVoice

August 8, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 330

Fat, Juicy, Mouth-Watering Terrorists--Stalking Your Kids--
 Are Under Attack!!!

Cliff McKenzie
                        Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, August 8--They steal through the night.   Their eighteen wheelers sneak into towns across America, filled with Terrorism and life-threatening toxicity aimed at your children, the weak-willed, the elderly on fixed income.

      In the mist of the pre-dawn, they slither up to the curbs and open their tractor-trailer doors, emptying the contents of frozen "killer toxins" to be sold to your children who unsuspectingly gobble up the goodies under the guise of happiness and joy, only to find out later that what they have eaten will kill them, and their children's children children.
       These are wily, nefarious goals of the Fast Food Terrorists.   That is, if you believe what the legal profession is promoting.

  Should fast food companies have to pay compensatory damages to an obese man?
* 61357 responses
Yes. They failed to warn him that certain fast foods can be bad for your health.
No. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?


      Riding the heels of success from their assault on the tobacco industry, attorneys are turning their litigation howitzers on companies like McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Roy Rogers, and, without a doubt, will soon attack my most precious and honored Friend of Fat, Ben & Jerry's.
       The War on Fat has been launched.   It's Pearl Harbor and comes in the form of a 5-foot 10-inch, 272 pound  man names Caesar Barber who, after suffering a heart attack from being overweight, didn't stop stuffing his face with hamburgers from his favorite fast food restaurant.   Last month he launched a major legal attack on the giants of fast food, filing suit against four of them, claiming they contributed to his health problems by serving fatty foods.
      On July 24, in the Bronx Supreme Court, Barber filed suit against McDonald's, Wendy's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King.   The 56-year-old maintenance worker is seeking compensatory damages he claims are the result of inadequate warnings about the dangers of eating delicious, fatty, lip-smacking fast food.
       "Fast food chains failed to disclose the contents in terms of calories, fat grams and sodium. Even when posted, the information is not easily understandable to the public,” said his attorney, Samuel Hirsch.

Caesar Barber

       Barber had heart attacks in 1996 and 1999 and has diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  He claims he didn't know fast food "wasn't good for you."
       In retaliation, Steven Anderson, president of the National Restaurant Association, said the lawsuit was a "blatant attempt to capitalize on the recent news stories on the growing rates of obesity."   President Bush, amidst his other wars, has declared war on obesity, calling on the American public to reduce its consumption of "fat-producing foods."
      Calling the lawsuit "frivolous," defenders of fast food claim the nutritional elements of their menus posted, by law, in each establishment, sufficiently warns the consumer.    Barber doesn't agree.
      "When they said it was 100 percent beef, I believed it was good for me," he said.
       While finding culpable targets to directly link one's eating to health disorders is virtually impossible because no one knows who eats where or what or how often, it seems unlikely Barber will be successful.
        In the Tobacco Wars, it was relatively easy to link cigarette smoking and lung cancer.  There was one product and one result, but food is pervasive.  It exists everywhere.    Perhaps Mr. Barber leaves McDonald's and goes to the candy store to shove handfuls of rich, creamy chocolate down his gullet.  No one knows for sure.   That makes the target hard to focus on.

        At best, the uproar comes down to "deceptive advertising," or, what some might call "Terroristic Advertising."  That is advertising aimed at kids, luring them with prizes while "poisoning" their systems.    The theory is similar to the use of Joe Camel, alleged to be a ploy by cigarette king RJR to attract youthful smokers.   "A children-friendly environment" is considered by anti-fast food advocates as an Osama bin Laden plot to ultimately cripple America's future with obesity.
         I'm not a fast food fan.   But, I am a Ben & Jerry's lush.   
         Inside every adult is a kid.   And kids love something more than Happy Meals.   They love ice cream.  
         I look at Ben & Jerry's as the adult version of Barber's suit against fast food.   I think Ben & Jerry's plot to come up with yummy sounding names and even more tantalizing tastes to lure the "child within the adult body" to the freezer section, and snatch up a couple of pints when no one is looking, then run home and lock the door and eat them ravenously--with nary even a glance at the nutritional label.
         Some might say I have been Terrorized as a child by fast food, and my hunger for Ben & Jerry's is an extension of seeds planted by Ronald McDonald to kill myself.
         Can't say that's true.
         I grew up on the "poor side" of life.   We ate greasy food because we couldn't afford the expensive "healthy food."  Pan-fried chewy cheap steak, lots of potatoes and gravy, still excite my taste buds.    I'd rather gnaw on a cheap piece of meat than have filet mignon melt in my mouth.  
         But I do have grandchildren.   And they eat at McDonald's occasionally for one reason--to get the prizes in the Happy Meals.    There can be no doubt the fast-food industry targets kids.   Just as there is no question that alcohol and beer companies target the young to start drinking their brand, or that J.C. Penny or K-Mart, or any brand seeks to instill confidence and brand loyalty in future consumers.    "I buy Tide because my Mom bought it," is a simple example of generational brand loyalty.
        Which leads me to the key point.
         Mr. Barber should sue his parents, not the fast food industry.

Barber and his lawyer Samuel Hirsch

        Parents are the ones who take their kids into places where food is cheap, fast, and friendly.   The result of eating that food is their responsibility, not the companies that sell it.
        Under the age of 18, parents have the duty to supervise their children.   They are the gatekeepers of what a child eats.   Nutritional habits are formed as children, not by the food industry. 
       Teaching a child to eat a balanced meal starts at home.  A child who grows up being stuffed with fast food learns how to be "healthy" or "unhealthy" by example, not by advertising.

          A Parent Of Vigilance, A Citizen of Vigilance, a Loved One of Vigilance, protects a child's eating habits by limiting what he or she consumes.   It takes Courage, Conviction and Right Action to pass by a McDonald's, a Wendy's, a Burger King.    Those who fold to the desire to protect a child are victims of Fear of not pleasing the child, Intimidation by the child's demands to "eat non-nutritional foods" if only to get the free(?) toy and usually Complacent about the Vigilance necessary to protect them from bad eating habits.
        Fast food, if anything, should be a treat not a staple.

        What irks me about Mr. Barber's lawsuit is the continuing blame we, as a society, put on institutions to be our "parents," our "guardians."    That's not their job.   They just reflect our demands, offering foods that appease our tastes, not necessarily our well-being.
        Unfortunately, when the ruckus clatters across the country, the federal, state or local government steps in to assume the "PARENT OF VIGILANCE" role by passing laws, or allowing lawsuits to run their course to set blame on the institutions.
       The more these lawsuits are heard, the more regulations and laws enacted, the more Complacent we become as parents, as adults, in the management of our destiny.  The more we abdicate our right of choice, the more we expect "others" to look out after us.    Essentially, the weaker and more Complacent we become in the exercising of our duty to ourselves and others--always looking for Big Brother to step in and "shield us" from Terrorism.
        But that's not what it's all about.   Life isn't about giving up one's freedom of choice by punishing those who offer it.   It's about making choices.  It's about taking responsibility.
        A free economy allows consumers to dictate what it eats.   If people chose not to eat a certain food, the outlets for it will dry up.    However, if the society "wants" those types of foods, the outlets will spawn and grow, appeasing the palates of the parents who control the money that buys the products for their children.

       And, it is well documented that obesity breeds obesity.  Fat parents usually have fat kids.   Lean parents usually have lean kids.   Duhhhh!!!!
        So while we all may want to jump on the bandwagon and shoot arrows at McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried and Wendy's, the first arrow should be shot at our parents.   
        If Mr. Barber really wants to make a point, he can amend his lawsuit to file a class action suit against all the parents--mothers, fathers, grandparents--who take their kids to fast food outlets, or purchase "junk food" for them.
        The FBI, CIA and Homeland Security can simply find out the weight of all parents who fall outside the "lean and mean" category and into the "obesity group" and start wire tapping their phones, getting meter readers to "rat on them" after glancing at their pantry, or calling the TIPS hotline when they see them entering a fast food establishment with a minor.
       Now we're talking Vigilance.

       When someone who is overweight passes someone who is lean on the streets, we can all hiss at them.    We can pass laws that one can only buy clothing that fits an appropriate height and weight ratio, equal to that which the government has dictated.    We can have Fat Cops who carry electronic scales and stop people in their cars or walking and demand they take an "Obesity Check," much as we do a sobriety test.   If their height and weight isn't within guidelines, they receive a ticket and must pay a fine.   And, perhaps under go "Fast Food Rehabilitation."
       Families which continue to serve up fatty foods to their children can be reported to Social Welfare; their children taken from them and put in "Non-fat-food" foster homes.    Corporations which allow any employee to become overweight can be fined, and, if it is found Vigilance wasn't followed after being warned, criminally prosecuted.
       While all the above may sound absurd, it is no more so than trying to blame those who manufacture and distribute food to meet people's tastes.

         Only when parents become Parents of Vigilance, dedicated to eliminating Terrorism in their children from the inside out, will we restore our land to state of readiness, able and capable of withstanding any threat to our security.
        And about that Ben & Jerry's issue.   Hmmmmm.  I'm thinking, yes.  Maybe that's where Osama bin Laden is hiding.  Up in Vermont.  He's maybe at the bottom of  a pint of Heath Bar Crunch (my favorite).     After I finish here, I'll have to look for him.  And if he's not there, maybe he's in the Chubby Hubby.   Or the Vanilla Carmel, or the Phish Food.   Yes, I'll keep looking, and if I don't find him, maybe I'll sue my parents.

Go Aug. 7--When The Heroes Of 9.11 Flee--Who Do We Honor?

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