The media has been abuzz in recent days about New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s forthcoming attempt to ban the sale of oversized cups of soda. Under his plan, fountain soda would be limited to sixteen ounce servings. Outrage! The very people who brazenly vote against things like medical marijuana and the right for gay people to get married now regard Coca-Cola as enshrined in the Constitution, as if Dr. Pepper was one of our Founding Fathers. If only these Americans ceded to their fellow humans the same rights that they grant a Big Gulp of sweet tea. I know diabetics who haven’t gone into this much shock over being denied sugar.
Realistically, let’s look at the facts of the situation. One sixteen ounce cup of Coca-Cola, which would still be allowed, contains 40 grams of carbohydrates — all of which are sugar. There is no protein, no fat, and no real nutritional value whatsoever. A Snickers bar contains 4 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber. It also contains 28 grams of sugar — meaning, about a third less than the soda. Drinking a thirty-two ounce soda is literally worse for you than drinking two candy bars.
The argument against these types of laws is, “Where does it stop? Where do you draw the line?” And the answer is, it stops where there is no possible benefit and only guaranteed harm to your health. Despite people who claim this is a despotic power grab, there is certainly legal and social precedence for Bloomberg’s position. Look at alcohol. Every person who has reached the age of majority is allowed to purchase as much alcohol as they want — just as, under Bloomberg’s plan, they’d still be able to buy two or three-liter bottles of soda. But when you are drinking and have reached a point of obvious inebriation, the store owner or bartender has the legal right to cut you off. Not only is he allowed to do so, he is encouraged to do so.
Who the hell is so thirsty that a large soda isn’t enough? At that point, it’s not about quenching thirst, but about fattie needing his sugar fix. If he really wanted it that badly, he could still buy two cups. Bloomberg isn’t making it impossible to buy thirty-two or even sixty-four ounces of carbonated sugar water. He’s just making it inconvenient. Isn’t that commendable? Are we supposed to pretend that fat people don’t inconvenience the rest of us? Try sitting next to one of them on a plane, and then answer that question.
Look at what the strongest nation in the world has become. The longest journey begins with a single step, but we’ve gotten too obese to take even that. The symbol of America is in the process of changing from the Stars and Stripes to spandex. At one point in the last year, we had a leading Presidential candidate whose sole qualification was selling pizza. New York City is just over the river from a governor whose blood type is marinara sauce. Are we going to see the State of the Union address delivered from a Hoveround in our lifetime?
A generation ago, Brooke Shields starred in ads boasting that nothing came between her and her skintight Calvin Klein jeans. If they sold those now, our nation would look like a bunch of Incredible Hulks bursting at the seams. “Skinny jeans” is a recent phenomenon. They used to be called jeans.
In every other country, obesity is a sign of wealth. Only here is it an emblem of poverty. In the name of budget cuts, we are eliminating physical education from our schools. But how much does a patch of grass and a ball cost? About as much as a sixty-four ounce soda, maybe?
So it is in this context that I am baffled to see the religious opposition to gay marriage, exemplified as recently as last month’s ban in North Carolina. By what standard is lying with a man a sin — but being a glutton a virtue? What Bible condemns homosexuality — but endorses contests to see how much food you can eat, as quickly as possible? The Jewish code of Kosher forbids the eating of pigs, but it doesn’t argue for eating like them.
As it very famously says in 1 Corinthians 16:19-20, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” You must honor God, it says. That takes work. The temple doesn’t come with a drive-thru. When you get a communion wafer, no, you don’t get fries with that.
Hate the smell of weed? Don’t allow it in your home or place of business — same way it is now with tobacco. In the same way, letting gay people get married takes no effort on someone’s part. You don’t have to go to the ceremony, don’t have to attend the reception, don’t even have to send a gift. If you are religious, you don’t even have to preside. All you have to do is lack another cardinal sin — the sin of hatred.
This article was first published in The Huffington Post
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