Soda Pop and Nipple Clamps: When Sex Metaphors Penetrate Discussions of Public Health


Elizabeth Benjamin at the New York Daily News excerpted and posted some great (some would argue crucial) lines from her interview with NY State Health Commissioner Richard Daines, who recently took to YouTube in defense of Gov. David Paterson's proposed tubby tax—"an 18 percent levy on sugary drinks like non-diet soda."

Here's Daines on why the nanny state is peferable to a metaphorical spanking with a cheese grater:

"Simply because you can't or don't want to do everything doesn't mean you can't do the first thing or the most important thing," Daines told me during a recent interview.

"If you take a fair-minded look at the literature, you will see that the first and most important to do is to go after these beverages. We paralyze ourselves if we say we have to do everything at once or do nothing."

"…The message here is moderation, not abstinence," the commissioner continued. "I've seen lives ruined and controlled by things like obesity and tobacco and other addictions. If you really want your life controlled by that, it's like having a dominatrix instead of a nanny. [emphasis added]

With the exception of the dominatrix reference (I smell an impending Craig/Foley-esque scandal in this man's future), Daines' public health lingo is old hat: "We've determined that X is bad, that less of X is good, and that sadly, consumers are incapable of moderation. Ergo, we're taxing the shit out of X, which will make it easier for consumers to drink/eat/ingest-via-enema more of Y, which just so happens to be healthier--and now cheaper--than X."  

Any mention of public health deserves a reference to Jacob Sullum's teardown from 2007, "An Epidemic of Meddling," as well as a complimentary tub of bacon-flavored ice cream.