Big excitement in New York City right now as Mayor Eric Adams has just signed a bill barring individuals from being discriminated against for their height and weight when it comes to access to employment, public housing and public accommodation. Essentially, this is designed to make obese people (anyone with a Body Mass Index > 30) a protected class, along with the other 19 protected classes in NYC such as race, age, disability, sexual orientation, immigration status, etc. The legislation takes effect at the turn of the year, at which point the fun will begin.
The legislation did not come as much of a surprise. For a few years now heavy set people have been pushing the idea – using the mantra “body positivity” – that being overweight is entirely natural and not at all unhealthy, while at the same time saying it makes them vulnerable to discrimination. In fact, they even claim that fatness is caused by discrimination. Whenever a group of people in the more lefty parts of the country even whisper the word discrimination, legislation follows as surely as night does day.
The weight discrimination bill reflects a remarkable change in Mayor Adams’s views. Seven years ago he successfully treated a diagnosis of diabetes with rigorous lifestyle changes. He dropped a lot of weight, eschewed fast food and became a vegan. Since then he has lobbied for healthier living as a means to cut down chronic illnesses. Only last year he commented in an editorial: “I have made it my mission to use what I learned and increase New Yorkers’ access to a high-quality, affordable, nutritious diet, so that more people can avoid diseases in the first place.”
Adams is spot on with the health stuff as obesity is one of the foremost health issues in the U.S. The CDC’s current data show that: “Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. These are among the leading causes of preventable, premature death.” The obesity rate among U.S. adults is 41.9%, and the estimated excess medical costs for our population is $173 Billion.
This begs the question: why should the obese be protected as they can diet and exercise just like Adams? However, the currently fashionable view is that obesity has social causes. Two “experts” from Harvard sum up one of these causes in a paper entitled “Is obesity a manifestation of systemic racism?” The paper answers the question with an enthusiastic yes, and states the cure for obesity lies in fighting the “systemic racism” that causes chronic stress which in turn causes obesity.
It would be hard to believe, even as little as 10 years ago, that two medical doctors would write such a paper. Are you sure it’s not down to over-eating guys? But these days it is par for the course. In a country where recent official pronouncements from medical groups such as the American Psychological Association state that gender dysphoria can be cured by poisoning children with chemicals and cutting off their body parts, it goes unnoticed. However, it explains why Adams has gone all Mayor Wokey and turned the obese into a protected class, rather than urging New Yorkers to eat fewer donuts.
Even if racism and other social factors do cause obesity, the evidence for them being discriminated against is a little threadbare. By “discrimination” what the porkers have in mind is hurty words, along with furniture not being designed to accommodate the grossly overweight. The New York Times reports one such example: “A student at New York University said that desks in classrooms were too small for her, preventing her from taking notes.” Nevertheless, being extremely fat has not held back people in their chosen profession. On the contrary, it can now be a boon. There is now a whole class of ‘plus-sizers’ whose careers are based on being heavy set, such as overweight actors and models/influencers, as well as singers like the 300lb Lizzo.
Americans are usually relaxed about how others want to live their lives. If overweight people want to celebrate the way they are or believe society is to blame by their inability to stop eating, the default attitude is that’s their business. However, a disturbing trend has emerged in the last 10 years or so where this live-and-live-and-let-live attitude is not enough for members of protected groups – they want to make us feel bad about oppressing them.
The poster child for all this is Colorado. Colorado’s anti-discrimination legislation made sexual orientation a protected class in 2008. No-one noticed until gay marriage activists went all Rosa Parks on a small bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, in 2012. They insisted on a cake being made for their gay wedding (a little strange as Colorado had not yet legalised gay marriage). The baker refused for religious reasons. The activists were supported by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the bakery lost in state court. But the Supreme Court overturned the ruling in 2018.
However, as soon as the Supremes announced their verdict, the activists were back, only this time they were down with the transgender struggle and wanted Masterpiece Cakeshop to bake a cake for a gender transition celebration. They won, although the judgment has not been tested in the Supreme Court yet. No cakes will ever be baked in this ongoing saga of course, because this nonsense is not about enjoying a cake, it’s about rubbing your enemies’ face in it.
Once a protected class magically appears, all kinds of mischief follows. The avalanche of lawsuits that will drop in ever-litigious New York City beginning next year will be awesome. As to what form these will take, a clue was provided by the “plus-size Influencer” Jae’lynn Chaney. She put up a well-timed petition on Change.org in April asking for “Body Equity” for Plus-size airline passengers. Her demands include bigger seats or two seats for the price of one, larger toilets on planes and training for airline staff in the needs of plus-size passengers. Ms. Chaney currently has the option of buying two seats together or getting a seat in business class, but she wants the airlines to buy them for her.
This is a growing movement in blue states. So far, six other cities like San Francisco, and one state, Michigan, have passed similar legislation, while New Jersey is looking at doing so. The heady mix of more discrimination, unscientific thinking and the joy of finding another way to tell people how to behave is irresistible to the Lefty authoritarians. Meanwhile, New York City will have to start working on how to pay for all the concessions made to the overweight that will be the inevitable result of the lawsuits.