Coffee Catholic is off the Fat Liberation Feed

Hi all,

I just wanted to announce that Coffee Catholic is off the Fat Liberation feed. Her blog isn’t much about fat these days, and some of the imagery has been pretty offensive, so I don’t think that her blog is a fit for the Fat Liberation feed anymore.

There was also some questions about her politics and rhetoric in the previous post, and there were some things I considered to be out of line (though, as I’d argued, no more than the Fatosphere feed), and upon reflection I decided that I don’t want the FL feed to exist as merely a counterbalance to the Fatosphere feed. It is its own, separate entity, and is not going to be playing by the same rules (which I think are a tendency to squeeze out one political party while promoting and encouraging extremists on the other side).

Apologies to those that were offended by CC, and apologies to CC since this was so abrupt.

On the presence of CoffeeCatholic on the Fat Liberation feed

This started as a comment on this post, at Dancing With My Mirror.

One newcomer to the Fat Liberation blogroll is a right-wing blogger who goes by the nick “Coffee Catholic”. I know that there is space here for varying opinions but when I read a comment from that blogger that goes “That’s because you creepy man-looking Feminist/Liberals cannot even begin to imagine what it means to love beyond your selfish self-serving selves.”, it pisses me off and makes me feel attacked. She turned off comments for some reason (ummm, wonder why?) and to be frank, aside from one or two entries, I don’t even see what her blog has to do with being fat.

I’m kinda sitting on the fence here (I could imagine that if that person subscribed to the blogrolls, she’d skip over nudiemuse’s entries, to name one blogger whose overall opinions and points of view are at the spectrum opposite of Coffee Catholic’s). I admit it: I am a liberal, left-wing, pro-choice agnostic feminist fat straight woman (phew! that’s a lot of adjectives!!!) who believes in the right for gay marriage and gay rights in general. I rarely (if ever) discuss politics and religion in my writings because I feel these topics to be private. So when I read homophobic, right-wing, anti-feminist entries (that have nothing to do with fat acceptance) in the blogroll, it makes me uncomfortable.

I don’t know where the line can be crossed for someone’s blog to become unsuitable for the Fat Liberation roll, but for now, my only option is to quickly scroll down whenever I see the name Coffee Catholic.

I run the Fat Liberation feed, and while I don’t agree with what CoffeeCatholic says a good deal of the time, I think what she has to say is no less hateful and rhetoric-filled than some of the blogs on the Fatosphere. I’m thinking of Shapely Prose, f-words, TheRotund to name a few (I didn’t include nudemuse because I think her posts, while politically disagreeable to me, aren’t hateful). These blogs also don’t always post about fat (with f-words posting as much about fat as CoffeeCatholic).

While I agree that it might not be the most appropriate blog on the FL feed at times, you have to realize that there are people out there who are just as offended by some of the posts of blogs made on the Fatosphere, and who scroll past those posts as quickly as you scroll past CoffeeCatholic’s. While CC is extreme, it’s bothersome to those who are mostly used to having their own extreme viewpoints heard and encouraged. What not a lot of people realize is that some of the viewpoints of the blogs on the Fatosphere feed *are* extreme, and *not* mainstream.

I think it is important to give blogs like CC a voice, mainly to balance the Fatosphere. I’ve never read anything on CC’s blog that I believe is homophobic, for instance — she doesn’t hate gays, she just doesn’t like the idea of her life having to conform to what she sees as groups that are less about civil rights than they are about power-lobbying. And while she believes that homosexuality is a sin, she doesn’t care about whether people are gay or not.

Now, I personally don’t agree with this. I don’t think homosexuality is a sin, I think it’s biological and natural. But I’m not going to paint hate where there is just disagreement.

I can understand how if you see life differently than CC, you might think that’s discriminatory or hateful. You have to understand that there are many people who think that demanding special privileges for people based on their sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, religion or non-religion, etc is hateful and discriminatory. This is something in my experience not a lot of social left-wingers really grasp. Of course, it’s hard for the right-wingers to understand why singling out people based on their skin-color *isn’t* racist, for instance. So there’s a dissonance between groups that is similar in its stubborn nature, but ultimately doesn’t make any extreme blog any more sanctimonious and deserving of feed status than any other extreme blog.

For instance, this post is worthy of being on a fat-related feed, even though it doesn’t mention that Obama promotes the 400,000 deaths due to obesity/year CDC number shown to be hugely false? That Obama supports a Health Corps which would be like the corps of fat police (oh ‘scuse me, care providers) now roaming the streets of Scotland, fingering fatties for unsolicited “health” advice? That he supports “healthy” school lunch initiatives like the one in Florida which was found to be underfeeding children and, when discovering they weren’t getting any thinner, proposed to further underfeed them??

You have to understand that there are some people out there who consider this kind of unbalanced post as much as an “attack” as some people find the posts on CoffeeCatholic’s blog. So who deserves a voice? Why do the left-wing extremists deserve a voice on the feeds, while the (only) right-wing extremist doesn’t?

I’m really sorry that some people don’t feel comfortable reading the FL feed. Sometimes I skip over CC’s posts, too. But you have to understand, there are those of us who don’t always feel comfortable reading the Fatosphere feed, either. Either you are fair and supress all the extreme voices, or you try to create balance when you see the scale being tipped largely in the other direction. That’s what I’m trying to do.

The Definition of Obesity

cross posted from a comment I made on Paul’s awesome messageboard at BigFatBlog.com:

The Definition of Obesity

Obesity is a fictional category with changing parameters, exploited because of its fearfulness to the general public, and broadened to include as many people as possible in order to control/sell as many drug/food/supplements/surgeries to as many people as possible. Obesity has the socioeconomic advantage of creating an underclass with a simple stick of a label.

Face it. If everyone is obese, then everyone will have to pay into the pharmas/lobbyists who are funding these little investigatory “studies.” And if obesity is declared a disease, the government can get in on a little action, too, as groups lobby it to have “disease guidelines” implemented that would favor the lobbies’ interests.

That is “obesity.”

Why Annie is staying on the FL feed

Hello all,

I’m sure many of you are aware of the recent happenings between nudemuse and Annie. If you aren’t, then this post probably won’t be of interest to you, anyway.

Running a feed is a strange experience. It’s not like simply writing your own blog; even though you own it and can obliterate it at any moment, there’s this point in time when the feed becomes less your own than it does others’. That being said, I feel responsible for every blog on the feed, every comment on every blog on the feed, and even comments on other blogs made by bloggers who are on the feed.

Which is why I was rather shocked and deeply disappointed at seeing Annie’s comment on nudemuse’s blog.

Annie has been a long-time ally. Long before the feed even existed, we commented on each other’s blogs. It can be a bit lonely to be in the philosophical minority: you get the palpable sense that the majority believes there’s something wrong with or about you, or that you are fundamentally intellectually inferior, or that you just don’t “get it.”

So, I was shocked and deeply disappointed in Annie when I saw her comment on nudemuse’s blog. I had never dreamed she would say something like that — unlike some people who scramble to paint all conservatives or libertarians as “racists,” I felt very sure that Annie was not one, couldn’t possibly be one. No libertarian can be a racist — it would contradict everything we believe in. In libertarianism, each individual is unique and celebrated for who they are. Their differences are seen as assets — to teach the rest of us what we couldn’t know otherwise, or what we have not experienced. Their sames are seen as conduits towards understanding — by our similarities, we can sit at a table together (or comment on a blog), and hold widely varying opinions but still come together — like in Fat Acceptance.

Fat Acceptance is a very libertarian forum. We all can be fat — no matter the color of our skin, the thickness of our wallets, the coordinates from which we hail, our birthyears, our sexual organs or preferences — we can all be fat. And, in a world which, for the most part, is looking increasingly unkindly at fat people, we can and should sit at a table together and work out a plan of action.

Honestly, Annie’s comment was disappointing in two big ways for me — the first way was a breach of trust, and the second way was a smear on my philosophy, by the fact that we purportedly share the same philosophy. There are many people out there who don’t know what a proper libertarian is, and now will they link all libertarians with racial intolerance? It boggled me a little.

I had decided, by the end of the day, to write a note to Annie stating that she could stay on the feed only if she explained herself and made a public apology. I couldn’t believe that Annie would consciously be so hateful; I wanted to know why it had happened.

I’m an Aspie. I really and truly do have problems because of it (ask poor Lindsay). One of the things it is hard for Aspies to do is to feel empathy, or compassion. Truthfully, I don’t know if I’ve intuitively ever felt either. I do know that I have learned how compassion should be employed, and that it is a useful and good thing to do, most of the time.

I know that I couldn’t possibly ever imagine having gone through what Annie went through. I have no idea what it would do to me. I don’t know how I would cope with it, especially if there were other problems in my life or family after such a traumatic experience.

I’m not excusing abusive language or behavior. Because that cannot be excused, regardless the state of the person engaging in that language or behavior. I was, for a long time, the brunt of abusive language and behavior, and I forgave and forgave and forgave at every step, and you know what happened? The abuse kept ratcheting up. I was the sucker. I wasn’t the compassionate, saintlike individual my starved and battered body and brain deluded myself to be. I was a sucker. A first rate prime cut sucker.

It happens a lot, to us Aspie women. We cannot read people, so we get easily manipulated. We cannot intuit the intentions of others, so we don’t know when we are getting taken advantage of.

My instincts are to just drop Annie from the feed, and high-tail it in the other direction. But then I remember that I’m an adult, with a brain, and not the battered girl I used to be. I can take care of my own goddamn self.

I was happy to see that Annie had sent an apology to nudemuse. I didn’t like the fact that she was paranoid about being harrassed in the end of her comment, but you know what, she’s right — this kind of thing HAS happened before, and the comments on nudemuse’s site were fairly angry. There was much in the comments directed personally at Annie, and some misdirected at conservatism (please, don’t use her comment as a representation of conservatism or libertarianism. That’s just stereotyping, and is extremely intellectually lazy).

Still, I believe Annie is sincere. I believe that she says some things she really regrets, and does not remember, when she’s had too much to drink. And I think that she should try to find another outlet for her pain. I do not believe this incident will be repeated. If it ever is, then I’m sorry, Annie, you are off the feed for good.

Thank you to the people who did not use Annie’s comment as an opportunity to bash her personally, or to bash those things in which  she has stated before she believes. To those of you who did sink so low and made the cheap shots, what makes you think you’re any better a person than you believe Annie is? I suggest you look in the mirror.

Thanks to nudemuse (shannon) for taking all this so well. We don’t agree on much, but I respect your different experience, and apologize for Annie’s comment. Differences of opinion are one thing — they are hard to deal with, at times — but I believe they are necessary to creating a strong, intelluctually diverse community. Personal attacks are another. They aren’t made by members of a community, they are made by people who engage in the destruction of a community. I don’t believe Annie wants to destroy the Fatosphere or FA, unlike the ever-present “Fat Acceptance” troll, who commented on nudemuse’s post. We need to guard against that will to destroy within our community, and within our selves. We need to rise above that kind of violence, and reach a place where we can retain our differences and yet still support each other.

If you wish to take your blog off of the Fat Liberation feed because of my decision, please let me know below. I respectfully request that everyone keep their comments civil and polite.

EDIT: Annie has since deleted her blog. Hence I’m closing comments on this post.

Why Universal Health-care Should Be Opposed by Fat Activists

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, ever since a my short post on why universal healthcare is not automatically fat-friendly.

I’ve often been confused by what I see as hypocrisy in those who are proponents of both sovereignty of body (i.e. – our bodies, our choices) and universal healthcare, which places the care of, and ultimately the control of, our bodies  into the hands of the state.

Many of the proponents argue that they’d rather have the state, an objective third-party with no profit motive, have control over their healthcare than the profit-motivated private sector.

However, I must take issue with that sentiment. The state is not an objective third party with no profit motive.

First off, the state’s decisions are not objective – they are made by regulators, who are often appointed by politicians, or hired by a committee headed by politicians. The main goal of all politicians, regardless of what they might say to get elected, is power. This is a good and bad thing, of course. We want the good politicians with our interests at heart to have more power than the bad politicians who oppose our interests.

Politicians are not specialized or disinterested third parties. They are not hired based on merit, with respect to the issues they espouse: they are elected by a body of non-specialists. And, as we know, even specialists can be biased and motivated to skew truth to attain personal or institutional goals, so even electing specialists wouldn’t guarantee us diddly squat.

As such, the individuals appointed to regulate healthcare and hence our bodies will be appointed ultimately by politicians. More likely politicians will “contract out” appointments to whatever healthcare organization lobbies the hardest, or has the most friends amongst the Washington elite.

When it comes down to it, the people who have the power to control your body, and by extension your behavior, will be those who crave the greatest power they can get, and will appeal to the electoral body and the misconceptions and fears of that electoral body for healthcare decisions about your body.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not very keen on the electoral body telling me what I can/cannot eat, how much and in what way I should exercise, what medications I should take, and how I should govern the health and safety of my children.

The electoral majority currently believes that I am fat because I eat too much and exercise too little. They believe that diabetes and even certain cancers can be prevented or cured by weight loss surgery such as gastric bypass or a lap-band implant.

They believe there are “good” and “bad” foods imbued with the magical power of health or illness. They believe that processed foods make you fat, and organic, locally-grown foods would keep you generally thinner.

They believe that shunning, chastising, or mocking fat people because of their weight is for our own good. They believe that hanging around fatter people can make you fat, too.

The electoral majority believes that fat adults are stupid, lazy, and lack the power of will. They believe that naturally thinner people are lucky, and that unnaturally thinner people are heroic. “Have you lost weight?” is considered one of the highest forms of praise.

The electoral majority believes that fat children are being mistreated by their stupid, lazy, ignorant parents, especially if those parents are themselves fat (and many parents of fat parents are fat, though of course not all). The electoral majority believes there is a childhood obesity “epidemic,” and that children will begin to have the heart attacks and strokes traditionally enjoyed by 50-somethings with a family history of heart disease.

The electoral majority believes that if you feed children the “right” foods, these days a low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb diet usually only prescribed to people with heart-disease — it will make the children not only permanently thin, but it will prevent heart-disease, strokes, diabetes, and certain cancers, without reference to variable family histories.

The electoral majority believes that the greatest risk factors for heart disease, strokes, certain cancers, and diabetes is fat, and that fatness is the greatest predictor of future or current ill-health. It very clearly isn’t, and even the biggest crackpot medical doctor will admit, when pressed, that fatness is a lesser risk factor than several other factors, with family history at the top of that list.

The electoral majority fears and loathes fat so much, that they refuse to use their common sense, even in the face of overwhelming counterexamples to their misconceptions, like given in the above paragraph.

The electoral majority doesn’t know what certain BMIs look like, or even what “obese” looks like. Their mental images are usually supplied by nightly news scare-footage of individuals who nearly always have the highest BMIs, who are in fact a small percentage of those who are actually technically “obese.”

I don’t know about you, but I do not want decisions made about my body, my behavior, and the bodies and behavior of my family being made by these people.

The idea that there will be some objective institution — some university or government institution perhaps that magically doesn’t have conflict-of-interest funding and their own political interests at heart — which will make objective, rigorously scientific decisions about care guidelines is a myth. I challenge you to give me an example, from any of the world’s universal healthcare governments, of a guideline-issuing body that is scientifically objective and not controlled/funded/influenced by other interests with their own agendas (whether profit or power).

Some people say that healthcare is or should be a right. Well, you can’t successfully institute a right that trounces other rights. The “right” to healthcare is the right of the government to healthcontrol.

That trounces on my personal liberty, the most important part of which is the right of body privacy. You cannot enter, not even with a warrant. The body is off-limits.

Universal healthcare is healthcontrol. It is not, especially in this current climate, a friend to fat people. It will only serve the interests of the electoral majority, who at this time fear and loathe fat, blame fat people for everything from rising fuel costs, to rising healthcare costs, to global warming.

Do you want these people to have control over your body and your health decisions? Do you want these people to have control over what premiums you pay, and what care you are allowed to receive? Do you want these people to have control over the body-monitoring of children in schools and doctor’s offices? Do you, do you really?

I am specifically not talking about relative costs in this article. There are many more eloquent than I who have made the argument that free-market healthcare is vastly more affordable, efficient, and equitable than universal healthcare. And if you think what America currently enjoys is free-market healthcare, you are sadly mistaken. My personal premium in Massachusetts is four times the amount it is in some other states, though I’m receiving the same care. Healthcare premiums are directly proportional to the amount of regulations on healthcare from state to state. (see WSJ.com — it’s in the archives for this week).

For those who believe that universal healthcare will ensure everyone is safe and healthy while under our current system some people are left out in the cold, let me ask you this: why would the complete regulation of healthcare make it more affordable person-to-person, while the evidence shows that regulation only makes premiums more expensive?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to pare down regulations on healthcare so that people in states like mine who can’t afford a $300/mo individual premium, but who can afford a $100/mo premium, would gain the ability to purchase healthcare? How many people would are currently uninsured, would then choose to be on the rolls?

Additionally, without having to pay abnormally high premiums on every individual insured under universal healthcare, the government would have more money in its coffers to offer an affordable plan to the impoverished citizens of our country. Our taxes would remain low, and fewer and fewer people would remain uninsured. We’d never get 100% of citizens insured, which is as it should be — individuals should have the option to opt out of insurance for whatever reason they choose, even if they can afford it.

But even disregarding the economic argument above — even assuming that somehow universal healthcare is the boon many make it out to be — we again face the problems of the electoral majority and healthcontrol.

Taxes will necessarily be raised in order to pay for universal healthcare. All the people who currently do not have policies will need to be subsidized. People who currently own more expensive policies and use more medical resources than others will need to be subsidized by those who use fewer resources. Institutions will have to be created to regulate healthcare, state hospitals will be built, employees and maintenance and so forth will be hired.

Given also that greater regulation means more paperwork which means hiring more people and building buildings to house those people and so forth, individual premiums will certainly be more expensive, on average, than they are now, under universal healthcare.

In short, there is no way that the current average individual premium could possibly go down under universal healthcare. It will only go up.

How is this efficient? Same quality of care for more money? Who’s paying? The taxpayers. Who will get angry when their taxes go up, and look for someone to blame, some group of people who are “more expensive” members of the healthcare community, those who have, unlike older people (who are always going to be more expensive), brought their ill health “upon themselves”?

This argument is already being rehearsed.

Nearly everywhere you hear — even in America — people claiming that fat people are making the country’s healthcare premiums go way up. People are angry that they are being made to pay for weight loss surgery (I agree with them. I do not want to pay for someone else’s weight loss surgery). They blame heart disease, certain cancers, strokes, and diabetes largely on fat, so when they hear about how expensive it is to treat these conditions, who do you think they’re going to blame?

Taxpayers—the electoral majority—who hold all the misconceptions I listed above (obviously there are some exceptions, like those in the FA community), are going to believe that fat people are costing them money, through their irresponsible, ignorant, lazy behavior. Do you see where this is going? Do we see how it has gone in some other countries, even states in our own union, who want to make fat people pay more for healthcare, or be denied health services with no option to turn anywhere else, just because they are fat?

We are very lucky to currently be able to state, “My fat is none of your business,” when encountering fat hatred, or “My fat has nothing to do with you. I’m not hurting anyone.”

Under universal healthcare, we will no longer have that freedom.

Under universal healthcare, they will believe that our fat is indeed their business, because it is costing them money. They will believe it has everything to do with them, and that it does indeed hurt them and their desired lifestyle. They will believe that they couldn’t afford to send their kids to private school because of fat people. They will believe that the government couldn’t afford to send the proper equipment to the troops because of fat people. And so on, and so forth.

Do you understand? Do you get what I’m trying so desperately to convey?

The only way we can fight our fight and win is to retain our sovereignty over our own body. Once our body becomes common property, the misconceptions about fat will turn fat people into easy scapegoats, and will institutionalize fat hatred. We will no longer be able to say, “Hands off!” We shall be immensely less free, and will become institutionalized second-class citizens. And brother, whatever you say about our practical second-class citizenship currently, it is peanuts compared to what we’d suffer as institutionalized second-class citizens.

Universal healthcare should be opposed by fat activists.

Fat Americans, universal healthcare is not your friend. Regardless of how you believe the current heavily regulated market economy healthcare is broken, at the end of the day, we still have sovereignty over our own bodies. We can opt out of discriminating plans, we can choose to pay more, some plans still do not discriminate against fat, and, above all, nobody else can honestly claim the right to dictate our health or our choices to us.

Human rights cannot contradict each other. Beware of anything people claim to be a right which does.

By adopting universal healthcare so we can redistribute income in the direction of the poor, we will put the currently uninsured 15% on the rolls, but we will lose something much, much more important: The fundamental right to govern our own bodies.