The Diabetic Warrior Goes To Court Afterall
byon 05-29-2012 at 03:06 PM (1441 Views)
So The Diabetic Warrior, Steve Cooksey, is going to court afterall. Is Advocating the Paleo Diet Against the Law? A New Institute for Justice Suit Stands Up For Free Speech Against Occupational Licensing Law - Hit & Run : Reason.com
The North Carolina Dietitians, now called the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition, dropped their charges against Steve, but apparently Steve wasn't ready to let it go, or other parties were not ready to let it go. The Institute for Justice has decided to get involved and is sponsoring Steve in filing a lawsuit, Cooksey v. Futrell et al., in federal court against the state Board.
I like this decision as it may help clarify what can and cannot be said publicly by citizens and residents in many areas, not just nutrition.
This case is about a professional organization imposing its beliefs on people: nutrition is the same as medicine and people shouldn't be able to advise others about it in any way. I suppose the legislation was intended at professional practitioners, but the way it reads, anybody feeding or advising anybody else on what to eat breaks the law. *I'm not referencing the laws. I usually do, but today I'm not. If you are really interested, you can find them on your own. Hint: check Steve's blog.* Such cases might include a mother feeding a child: that child became obese so we're going to charge her for breaking this law. Many such relationships exist. One can argue that the lunch cart operator or the ice cream truck man are all breaking this law by offering foods not approved by this board. If the government cafeteria offers birthday cake for someone, say a retiring staffer who is diabetic, and that person ends up in diabetic ketoacidosis, then the givernment itself might be guilty of breaking its own law.
Regardless if you agree with these scenarios or not, many believe that this law -- these laws -- infringe on free speech. The question lingers of when can government restrict free speech. Can governments restrict the public's free speech by creating a professional organization to control all the relevant speech? Let's create an association of movie critics and license them. Let's make a law that only licensed movie critics can publish movie reviews and ratings. Let's do away with all the IMDBs and Rotten Tomatoes websites which only hurt movie sales. Let's make sure only qualified the professionals handle movie ratings properly. Who would go for that? Every one of us would brush it off and dare the government to challenge us; because we know we'd win. I have every right to say the Harry Potter movies were awful. Evelyn Beatrice Hall's words "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" loom large in American culture.
So why not nutrition advice?
The professional dietitians around the country believe it's medical advice. In some respects this statement is true. Many of us believe poor (wrong) nutrition causes many if not most modern diseases. We in the first world currently suffer from them on a large scale - pardon the pun. Changing your diet and losing weight is common advice given by health professionals. The benefits of becoming slimmer and fitter are apparently well known, though such studies cannot be easily layed on a table for display. [I'm not even going to address the failure of professional exercisers to band together and professionalize that industry. I don't want it becoming illegal to tell my wife to go out for a run so she can lose all that excess weight. By the way, she's down 18 pounds and feeling and looking like a new woman on my nutrition advice.]
I say nutrition is too fundamental to be considered medicine. It's so fundamental, we call it essential. There are three physical essentials: oxygen, water, and nutrition. Without one of them, we die. It's a simple fact. With no air we die in minutes. With no water we die in days. With no food we die in weeks or maybe months. But we die.
How to you legislate an essential component of life? How can you say the Standard American Diet is the only one that can be eaten and only a person educated and certified in SAD can advise you and anybody who feeds you otherwise is breaking a law? Who made you God?
I hope Steve takes them the distance. I hope he makes them look like communist whores. I hope in the end that all of us are free to write whatever we want about food.
I want us to also realize that such freedom comes with a cost. It comes with responsibility. We shouldn't feel free to feed our babies milkshake diets or advise our blog readers it's okay to eat nothing but coconut oil. We are free to say these things, but recipients are also free to challenge our advice. And when things go wrong, these challenges can become expensive, as they should.
Keep your head up Steve Cooksey!