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Bloomberg vs. Fatsos

No big sodas here anymore. Photo via Flickr by CalamariGirl.

Just yesterday, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he plans to ban large sodas from being sold in delis, street carts, movie theaters and other places to help prevent obesity. Drew Magary of Gawker noted the varied responses to this plan:

The Atlantic called it classist. Comedy Central’s political blog (they have one!) called it ridiculous. Forbes called Bloomberg a Republican Socialist. And Bernie Goldberg basically declared that the ban was a gateway law that will one day lead to the government stealing your kids in the middle of the night and harvest their organs to give to illegal immigrants.

“But then Gawker added a new idea: “People, please, shut the fuck up.”

That’s right — Gawker says get over yourself, a democracy isn’t about getting everything you want.

If you think that a ban on large sodas is somehow an affront to America freedom, I have news for you: You don’t live in a free country. You never have and you never will. That’s an illusion. You are not free to murder people in America. You are not free to stand in the middle of an intersection and block traffic…So maybe it’s not such a bad thing if a city official, who was freely ELECTED by his own constituents, tries his best to curb its influence. It doesn’t make this country a member of the Warsaw Pact if that happens. And if you want to go crying about a NANNY STATE or whatever other dipshit talking point Politico fed you, go right ahead. Sometimes, voters like being nannied. In this country, you are FREE to vote for a little nannying if you like.

This nanny/dictator side of Bloomberg came out in a recent response to the issue of how to get people to eat better.

“We’re not taking away anybody’s right to do things, we’re simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup.” [Emphasis added]

The truth is that Bloomberg has his past efforts to improve people’s health and New Yorkers’ quality of life on his side. He banned smoking, and we all hated the idea at first; now you can barely find a place indoors to smoke in all of the United States. While I don’t really think that banning enormous sodas will do much to improve the obesity epidemic in the country — I think we really need to get fresh food in our most underserved neighborhoods instead — I do think that Bloomberg is right to set standards, and to say that the government isn’t going to pick up the bill for people’s poor health choices. Now if only we could ban SUVs for being too big…. clearly, mandates like these are a slippery slope.

Diana Lind is the former executive director and editor in chief of Next City.

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Tags: new york citygovernancemichael bloomberghealth