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27.4.08

Try My Great New Weight-Loss Program -- Jail!

Apparently it takes "finely tuned faculties" to look at a fat person and think "wow, that gross fattie should be happy to take the pounds off any way he can" -- in this case, through being in prison with a diet that leaves you fainting and wracked with hunger pangs. Funny, because I thought that kind of simplistic bigotry was actually commonplace in our society.

The issue here is not any particular empirical claim about the relationship among allegedly fatness-causing factors, fatness itself, and health (though the blogger linked above seems to take glee in using this case as a rebuttal to unnamed fat activists who question how easy it is to just starve yourself thin). The issue is the attitude that fatness is such an awful condition that it undermines people's right to autonomy, giving everyone else the green light to "helpfully" judge them and tell them how to correct their condition.

7 Comments:

Blogger kemibe said...

You clearly have a poor grasp on both my application of the word "faculties" and the inmate's situation on the whole.

First of all, I wrote nothing about a "gross fattie" (and in fact empathized with the inmate's chronic hunger). That term is entirely yours.

Second, face facts: Statistically speaking, you won't see many fat people who drop over 100 pounds and subsequently find reasons to complain. This is a man who evidently killed someone and tried to cover it up by burning up the scene of the crime, and has the writing skills of a fifth-grader. These -- not anything to do with his weight -- are the reasons I remarked on his shoddy faculties.

Finally, I made no editorial comment about any mechanism for weight loss being acceptable or necessary, and my tone was not gleeful. I never said he deserved to be uncomfortable. But I ask you: What "right to autonomy" does someone incarcerated for taking someone's life really have? You do realize you are talking about a prisoner, correct?

It's almost as if you read a completely different post from the one I wrote. Maybe you have a renegade browser plug-in that renders blog posts in such a way that they barely resemble their native forms.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Stentor said...

The term may be mine, but the attitude was yours.

Whether "statistically speaking" most fat people would be happy to drop 100 pounds by any means necessary is entirely irrelevant. *This guy* is unhappy with his weight loss. You clearly implied that, if he did not have those "shoddy faculties," he would have taken a different perspective on his weight loss, which is what I was responding to.

As to the right to autonomy -- he is in prison for killing people, not for being fat.

And I'm curious how, if not "gleeful," you would describe your tone toward the fact activists that you were criticizing?

10:55 AM  
Blogger ogre said...

Well, I went and read the link.

I'd characterize the author's remarks as approving--overall--of weight loss, but hardly gleeful.

"I also believe him when he says he's hungry as often as he claims. Markedly overweight people seem to have an "appestat" permanently set on max. It's unfair to characterize them as weak-willed (or in more pejorative language) -- when I'm as hungry as they report so often being, I invariably eat, so I'm no less a glutton, hog, oinker, etc. than they are."

We recognize that carrying 400+ lbs is unhealthy. We understand that supporting that weight is not acting in the prisoner's best interest. The state is/may be lawfully held accountable for many things that aren't entirely in its control when those things happen to those within its control. Inmates lose many rights when they're incarcerated.

One of those is certainly the right to act in ways which are harmful to themselves... because the state is in the role of facilitating, collaborating, and supporting that behavior.

Would we--as a society--accept that an alcoholic deserves to be served alcohol in prison? Yet alcohol is legal. The same might be asked about cigarettes. Can a prison simply ban tobacco? It's not healthy for the inmate, it puts an additional burden on the operation of the prison to deal with it, with the smoke....

The inmate is not being "starved to death." That's a patent absurdity. So is the idea that the state of the art kitchen isn't being used (he's getting meals--the kitchen is being used...--he's simply not getting two, three, four times as much food as he needs).

Are we obligated, as a society, to provide for prisoners' wants, as opposed to needs particularly where those desires present a hazard to someone (be they guard, inmate or self)?

I'm not in a position to criticize the inmate's weight. While I'm not obese, I'm certainly carrying more weight than I should. I don't expect that a hospital (should I end up in one, god forbid) will feed me to maintain my current weight. I wouldn't expect a prison to do so, either.

I sympathize with the prisoner's real sense of discomfort and perceived suffering. But perception and reality clash. Not that his discomfort isn't real. But being "attached" to one's ill health doesn't make it something that the state should be supportive of or accommodate.

Stentor, I might have a very, very different feeling if this were someone who wasn't incarcerated. If someone were picked up by society for being morbidly obese (a hazard largely to oneself, really) and held against one's will, and fed only enough to sustain a healthy body... I'd see that as an attack on autonomy and abusive.

But for a convict? You lose your right to autonomy and self-determination when you get convicted. Die gedanken sind Frei but your body is under the control and direction of the state.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Stentor said...

I'm not in a position to criticize the inmate's weight.

That's interesting, because your whole comment is premised on criticizing his weight.

I'd characterize the author's remarks as approving--overall--of weight loss, but hardly gleeful.

I never said he was gleeful about the weight loss itself. I said he was gleeful about being able to rebut someone else's claims about how easy it is to lose weight.

The inmate is not being "starved to death." That's a patent absurdity. So is the idea that the state of the art kitchen isn't being used

Tell that to the prisoner -- I'm not making those claims.

To treat the diet this man is being served as some sort of paternalistic health intervention is absurd. I've heard plenty of stories about prison menus, and it's clear that health above a very minimal level is not among their goals. Furthermore, fainting and being wracked with hunger pangs *is a form of poor health.*

To say that inmates lose rights is ridiculously vague. That logic would excuse *any* treatment of an inmate, from crunchy peanut butter to Abu Ghraib. The rights one loses in jail should be those whose loss is necessary to correcting the problem for which you were convicted -- in this case, murder.

1:30 PM  
Blogger kemibe said...

"The term may be mine, but the attitude was yours."

This is in complete contradiction to everything in my original post. I allowed that the guy is as chronically hungry as he claims he is. I in no way celebrated his miseries, either those he suffers as a prison resident or those directly related to how fat he is. I did point out that his attitude is unique or close to it, and attributed this to the fact that, as his other behaviors imply, he's clearly a fifth-degree moron.

I stop short of agreeing that he's starving, passing out from hunger, etc. He had to have been eating 6K calories a day before he got to the joint and the jail is no more obligated to feed him this much than they are to let compulsive mastrubators jerk off 12 times a day in their cells. He's an inmate, for Chrissake. No one is robbing him of any of his real or perceived rights by feeding him a 2,300-calorie-a-day diet.

If you think my post evinced glee, you obvoiusly haven't seen the kind of nasty crap people do write about heavies all over the Web.

1:33 PM  
Blogger kemibe said...

"I never said he was gleeful about the weight loss itself. I said he was gleeful about being able to rebut someone else's claims about how easy it is to lose weight."

Not quite.If you go to BigFatBlog.com, you'll see all sorts of people yammering about how it's literally impossible for some people to keep weight off. The "evidence" for this consists of 1) people who try to lose weight but don't, and 2) people who lose weight only to re-gain every ounce.

Let me ask you (or whomever) something. Alcoholics and drug addicts "relapse"all the time. Some eventually get sober for good; some do not, and die as a result. Do you think the ones who fail literaly cannot get sober? Do they have some kind of "vodka set point" that doesn't let them function unless they're half in the bag?

Of course not. The obvious answer is that people slip back into old patterns by resuming old habits. It's that simple. Sure, some people will never be skinny and it's harder for some to lose weight than it is for others. But people who "go on diets" only to resume old nutritional habits will OF COURSE get fat again. Losing weight is simple but it isn't easy. Those who take up running or other forms of exercise are the ones who keep the weight of for good, because they don't merely "diet," they restructure their whole lives.

The BFB gang won't hear of this stuff. They label people who lose weight for good via exercise as freaks and neurotics who have been hoodwinked by the mass media ideal. They offer every excuse in the book for staying fat (which is perfectly within their rights, obviously -- I don't give a rip). They are in rampant denial. They are intellectually dishonest. I understand they've spend entire lifetimes on the defensive,and I feel bad for anyone who's been belittled as a result of physical appearance. But this issue is 100 percent divorced from the biochemical and medical realities.

Now, this inmate guy is getting the same food everyone else is. He just happens to have entered jail at an unusually large size, and as a result he's losing weight at a rapid rate. But if that's the worst discomfort he ever faces while behind bars, piss on him. He is not starving merely because he offers subjective accounts of a florid nature.

7:42 PM  
Anonymous h sofia said...

Does this guy have a medical need for more calories than he's receiving? Otherwise, I don't see the problem except that he's uncomfortable.

I don't like this kind of "news" because all it does is reinforce people's attitudes about how prisons are cushy places for bad people to lay low until they get out and commit more atrocities upon humanity.

3:57 PM  

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