Sunday, July 12, 2009

Moderate THIS, Karen De Coster: Busy-bodies and Busy Bodies


One of my favorite lines in literature was from To Kill A Mockingbird, in which Harper Lee describes Mr. Ewell, the man who lived at the junkyard, who in the story, unjustly accuses a black man of raping his daughter (which line I approximate here): “The only thing which allows Mr. Ewell to hold his head high is that if you scrub his skin really hard, deep down underneath all that dirt, that skin is white.” I grew up understanding that if the ONLY thing you can feel proud of is that your skin is white (and, by extension, if you feel proud of that fact at all), then you don’t have anything to be proud of. The color of ones skin is a given fact, not a personal achievement.

Nowadays, I apply that same principle to people who vilify fat people. Fat people are the only people in our society left whom haters still feel they can publicly hate with impunity. These same haters probably typically still also hate various other races, religions, or cultures, but, being conformists and therefore cowards, they are too afraid to be public about it. But about the obese, they just won’t shut up, but instead, expect praise and amens for the vocalizations of their prejudice.

With obesity, they can have a field day, because their deep-down sense of inferiority requires that they accept and further the myth that fat people are fat because they are lazy gluttons (which the hater feels that he or she, at least, is not), and therefore are actually deserving of such vilification; their condition is something that they brought upon themselves.

But, just like we all know that homophobes are closet homosexuals (sexually secure men and women aren’t the least bit concerned about what other adults consent to do in bed, they’re too busy enjoying their OWN relationships and are glad that others can have them, too, regardless of whatever it is that floats their boat; true love is a force that multiplies, doesn’t divide), so too, those who so vocally hate and fear the obese are harboring some intractable sense of resonance with the condition. In other words, deep down inside, what you really fear is what you fear you really are.

Now, I don’t mean that those who want to ostracize, outlaw, tax, punish, hide, exclude, ban, imprison, or exterminate the obese (or simply get off on writing negative articles about them) fear that they, themselves, are “really” fat (although in some way they may be way too obsessed over their own appearance and secretly fear that some “but the Emperor is wearing no clothes”-saying kind of a person will spill the beans on them by pointing out how really very ugly they are). Usually, they have no specific relationship to fat at all, but are, instead, those who can and do eat anything imaginable without the slightest fear that they will gain an ounce. They are people who have no weight problem, but somehow imagine that this is because they have worked at it and have therefore achieved this condition (whereas everybody else is some kind of out of control glutton), yet in actuality it is no more praiseworthy than the color of their skin.

What it is that they really fear, is the concept that some shameful, hidden desire or hunger within themselves is one that will someday rise, grow and out-picture itself on their body for all the world to see. What they fear is that some evil vice, thought, or obsession will become public knowledge, and in their mind, the only reason this hasn’t come out yet is that they have held onto it with a vice-grip of self-control. They fear that if they would ever let go for a second, they would then send out into the world an unstoppable torrent of vileness, much in the same way that they view adipose tissue overwhelming the carrying capacity of the human body. This is, perhaps, akin to the grieving male who is terrified of crying, because if he ever dared to let go and express or release his grief, his tears would be enough to drown the world. The female version of that is a fear to give in to anger; for to do so might be the explosive release of a whole pandora’s box of destructive ills onto the world. To people like this, the obese are an abomination, because in their mythological view, they are examples of people who have let go, and in the lives of the obese haters, such letting go would mean the annihilation of their illusory lives. So, to them, the obese somehow MUST BE STOPPED.

But this is not what obesity in the real world (the world beyond the fantasies of the lean) is about at all. Obesity is but one of countless examples of a single affect caused by a myriad of reasons, many of which are still unknown. To blame all obesity on a single combination of two causes, eating too much and exercising too little, is not only incorrect and unobservant, it is actually insanely wrong, and every overweight person KNOWS this, whereas it seems that NO non-overweight person imagines anything else. And how unseemly of a situation is this: countless non-overweight people who know NOTHING about this condition, arrogantly lording it over and advising overweight people with principles that the overweight people absolutely know are false (or at least misleading, or only a tiny part of the story). Why should people open their mouths at all on a subject they know nothing about, or when whatever it is that they know is wrong? This would be like me lecturing physics to Richard Feynman, arguing philosophy with Lao Tsu, or telling Michael Jordon how to play basketball.

Well, what else could be the causes of or contributing factors to obesity? Unhealthy food, toxic food, food laden with chemicals the body has no idea how to process (substances that didn’t exist millions of years ago), emotional stresses bathing the cells with cortisol or other hormones causing imbalances that cascade into various maladies such as insensitivities or burn-out of insulin, leptin, adrenaline, or other hormones that now no longer can carry regulatory messages that the body can act upon, reproductive cycles that stimulate the storage of fat, bad or diminished sleeping habits that confuse the natural processes of the body, feelings of insecurity or lack of safety (actual or imagined) for which the body knows only one solution that was appropriate in ancient times, to put on pounds for warmth or cushioning or greater size, or for protection; eating too few calories (dieting) that leads to a signal of famine and therefore a food storage response, too much exercise that is over-stressful to the body and therefore worsens the internal chemical imbalances, false dietary information promulgated by the government or food corporations, or by people who have always been lean and therefore know nothing whatsoever about the process of weight loss, unproven genetically modified foods, anti-biotic, growth-hormoned, estrogenated feed lot protein sources, rancid oils, mercury in fish, vitamin shortages, damaged immune responses, damaged liver, gall bladder, badly functioning intestines, toxins in the colon, pharmaceutical side effects effecting massive weight gain…is this enough to give you the idea? And combine these causes with all the mis- and dis-information on how to lose the excess weight once it is gained. I have at this point seen every single kind of food blamed for the problem in some diet plan or another, going beyond the usual culprits of sugar, white flour, and certain fats, to even include ordinarily-considered benign or essential substances such as certain vegetables, fruits, and even water (yes, I even found a diet plan that was against drinking water). And for all I know, there may actually be some truth to these various complaints. So what is an overweight person to do? It’s probably easier for them just to give up trying to fix this condition and try to live with their body condition, particularly considering the fact that the impulse to eat is fundamental (you could almost just as easily make yourself breathe less), especially when a person is starving, and if an overweight person is unwittingly consuming non-nutritious food (or food substances that the body doesn’t need at that particular time), then no matter how much they eat, they are still starving and therefore the impulse to eat cannot be stopped.

I have become disturbed by seeing this ignorant viciousness toward the suffering obese happening more and more now that people are being emboldened by the possibilities of socialized medicine. Now no longer is it “they might make me sick if I see them on the beach” (this is a subset of the very weak characteristic of “Oh, I am so offended”), or “they’re going to be sitting next to me on the airplane”; now it’s “they’re going to unfairly raise our social costs of medicine”, or maybe even (from the greens who crave population diminishment, which can only be described as a yearning for genocide) “they’re going to eat up all the food in an economy of shortages…and I’m going to need that food to power my car!”

Well, to be disgusted by the sight of fat people on the beach, one may as well claim revulsion at babies born with cleft palates, or to be repulsed by paraplegia, or horrified by acne. Life, unfortunately, is loaded with misfortune and bodies are scathed. What, it’s all a matter of aesthetics then? You find fat bodies “distasteful”? Sorry, but few Americans can justifiably lay claim to that; we’re not Parisians, after all, or even Masai warriors, for that matter.

You fear an unpleasant seat neighbor on an airplane? That could be somebody undeodorized, or a boor who won’t stop talking, or a couple of unruly, undisciplined kids, or scores of other circumstances. Life, venturing outside your own living room, is filled with any kind of unpleasantness. If you’re that worried about who’s going to be sitting next to you on a plane, maybe you ought to fly first class…or secure a private compartment on Amtrak. Sure, YOU have to pay more, but YOU are the one with the problem with life not being nice enough for you.

Regarding the cost of medical care, maybe you ought to not lend your support to socialized medicine; there are far more reasons to not want that than the presence of fat people in society. Maybe you are also suggesting the elimination of a much worse drain on medicine, the elderly? Which would include YOU when you get older, of course.

While all this has been around for quite some time, it now seems to be amped up more than ever, with very shrill people screaming very loudly and very frequently. Suddenly, other people’s obesity is being considered a national problem (instead of an individual problem, which is what it is). All this came to a head for me where I finally had to write about it, because there is a blogger that I used to enjoy and admire, Karen De Coster, who writes for various libertarian causes. I liked her, because she seemed to understand economics and the principles of personal freedom. For quite some time, it was refreshing to hear her sensible and personally empowering point of view; I would have said that Thomas Jefferson and Ralph Waldo Emerson (what we think we know of them, anyway), to name only two out of many, would have loved her and welcomed her voice in our present times when so many people have given up self-control in favor of the nanny state. I thought we needed writers like Karen De Coster to counteract the soporifics emanating from mainstream globalist media.

But to be successful and genuine in this arena is to walk a razor’s edge, and bloggers have to be careful, because they offer much greater opportunity for dissection than do columnists writing by the column inch, or broadcasters speaking in sound bites. Sooner or later, the more a blogger writes, the more his or her warts will come clear to the public eye, and this is all the more obvious in the case of those bloggers who attempt to put forth the illusion that they are perfect, all-knowing beings pontificating for the benefit of an imperfect, ignorant public, which is Karen De Coster to a “T”. As a blogger, I’m safe from that, myself, because I have always been up front about my confusions, questions, and attempts at moving forward from my place of error and brokenness. If my thoughts seem strange (or just plain “wrong”) to people, as they almost always do, it is because the ordinarily accepted realities (group-think illusions) do not need to be spread by me—I am speaking from an entirely different, alien, and possibly brand-new (or seldom spoken) position, but one which I think takes us closer to the truth. (And when my direction ends up being wrong, I am quite clear about being willing to alter my view and my direction.)

Libertarians have successfully been branded selfish and uncompassionate by liberals, as also have conservatives and Republicans (President Bush thought that he could stand out and garner liberal votes by claiming to be a “compassionate conservative,” thereby underscoring that conservatives were normally NOT compassionate). This is because the libertarian end of the spectrum supports the inalienable right of private property and absolute personal freedom of behavior up to the threshold that nothing is done that steals from or interferes with or hurts the rights of others. A tax that raises money for a welfare program, for example, is for government power to steal private property from one group of people for the benefit of another group of people. Libertarians view this as wrong, but liberals ask, “What, you don’t want to help your fellow citizen? Are you not your brother’s keeper?” Libertarians are not against helping their fellow citizens when they are the ones voluntarily deciding to do it; it’s the being forced to by another group that is the problem. But for liberals, “helping their fellow man” is an easy sell, especially to those who will be the recipients of this aid (under the determination and control of the liberal elites). This is the “progressive” way, which has been accepted by the majority voter as the “caring” and “evolved” way to run a society, despite the fact that it is ultimately destructive both to the producers from whom all this largess is taken, and to the recipients (some would say “parasites”) who, while gaining some level of subsistence, nevertheless lose their initiative and self-reliance, often for generations.

Unfortunately, the blogger Karen De Coster has demonstrated that she actually IS as uncompassionate as any liberal would accuse her of being, and in actuality she doesn’t agree with libertarian principles at all. In fact, in typical LIBERAL fashion, she only wants freedom for herself and for others who completely agree with her, but she would deny that freedom to others whom she thinks are somehow distasteful, but who may be anything but, and she would deny that freedom to those who support those others whose freedom she denies. (This is pointed out by the fact that she moderates the comments that are left on her site, and I know from personal experience that she will delete comments that conflict with her position. I consider that cowardly, especially for one who thinks she is such a "female stud", and for one who espouses freedom, hypocritical. How can you say you espouse freedom when you manipulate a one-sided discussion, and particularly when the point of view you eliminate is the one that actually presents the truth? This indicates that you have an agenda and therefore your blog does nothing but add to the disinformation stream, which makes it not worth reading...not worth it for me, anyway.)

She recently wrote a negative blog decrying fat people riding motorized wheelchair scooters at Walmart. To hear her description of it, Walmart is inundated by hordes of fat people traveling the aisles, people “too lazy to walk” and utterly without shame. This is something that for some reason bothers her very much…I guess because she sees it as yet another sign of our society’s diminishment into a state of chosen helplessness in which these “lazy obese” will require, demand, and expect help from others, which presumably includes Karen De Coster’s personal treasury.

But there is much amiss here in this complaint.

First of all, just because an obese person CAN walk does not mean that they are lazy when they do not. Our whole society is one that, when offered the opportunity to do so, will most often choose a machine to assist us with our labor. After all, we generally drive our cars to the store, park as close as we can, and go up and down stairs via escalator or elevator. We will also use a washing machine for our clothes instead of taking them down to a river so that we can beat them on a rock. If we are to write a letter, we more often than not will chose to do that writing on a computer rather than getting out clay tablets for cuneiform. If we mow a lawn, we will use a power mower instead of a scythe, and if we clean a carpet, we will use a vacuum cleaner instead of ripping the carpet up and hanging it outside so that we can beat it with a carpet beater. If we are cold, we will adjust the thermostat on our forced-air heater instead of going outside with an ax to chop down a tree, and a maul to split the wood so that it will fit into our wood-burning stove.

Is this laziness, or is this convenience and time-saving? Presumably, in Karen De Coster’s world view, if it is an obese person doing these things, such as riding a scooter around Walmart, then it is laziness, for she believes that they “should” do much more walking because she feels that it is proper for them to exercise in order to lose weight, a goal that she demands.

Ms. De Coster attempts to sweeten her argument by stating that her amputee brother who really NEEDS a scooter often can’t get one, because all the lazy obese have commandeered them, instead. Well, who’s not being self-reliant, here? Presumably her amputee brother needs a scooter ALL the time (his amputations do not come and go), so why doesn’t he have one of his own for use everywhere he goes, but is, instead, relying on Walmart to provide him one? How does he get through other stores, or is Walmart the only place he shops?

Think for a minute, if you will, of a Walmart shopper who is a hundred pounds overweight. No, let’s make it ninety pounds overweight…ninety pounds is the weight of a bag of cement. Okay, now you, the healthy, in-control, beautiful and perfect skinny person, are going to go shopping at Walmart. But what you must do the whole time you are over there is carry around with you a bag of cement. You like exercise right? Well, let this be your exercise. This is a bag of cement that you NEVER can put down, by the way, so you have been carrying it for months and months and months before you even started this particular Walmart shopping excursion. This bag of cement, you will sleep with, you will make love with, you will sit with when you watch TV, you will carry it with you into the shower, and you will have it with you at all times while you are at work (do you have a job that requires you to be on your feet?). Hum, are you getting just a little bit tired? Don’t you just want to put that burden DOWN? Well too bad, bucko, you’re just TOO LAZY, then. Don’t even THINK of lightening your load for even a moment by riding that scooter, you may frighten the easily offended Karen De Costers of the world and what you need is to exercise to lose weight! (But I wonder, why hasn’t that exercise lost the weight by now? An exercise that you are doing ALL the time, and yet not one pound comes off? Is there something wrong with the formula?)

I have a friend, who happens to be a phenomenally talented writer—published in real books and journals, not on-line blogs (need I say that she puts De Coster’s journalist hacking to shame?), who, when I met her, was in the process of getting her PhD at U.C. Berkeley. Is getting a PhD at Berkeley something for the lazy? Well, she got her PhD, but the most difficult thing for her was walking across that huge campus every day. Why? Well, she was overweight, overweight enough for someone like Karen De Coster to sneer at her as she passed. Overweight enough for her to have several broken bones inside both feet, bones that her podiatrist told her would never heal so long as she continued to put a load on them. The agonizingly painful broken bones in her feet would never heal unless she dropped out of school and stopped walking to class for several months. But the idea of that was impossible, because my friend was not only committed to her PhD program, which she hoped when it was completed would lead her out of the financial trap she was in, but she also was raising three children by herself after she and her children escaped from her violent and physically abusive husband. So she just lived with the painful broken feet and walked across campus, eventually earning her PhD and getting a job as a professor at another college where she was then able to work on getting her feet healed. If U.C. Berkeley happened to have a fleet of scooters for students to use for getting around campus, I can assure you she would have used them, and with great gratitude in her heart for the university’s compassion.

One might ask how this person happened to “allow herself to let herself go so much that she ended up obese and with broken feet”. Well, the lack of money was the largest factor (if we fail to take into account the stresses suffered by a battered wife trying to save the life of herself and her three children). Cheap food is incredibly fattening food. Is it smart to eat that way when you are poor, or trying to save money, or living on student loans? Well, obesity is an insidious condition, it creeps upon one slowly, whereas poverty is large and glaring and immediate and obvious. So what do you think a person in that situation will most likely do? (And notice that most people this obese are poor; does this show that they are lazy and therefore their laziness makes them BOTH poor AND obese, or is it just that their poverty leads to less healthy food choices?)

I have another friend, a hugely successful sales rep whose territory covers Washington State and British Columbia. This friend is always earning “most sales” or “most new customers” or “increased sales goals most often met” awards at her company. She makes quite a lot of money and I would venture to say that this person is not lazy, either. Yes, she is overweight. Why? Because she eats out in restaurants a lot…almost every meal, actually. You tend to do that when you are on the road all the time. Do you think that when she is selling her wares at some island off the coast of British Columbia, that when it is lunch time, she will drive back home to her apartment in Seattle and fix herself a healthy lunch? No, she will go out to eat, then continue to meet with her various customers, then go out for dinner, then check into a motel for the night. There’s a lot of walking involved in this job, too, from some hard-to-find parking space on a city street to a small store several blocks away (or up a steep hill), or to several stores inside of a huge shopping mall. I wonder why all this walking didn’t help her to lose weight? Instead, it led to her needing to have her knees replaced due to wear and tear on her joints. Do you also understand that each time she had a knee replaced (these operations are done separately, one knee at a time), this meant that she had to STOP working for several months and this then meant that her income STOPPED, too? So it took her quite a while to finally go ahead and schedule these surgeries, which in quite a practical way meant that she was in danger of losing her job, or her well-won territory. Meanwhile, until she could complete both surgeries, she continued to walk and travel and sell with agonizing knee pain…yet if Karen De Coster or one of her non-feeling compatriots happened to see my friend obtaining a moments’ relief by riding a scooter, they would frown and look down on her and shake their heads in dismay at the gall of one so able demonstrating such laziness…for something that really was none of their damned business. Just be thankful YOU don’t need, or want, to ride an a scooter.

I could go on and on and on with these stories, which could be repeated countless times in a universe of other examples, but the principle should be clear without further examples, anyway. Unless you have walked a mile in an obese body, then you ought to shut the hell up. You don’t KNOW the daily misery of being in an obese body, and I’m not going to describe it to you. Maybe if you sit and think about it for a while, you’ll begin to figure out a part of it, but even then, you wouldn’t be able to imagine the whole of it if you had never actually experienced it.

You may THINK you know the business of a fat person, what they did wrong to get that way and what they should do right to get out of it, but if you do think that, then you are an idiot. Only a liberal, nanny-state-loving Nazi thinks they know how another person should live. A person who believes in freedom doesn’t sneer at those who are exercising that right (which in the case of the obese, is only exercising the right to exist and get around the best way they can during this present time; and then, maybe when the right combination of events and circumstances occur, they will choose to commit to a program of their own choosing and an effort that suits them that will succeed in getting their excess weight off; or maybe not). And while you may view their condition as unhealthy and life-threatening (the obese understand this far better than you do) and you therefore wish to justify your suggested controls on their lives as being for their own good (such AS, for example in other arenas, MANDATORY health insurance or retirement fund savings), you must understand how society could likewise turn against you and apply some “for your own good” controls for some other “unhealthy” habits, conditions, and activities that involve you.

In Ms. De Coster’s case, among her various interests, she is into machine guns and riding Harleys. I think that’s her perfect right and I would work to see to it that she is allowed to pursue these, and other, activities unmolested. But don’t you think that to some nosy busy-bodies, this might look like an accident waiting to happen? To people like those, machine guns and Harleys would be Ms. De Coster’s “obesity”.


Anonymous said...

Loved your comments on DeCoster. I feel exactly the same way; loved her at first but over time she has become too self absorbed. Too bad, she's a pretty sharp cookie, but I hardly go to her site anymore. It's basically the same old...same old. I don't care about her fitness training in downtown Detroit, I want to read about the collapse of Western civilization from interesting perspectives. She seems to be on a hiatus. I don't care about your "hot legs", Karen, I care about your mind. Jogging and fitness blogs are hardly about "taking back humanity one word at a time". Such a waste of talent.

Pitbullshark said...

Thank you, Anonymous, and very well said about her self-absorption and the waste of her talent. In a recent entry, she recommended that parents get their kids into krav maga instead of all the other "wasteful" things kids get into, such as "piano," "soccer," "gymnastics" etc., and she has a special distaste for dancing, but when somebody counteracted her with the idea that kids need to have fun and dancing could be good exercise AND fun, she jumped down the man's throat. So she's got very specific and limited ideas of what people should or should not do, according to her. Plyometrics on public benches in downtown Detroit, good, gymnastics, bad!

Anonymous said...

I posted a link to your article on her website in the comment section of the "KDC linked on Marks Daily Apple" blog. Let's see if she lets it post.

Pitbullshark said...

Anonymous, as you probably have seen, the piece "KDC linked on Marks Daily Apple" still has no comments at all, which means that your comment linking to my article was moderated away, too. Not much of a surprise, there (for either of us!).

NewEdit617 said...

Thank you for writing this; it is very well done and I appreciate your commentary. I am a free-market anarchist and I have, over the past year, become quite disappointed in what I see as a very aggressive and antagonistic attitude from much of the Lew Rockwell crew. After reading one of Ms. DeCoster's inflammatory blog entries today, I wrote the following response and thought you might be interested to read it, as it touches on some of the same things you discuss here.

Anonymous said...

NewEdit, check out my banter with her here in the comments section:
(I'm Keith)
She never really responds to my claim that a bad credit score can stunt your employment opportunities. But what's really something is her opinion of her article and how it's so much more well researched than Roger Lowensteins. What an ego.