Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is it Because of All the Fat?

I guess I didn't really envision the United states as a country that would be overly concerned about who the Surgeon General is going to be. Then again, I didn't really envision the United States as a country that would, in 1994, practically run an acting Surgeon General out of town simply because she stated that PERHAPS masturbation should be taught as something that is an ALTERNATIVE to having sex. But if you'll fast forward to 2009 you'll find the same sort of folks who were up in arms about Joycelyn Elders are gearing up their fake outrage for President Barry's nomination for Surgeon General, a one Dr. Regina Benjamin. Behold!


She seems to be ridiculously qualified for the position. Then again, what I know about the requirements for being Surgeon General is just a little bit more than what I know about being either a surgeon OR a general, which is to say "very little". I do know that she wasn't President Barry's first choice however. No, he had originally gone with Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN. Not sure why Dr. Gupta decided to turn down that position, though I speculate it might have something to do with the guy from Harold and Kumar go to White Castle getting placed in a position as the liaison to the Asian American community right around the same time that Dr. Gupta was tapped by President Barry.

So what's the problem? What's the fake outrage? The fakerage. Well, if you ask those over there at
ABC News you'll see by their headline that "Critics Slam Overweight Surgeon General Pick, Regina Benjamin". Below that it reads "Leading Experts Say Dr. Benjamin, Though Stellar Nominee, Gives Wrong Message". Why do I have the feeling that the story from ABC News is going to give the wrong message? Oh, that's right. Because it does!

Dr. Benjamin is not a svelte woman. That being said, she is not an obese woman either. When I first saw a photo of her, the one thing that I did not think was, "Oh, my God! She's HUGE! How can SHE be Surgeon General with all of that girth to lug around?!" Her weight never entered my mind. I was too busy being impressed by her credentials and how she rebuilt her southern Alabama health clinic after it was flattened by Hurricane Katrina. But apparently people are thinking that she shouldn't be Surgeon General because of her weight. Um, what?

For some reason, the story seems to center around the opinions of, yes, you guessed it, BLOGGERS! WHY on earth ABC News is turning to the opinion of a random blogger is beyond me. (And if you think about it, another word for "blogger" would be "human". So random humans don't like this woman potentially being the next Surgeon General. Yawn.) Not even just RANDOM bloggers, but random AND anonymous bloggers that ABC News feels the need to cite as if they are the "leading experts" that we read about at the beginning. They actually have this as part of their story: "The job of surgeon general is to make health care and policy decisions for the country -- not to look hot in a pair of skinny jeans," said one blogger on Frisky.com. "Perhaps her size could actually be an advantage -- she's in a better position to understand obesity and contemplate out-of-the-box ways to roll back ever-expanding American waistlines." Good Lord.

I realize that we'd dropped a notch or two as far as our dignity as a nation overall goes, but I had no idea we'd slipped to this level. Quoting anonymous bloggers from Frisky.com. (What is that? Pet food?) But the Frisky bloggers weren't the only ones typing anonymously about this subject. The bloggers at Salon.com were going at it as well. They weren't quite a subtle as I would have liked, with a one Francis Kissling writing "From her photos, it appears that Dr. Benjamin will need a generous size 18 military uniform." I'd really wish that, instead of discussing what this woman weighs, if they need to discuss the inane, could explain to me why the Surgeon General is a General at all? Do they really need a military uniform? Aren't they just a "general" in the same way that Cap'n Crunch is a "captain" (or cap'n)?

As far as those "leading experts" go, they talked with a one Dr. Marcia Angell who is a lecturer at Harvard, and she said, "I think it is an issue, but then the president is said to still smoke cigarettes. It tends to undermine her credibility." I noticed that she didn't say that smoking cigarettes undermines President Barry's credibility. Maybe because in both cases, it doesn't! What else lady? "We don't know how much she weighs and just looking at her I would not say she is grotesquely obese or even overweight enough to affect her health, but I do think at a time when a lot of public health concern is about the national epidemic of obesity, having a surgeon general who is noticeably overweight raises questions in people's minds." What?!

No, we don't know how much she weighs and we don't need to! And of course she's not grotesquely obese! Did you think that President Barry had appointed Manuel Uribe, the world's fattest man, to be the Surgeon General? OK, THAT I could see some outrage over! But THIS? Come on! Besides, if the public was really concerned about the "national epidemic of obesity", don't you think that there wouldn't BE a national epidemic of obesity? The obese are not the ones who are concerned, that's why they're obese!

This insulting article went on to quote the next "leading expert" that they could find. This time it was a one Lillie Shockney, the administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center. She sounded off with, "When a teenager listens to this person I want them to listen and respond in a positive way. Not say ho-hum and then drive to a fast food place." Oh, boy. OH, no. Allow ME to take care of this one!

First of all, if this woman is thinking that the teenager today would say "ho-hum", that shows you her level of being in touch with things. Next, how many teenagers are going to be listening to the Surgeon General? Just wondering. Because I don't think it's going to be all that many or at least enough that would make it an issue for someone in that position.

So now we're deciding whether or not someone should hold a certain position of employment based upon their weight? Aside from it most likely being discriminatory to not select a qualified individual for a position based solely on how much they weigh, are we doing this with everything else too? So if you're a large individual, you shouldn't work in a grocery store because you'll give the impression that food makes you fat? If you're a large individual, you shouldn't be a psychologist or mental health counselor because you can't even control your own eating, how are you possibly going to be able to get other people to control their own lives? You probably also shouldn't be working at a clothing store (unless it's for the big and the tall), a sporting goods store, a book store (all of that reading when you should clearly be exercising, that sets a bad example), and a host of other places as well, right? NO. Of course not.

But what I find completely amazing about all of this is that I haven't seen ONE person mention or question as to whether or not Dr. Benjamin's extra poundage is a result of the eating happenings more than the exercising or whether it's some sort of a genetic condition. You know, like Oprah and her thyroid (or whatever she blamed her latest sweet potato pie binge that lasted four months on). All of these people are just assuming that she's overeating. Nice. I'm glad this is being looked at so reasonably and rationally by folks. What a bunch of morons. Nice job, "leading experts". Couldn't at least ONE of you have brought that up?

After reading some of the comments over there at Salon.com I became pretty discouraged (yet again) about society in general. Reasonable people, like you, like me, can see the weakness in this even being an issue for people. But when I read comments like this one below from commenter Edward Noodleburg is when I realize what we're really up against. Behold! Idiocy!

"In a nation plagued by overweight-related health problems, the last thing we should do is have an overweight person as Surgeon General!

"This reminds me of the outrageousness of Michael J. Fox advocating for research towards a cure for Parkinson's disease! When he himself perpetrates that very disease by having it! What a hypocrite!" Oh. My. God.

That's it. We're doomed. People are actually engaging in discussion as to whether or not someone should be Surgeon General if they are overweight and not one person can see how such an action or decision would be discriminatory. None of them paid any attention to whether or not this was a genetic issue or something else. And not only do they not see the discrimination, they advocate for those very actions! And then we have the comment from Mr. Noodlehead up there that equates the argument to that of Michael J. Fox perpetuating Parkinson's Disease. Good Lord. Just shoot me now.

Naturally, we can't see pictures of any of these people, but I'd have to guess that a fair amount would fit into that "grotesquely obese" category (if there were any room). She's going to be Surgeon General, so I would suggest that everyone who is expressing their fakerage over it just start getting used to the idea. But don't despair. Maybe she'll talk about masturbation and then you guys can run her out of town just like the other one.

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