People have every right to be dumb

By Tibor Machan: Syndicated Columnist

Suppose I decided to eat at a vegetarian restaurant morning, noon and evening, seven days a week, on and on, without a break. Just lettuce, nothing else.

I know it’s dumb — or peculiar — but there is nothing difficult about imagining it.

Many people are, indeed, dumb or peculiar, at least in some aspects of their lives. “Supersize Me,” the movie that bashes McDonald’s because there are quite a few such people who go there to eat virtually all the time, day after day, night after night, makes a great deal of this.

Of course, there are people who do similar things we all know about, like those who go to Las Vegas and sit by a slot machine day and night and that’s their vacation.

And there are kids who spend nearly all their days skateboarding, no matter how often they fall. And there are mountain climbers who spend all their spare time climbing those mountains, endlessly, climbing and climbing no matter how many others fall to their deaths, no matter how dangerous it is.

But the likes of Michael Moore and Rob Reiner — and even some at prestigious universities — just will not get it. Some people aren’t sensible or conventional.

Of course, the people making a federal case of the McDonald’s enthusiasm will not accept this as fact. They need an American villain, some typically American institution like big business, so they can then denounce not the stupid or peculiar people who are overeating of their own free will but the McDonald’s big business people who are, you guessed it, coercing them all to come and eat there.

This is all bunk! I love McDonald’s French fries — every six months or so I indulge myself in a large portion and then look forward to, with anticipation, when I plan to do it again, six months or so later. Do I indulge myself every day? No way. Would I like doing so if I didn’t have to pay for it in various adverse side effects? Sure I would. But I don’t. I like not being dumb or even very peculiar.

Am I smart or conventional about everything like I am about resisting the temptation to gorge myself on McDonald’s French fries? No, I am not. If you knew me better, you could probably spot a character flaw and peculiarity or two that would show that I, too, hover near caving into some things odd, even self-destructive, in my life.

But all of it is not irresistible — I could also do otherwise, if I choose to do so. Indeed, now and then I decide to drop one of my habits for good.

What is contemptible about the Michael Moore types is how they assume people have no will of their own. They contend it is only because big businesses advertise fat foods that people eat fat foods. Never mind that millions of people who are exposed to the same ads do not choose to make McDonald’s their breakfast, lunch and dinner day in and day out.

It is interesting that after the last presidential campaign it was always the Right Wing charged with focusing on so-called moral values. That is entirely wrong. The Michael Moore types on the Left — his buddies Rob Reiner, Al Franken, et al — are all moralists and worse. They not only preach the morality of temperance when it comes to fast foods and such, they want their morality shoved down everyone’s throat. They aren’t happy with advocating. They are wannabe tyrants. Just look what they did about smoking, getting it prohibited at private restaurants and bars!

It’s one thing to urge people not to be dumb or carry on indulging themselves perhaps unwisely, imprudently. It’s entirely another to coerce them to act as you would want them to act.

Tibor Machan advises Freedom Communications, parent company of this newspaper. E-mail him at: machan@chapman.edu