Tuesday, December 08, 2015

UK: We need the right to make the ‘wrong’ choices

The government should not dictate what we – or our children – can eat

In a severe case of Something Must Be Done-ism, a committee of MPs is demanding government control of our food.

On Monday, the Commons Health Committee published its report on childhood obesity. The central premise is that although obesity is actually a very complex problem, Something Must Be Done. And it seems it must be done without regard to the negative consequences.

Childhood obesity rose sharply in the Nineties and the early part of this century. But, since 2005, rates have been either flat or falling, even if they remain much higher than 20 years ago. However, children from better-off families still have lower rates of obesity than those from poorer households. To tackle this, the committee’s proposals include taxing sugary drinks, extending the current ban on ‘junk food’ advertising from children’s programmes to all programmes shown before 9pm, a crackdown on price promotions in supermarkets, regulation of the use of cartoon characters in marketing and a state-led programme of product reformulation to reduce the levels of the ‘wrong’ stuff – including sugar – in manufactured foods.

Most of the attention fell on the idea of a sugary-drinks tax of 20 per cent. Such a tax would be an illiberal restraint on our choices; it would be regressive, because the poor would pay a bigger share of their incomes than the wealthy; it would be ineffective, because people would change their behaviour to get around it; and it would be unnecessary, because in most cases there are almost always alternative versions of the same products that have less sugar, fat or salt. Right next to that can of Pepsi on the shelf are cans of Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max. If we are personally concerned about sugar, for example, we can easily avoid it.

But the broad sweep of the committee’s proposals is really quite astonishing. In effect, these measures would mean state control of the price, content, availability and marketing of food. At the moment, we have plenty of choice about what we eat. We can organise our diets almost any way we choose. However, a handful of MPs (the committee wasn’t even unanimous) have decided that such choice should be taken away from us – and particularly from those poorer people who have the temerity to make the ‘wrong’ choices.

One of the shocking things about all this is that such measures just won’t work. Even when chubby children get direct intervention from doctors, it is hard to make much impact on their waistlines. Either the doctors are getting the advice wrong, in which case they could do us all a favour and butt out of our lives, or this obesity business is a much harder thing to solve than MPs and health campaigners seem to assume.

There are plenty of downsides to these proposals. The current advertising ban has made it difficult to fund children’s TV programming – and extending it will do even more damage. The proposals also represent another small blow to free speech, with the government deciding which legal, widely available products can be promoted and which cannot. The attitude of the government towards the masses is neatly summed up by the idea that we cannot be trusted to see Coco the Monkey without being compelled to eat sugary, chocolate-flavoured cereal.

The idea that the government should decide what manufacturers are allowed to put into their products is even more buttock-clenchingly awful. Rather than firms creating products and seeing if we like them enough to keep buying them, the formulation of foods would be determined by a committee of the great and good. The result is likely to be less-pleasant food. In the name of protecting us from our own foolish choices, we’ll be offered crap, tasteless food, with all the nice stuff – fat, salt and sugar – reduced to the bare minimum. Of all the people you don’t want deciding how food should taste, it’s a panel of health-obsessed puritans and hamfisted bureaucrats. It brings to mind Julian Clary’s old putdown: ‘Who cuts your hair for you? Is it the council?’

These proposals represent government intervention on a scale seldom seen since rationing ended in 1954. And at least then there was the excuse of being at, or recovering from, a world war. There’s little chance the grandkids will be asking you what you did during the Great War on Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.

We need to push back against these petty dictators and their belief that they know what’s best for us – especially when it’s obvious they haven’t got a clue. We should be the ones who decide what we eat and how much we eat.


Pro-Lifers to Sing Christmas Carols at Home of Planned Parenthood Doc

Mary Gatter became a household name in July when she was shown having been caught on camera negotiating the sales prices of the body parts of aborted babies. Gatter infamously said she was hoping to sell enough aborted baby parts to purchase a Lamborghini.

In the shocking undercover video, Gatter, the Medical director at Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley in Calfiornia, discusses selling aborted baby body parts with undercover investigators posing as officials with a biotech company that acts as a middleman to sell aborted baby body parts to universities and other places that conduct such research. Gatter is a senior official within Planned Parenthood and is President of the Medical Directors’ Council, the central committee of all Planned Parenthood affiliate medical directors.

Gatter discusses the pricing of aborted baby body parts — telling the biotech company officials that the prices for such things as a baby’s liver, head or heart are negotiable. She also tells the officials that she could talk with the Planned Parenthood abortion practitioners to potentially alter the abortion procedure to kill the baby in a way that would best preserve those body parts after the unborn child is killed in the abortion.

Gatter suggests $100 per specimen is not enough and concludes, “Let me just figure out what others are getting, and if this is in the ballpark, then it’s fine, if it’s still low, then we can bump it up. I want a Lamborghini.”

Now, local pro-life advocates from a group called Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust are planning to regale Gater with Christmas carols outside her home.

“Mary Gatter was the abortionist in the CMP videos who callously joked about wanting a Lamborghini from the profits of aborted baby parts sold by Planned Parenthood. This will be a peaceful event in front of her home and neighborhood,” the group said in an email LifeNews received.

Singing Christmas carols for abortion clinics is not a new phenomenon, as pro-life groups in Chicago have sung Christmas carols at local abortion centers for years.

The infamous video that helped bring the Planned Parenthood scandal to light showed Gatter haggling over payments for intact fetal specimens and offering to use a “less crunchy technique” to get more intact body parts.

Actors posing as buyers ask Gatter, “What would you expect for intact [fetal] tissue?

“Well, why don’t you start by telling me what you’re used to paying!” Gatter replies.

Gatter continues: “You know, in negotiations whoever throws out the figure first is at a loss, right?” She explains, “I just don’t want to lowball,” before suggesting, “$75 a specimen.”

Gatter twice recites Planned Parenthood messaging on fetal tissue collection, “We’re not in it for the money,” and “The money is not the important thing,” but she immediately qualifies each statement with, respectively, “But what were you thinking of?” and, “But it has to be big enough that it’s worthwhile for me.”

Gatter also admits that in prior fetal tissue deals, Planned Parenthood received payment in spite of incurring no cost: “It was logistically very easy for us, we didn’t have to do anything. So there was compensation for this.” She accepts a higher price of $100 per specimen understanding that it will be only for high-quality fetal organs: “Now, this is for tissue that you actually take, not just tissue that someone volunteers and you can’t find anything, right?”


The internet must never be a safe space

When Toronto artist Gregory Alan Elliott entered a heated argument with feminists back in 2012, he could not have anticipated the illiberal fate that would befall him. For having the temerity to disagree with them on Twitter – over a plan to ruin the life of an anti-feminist games developer – a criminal harassment report was filed against Elliott by one of the feminists, Stephanie Guthrie. Two further reports were later filed by Heather Riley and Paisley Rae.

Most sensible people would have expected the case against Elliott to be thrown out before it reached court. Instead, Gregory has been subjected to a three-year investigation and trial, racking up legal fees in excess of $100,000. He was also banned from the internet for two years and his artwork has been defaced by feminist groups around Toronto. His livelihood and reputation have suffered immeasurable damage.

This case was extreme, but far from unexpected. In recent years there has been growing hysteria about the alleged harassment women experience online. In September, the United Nations published a bizarre report called Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls. Riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods, the report was published with the intention of making the internet a ‘safer space’ for women and girls. But, as the Elliott case demonstrates, what a ‘safer space’ really means is placing the easily offended above criticism and debate.

The internet must never be a safe space for anyone. The internet is, at its best, an intellectual space designed for sharing information and ideas. It is not your home – it is a public platform. Words do not wound. When we allow self-professed victims the power to decide what is considered safe and unsafe, we abandon free speech entirely.

A judge is set to rule on Elliott’s case in January 2016. The outcome will set a precedent for online free speech across the Western world. Those of us who believe in free expression for all need to get behind him, not only for his sake, but in defence of the internet as we know it.


Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane labels Hizb ut-Tahrir views 'absurd'

Hizb ut-Tahrir held a large conference at Bankstown in south-western Sydney on Sunday and told the more than 500 men, women and children who attended that Muslims were being demonised over their faith.  "Deradicalisation has come to mean making Muslims less Islamic, more Western, more secular, more submissive to secular, Liberal political ... norms," Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar said.

"It is nothing more than an agenda of forced assimilation justified by exaggerated fears of a security threat."

But Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said this was "absurd".

"Hizb ut-Tahrir's views on citizenship are a rejection of our liberal democratic values and a denial of Australian multiculturalism," he said. "They further confirm this group's extremist agenda."

Dr Soutphommasane said that when migrants became citizens, they chose to become a part of the Australian community.

"There's nothing oppressive about committing to our democracy, abiding by the law, and respecting the rights of others.

"Our multiculturalism means that everyone has a right to express their cultural heritage but also accepts the responsibilities of being an Australian citizen."

The federal government has reportedly abandoned plans under consideration by former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Federal Social Services Minister Christian Porter told Sky News earlier this week the Hizb ut-Tahrir comments were "unhelpful, divisive and fundamentally ill informed".

"The recruitment process of radical organisations is to put in the mind of the people they seek to recruit that there is widespread prejudice amongst Australians against Muslim Australians.

"That level of prejudice simply does not exist in Australia."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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