January 21, 2011

"Do Not Feed Donuts To Your Obese Children."

"Every time I read something about childhood obesity... this Tim Minchin song starts to play in my head. Yes, it's harsh, brutal even, very nearly bullying. But... um... you gotta admit that there's a grain Cinnabun or two of truth to it."

Says Dan Savage — who needs to say more about what he really thinks about the role of bullying in the process of growing up. He writes about bullying a lot and I think his promotion of this song shows he's not too consistent about it. Is it that it's bad to bully gay kids but good to bully fat kids — because it's good to be gay but bad to be fat? Bullying is a mechanism of social control. Is the mechanism itself wrong, or is the wrong limited to using the mechanism for the wrong end?

By the way, it's Cinnabon — "bon" as in "C'est Si Bon" — and you can be a fan of it on Facebook.



ADDED: The awesomeness of that Jane Morgan video made me pick it over a couple of fabulous alternatives. Check out Eartha Kitt and Louis Armstrong.

64 comments:

peter hoh said...

Savage gets quite a bit of pushback regarding his comments about weight.

He knows that these comments generate a certain amount of notoriety. I think he likes knowing that he can push some people's buttons.

It's part of the blogger personality, don't you think?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Roly Poly back when it was OK to have chubby children

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

The obvious difference is that being gay is not a choice and being fat (in the vast majority of cases) is a choice.

Moose said...

Nobody harder on smoking than an ex-smoker. Same goes for anyone thats rejecting anything they have a weakness for. And God help you if you're being lectured by someone who's vegetarian/vegan/health-food-obsessed. Cause you see - thats not bullying. It's *concern*.

Moose said...

Hey, Jesus:


Prove the second part. Shit - prove the first part while you're at it...

Scott M said...

because it's good to be gay but bad to be fat?

I've known quite a lot of gay men that hated fat for fat's sake. The human attached to the fat was less than a person in their eyes, hence the "well, I'm straight skinny, but gay fat" lament I've heard ad infinitum.

More often than not, as frequent trips to the grocery store prove over and over again, fat kids usually have fat parents.

Bob_R said...

So who do you blame if your kids grow up to be like Tim Minchin.

john bord said...

The bullies walk the halls of congress now instead of the hallways of school and their cohorts write the stories in the media. Both are very selective in how or what they bully. They love victims and the poor me so they can victimize more.

People they can not victimize they get madder at and look at other ways to bully..... IE Tucson.

Bob_R said...

Jesus - While the science isn't exactly settled, there is a lot of evidence that the tendency to be obese is as innate as the tendency to be homosexual. Of course we all can choose how much we eat just as we can choose who we sleep with. So those who think they can bully fat people into being thin are using precisely the same tactics as those who think they can bully people into being heterosexual. (And the results seem to be about the same in either case.)

bagoh20 said...

Now THAT video shows how to get your attention right from the beginning.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Something about all this anti-bullying fashion really bugs me. I don't like to see bullying, but to a point it seems like a needed part of growing up. The world has bullies and always will. We need to face it from the start of our socialization.

And it does seem that the anti-bullying crowd act like bullies. They berate and go too far with their power in an attempt to eradicate what they never will. I'm not sure if they reduce the actual overall damage or increase it.

There is something about the dynamics of things like school boards that get out of control quickly with stuff like zero tolerance and PC panic responses to what was always normal in the life of kids before. Children make people crazy now days. We used to enjoy them more -and them us - before we started experimenting on them.

shoutingthomas said...

I read Savage once years ago.

What a boring, childish routine he has. Not worth the time.

bagoh20 said...

A lot of people are quite proud of being gay, but fat and proud is just a tough sell.

Fat gays always want to be thinner, but I don't think many want to be straight.

The too things are clearly different types of issues regardless of cause and, I think it goes beyond just what's fashionable in our times.

johannalapp said...

In case you don't understand French, Allan Sherman does a version in English. The translation is a little loose, as Sherman tends to be, but still fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjrHda23a_M

Carol said...

I've known quite a lot of gay men that hated fat for fat's sake. The human attached to the fat was less than a person in their eyes, hence the "well, I'm straight skinny, but gay fat"


Huh?

AllenS said...

Homosexual boys are a result of overbearing mothers. Fat boys are a result of mothers bad choices of food products.

Clyde said...

I was listening to my iPod at work this morning and the French version of Blondie's "Sunday Girl" came up. Not the version with just the French verse, but the whole song in French. And I was reminded again how anything in French sounds dirty. It's a lascivious-sounding language.

Popville said...

@johannalapp: Ha, I was just about to post that myself. Alan Sherman, along with Mad Magazine unformed us kids all about how batshit crazy adults were.

And speaking of fat, here is Alan's explantion of childhood obesity:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeoa0-U8-Yw

Scott M said...

@Carol

In other words, what straight people would consider thin, gay men (who make that comment) still think is too fat, particularly as it appears to other gay men. The net total is that they hate fat.

Scott M said...

@AllenS

I wonder if there is a demonstrable difference between obesity rates of single-mother kids versus two-parent kids. I'm betting not much because the social-economic and ethnic differences are still going to create the biggest discernible variances.

Bill said...

When I was a child I was very fat and got a lot of taunting because of it. When I got to high school I dieted a bit and had a growth spurt and the weight came off and I looked perfectly normal. Anyone who knew me as a child gave me lots of praise and compliments. But here's the thing: I mercilessly taunted a poor classmate who was morbidly obese. I rationalized my behavior by claiming that the teasing I endured had toughened me up and it should do the same for her. I knew she came from a pretty dysfunctional family but she was probably the sweetest person in the school.

I can't say for sure how the taunting I had endured had affected me except that I didn't like it. I can't say for sure how my taunting affected her except that she deserved better.

I regret not being nicer to her.

aronamos said...

They hate fat and they hate old. God forbid any of them get old and fat.

The song basically advocates torturing children, performed by someone whose parents obviously forgot lessons in good hair hygiene.

Ann Althouse said...

"The obvious difference is that being gay is not a choice and being fat (in the vast majority of cases) is a choice."

So your theory is that bullying is okay with respect to things that a person can chose not to do? Please work that through. You'd say it's fine for kids to bully other kids about the clothes they wear, the tastes and styles they adopt, the opinions they have, etc. etc.?

It might make sense. Bullying is a form of argument: heavy-handed persuasion bordering on coercion. You're good with that?

edutcher said...

The subject of the post is not being mean, it's being honest - and realistic. Doughnuts are, after all, fried.

bagoh20 said...

A lot of people are quite proud of being gay

The ones part of the radical crowd say they are, but I wonder about the rest, in the sense of seeing themselves as being stuck with it rather than something where they made a choice.

Scott M said...

Ann,

There's absolutely no way you're ever going to remove bullying, in all it's many manifestations, from a child's life. We should steadfastly maintain that bullying is wrong, but the majority of the energy should be spent hardening our kids to it or otherwise preparing them to deal with it.

In essence, if you rely on the top-down approach, you're instilling less self-reliance in the child than the one who's been taught how to deal with bullying.

edutcher said...

PS They say beer is the sign God loves us.

Wrong.

Cinnabons are.

Leo Ladenson said...

The obvious difference is that being gay is not a choice


Being "gay" is a choice for many.

Leo Ladenson said...

P.S.: Savage is Sullivan without the Harvard Ph.D.

shoutingthomas said...

There is nothing that can be done about childhood bullying.

Children are savages.

Quit trying to do something about this. You can't. Accept the fact that there are some things that can't be changed.

Gays are often bullies too. It's just a current media them that gays are saints who are always on the wrong end of bullying.

At the same time that Matthew Shepard was killed and turn into a gay martyr, two gay men in Arkansas kidnapped a hetero teenager, held him captive, tortured and raped him, and murdered him.

The press didn't see any large moral issue to be investigated in this. I wonder why?

prairie wind said...

Something about all this anti-bullying fashion really bugs me.

Amen, bagoh02! Unending talk about bullying, but not a word about self defense. My kids make fun of the advice they are given about bullies: Tell an adult! Bullying is something kids should learn to deal with. Punching a bully in the nose should be encouraged; it would lead to more civil discourse, and we all know how important that is.

I tell my kids that dealing with bullies means standing up for those being bullied instead of telling an adult.

wv: insissi

shoutingthomas said...

Yes, teaching kids self-defense is the only possible solution.

Everything else is BS.

bagoh20 said...

The attempt to eliminate bullying is like that for global warming to me: 1) It can't be done
2) It's normal, and the threat minimal
3) Trying will do more harm than good
4) The effort should be with what has always been our strong suit - adapting

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

So your theory is that bullying is okay with respect to things that a person can chose not to do? Please work that through. You'd say it's fine for kids to bully other kids about the clothes they wear, the tastes and styles they adopt, the opinions they have, etc. etc.?

It might make sense. Bullying is a form of argument: heavy-handed persuasion bordering on coercion. You're good with that?


Well, that's overstating it a bit. I'm not saying bullying is ever okay. I don't think it's a simple right/wrong black line. I think bullying somebody for something they can't help is worse than bullying somebody for something they can and should help.

I also think, as you noted, that bullying is a form of argument. "Bullying" isn't a precise term either. Whether or not a statement is actually "bullying" depends a lot on perspective.

Like, if I asked you "why did you become a law professor?" You'd probably give me some answer that involved weighing other options (maybe you could have made more money as a lawyer at a big firm, but you value other things in academia over money or whatever). But if I questioned somebody for choosing to eat a Cinnabon (which has 730 calories and 114 g of carbs, including 55g of sugar!) and watch TV instead of eating healthy and exercising, people might consider that bullying. But really it’s the same type of question and their answer should still be something about valuing short term gratification over health, mobility, athleticism, attractiveness, confidence etc. Asking somebody why they’re gay wouldn’t be the same. It would be a stupid question because there’s no choice at all. No weighing of options like there is in deciding your career or your weight. So I’d say that criticizing somebody for their career choice or weight choice may not be cool, but it’s not as bad as criticizing somebody for their sexuality or a race or something.

Ann Althouse said...

"There's absolutely no way you're ever going to remove bullying, in all it's many manifestations, from a child's life. We should steadfastly maintain that bullying is wrong, but the majority of the energy should be spent hardening our kids to it or otherwise preparing them to deal with it."

You say that like you're disagreeing with me. Why?

Ann Althouse said...

"Well, that's overstating it a bit. I'm not saying bullying is ever okay. I don't think it's a simple right/wrong black line. I think bullying somebody for something they can't help is worse than bullying somebody for something they can and should help."

But there's a difference between an inborn propensity to act in a particular way and doing that action. People *can* resist their desires -- both to eat and to engage in sex. I don't see a big difference between bullying someone for getting fat (giving into a propensity to eat) and bullying someone for being openly gay (manifesting what could be kept secret). If you think it's different to bully the fat and to bully the apparently gay, must it not be because you think it's okay to be one thing but not the other?

Scott M said...

You say that like you're disagreeing with me. Why?

Not necessarily, but more in response to what you wrote...

You'd say it's fine for kids to bully other kids about the clothes they wear, the tastes and styles they adopt, the opinions they have, etc. etc.?

My point simply being that it's better to concentrate on teaching your kids the appropriate responses to a bully, which is what I think parents have traditionally done, along with honor, the weight of one's word, etc, versus all the hand-wringing done about bullies these days. I'm trying to point out where the emphasis of effort on our part as parents should be.

johannalapp said...

Justllright said: "If I questioned somebody for choosing to eat a Cinnabon ... their answer should still be something about valuing short term gratification over health, mobility, athleticism, attractiveness, confidence etc."

No, their answer should be that it's none of your fucking business. Short of behavior that actually harms or endangers you, or unless they ask for your input, you have no legitimate interest in WHY someone lives his life the way he chooses.

Are you asking with a sincere desire to help? Or to make them pay for a choice you disapprove of with shame, embarrassment, humiliation?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Jesus,

I think bullying somebody for something they can't help is worse than bullying somebody for something they can and should help.

It's the "and should" [my emphasis above] that rankles. Fat kids aren't bullied (by their peers, I mean) for their own good, any more than nerdy kids are (somewhat overlapping sets, I know). It's not like their peers think their cholesterol needs looking at, or worry about their risk of Type II diabetes -- any more than they think, regarding the nerds, that social skills are necessary in later life and you should be developing them early. They just want someone -- something -- to torture, and there are traditional targets.

That said, I'm kind of surprised that Ann thinks of the song as bullying the fat kids, when it's clearly aimed (if it's still OK to use that imagery) at their moms.

wv: coodense. So many directions one could go with that.

peter hoh said...

AllenS: Homosexual boys are a result of overbearing mothers.

On what basis was this opinion formed?

Geoff Matthews said...

I'd be willing to bet money that the biological factors that predispose one to be fat are more significant than the biological factors that predispose one to be gay.
After all, fat is a survival mechanism.

prairie wind said...

If I questioned somebody for choosing to eat a Cinnabon ... their answer should still be something about valuing short term gratification over health, mobility, athleticism, attractiveness, confidence etc.

I ordered a Cinnabon once at an airport because it smelled so good. Got about a third through it and was nearly sick. But yeah, I agree with johannalapp who thinks the answer should be "none of your effing business". Your question isn't an innocent question like "why are you a professor," it is a loaded question. You aren't asking why they chose Cinnabon over a muffin or a Big Mac, you are trying to point out that they did NOT choose something that you value. Plus, you are ignoring the possibility that they are heading to the gym later. People who eat Cinnabons might be (or get) fat, but they are not stupid. They know what you're asking and why. So eff off, you big fat bully.

AllenS said...

On what basis was this opinion formed?

On my opinion. Everyone seems to have their own opinion on any number of subjects, and this is my opinion on that matter. It makes as much sense as anybody elses, and I dare anyone to prove me wrong. I refuse to accept born that way.

peter hoh said...

Jim McGreevey, Ted Haggard, and Larry Craig are kinda thin.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Must have been their overbearing mothers.

edutcher said...

peter hoh said...

AllenS: Homosexual boys are a result of overbearing mothers.

On what basis was this opinion formed?


Several variations on the theme, the basic one being the boy wants to grow up big and strong like Mommy, first postulated by one Dr Freud of Vienna.

peter hoh said...

Allen, I should add that you are certainly entitled to your opinion. In my opinion, there seems to be a lot going for the "born that way" theory. I suspect that the biological roots are not genetic, but have something to do with maternal hormones during pregnancy. But that's just a theory.

I won't pretend this is evidence, but the Born this way blog lets people share their experience of being "born that way."

peter hoh said...

Edutcher, I thought that Freud was generally dismissed by conservative thinkers.

Sigivald said...

Jesus: Various people who've studied the issue would disagree with you on fat being a choice "in the vast majority of cases".

Though I suppose one could equally argue that acting gay is a "choice", so why not bully gays who act gay for not using the immense willpower they plainly must have, to resist it?

I mean, if we can assert that it's a failure worthy of bullying to give in to biological cravings for food or to not exercise or whatever the alleged failing is, how's it really different?

edutcher said...

peter hoh said...

Edutcher, I thought that Freud was generally dismissed by conservative thinkers.

He really loves trying to paint everyone with those generalizations, doesn't he?

BJM said...

@Scott M

My point simply being that it's better to concentrate on teaching your kids the appropriate responses to a bully, which is what I think parents have traditionally done, along with honor, the weight of one's word, etc, versus all the hand-wringing done about bullies these days. I'm trying to point out where the emphasis of effort on our part as parents should be.

I absolutely agree, bullying doesn't end with childhood, the list is endless.

Why do you think the WH is called the bully pulpit? The Obamas bully with rhetoric and regulation instead of persuasion and reward, which is why so many of us push back.

The IRS is the mother of all bullies.

The boss/manager/teacher who sets an unrealistic work schedule/load and/or is unfairly critical of work is a bully.We've all had a version of the boss from hell who can't be pleased.

The overly neat spouse who relentlessly chides the less tidy one is a bully.

Over scheduling, hectoring mothers are bullies as are fathers who push sports on reluctant children.

Siblings can be horrific bullies even as adults.

Overbearing/disapproving in-laws are bullies.

The person who pushes ahead of you on the train or on line at the supermarket is a bully, they know you'll step back. Much of what we perceive as public rudeness is really bullying.

Eventually one must stand ones ground and in the words of the Bully-in-Chief "punch back twice as hard."

Scott M said...

@BJM

My goal, with my own children, is not only give them strength of body and character to defend themselves, but the wisdom to know when and how much to push back. It's this last, I believe, that is the true mark of maturity.

Shanna said...

There is nothing that can be done about childhood bullying.

We may not be able to stomp it out, but that doesn’t mean anyone should encourage kids to be savages.

Bullying is something kids should learn to deal with. Punching a bully in the nose should be encouraged;

Indeed. Not only does it teach the bullied kid how to take care of themselves, it teaches the bully that some people fight back, and maybe they should not be such an asshole. Win/Win! Except zero tolerance is screwing it all up. What kind of lesson will kids learn when you get in as much trouble for defending yourself as you do for attacking someone?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I've never had a Cinnabon. Now I want one.

When my daughter became involved in a bullying episode, in third grade, I had to sit down with her and discuss what was happening.

They were tormenting a girl who had very bad clothing and hygiene. Her parents were drug addled and abusive worthless shits. The poor girl was getting herself together for school and basically raising herself. (Eventually and thankfully, she was removed and the Grandparents took her in... happy ending for her)

I wanted to instill empathy in my daughter for the other girl. By asking questions like:

Why are the other girls picking on the victim? (She's dirty and smelly.)

Do you know that she doesn't have a mommy or daddy who are loving her or taking care of her like you do? No one is making her lunch or combing her hair or anything.

Her life at home is hard enough without everyone piling on.

Put yourself in her shoes.....How would YOU like to be treated this way.

What are you going to do this? Are you going to just stand by and let the others make her miserable?

You don't have to make her your friend. If you let them do it when you are there, it is just like you did it yourself and I would be very ashamed of you. (You think Jewish mothers can lay on the guilt? They can't hold a candle to Catholic mothers )

I was quite proud of my child when she stood up to the others and stopped them from bullying the poor girl.

It is a tough decision to make this type of stand, because you run the risk of becoming one of the bullied as well.

peter hoh said...

DBQ, great story. Would that every parent were able to talk to their children that way.

Shanna said...

I've never had a Cinnabon. Now I want one.

I used to love them but the last time I had one it was awful. Of course, now that I discovered the pioneer woman cooks cinnamon rolls I am just concentrating on perfecting homemade cinnamon rolls.

Drew said...

He could rescue 100 babies from a burning building, but for me, Dan Savage will always be "that doorknob-licking asshole."

Also, a bit of an attention whore.

peter hoh said...

Attention whore? I think Savage wants that chiseled onto his gravestone.

He scored a feature in Foreign Policy today.

Drew said...

Dan Savage in "Foreign Policy"? What. The. Hell?

AST said...

I think that being bullied contributes to boys deciding that they're gay. They've called gay by their peers during their formative years.

As to the video, what's with all those up-skirt shots at the beginning?

themightypuck said...

Bullying that song is not.

knox said...

Except zero tolerance is screwing it all up. What kind of lesson will kids learn when you get in as much trouble for defending yourself as you do for attacking someone?

Bingo. When your kid can get expelled, it's not so easy to say "punch them in the nose."

knox said...

There are some random and bizarre opinions about the genesis homosexuality in this thread!

For example, what about the gay males in the military? They are hardly emulating "mommy," or *any* abstract female ideal...

And I remember several boys and girls who were bullied in grade school; none of them turned out to be gay, for goodness sake!

I was driving by a group of middle-school kids walking home from school and one kid was obviously tormenting another one. It made me sick to my stomach. Bullying is awful. I hate to think it's a "necessary" rite-of-passage.

Not that it's avoidable. Sadly, it probably is.

Methadras said...

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

The obvious difference is that being gay is not a choice and being fat (in the vast majority of cases) is a choice.


Can you please point me to the genetic proof of either? kthxbye.

Methadras said...

AllenS said...

Homosexual boys are a result of overbearing mothers. Fat boys are a result of mothers bad choices of food products.


So gay boys put stuff in their mouths because they are hungry. Fat boys put stuff in their mouths because they are hungry too. Fat gay boys put stuff in their mouths because they are hungry.

AllenS said...

Ok, I'll meet you half way. Gay boys put stuff in their mouths because of bad food choices.

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

"But there's a difference between an inborn propensity to act in a particular way and doing that action. People *can* resist their desires -- both to eat and to engage in sex. I don't see a big difference between bullying someone for getting fat (giving into a propensity to eat) and bullying someone for being openly gay (manifesting what could be kept secret). If you think it's different to bully the fat and to bully the apparently gay, must it not be because you think it's okay to be one thing but not the other?"

Well, this whole time, the comparison has been between one propensity (gay) and one manifestation (fat). But I guess if you want to compare apples to apples (flamboyant to fat? or gay to lazy/hungry?), then maybe you have a point.

I'm not totally convinced though. These days like 50% of people are big fatties, at least. The percentage has been far less than that throughout the vast majority of human existence. We could still eat the same stuff we ate 100 or 5000 years ago, but most of us don't. Has the propensity changed? Or have choices?