Last month I applauded New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his graduation message in North Carolina in favor of marriage equality. But, I wondered at the time, why not "extend to food his own comments about [the] error of denying freedom"?
Fat chance. On Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg proposed a sweeping ban on the sale of "large" sweetened beverages in the city.
The proposed ban invited fast and widespread outrage and derision. Sure, people you might expect to oppose the ban (like Nick Gillespie, Matt Welch, and yours truly) weighed in. And critics had fun with news of an official proclamation letter issued by Mayor Bloomberg and read displayed on an easel at a downtown celebration of National Donut Day yesterday—an event that featured the formal unveiling of "the largest box of Entenmann's donuts ever created."
But when New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, writer and healthy-food advocate Bettina Siegel, Jon Stewart, Jake Tapper, Matt Lauer (Matt Lauer!), and The New York Times's editorial page—which labeled the measure "a ban too far"—question the ban, it appears that even those Mayor Bloomberg might have expected to be sweet on his scheme find it more like sweet nothings.
The ban did draw some tepid support. New York Times columnist Mark Bittman tweeted that the proposed ban was the "[b]est news of the week", while MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski sipped a giant drink while throwing her support behind the mayor's plan.
The ban also drew rabid support from writer Drew Magary, whose moronic and reprehensible Gawker rant attacking opponents of the ban ("Please, people, shut the fuck up.") contains this explanation of democracy for the millions of "fatsos" in need of an unintentionally hilarious and misbegotten lesson:
Democracy is not OH MY GOD THESE LAWS WILL MAKE US PUSSIES! Democracy is people working together to sort out just what the rules of society should be. Obviously, this process is labored and often hilariously corrupt, but that's what living in a "free country" is supposed to mean. It doesn't mean that you get to grab a gun and storm City Hall just because you think a soda ban is some kind of sign of the End Times. It's fucking soda. Don't be such a pussy that you can't live without a 42 oz. cup of the shit. If you're the type to flip out just because you can't have that, then who's the real pussy?
So. Dumb. This piece from the new Village Voice writer James King, in which King rips Magary to shreds in brilliant fashion, is the perfect antidote to the Gawker piece.
Like Magary, the proposed ban makes little sense.
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Take the science. The unsweetened juice of an apple—that symbol of New York City—contains at a minimum exactly the same number of grams of sugar per ounce (3.25 g) as Coca-Cola (3.25 g). Choose a different source and apple juice suddenly boasts more sugar per ounce (and more calories) than Coca-Cola.
Look at the economics behind the ban, which chef Daniel Moody argues would actually subsidize heavy soda drinkers at the expense of those who drink less. And that's to say nothing of the fact that in a time of rising unemployment, growth in the food and beverage industry accounted for more than 40 percent of new jobs (according to recent government data) created in April.
So why would Mayor Bloomberg propose such a ban—especially on the eve of his Donut Day proclamation?
If this doublespeak by the Bloomberg administration sounds to you like, well, doublespeak, then let me do nothing to dissuade you of that notion. But if you reside somewhere within the narrow, crayoned sliver of land that sits between the Hudson River and the Pacific Ocean, you may not know that this sort of haphazard food polic(y)ing is just part of a typical news cycle in the Bloombergosphere.