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Callout: "fat, lazy, no discipline"
February 26, 2002 11:21 AM   Subscribe

"In the end, it is true that fat people are lazy and/or have no self discipline . . . "

Leading to "idiot troll" accusations. Ugliness. And I didn't join in for a change!
posted by Skot to Etiquette/Policy at 11:21 AM (111 comments total)

HHH is a dynamo, I was going to note earlier after his first comment, but lumping all the stereotypes together is perfect. Fat people eat too much, don't exercise, are lazy and hate to work. It's a textbook troll, if there ever was one.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:28 AM on February 26, 2002


Accusations? That you would even think it a mere accusation that may not be correct tells us what the real problem is. A large (heh) percentage of society believes it is perfectly okay to be prejudiced, if not openly, viciously bigoted, against overweight people. And even many of the people that think this is wrong don't seem to think it's 100% wrong.

Which is why I laugh every time I see anyone try to talk about how important tolerance is in our society. Tolerance doesn't even exist here, except for the groups politically powerful enough to cause trouble for those that try to be openly intolerant of them. Deep down, we haven't solved much of anything.
posted by aaron at 11:33 AM on February 26, 2002


In a way, though, there's something good about reading it stated so plainly, because it lurks under the surface of so much emotion about obesity (all the women in my family are overweight, and it's been a heavy rock on the chest of each one of them). There is something healthy about acknowledging the emotional undercurrent to the subject, even if the undercurrent is unhealthy.
posted by argybarg at 11:36 AM on February 26, 2002


If the shoe fits, wear it. He acted like a troll, so I called him one. He acted like a bigot, so I called him that too.

I also don't think there's a need for this MeTa thread. We know he's a troll. A new thread doesn't need to be started about him every time he peaks his head out from under his bridge and trys to throw a wrench in the gears.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:37 AM on February 26, 2002


I assure that I wasn't trolling. I was honestly stating my mind-- I really think it's an embarassment in a world where people sometimes starve, my countrymen are stalling escalators. It's just bad.

Can we call me a communist instead of a troll? That's closer to the truth (but not entirely accurate.)
posted by Harry Hopkins' Hat at 11:37 AM on February 26, 2002


"troll" and "bigot"? That seems a little oxymoronic from my understanding of the words.
posted by ODiV at 11:41 AM on February 26, 2002


Accusations? That you would even think it a mere accusation that may not be correct tells us what the real problem is.

I stated it that way so as to keep the thread heading somewhat neutral, not because I am ambivalent to the topic. As it happens, I think he's full of shit, aaron. Sadly enough, many others in the thread seem to agree with him.
posted by Skot at 11:43 AM on February 26, 2002


HHH, you are an egregious waste of bandwidth. You contribute nothing but venom and ugliness to every thread you post in. I can see no point in trying to engage you in dialogue because I do not imagine that you are capable of changing your ways.

Go away, little troll.
posted by sennoma at 11:43 AM on February 26, 2002


HHH, please don't pretend that your statements are motivated out of altruistic concerns. Your ignorance of the biochem of weightloss and gain renders you rather unqualified for your (attempted misdirection) lofty ideal.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:44 AM on February 26, 2002


Can we call me a communist instead of a troll?

I think "idiot" sums it up nicely.
posted by anapestic at 11:44 AM on February 26, 2002


"troll" and "bigot"? That seems a little oxymoronic from my understanding of the words.

I'm not sure I'm following you here. A troll is someone who makes an obvious attempt at drawing flames, and is seeking attetion. A bigot is someone who has an irrational hatred of a particular group of people, usually on the basis of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or lifestyle. This time it was based on weight.

I don't any oxymoronic quality to the post in question.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:46 AM on February 26, 2002


Which is why I laugh every time I see anyone try to talk about how important tolerance is in our society. Tolerance doesn't even exist here

Aaron, does the fact that there is little tolerance mean that tolerance is not important? I don't think so. I think tolerance is important regardless of how much there is to go around.

Still, Aaron is right about one thing. HHH's (and other users') comments in that thread disgust me on a visceral level. There's an astounding amount of hatefulness towards overweight people that I don't think I've seen on almost any other topic.

I assure that I wasn't trolling. I was honestly stating my mind

It seems you have the mind of a troll.
posted by daveadams at 11:49 AM on February 26, 2002


SJ: I guess my definition of "troll" includes being incincere in your opinions. You're trying to draw flames for the sake of drawing flames and it doesn't really matter what you're talking about. Personal opinion wouldn't really enter into it.

I guess I could be wrong... but incincere posts which serve only to attract flames are what I think of when I see "troll".
posted by ODiV at 11:52 AM on February 26, 2002


There is in the minds of many a fine line between being a troll and speaking one's mind. If one's mind happens to differ greatly with the majority or the vocal minority, they will so be labelled. I call this being an "accidental trollist." One doesn't mean to troll, but if a KKK member goes into an online forum of interest to him that happens to include mostly black people, that KKK member's opinions are inevitably going to illicit a firestorm of response, even if the forum in question is about basketweaving. The guy may not mean to stir dissent. He may not even realize that his choice of words will cause upheaval.

An actual troll is someone who purposefully baits the forum solely for purposes of deriding the thread and turning it into a useless place to communicate. Actual trolls do it for kicks because they think it's funny. Sometimes they don't even mean what they say. Accidental trollists do usually mean what they say (sometimes passionately), and were merely trying to participate in the forum from their vantage point, and wanted their perspective to be acknowledged.

Without differing views, any forum becomes nothing more than a "me too" love fest. I applaud views that differ from mine, but I will also note when I see the faults of differing views, and I expect nothing less from others. When my more pessimistic or idealistic views have weaknesses, I'm frankly surprised when people don't call me on it.

I don't question the existence of this thread, but I do question its intention: are we to insist Mathowie dissallows differing views in MeFi? Only people who are tolerant of overweight people are allowed to post? That's absurd. I say let them post, and let people like me blow holes in their opinions.

That's part of what makes this place fun. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 11:54 AM on February 26, 2002


Aaron, does the fact that there is little tolerance mean that tolerance is not important? I don't think so. I think tolerance is important regardless of how much there is to go around.

Well, I didn't mean to imply tolerance isn't important, just that I don't believe it really exists except on the most superficial levels, and even then only for those groups with the almost-literal muscle to force people to treat them decently. I should have used a different word in that post, though ... When I referred to people that "try to talk about how important tolerance is," I was thinking of all the people I know who are extremely strident about any perceived slight towards some well-muscled political groups - blacks, women, etc - and who then have turned around and spewed some massively hateful statements about other less-protected groups, showing their total duplicity.
posted by aaron at 11:55 AM on February 26, 2002


There's a delicious irony in my being called nasty names ("idiot," etc.) because I'm seen as intolerant.

I'm terribly sorry! Next time, I'll agree with whatever's said just to avoid offending. Metafilter's supposed to be like a society luncheon, right?

If there was music playing over this post, it would be Phil Och's Love Me, I'm A Liberal.
posted by Harry Hopkins' Hat at 12:01 PM on February 26, 2002


When I referred to people that "try to talk about how important tolerance is," I was thinking of all the people I know who are extremely strident about any perceived slight towards some well-muscled political groups - blacks, women, etc - and who then have turned around and spewed some massively hateful statements about other less-protected groups, showing their total duplicity.


Aaron, I think you're relying on a fallacy, that all those who speak of tolerance either do or must apply iit universally. Niether is correct. Just because one calls for tolerance of sexual persuasion, doesn't mean they must or should support tolerance of pediphiles. Unless you can establish the case for the individual you're commenting on, its entirely likely that the muscle of a given group has nothing to do with. For example, I'm not very tolerant of the willfully stupid (those who argue that a thing is the way it is, just 'cause they believe it so). Seems that's a very large well muscled group. Hence, your counter example.


posted by Wulfgar! at 12:03 PM on February 26, 2002


There's a delicious irony in my being called nasty names ("idiot," etc.) because I'm seen as intolerant.

To add, I am especially intolerant when people wear their willful stupidity as some kind of honor badge.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:06 PM on February 26, 2002


I'm terribly sorry! Next time, I'll agree with whatever's said just to avoid offending. Metafilter's supposed to be like a society luncheon, right?

Reduction to absurdity is a logical fallacy. No one wants you to agree with everyone, just don't be a jackass when you do disagree.
posted by adampsyche at 12:06 PM on February 26, 2002


ZachsMind, that's the first post you've ever made that I agree with 100% ;)
posted by ook at 12:06 PM on February 26, 2002


I assure that I wasn't trolling. I was honestly stating my mind--

...knowing full well how it would play out in a public online forum frequented by people of all shapes and sizes. You could substitute "blacks" "gays" or "ugly people" in the phrase "it is true foo is lazy by their nature" and enjoy the rise you'd get out of everyone.

It's not that your opinion is merely misguided or unpopular, it's the razor-like precision you use to express it. Most any thread you touch, you wreak havoc.

From an adminstrator standpoint, you're a nightmare. I have an inbox full of people telling me to do something about you, I see a noisy, pointless thread arguing with you and this metatalk thread where you continue to preach understanding for all and that you're simply unpopular. Consider yourself banned until you can email me a good reason why I should keep you around.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:06 PM on February 26, 2002


There's a delicious irony in my being called nasty names ("idiot," etc.) because I'm seen as intolerant

No it's not. I didn't say everyone with your name is an idiot, blanketing a group of people with this label, like you did. No, I called you an idiot. You and you alone. I called you this because you posted something with the express purpose of derailing a thread. That's a stupid thing to do. One might even say it's idiotic. So yeah, you're an idiot, but you can always learn from your mistakes, and transcend your idiocy with time.

And I don't care if you say that what you posted is your real outlook on life. Because if it is, you're far worse that what I called you.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:10 PM on February 26, 2002


Wulfgar: I see your point, but, well, allow me to go reductio ad absurdum on you: Remember that little film Eddie Murphy made on SNL almost 20 years ago, where he put on a ton of makeup to make himself look white, and then went around the streets of Manhattan to see what it was like to be a white guy? I could make a similar point here: Why be tolerant of African-Americans, when if they really WANTED TO, they could pass themselves off as white and save themselves all sorts of grief? "Sure, it'd be more trouble than most people have to go to, but..." This is the same sort of point that so many are trying to make in that thread: That it's essentially up to those who are overweight for medical reasons to "buck up and suck up" and work harder in ways the already-lean don't have to, for no other reason than to fit in with those doing the complaining about how unattractive (or, euphemistically, "unhealthy-looking)" they are. Not for herself, but for them. Both my little propsal and theirs are equally hideous.

Basically, the concept of "tolerance" is to let people be who are simply BEING. Pedophiles are not simply being, they're raping young children. People who are willfully stupid towards you in conversations are not simply being, they are interacting with you. That's not about tolerance.
posted by aaron at 12:18 PM on February 26, 2002


You know, I can read pretty much any of the posts on MeFi and have no problem with them, even if I do disagree with them, but when it comes to the "fat people are bad" ones, it makes me want to reach through the monitor and strangle someone.

And every single time there's a thread about overweight people, some moron has to tar all fat people with the sloth brush.

I guess what it comes down to is this: these threads hurt my feelings, and they shouldn't (because I am a grown-up and this is only a website) but they do, and they make me feel less welcome to contribute to those threads, or any other threads for that matter. I don't like being fat, but it is part of what I am at this point in my life, right along with my being queer, female, and interested in all sorts of arcane-ish things. And to read people attack what I am (even if it is a quasi-changeable quality such as fatness) is something I find to be hurtful and hateful and I don't like it. Dammit.
posted by eilatan at 12:20 PM on February 26, 2002


Aaron and I are as one on this issue.
posted by daveadams at 12:30 PM on February 26, 2002


mmm. bacon.
posted by crunchland at 12:41 PM on February 26, 2002


wow, the emotions in this thread are just screaming at me. But hey there is no need to be as vicious and hurtful as that, we all have our pms moments on the net , but then attempts at retrospective justification, well what can you do. Tolerance, people talk about it a lot but what it is is kinda hard to define sometimes despite your outworldly liberal protestations you find yourself thinking or saying something you instantly regret.
posted by johnnyboy at 12:50 PM on February 26, 2002


Stupidity. Utter stupidity.

Zach is absolutely right.

Many people here may be sensitive about their weight. But just because someone has the opinion that overweight people can do something about it shouldn't get them banned, or called and idiot or troll or bigot. I highly doubt his comments were meant to incite the masses to the overreaction I've seen that everyone is screaming about.

Yes, many people who are overweight have good reason for it, be it genetic or toherwise. But there is excellent evidence to support that the avergae person in the United states is grossly overweight and the main reasons for this are societal and preventable/correctable as opposed to anything else.

Political correctness runs rampant and when a certain 'class' is protected or defended because a minority is being 'prejudiced' against is the same thing as saying that all black people are criminals because a high percentage of crome in inner cities is committed by blacks.

Everyone jumping all over HHH needs to check their engines and knee jerkiness.
posted by rich at 12:57 PM on February 26, 2002


It's a shame bitching doesn't burn calories, we'd all be thin and the whole thing would be a moot point.
posted by umberto at 1:01 PM on February 26, 2002


I find this thread kind of scary. After having gone through Harry Hopkins' Hat's last month or so of posts I see a lot of unpopular viewpoints given in a very direct manner. I don't see "an egregious waste of bandwidth," and I find it disturbing that the long and short of Matt's decision seems to come down to "you're simply unpopular."
posted by modofo at 1:09 PM on February 26, 2002

Everyone jumping all over HHH needs to check their engines and knee jerkiness.

They should have hired her. She would have quit after three days instead of getting the grounds for the lawsuit that she wanted.
Guess it beats working-- that requires self-discipline.
You need to check your bullshit detector Rich, I think it's broken. HHH made several bigoted statements, including the two above, regarding obese people for the sole purpose of getting a rise out of people on this board.

Political correctness is political correctness, but useless bigotry is useless bigotry. And this -
Political correctness runs rampant and when a certain 'class' is protected or defended because a minority is being 'prejudiced' against is the same thing as saying that all black people are criminals because a high percentage of crime in inner cities is committed by blacks.
I'm not sure if you were trying to prove your point or mine with this sentence. Of course that wouldn't be right. But replace "black" with "fat", "criminals" with "lazy", and well, you can see where I'm going with this. A few circumstantial modifications, and you have pretty much what HHH said.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:13 PM on February 26, 2002


Metafilter's supposed to be like a society luncheon, right?

Perish the thought. But, it's not supposed to be a cafeteria food fight either.
posted by jonmc at 1:13 PM on February 26, 2002


the long and short of Matt's decision seems to come down to "you're simply unpopular."

I think the long and short of matt's decision is "you consistently incite the community; you consistently have a polarizing effect on the threads in which you participate; and any time you post, I have an inbox filled with email about you. unless you can demonstrate to me that you can be and will be a constructive member of this community, you are no longer part of it."

I'm basing a huge swath of that on matt's my prior experience with matt's stance, and his previous decisions.

there are lots of ways to disagree, even on heavily loaded topics.
posted by rebeccablood at 1:18 PM on February 26, 2002


Hopkins' point was stupid and terribly (on purpose) phrased. But to always defend obesity as being a genetic disorder is full of it as well. One does not choose to be a particular race or sex (usually), but one does tend to have a good amount of control (or at least a hand in) their physical shape.
posted by owillis at 1:30 PM on February 26, 2002


the long and short of Matt's decision seems to come down to "you're simply unpopular."

Bear in mind this isn't an isolated incident for HHH. He's done it before and it's a big joke. It's what trolls do, the appear as forthright and sincere as possible as they say blasphemous things, knowing full well they'll leave chaos in their path. I've let this guy skate before (#1, #2), but enough is enough. HHH exists to screw with everyone. It's fine if there were 50 people, we could all chose to ignore him, but among thousands, he's likely to get a rise out of some people for saying almost anything outlandish and posing as sincere in his convictions.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:33 PM on February 26, 2002


Again, owillis, the problem was not taking any side on the question of whether overweight is volitional or not. The problem was stating that fat people are lazy and have no self-discipline -- especially HHH's statement that, since the woman in question is fat, she's too lazy to hold a job.

I'm sure you see the distinction. This isn't a poor phrasing of a worthy idea. It's a hateful idea.
posted by argybarg at 1:38 PM on February 26, 2002


And rich: I'll be charitable and say that perhaps you didn't have time to read HHH's posts carefully.
posted by argybarg at 1:39 PM on February 26, 2002


But to always defend obesity as being a genetic disorder is full of it as well. One does not choose to be a particular race or sex (usually), but one does tend to have a good amount of control (or at least a hand in) their physical shape.

I'm not "defending obesity," I'm defending the obese's right to generally be left the hell alone and not constantly berated purely for not measuring up to some abritrary, irrelevant societal standard.

It is this simple: Metafilter has thread all the time about various issues involving certain classes of people, and those classes are not automatically ripped to shreds every time. We can have long threads about some aspect of homosexuality, and they do not have dozens of people sidetracking them with arguments about "statistics showing" that anal sex between two men is so much more likely to transmit HIV that it's a public health problem and thus there's something wrong with those sorts of people just not trying harder not to be gay. We can have long threads about some aspect of race without people rampaging through the threads tossing out their theories about statistics showing crime is worse in black neighborhoods so there thus must be something wrong with those sorts of people. But every single time - EVERY SINGLE TIME - a thread is started on MeFi about some aspect of humans and weight, the thread degenerates within minutes into long, pseudoscholarly diatribes about how unhealthy and nasty "those people" are, and always with at least one or two people making flat-out HHH-level bigoted statements. And always with the (sometimes stated, sometimes not) that it's pretty much okay to publicly hate and berate fat people as a result.

There is a double standard, and it is beyond blatant. And it is sickening.
posted by aaron at 1:46 PM on February 26, 2002


Dropped a word, sorry: always with the implication that...
posted by aaron at 1:50 PM on February 26, 2002


I don't read posts to disect them. I read posts and comments for general flavor, theme and point. If the person does it a bit heavy-handedly, I ignore it and go with the general thrust of the point. If the person makes no point, I ignore the comment.

However, in this argument, I have seen an preponderance of trying to apply a minority situation to a general issue, and then stomping down on anyone that had the 'gall' to be so insensitive, bigoted or otherwise. Sure, HHH was a insulting, but the virtroil that came out of the other side swept a wide swath against anyone who would dare to think this woman was just some money-fishing, lazy, crazy fat person. And didn't say it in a nice, proper way like 'weight challenged.'

Tolerance exists not only in appearance, but in opinions, and it runs both ways. Maybe people feel justified in the reactions to HHH, but their reactions were in general to the opposing viewpoint and *anyone* who expressed them.
posted by rich at 2:01 PM on February 26, 2002


But every single time - EVERY SINGLE TIME - a thread is started on MeFi about some aspect of humans and weight, the thread degenerates within minutes into long, pseudoscholarly diatribes about how unhealthy and nasty "those people" are, and always with at least one or two people making flat-out HHH-level bigoted statements

It's true. Absolutely true.

<baby-jessamyn>*cries*</baby-jessamyn>
posted by daveadams at 2:02 PM on February 26, 2002


in this argument, I have seen an preponderance of trying to apply a minority situation to a general issue, and then stomping down on anyone that had the 'gall' to be so insensitive, bigoted or otherwise

It's not a general issue, though! The link (and therefore the thread) is about ONE PARTICULAR INDIVIDUAL about whom we know nothing.

a wide swath against anyone who would dare to think this woman was just some money-fishing, lazy, crazy fat person.

Did you read HHH's comments? It's one thing to suspect that the woman is trying to take advantage of the system, and it's a good idea to bring up the idea. But to present it as an obvious fact, based on the evidence that "In the end, it is true that fat people are lazy and/or have no self discipline" is irresponsible, poor argumentation, clear trolling, against the community standards of the site (I'm talking about tact here, not politics or opinions), and when added to HHH's past record, is a great reason to ban him.
posted by daveadams at 2:06 PM on February 26, 2002


I've never seen anyone banned here simply because his pov was unpopular. Several people in the MeFi thread expressed similar sentiments to HHH's, but they did so in an unoffensive way, and while people may have disagreed with them strongly, they didn't have the same visceral reaction to him. HHH has consistently caused that sort of reaction by posting in a mean-spirited and contemptuous manner.

I don't see why it should be everyone else on MetaFilter's responsibility to put up with someone odious rather than the odious person's responsibility to exercise some small amount of decorum.
posted by anapestic at 2:13 PM on February 26, 2002


I read through HHH's posts in this thread and although I don't agree with everything he said, at least he stands by his convictions by explaining what his beliefes are based on. That is more than you can say for the majority of MiFiers.

As for making the argument that,

You could substitute "blacks" "gays" or "ugly people" in the phrase "it is true foo is lazy by their nature" and enjoy the rise you'd get out of everyone

The truth of the matter is that HHH didn't substitue these phrases. He choose to debate someting that is actually debatable and formed an argument around the fact that for a majority of people, a healthier diet and regular exercise will reduce your wieght to a healthy level. According to this site 5'8" and 240lbs gives you a BMI of 36.5 and is unhealthy. There is pure empirical data to support his claim, equating that to make a racial slur is not a responsible evaluation.

Not that my opinion will or should make a difference but I think that banning HHH and implying that he is a bigot shows that this is not truly an open community.
posted by jonah at 2:17 PM on February 26, 2002


rich:

Go search the thread and see if anyone used the phrase "weight challenged." Go see if anyone used any other euphemistic/PC phrase or asked anyone else to. Where? I was one of the earliest one shouting at HHH, and I use "fat" and "obese."

I get the feeling you have a generic bent against PCism. This is why I accused you of not reading the threads carefully, if at all, and I accuse you of it again. You seem to have decided this is a case of a majority stomping on anyone who disagrees with a PC viewpoint, and it seems that nothing -- truth and evidence included -- will dissuade you from viewing it that way.
posted by argybarg at 2:21 PM on February 26, 2002


shows that this is not truly an open community

well, you know, it's not an open community. it's matt's community. anyone can join, but if you don't adhere to the (few) standards matt has set for the site, you can be deleted.


posted by rebeccablood at 2:21 PM on February 26, 2002


AIIIEEEEE!

I have to leave this thread alone now. But, at the risk of being condescending, I will try this ONE MORE TIME:

The offensive point HHH was making was not one of the following:

-- that obesity is unhealthy;
-- that people can control their weight.

His offensive point was this:

-- fat people are lazy and lack self-control. Therefore, because the woman in question is fat, she wouldn't hold a job and she's just looking for easy money.

Jonah, do you find that statement offensive?
posted by argybarg at 2:25 PM on February 26, 2002


I think that banning HHH and implying that he is a bigot shows that this is not truly an open community.

He wasn't banned for being a bigot, but for being a troll, that is someone who states contrary opinions in a fashion designed to alienate and shock rather than persuade. Of course, he probably thinks he's the victim of a pc dictatorship.

In general, any opinion stated without a justification is of little use to a discussion.

posted by liam at 2:30 PM on February 26, 2002


at least he stands by his convictions by explaining what his beliefes are based on. That is more than you can say for the majority of MiFiers.

Jonah, he didn't explain what his convictions are based on, he just added more stupidity as if it was support. She'd lose her job because fat people are lazy? Wake up, that's not support for conviction, that's just stupidity with compound interest of raising a ruckus.

There is pure empirical data to support his claim, equating that to make a racial slur is not a responsible evaluation.

And by your own argument in his defense, you're agreeing that data which shows one unhealthy also shows one to be lazy. Would you like to try and back that up?
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:30 PM on February 26, 2002


It's what trolls do, the appear as forthright and sincere as possible as they say blasphemous things, knowing full well they'll leave chaos in their path. I've let this guy skate before (#1, #2), but enough is enough. HHH exists to screw with everyone. It's fine if there were 50 people, we could all chose to ignore him, but among thousands, he's likely to get a rise out of some people for saying almost anything outlandish and posing as sincere in his convictions.

...looks around for a good place to keep this within easy reach...
posted by NortonDC at 2:36 PM on February 26, 2002


If HHH had only said that fat people are lazy and lack self control, I would not be personally offended because I'm not fat. I would think that it was an inappropriate and inflammatory comment though. I read his entire comment and the follow ups, his whole statement was:

That's the long-and-short of it. You get fat by consuming much more potential energy than your body needs-- it suggests very strongly that you're sedentary.

If you're very physically active and still going 240, you're eating enough for two people. That's excessive enough to make me contemptuous.

In the end, it is true that fat people are lazy and/or have no self discipline-- either you're not moving enough, eating more than your share or a combination of both. If you disagree with that, please tell me how else one gets fat. Keep in mind that mass doesn't spontaneously generate.


His tone is brash and could have been more delicately put, but different people have different styles of writing and thinking. His total comment says that

a) Obesity is generally caused by an imbalance of eating and excersize
b) This woman's weight is off the chart compared to her height
c) To lose weight, a lifestyle change is needed, one that may include dedication
d) Tell me where I'm wrong.

He didn't just say "fat people are lazy, I'm right you're all wrong, go eat a twinkie". I think that his comment is misrepresented in this thread.
posted by jonah at 2:38 PM on February 26, 2002


Jonah says:

I read his entire comment and the follow ups, his whole statement was:

Well, no you didn't, or you'd have seen that his initial statement was

They should have hired her. She would have quit after three days instead of getting the grounds for the lawsuit that she wanted.

Guess it beats working-- that requires self-discipline.


Then in this thread, he said

I really think it's an embarassment in a world where people sometimes starve, my countrymen are stalling escalators.

He started and ended with rude, unsupported statements. In the middle, he dressed them up somewhat, but on the whole, he was just offensive.

Maybe you don't view what he said as offensive, but I can guarantee you that if you go up to a fat person and say, "hey, buddy, stall any escalators lately? Well, I guess it beats working, that requires self discipline" they'd find it pretty offensive.
posted by anapestic at 2:48 PM on February 26, 2002


If you're very physically active and still going 240, you're eating enough for two people. That's excessive enough to make me contemptuous.

jonah, as I said in the thread, tell that to Jerome Bettis (whose weight is also off the chart for his hieght). HHH was told several times he was wrong with arguments, but at all points he harkened back to the common knowledge that fat = lazy = worthy of his contempt. Now here's an equation that I've already supported:

stupid statements = obviously unsupportable and inflamatory tripe = worthy of my contempt.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:49 PM on February 26, 2002


No, he said:

They should have hired her. She would have quit after three days instead of getting the grounds for the lawsuit that she wanted. Guess it beats working-- that requires self-discipline..

When people began to call him out on that comment, he back peddled and tried to come up with a half-assed explanation for his bigotry.

That's what he did, and he deserved what he got.... Take a look at his metatalk profile. He's been brought up 3 times for doing shit like this. He's a troll.
posted by SweetJesus at 2:50 PM on February 26, 2002


Wulfgar! - You're leaning on common knowledge that athletic = healthy, which is wrong.
posted by NortonDC at 2:53 PM on February 26, 2002


Ummmm, NortonDC. I'd wager that for the most part that if you're pretty athletic, you're pretty healthy. Those things tend to go hand in hand. Much more so than obesity and healthyness.

Of course this is baring any drug or alcohol problems, or any mental conditions.
posted by SweetJesus at 2:57 PM on February 26, 2002


I would not be personally offended because I'm not fat.

How sad. You're only offended by statements that insult you directly?
posted by argybarg at 3:04 PM on February 26, 2002


Barring drugs is an arbitrary redefinition. Steroid abuse can make one stronger, faster, more athletic, and less healthy.

But even without drugs, many prominent athletes have dropped dead in the pursuit of there sport (Flo Hyman).

Athleticism != health.
posted by NortonDC at 3:05 PM on February 26, 2002


Aaron: I don't like how you're trying to declare a relevant avenue of discussion completely off-limits -- anything related to poor exercise and diet as the most common contributors to obesity.

In the discussion, you talk about the "morbidly obese," a term that means "people who are obese enough to impact their health." If you can do that without being called a bigot, you ought to give other people more license to talk about obesity.

As strident and obnoxious as Hopkins is in today's discussion, I read similar comments he made about fundamentalist Christians and would compare them to many of the other strong comments that are made here. (My personal favorite: Every single SUV thread runs roughshod over the portion of my self-esteem that relates directly to penis size.)

Like some people, Hopkins has a volume knob stuck on 11. Aaron, you clearly turned it up to 11 when you made this comment:
"... everyone in this thread who is arguing these points about obesity is prejudiced, merely by the fact that they seem completely willing to pull out all the stops to prove that the overweight are somehow bad people."
While it's justified to tell Hopkins to turn it down or get lost, we should also recognize that some people have hot-button issues that make their sense of decorum completely jump the rails and go skittering into a ravine.

Also, any obesity discussion is bound to include people like me, who earned our obesity one Big Mac at a time. If I reflect that belief in a thread, you would probably see it as more bigotry, when it's much more accurately described as self-loathing.
posted by rcade at 3:08 PM on February 26, 2002


NortonDC, you can't use an exception to the rule to try and prove that the rule is false. For the most part, athletes are pretty healthy people. For the most part, people who are very, very obese aren't very healthy people.

I'm not talking overweight here by a few pounds, but by a lot. This extra weight causes health problems. These are points that cannot be denied. To say that "Athletes != Healthy" because a few may have some health problems is ridiculous.
posted by SweetJesus at 3:13 PM on February 26, 2002


What we see, over and over, in the fat-people-suck threads is that those who can control their weight with either a negligable or at worst a reasonable amount of mental effort often find it impossible to imagine what life is like for those with either less self-control or slower metabolisms. Which I find strange; surely these lucky people have some other personal failing that "simple" discipline could ameliorate?

I mean, the experience of losing a contest with one's inner demon and doing that thing you know you shouldn't and promised you wouldn't just one more time is universal, isn't it? One more chapter before bed, or one more minute's sleep, or choirboy, or MetaFilter comment, or vulnerable hitchhiker, or Krispy Kreme?

Look, yes, calories are fungible, and E=mc2, and anyone who tries hard enough can lose weight, but can't the haters just accept that for some people, "hard enough" is harder than you or anyone can be expected to try?
posted by nicwolff at 3:26 PM on February 26, 2002


SweetJesus - you can't use an exception to the rule to try and prove that the rule is false

Sure I can, and should. If the rule doesn't account for reality, it's the rule that's wrong, not reality. Exceptions not allowed for by the rule invalidate the rule and necessitate it's disposal or reformulation.
posted by NortonDC at 3:28 PM on February 26, 2002


Folks, two things.

First, I did an interview with Ms. Portnick, and I can tell you soundly that she is not doing this just to muck with the system or the like. She was, plainly, discriminated against.

Second, the thread in question is one of the reasons I no longer actively participate here. The troll is one thing, big deal - those happen; the subsequent bigotry that aaron correctly calls people on - that's what bugs me the most. The consistent bigotry in every weight-related thread is what bugged me. It still does.
posted by hijinx at 3:46 PM on February 26, 2002


And by your own words, you make my case, NortonDC. I wasn't showing that athletic = healthy, I was showing that not-within-an-individual's-ideal-of-reality != excessive = worthy of contempt. By the way, Jerome Bettis is monitored by doctors continuously. I'd be pretty safe in assuming his health.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:53 PM on February 26, 2002


Rogers: Please reread my fourth post in this thread. If someone were to start a front page post purely about obesity and how to lose weight - in a rational, unbigoted manner, not some hateful "Hey, let's talk about fatties" fashion - then of course all aspects of potential causes and cures for obesity would be completely in line. My point is that this post was not that, and neither are most front page posts made on MeFi that somehow touch on weight. Yet they always immediately move away from the topic at hand, at least partially, and turn into these broad-brush arguments about obesity itself, and the canard that it's pretty much always fatso's own fault and on and on and on, in a way that practically never happens when we have threads about any other class of human beings.

In the discussion, you talk about the "morbidly obese," a term that means "people who are obese enough to impact their health." If you can do that without being called a bigot, you ought to give other people more license to talk about obesity.

The only reason I brought that term up was in trying to counteract the shitstorm that had already begun. And besides, by "morbidly obese" I mean people who are, by definition, unquestionably extremely overweight in a way that guarantees they will indeed keep packing on the pounds without being under a hospital-surpervised, constantly-monitored weight less program, because they're so big that they literally have lost the ability to move around. Not "be physically active," but even to get up out of their chair and move across the room. In short, the only group of obese people that we can say without question would greatly benefit almost immediately from a several caloric restriction. And even then, those types usually get to that unable-to-move level due to severe medical disorders of some other type that caused their bodies to turn practically everything they ate into fat, or due to unusually severe clinical depression.

And I would never have brought it up at all if the anti-far attacks hadn't already started. I was merely retorting.

Also, any obesity discussion is bound to include people like me, who earned our obesity one Big Mac at a time. If I reflect that belief in a thread, you would probably see it as more bigotry, when it's much more accurately described as self-loathing.

No, I would not see it as bigotry. Nor would I necessarily see it as self-loathing, unless you posted it in a manner that really screamed "poor me" somehow. I have never denied that some people, even a lot of people, actually do earn it one Big Mac at a time, as you put it, and could take it off by subtracting one Big Mac at a time, plus perhaps getting a little more exercise. There are two problems with this, though: 1) Most of the people in these obesity threads use this fact as an excuse to tar ALL overweight people with the "try laying off the Big Macs, fatso" brush, which, as nicwolff just posted, is a flat-out lie when applied to many many overweight people. Given that, I hate to see it brought up at all, because it just gives them a fake weapon to use to back up their misconceptions. 2) As I have already pointed out, simple decorum goes out the window in weight threads. People view them not as places to have discussions about the topic at hand, but as EXCUSES to launch into their diatribes about why fat people suck. I will repeat, for the fourth or fifth time now: Every time a thread about race comes up, people don't start posting attacks about what a huge percentage of black men under age 30 are either currently in or have been through the American criminal justice system. Every time a thread about homosexuality comes up, we don't talk about how those disease-spreading homos ought to keep their dicks to themselves so they won't spread diseases that end up costing us all more in taxes and health insurance, to say nothing of the immorality of it all, oh my! But this sort of shit comes up EVERY TIME in threads that are even slightly related to weight. The only possible explanation is that the overweight are seen as an acceptable target by those who know they can't get away with hurting other groups of people, but can with this one. And it makes them feel damn good to be able to feel so morally (and physically!) superior to those nasty fatties, so they go on the warpath every time the slightest opportunity presents itselfs. And they ought to be ashamed.
posted by aaron at 4:00 PM on February 26, 2002


Kee-rist. The problem with MeTa these days is that these threads accumulate 60 comments before I even see 'em, so my two-pounds of pith get stuck way down here in the cellar.

Anyway ...

Tolerance doesn't even exist here, except for the groups politically powerful enough to cause trouble for those that try to be openly intolerant of them. Deep down, we haven't solved much of anything.

To say "Only groups with sufficient political power are 'tolerated'" begs the question of how a minority group (and here I'm using the literal definition of minority, as in "less than %50") gets great political power except through tolerance? How many African Americans held political office (or had any political power whatsoever) when the 14th amendment was passed?

First there's acceptance, then political power -- not the other way around.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 4:08 PM on February 26, 2002


Maybe this will explain my feelings a little more clearly: A lot of front page posts on Mefi are about relatively controversial subjects. For the most part (unless we're talking about pure politics), Metafilter participants post to each of those threads in a very thoughtful manner. They take the time to word their statements so that they won't hurt the feelings of others who may, in one way or another, have personal experience with the subject matter of that particular thread. They do so out of simple decency and decorum, as well as a desire to keep the thread from degenerating into flamefests.

That all goes out the window in weight threads. I think most MeFites are connected enough to the world around them to be aware that ~50% of the population is now "officially" overweight by government standards. That means that at least half of Mefi is going to be very sensitive to the subject of weight. And yet they don't care. They know - they have to know - that posting comments like "if only they tried a littler harder," "all calories are the same" and various other canards that overweight people know from personal experience are not true, will cause them emotional pain. And yet they don't care. Some will be amazingly bigoted in their statments, some will be merely callous, some will just be ignorant. But almost none will run their comments through that "common decency" filter in their minds before posting; the feelings of others, that they take into consideration in almost every other case, simply do not come into play here. And only here. Only when talking about the overweight do the usual standards get to be gleefully ignored.

And that, IMHO, is wrong.
posted by aaron at 4:21 PM on February 26, 2002


I disagree, Shadowkeeper. For example, the NAACP was founded in 1909. African-Americans had to band together themselves, and fight like hell for between 50-60 years, in order to gain the political power to force the government to mandate that they be treated as full citizens. Only after the Civil Rights Act did they actually receive acceptance in many parts of the country, after the legal barriers were removed and the more ignorant were forced to see for themselves that these people are as human as whites are.
posted by aaron at 4:26 PM on February 26, 2002


Wulfgar! - And by your own words, you make my case, NortonDC.

You'll have to be more explicit, because I'm not following you. My interpretation of your Jerome post was "The charts are wrong because this tremendous athlete is up here on the chart."

First of all, athleticism is not the same as health. Using someone to make a point about health because they are an athlete is a mistake.

Secondly, the fact that he scores highly on BMI does not invalidate the BMI threshholds because they are defined by populations, not individuals. This is why my statement about exceptions does not invalidate the BMI threshholds, because the rule for them already allows that not all individuals will be well served by them. The rule itself already incorporates allowances for exceptions to it's own main thrust, so individual exceptions do not invalidate the rule.

And regarding doctors and athletes, remember that it was the team doctors that fed NFL players steroids. Their professional interest lies in maximizing the athleticism of the players, not their health, and they are paid by the team owner, not the players
posted by NortonDC at 4:55 PM on February 26, 2002


Aaron, I mean no offense or disrespect when I say this, but before today I never thought I would agree with you completely and totally on any issue. The fact that it is somehow acceptable to ridicule certain groups shows that we are filled with knowledge about the rules of equality and tolerance, but not understanding of the basic principles behind them.
posted by Hildago at 5:06 PM on February 26, 2002


aaron: that'd be the 14th amendment, passed in 1868.
posted by sylloge at 5:12 PM on February 26, 2002


aaron - Every time a thread about race comes up, people don't start posting attacks about what a huge percentage of black men under age 30 are either currently in or have been through the American criminal justice system. Every time a thread about homosexuality comes up, we don't talk about how those disease-spreading homos ought to keep their dicks to themselves so they won't spread diseases that end up costing us all more in taxes and health insurance, to say nothing of the immorality of it all, oh my!

Blackness is not caused by criminal behavior. Homosexuality is not caused by where one sticks their dick. Fatness is caused by eating more calories than one burns.

As for my own participation, the "fat" side put words in my mouth and then attacked me for those things I did not say the first time I participated in a MetaFilter weight thread, so you need to reconsider your unilateral assignation of blame for the unpleasantness of these exchanges.
posted by NortonDC at 5:15 PM on February 26, 2002


aaron: that'd be the 14th amendment, passed in 1868.

Huh? What are you saying?

The laws in large parts of the country (and at a federal level as well) actively discriminated against African Americans until nearly 100 years after the 14th amendment. Those changes were not made until there was a significant political power behind those changes.

That's aaron's point, I believe. It seems pretty clear to me.
posted by daveadams at 5:31 PM on February 26, 2002


Norton, give up. Clearly, any reference to self-control with regard to this issue will be interpreted as some sort of vicious assault.

I have been fat and thin. I like to think that gives me a little perspective. But others may think that makes my opinion even more worthless. Whatever. As to which side of this issue is given to hysterical screeching and finger-pointing, I have made up my mind about that. And there is a certain amount of defensiveness and fear with this issue, yes. But as to which side that is coming from...
posted by umberto at 5:34 PM on February 26, 2002


Blackness is not caused by criminal behavior. Homosexuality is not caused by where one sticks their dick. Fatness is caused by eating more calories than one burns.

Norton, the point is not whether or not something can be done about it. The point is that, invariably, threads related to weight in any way get sidetracked into a "well, if they only tried harder" fight like we've seen here rather than what they're supposed to be about.

This thread was about a person who is claiming she was refused a Jazzercise teaching job because of her weight. The question is not "could she lose the weight?" but instead "does her weight matter?" And yet, well over 75% of the comments are arguing about whether or not she could lose the weight if only she really tried.

But what does that have to do with it? Nothing! The frustration with threads like this that I think aaron is expressing (and that I share) is that the real issues don't get discussed.

In a hypothetical thread about whether or not sodomy laws should be repealed, I hope we wouldn't see a bunch of arguing over whether or not homosexuals should stop having anal and oral sex, because you know that they could if they would just try harder. And in fact, I don't think we would see that.

Yet weight-related threads always get derailed on that track because of people who insist on arguing that "well, if they'd only try harder!!"

Does that make sense? I'm not trying to get you to change your mind about anything, just to see our point of view, which it doesn't appear to me that you are getting.
posted by daveadams at 5:38 PM on February 26, 2002


"ZachsMind, that's the first post you've ever made that I agree with 100% ;)"

Ook, I'll try not to let it happen again. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 5:39 PM on February 26, 2002


I'm not trying to get you to change your mind about anything, just to see our point of view,

I guess I just admitted that I'm looking for "validation". ~Kill me now!~
posted by daveadams at 5:43 PM on February 26, 2002


ZachsMind, that's the first post you've ever made that I agree with 100%

He usually types so much it's impossible not to find at least something to disagree with. :)
posted by daveadams at 5:44 PM on February 26, 2002


daveadams:
What was this story really about though? A woman is refused an aerobics instruction job because of her weight, perhaps in spite of how qualified she is. HHH's pov and his opponents' are what this news story is fundamentally about. I'll agree wholeheartedly that he was being an asshole about it, though.
posted by ODiV at 6:31 PM on February 26, 2002


If someone who eats to much and grows fat is guilty of wasting resources then people who exercise and fritter away those valuable calories on jogging are what? Wastrels, all of them. If you're gobbling valuable resources at least have something to show for it! It's the least you can do.

Can I also say that Americans are exemplary in their tolerance of fat people, compared to Europeans? Because they are, in every possible way. It's admirable.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:59 PM on February 26, 2002


too much, dammit.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:01 PM on February 26, 2002


Blackness is not caused by criminal behavior. Homosexuality is not caused by where one sticks their dick. Fatness is caused by eating more calories than one burns.

Come on, lets be honest, and stop lying to ourselves. You can't blame everything on genetics. Skin color is genetic, most people believe (including me) that sexual preference is genetic. Obesity is genetic too, but only to an extent, and not for everyone.

When I was 17 I was 6 feet tall, and I weighted just about over 200lbs. My weight wasn't genetic. It was there because I was sedentary, and I really didn't care enough to do anything about it. I'm 19 now, and I'm down to about 165-170lbs. It took about 6 months for me to lose the 30-40lbs, and I've kept it off since. I could have blamed my weight on genetics, but I only would have been lying to myself.

For the most part, as a species, we're pretty lazy. That's why this country has such a big service industry. It's easier to get fast food than it is to make dinner from scratch. It's easier to watch TV than run. It's easier to drive short distances than walk or ride a bike. We're a nation of convenience.

Inside you know if it's genetics or not that's causing your weight to be at the point it's at. If it is, I'm sorry. I know what you're going though, and it sucks. If it isn't, then stop fronting about it, and take some steps to rectify the situation.

On another interesting tangent, many books have been published about the extreme increase of obesity in America over the past 40 years (Most cases of which, are not linked to genetics). The one that stands out the most to me is "Fast Food Nation". It talks about many of the same subjects that this thread does. It's 10 bucks at Amazon, and really good read if you're interested in the subject.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:26 PM on February 26, 2002


I agree, Miguel.

argybarg:

Go search the thread and see if anyone used the phrase "weight challenged." Go see if anyone used any other euphemistic/PC phrase or asked anyone else to. Where? I was one of the earliest one shouting at HHH, and I use "fat" and "obese."
I am quite aware no one used those word specifically. See, the problem I think Metafilter and Metatalk has is that most of you can't see the friggin forest through the trees. You pick apart a comment bit by bit instead of reading and comprehending the whole freakin' point.

I was using the pc words to make a point. While no one has out and said it, all the flak I see coming back is from the "oh, fat people should be better understood because it isn't their fault' and 'you don't know what its like' and 'you are all saying that fat people are automatically bad people' comment side.

You take the most extreme read of anything and then go to the opposite extreme to fight it. I don't give a crap if your reason is because you are sensitive to the issue. You're discussing a fucking issue, then you should discuss the full range off all possibilities, not ignore the presence of something because someone might get offended.

Ergh. Also this comment I made doesn't seem to have been understood:

" Political correctness runs rampant and when a certain 'class' is protected or defended because a minority is being 'prejudiced' against is the same thing as saying that all black people are criminals because a high percentage of crome in inner cities is committed by blacks."

I said the class of obese people who have a disposition to it and a valid problem is a minority among obese people who are fat because of the way our USA society is. Using a small group like that to herald obese anti-discrimination laws is wrong. Just as it is wrong to say all black people are criminals because a high percentage of criminals in inner cities are black.

I may have issues with political correctness, but only when it is used as a shield against logic and good judgement. I've read the threads, as I always have. I'm offended by the condescending accusation.

I've seen more posts by the people pissed off by Harry whatever hat whining that everyone is saying the fat people are terrible and everyone can't loose weight. Most of the posts I see that stray from that are focusing on distinctions, the law, and deeper insights while you have posts like aaron's taking pardonyou to task for no reason:

" Where the hell did that ad hominem come from? On what half-assed evidence do you base your conclusion that I'm "prejudiced"?"

From here:

But people can choose (to some extent) not to weigh 240 pounds. Similarly, most people believe that blacks are not inferior to whites, women are not inferior to men, those over 40 are not inferior to those under 40. But almost everbody believes that it's bad to be 240 pounds, and it's preferable to be, say, 150 (from a health standpoint -- setting aside "attractiveness").

You're saying that all that matters is what people believe, even if that belief is false.


completely ignoring the point pardonyou was making and attacking the content without perspective. From the previous posts all about the scientifics of it all, I understood this 'believing' to be based on rational thought. It is unhealthy to be over 240 pounds. It's not a prejudice, it is, for the majority of us who aren't nose tackles or bavarian lumberjacks, unhealthy. But aaron spins it so cockeyed since he's so insensced, he can't seem to read anything without coloring it his way.

Jeeze, this is long now. But this is the second time someone has accused me of not reading a thread and posting, and it pisses me off. Just because you have a view drastic from mine, I don't up and call you a moron. Don't do it to me. I respect people here enough to think they are intelligent enough that they don't need me to spoonfeed them.
posted by rich at 8:46 PM on February 26, 2002


Inside you know if it's genetics or not that's causing your weight to be at the point it's at. If it is, I'm sorry. I know what you're going though, and it sucks. If it isn't, then stop fronting about it, and take some steps to rectify the situation.

Is that an order?
I'll choose what I do with my body, thanks all the same.

posted by normy at 9:50 PM on February 26, 2002


aaron stated: "by "morbidly obese" I mean people who are, by definition, unquestionably extremely overweight in a way that guarantees they will indeed keep packing on the pounds without being under a hospital-surpervised, constantly-monitored weight less program, because they're so big that they literally have lost the ability to move around."

In that case, aaron, you were misusing the phrase "morbidly obese" which is roughly defined as 100 pounds over Ideal Body Mass. Your point was lost because you were attributing only the most extreme characteristics to the entire classification, and this negated what would otherwise have been a sound argument.

After my heart-bypass, I ballooned up to 240 lbs, which for my build is morbidly obese. I am down to 200 lbs without the aid of "a hospital-surpervised, constantly-monitored weight less program". The only monitoring I have is a liver test every 3 months because I am on anti-choloesterol medications. I am sure you personally know people who are morbidly obese and who do not match your inaccurate definition.

When you misuse medical terms, misunderstanding ensues.
posted by mischief at 4:54 AM on February 27, 2002


In no way do I claim to be unbiased. In no way do I claim that HHH isn't trolling. However, I do think his larger point (as I understand it) is a valid one: What became of shame? It's clearly lost in this thread. I'm sure some of the people complaining are victims of glandular disorders or whatever. Ok. But the problem isn't that. It never was.

This thread's a good example of the point-- every pleasantly plump MetaFilter member expressed their disgust through their dextrous (if sugar-dusted) fingers, instead of resolving to skip Arby's at lunch and go jogging.

A less (but not much so) troubling example would be HHH's point about teen pregnancy: yes it's terrible for the people whose lives get wrecked/ derailed by it, but does that mean we have to accept it as a part of society? We can't stop working to prevent it because it hurts teen moms' feelings.

Then again, maybe I should sit here and do nothing. That seems to be the general direction most threads recommend.

posted by yerfatma at 6:00 AM on February 27, 2002


Great. Now Harry will have another fathead to keep him company in exile.
posted by rcade at 7:00 AM on February 27, 2002


Just a thought from someone who participated in this thread - to my mind, it was overall a good discussion, with the exception of HHH's blatant insults. I disagreed with some people, but I don't think they were being unreasonable. I think that because most of us tried to keep our comments to a reasonable length, without including all the detailed caveats, others of us tended to interpret the comments as more extreme than they might have been. For example, many people were making the point that it is physically possible for just about everyone to lose weight. This does not necessarily mean that anyone in particular should lose weight, that it's easy for to lose weight, or that people who don't lose weight are somehow lazy or less worthwhile human beings. Therefore, the people making that point were not necessarily attacking fat people - you need to look to other comments from thse individuals to guess their motivation. Another topic which was debated at length was whether being fat inherently carries health risks. Once again, this is a discussion of medical fact, not a value judgement on any person. I was one of the people arguing the the correlation between obesity and health risks is correlational, not causal & that functional fitness is the thing to look at. Because I de-emphasized the importance of weight, some people may have thought I was saying "don't worry about being a couch potato," which certainly wasn't my point. Anyway, I guess my point here is that in a forum like this, it's best to take the most positive spin on what each person actually says, rather than lump them into whose side you think they're on. (As in - "My god, he said that fat can be a health risk - he must be a jerk like HHH who thinks that fat people are too lazy to hold a job.")
posted by tdismukes at 7:47 AM on February 27, 2002


yerfatma --

You're right. Our culture just goes way too easy on fat people. We need to crack down -- otherwise, they won't feel shame! They're not suffering enough for their sin of being fat. Probably they're being mollycoddled by a bunch of softhearted leftists. As it is, fat people are walking around thinking they might get away with being happy with themselves. That has to stop.
posted by argybarg at 8:44 AM on February 27, 2002


Now Harry will have another fathead to keep him company in exile.

A shockingly poor choice of words. Other than that, thank you for your cogent comments.

Argybargy, that's not what I meant, not what I meant at all. I don't think fat people should be ashamed. I don't think it's a sin (ok, technically it could be gluttony, case-depending). I'm simply asking where societal permissiveness stops. Do we accept gluttony and sloth to avoid hurting the feelings of people who are genetically handicapped?
posted by yerfatma at 8:48 AM on February 27, 2002


Do we accept gluttony and sloth to avoid hurting the feelings of people who are genetically handicapped?

Why is it anyone's business but the individual involved to "accept" anything? Why do you feel it's up to you to accept or not accept how other people choose to live their lives, when those choices have no direct impact on you?

And saying this: "every pleasantly plump MetaFilter member expressed their disgust through their dextrous (if sugar-dusted) fingers, instead of resolving to skip Arby's at lunch and go jogging" certainly doesn't do much to make you seem like a non-troll (unless I'm missing some kind of sarcasm in there). Why would you assume that everyone who objected to the ignorance exhibited in the threads on this topic was secretly defending themselves instead of simply speaking out against bigotry? And why does expressing an opinion make someone worthy of a snide ad hominem attack? If you have an argument, make the argument, but making contemptuous jokes about "sugar-dusted fingers" and "skipping Arby's" is just puerile.
posted by biscotti at 10:06 AM on February 27, 2002


Is that an order?
I'll choose what I do with my body, thanks all the same.


Yeah, I'm ordering you to get thin. Now drop and give me 20.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:50 AM on February 27, 2002


And why does expressing an opinion make someone worthy of a snide ad hominem attack?

I thought that was the point of being here. M'bad.
posted by yerfatma at 12:09 PM on February 27, 2002


Do we accept gluttony and sloth

Why shouldn't we? Why are these things bad, outside a strict religious context?
posted by daveadams at 2:10 PM on February 27, 2002


I am overweight, AND I believe that the woman in question should not have been hired.

I think this is a complicated issue, and we could have had a really interesting discussion about it. Instead, the argument seemed to immediately turn into a meta-argument about who is bigoted, who has the right to say what, what sort of opinions it's appropriate to express, what was the spirit of the original post, how much it's appropriate to diverge from the spirit of the original post, and what the difference is between someone trolling and someone expressing an opinion so much different from your own that you can't believe they really hold it.

This thread and the related thread on MeFi are not that far apart in content. To repeat something I said on another MeTa thread about the Israel/Palestine conflict: I wish we could just have the argument, instead of having an argument about the argument.

As a person who has a lot of experience with obesity, weight loss, weight gain, and various kinds of diet and exercise programs, I do think that there were a lot of incorrect assumptions expressed or implied by people who don't seem to know what it means to be fat. However, I think there were at least an equal number of ridiculous things said in defense of being fat by people who are apparently fat and have a chip on their shoulder about it. Such people do not speak for me. I was not offended by a single thing that was said insofar as the discussion itself was concerned; I was really annoyed by the indignity and condescension coming from all directions in the meta-discussion, much of which was not on MeTa to begin with.
posted by bingo at 2:16 PM on February 27, 2002


For example, many people were making the point that it is physically possible for just about everyone to lose weight.

This goes right back to my argument about the differences in treatment towards the class of fat people vs. all other classes on MeFi (and the world in general, but we're talking about MeFi here). Whenever such even-slightly-potentially-inflammatory "mere points" are made in any other discussion about any other class, they are always prefaced or postfaced by some disclaimer by the poster along the lines of, "Now, I of course am totally pro-{insert class here}, but still it is a fact that..." Yet in the weight threads, those little disclaimers practically never show up. The "fact" is merely dumped into the middle of the conversation, and the reader is left to infer what the poster is truly getting at. Given that, nobody should act the least bit surprised that many readers, including myself, believe that there is a definite, intentionally unstated, implication being made in such posts like "it really IS physically possible for everyone to lose weight, you know." Especially when these posts are made after detailed explanations of why that mere fact is largely (ahem) irrelevant in many obesity cases.

If posters don't want fat people to think they're getting shit on in these threads, then said posters should start participating in such threads the same way they do to all other threads about certain classes of people. They don't, and it is noticed.
posted by aaron at 2:36 PM on February 27, 2002


I agree with you, mischief. I erred in the use of that phrase.
posted by aaron at 2:39 PM on February 27, 2002


Why shouldn't we? Why are these things bad, outside a strict religious context?

Er, if you're arguing that eating whatever you want or taking it easy aren't necessarily bad things, go ahead. If you're asking me if gluttony or sloth are bad things, I'm going to say yes. The words have negative connotations built in.
posted by yerfatma at 3:39 PM on February 27, 2002


aaron - I totally understand why you might "believe that there is a definite, intentionally unstated, implication being made in such posts." In many cases, I expect you are totally right. However, as someone who I think was on the same side as you for most of the thread in question, let me offer another possibility as to why some people of honest goodwill might approach these points differently from the way they would in a discussion of race, gender, religion, etc. There are two big issues in our culture concerning weight/fat. The first is the issue of prejudice - unreasoning judgement on a person's worth, appearance or character due to their weight. The second issue is one of perceived health risks due to weight. (Actually due to lack of fitness, but we've discussed that already.) The problem is that the two issues have somehow become conflated to where one party to a discussion thinks that the topic is issue A & the other thinks it's issue B. To get back to your analogy with other groups - It's a fact that black americans have certain increased health risks compared to white americans, including some(hypertension for example) which are the same as overweight people. However I can mention that fact without having to say "I don't think that black people are bad people, but they have increased risk of heart disease and hypertension." You'd probably think it was strange if I did phrase it that way.
Anyway, my point is that while some of the people whose points offended you may have been coming from a standpoint of prejudiced judgement, others may legitimately have been trying to address what they saw as valid health concerns. They may also have been reacting to comments such as my first comment where I discussed the complexity of metabolism & setpoints, thinking that I was claiming that it is physically impossible for fat people to lose weight. As far as who is which, who knows?, but in a forum like this where most of us don't know each other very well and can't pick up on body language cues, I'd rather take the charitable interpretation of peoples motives wherever possible.

bingo - I'm not sure if I'm one of the people who you considered to be making ridiculous claims in defense of fat, However, for the record, I'm a naturally skinny person who has given up on trying to gain weight because it's not worth it to maintain the 4500 calorie per day intake that I need to maintain any sort of heavier weight. I also, in the course of 21 years in the martial arts have investigated (through reading, trial&error, and observation) quite a lot of topics having to do with fitness on all levels. It doesn't make me infallible, but I do have at least some basis for my views. (If I'm not one of the people you were aiming that at, then never mind.)
posted by tdismukes at 3:55 PM on February 27, 2002


we could have had a really interesting discussion about it. Instead, the argument seemed to immediately turn into a meta-argument about...

That's true, but first it turned into a discussion about whether all fat people are lazy and should just try harder to meet an arbitrary ideal.

Most of the meta stuff you mentioned occurred over here, I think, where it belongs. This thread should not be about discussing the topic, it should be about discussing what happened over on Mefi.

I'm a naturally skinny person who has given up on trying to gain weight because it's not worth it

^I'm concerned about your health. If you only would try a little harder, you could gain some weight and join in normal society.^ ~In the end, all skinny people are lazy or lack the self-discipline to just eat enough to keep that weight on.~

just a joke, don't hurt me
posted by daveadams at 8:53 PM on February 27, 2002


That's true, but first it turned into a discussion about whether all fat people are lazy and should just try harder to meet an arbitrary ideal.

You must know that isn't really true. Whether or not the ideal is arbitrary, and how ideal it is, and for what reasons, was part of the argument. The fact that I am probably with you on this particular issue doesn't mean I don't think we should have had that argument. Also, the idea that all fat people are lazy is a widely-held prejudice. I agree it's wrong, but it doesn't do any good to get all indignant about the fact that some people are lucky enough never to have had a fat person's perspective. They have the right to say they think it's laziness if that's what they think. I think that in that case it's appropriate to respond with reasons why they are wrong, not by calling them bigots or trolls.
posted by bingo at 11:09 PM on February 27, 2002


There is a distinct difference when you discuss 'classes of people' and you are discussing race, ethnicity, religion, sex, or sexual preference compared to discussing somthing that has much more involved in it.

Now don't read this an 'all encompassing' statement:

You can't change your race, sexual orientation, or sex. Except on the extremes, religion, sexual orientation, race, and sex don't have anything to do with health problems that can be prevented or mitigated. While you can change the religion you choose, freedom in religion is based upon being able to choose what you believe in, on faith, and not have someone tell you your *faith* is wrong.

Obesity, while in a minority occurs from genetic problems, is, in general (but not always) something that can be changed, and in many cases is scientifically shown to be unhealthy even in mild cases. Being obese has nothing to do with faiths or beliefs (beliefs being defined in the religous context). In the U.S. in general, obesity is a higher problem than the rest of the world due to our society and norms of unhealthy diets (not just fast food, but just general nutrition awareness).

(yes, belonging to a certain race can make you inclined towards medical problems like sickle cell, but there is a large difference between saying - from a medical point of view, someone should loose some weight for their health and saying someone shouldn't be black because being black makes you more likely to have sickle cell.)

I think people take comments such as 'overweight people should loose weight' to immediately be an accusation that they are lazy, which I don't think is a fair leap. I think there are many programs and medical solutions out there to help people loose weight, but for all the marketing and scientific studies there are very few programs that are consistantly effective long-term and help address more than the weight issue and get into the psychological help side, as well.

But in the end, this whole 'class' evaluation and saying that people should be nice to obese people because they're fat, and that there is a culture of anti-fat people on Metafilter is stupid and paranoid.


posted by rich at 11:56 AM on February 28, 2002


I think people take comments such as 'overweight people should loose weight' to immediately be an accusation that they are lazy

Comments like HHH's are the ones that get people riled up about people saying fat people are lazy, since that is, in essence, exactly what he said. Comments like yours above are the ones that make people say "what makes you think it's any of your business to tell someone else to lose weight?".

saying that people should be nice to obese people because they're fat

If you think that this is what people were saying I think you need to reread the thread. People were saying that discrimination is discrimination, and that it's bad in whatever form it takes. They were also saying that there's an unspoken acceptance of discrimination against obese people, which there pretty clearly is. As for your statement that being obese is "scientifically shown to be unhealthy even in mild cases", I'd like to see your evidence, since it's nearly impossible to separate the obesity itself from the sedentary lifestyle and poor diet common to many mildly obese people, since the same health problems occur in sedentary thin people with poor diets and *don't* tend to occur in active people who eat healthy diets regardless of their weight.
posted by biscotti at 12:47 PM on February 28, 2002


I think people take comments such as 'overweight people should loose weight' to immediately be an accusation that they are lazy

When HHH said (It's a direct quote!) "fat people are lazy", that seems pretty clear to me, though.

Instead of coming up with something new to add to this really old topic, I will instead point to my old rant from it from last summer, and rebeccablood's much more rational and wonderful followup post. Aaron has some good comments in that thread, which is worth reading to get a good perspective on why overweight mefites might feel put upon by the overwhelming idea that it's okay to insult and degrade people who are overweight.
posted by daveadams at 1:02 PM on February 28, 2002


saying that people should be nice to obese people because they're fat ... is stupid

I think people should be nice to everyone. Is that stupid?
posted by daveadams at 1:04 PM on February 28, 2002


But in the end, this whole 'class' evaluation and saying that people should be nice to obese people because they're fat, and that there is a culture of anti-fat people on Metafilter is stupid and paranoid.

Unbelievable. Jaw-droppingly beyond the pale, and a perfect example of what's wrong with your attitude, and so many others'. The ONLY way to interpret that bolded statement is: "It's fine to be rude, hateful and bigoted towards fat people." For the record, nobody is saying "people should be nice to obese people because they're fat, we're saying you should be nice to them because they're PEOPLE, period, who haven't done anything to you. If you try to argue otherwise, your rationalizations are no different from those of a Klansman, and you should fully expect to be responded to as such.

tdismukes, I think you make some very good points. Unfortunately, rich shows why I can't fully accept all of them. Yes, a few people are just trying to make an honest scientific statement, but most of them really are trying to use those scientific statements as excuses to show that overweight people are inferior human beings that somehow deserve whatever shit they get.

posted by aaron at 1:08 PM on February 28, 2002


No, dave, that isn't stupid. And that was really my point..

Biscottie - yes, discrimination is discrimination, but I think one of the questions was if there really was a case for discrimination for the original article in question.

As for being nice to people and all.. if I were to say that people who wear glasses can't read well, isn't that more relatable to saying that obese people usually tend to be unhealthy, medically (if not in lifestyle/diet)? As opposed to relating the obese comments to making Rosa Parks sitting in the back of the bus for nothing more than the color of her skin?

I'm reading comments that make me feel like obese people consider themselves in the same role as Rosa Parks and I just can't bring myself to go all the way on putting them on the same playing field.

I don't think the majority of comments on metafilter about obesity degrade people who are overweight - I do think that many comments are taken by people sensitive to the subject way out of context and read way too far into. (And yes, I agree that HHH's comments that being fat means being lazy is an ignorant viewpoint as a generalization, just as any generalization ends up being fairly wrong).

Aaron, I don't think people should yell 'hey fatty' or sit an obese person in a back room away from everyone else. I don't think anywhere have I even came close to inferring fat people are inferior human beings than anyone else. You reading that in what I'm saying just boggles my mind.

As for the "since the same health problems occur in sedentary thin people with poor diets and *don't* tend to occur in active people who eat healthy diets regardless of their weight. " I agree with you. But, people who are active and eat healthy diets tend to weigh closer to their frame. Healthy people who are still 'obese' are likely to fall in the minority of obese people (just as people who look/are anorexic are, in the majority, unhealthy).

(and yes, I am generalizing, but with caveats and averages as opposed to saying 'everyone falls into this or that', so be sure to read it that way)
posted by rich at 1:54 PM on February 28, 2002


aaron writes:

...The ONLY way to interpret that bolded statement is...

...If you try to argue otherwise, your rationalizations are no different from those of a Klansman...


I can't imagine any context in which either one of these lines would be written by anyone with a sincere interest in having a real discussion about anything.


posted by bingo at 9:36 PM on February 28, 2002


I can't imagine any context in which either one of these lines would be written by anyone with a sincere interest in having a real discussion about anything.

::cough:: cheap shot ::cough::

Stick to the argument.
posted by BlueTrain at 9:42 PM on February 28, 2002


Well, BlueTrain.. bingo was right.. aaron was trying to goad me in the same way he accuses people like HHH of being inflamitory. But at least he continues to discuss and expand on his points unlike others that lob accusations and run away like argybald.

But I'm completely confident aaron and I will come to understand we agree, except maybe on the level of legal protection obese people should have.
posted by rich at 6:25 AM on March 1, 2002


This thread and the related thread on MeFi are not that far apart in content. To repeat something I said on another MeTa thread about the Israel/Palestine conflict: I wish we could just have the argument, instead of having an argument about the argument.

Metafilter is for having arguments. Metatalk is for having arguments about arguments.
posted by laz-e-boy at 7:33 AM on May 8, 2002


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