[FoRK] Welcome to the American Totality. You've been warned.

Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> on Sat Feb 2 22:44:09 PST 2008

Just make the doorways smaller? :-) That or a pressure sensor on the 
tile outside the door. How else are they going to apply a metric? A fat 
caliper? Back-fat sonar device? (Eons ago, I rewrote a swine breeding 
value estimation program for a swine breeder, working sometimes in the 
stinking trailer in the middle of nowhere Ohio on the pig farm. One 
input to the program was back fat in inches. Let's just say that you 
don't want the job of cleaning the "honey wagon".)

This one is definitely going too far. Smoking though, affecting others 
too much is what was criminalized, and that I can't complain about.

Lowering the threshold of expected skin thickness in other areas is 
probably more problematic. I don't disagree with the core sentiments 
generally, however finding a reasonable threshold is tough with the 
claw-hammer finesse of the law. Stalking (you're the expert there, 
unfortunately), disciplining children, harassment (sexual and 
otherwise), conflating minor sex crimes (19+17)->rape->murder, 
moderately risky behavior (a mother in MD was jailed for letting her 
children play in the trunk of her hatchback car for 1.5 miles home from 
the grocery), etc. are all messy, often overboard areas.

When they propose these kinds of things, it would be good if they would 
discuss what principles and theories they were applying and why they 
make sense. I don't think that most politicians think that clearly. This 
seems like an analogous rule/law to making it illegal to serve alcohol 
to someone already drunk. The imminent danger is missing. If the 
apparent theory in this proposed law were applied elsewhere, what would 
you get? How about smoking: you can't buy cigarettes if you show signs 
of chronically smoking (facial tissue withering, gray skin, 
osteoporosis, cilia death, heart or lung disease, poor O2 uptake, 
lowered lung capacity). Not likely.

To some extent, it is probably OK to charge people more in some ways for 
their bad or risky behavior. Preventing them from doing it though, I 
don't really agree with that. If someone's pleasure in life is eating 
heartily and they don't bother to counteract it, then so what. I see 
people every day who, because I can pick up on at least a few clues, I 
realize are in far worse shape than they should be at a certain age. 
Almost all of it, that is obvious anyway, is from smoking and lack of 

I have problems with a lot of laws that are trying to put a very low 
threshold of choice of risk. I can understand not putting others at 
significantly greater risk. Putting yourself, and to some extent your 
children, at increased risk for some reason is part of what freedom is 
all about. If you want to go snowboarding, skateboarding, scuba diving, 
flying in a plane or glider, bungee jumping, etc., why shouldn't you be 
able to? So, at the moment, you can and take your children. You can't 
however drive without a seatbelt / helmet. You can't take children 
skydiving in the US, not even paired with an instructor. You probably 
aren't allowed anymore to give your children alcohol in most places, a 
key strategy in de-mystiquing it in the past.

[rambling terminated, quota reached]


Jeff Bone wrote:
> I *told* you people this shit was going to happen if we started 
> criminalizing unfashionable behavior like smoking.
> -- 
> http://www.reason.com/blog/show/124751.html
> A Mississippi lawmaker and three co-sponsors have introduced a bill 
> that would....well, let's just quote straight from the bill:
> Any food establishment to which this section applies shall not be 
> allowed to serve food to any person who is obese, based on criteria 
> prescribed by the State Department of Health after consultation with 
> the Mississippi Council on Obesity Prevention and Management 
> established under Section 41-101-1 or its successor. The State 
> Department of Health shall prepare written materials that describe and 
> explain the criteria for determining whether a person is obese, and 
> shall provide those materials to all food establishments to which this 
> section applies. A food establishment shall be entitled to rely on the 
> criteria for obesity in those written materials when determining 
> whether or not it is allowed to serve food to any person.
> Sandy Szwarc called the bill's sponsor, who confirmed that he isn't 
> kidding. We've finally arrived. Now just wait until the first bill 
> like this actually passes.
> -- 
> jb
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swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-371-9362C 703-995-0407Fax 94043 AIM: sdw

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