Stories like this one make me want to puke.
Paris, France — In the capital of high fashion and ultrathin models, conservative French legislators adopted a pioneering law on Tuesday aimed at stifling a proliferation of Web sites that promote eating disorders with “thinspiration” and starvation tips…If passed, it would take aim at any means of mass communication — including magazines and Web sites — that promote eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia with punishments of up to three years in prison and more than $70,000 in fines….The bill would make it illegal to “provoke a person to seek excessive weight loss by encouraging prolonged nutritional deprivation that would have the effect of exposing them to risk of death or endangering health.” — NYTimes.com
Eat or you’re under arrest!
This proposed law is so wrong that it’s hard to believe that anything other than a religious fringe group is behind it. Appropriately, it originates in the land of foi gras.
With the proposed law, the French legislators are seeking to tame a murky world of some 400 sites extolling “ana” and “mia,” nicknames for anorexia and bulimia. Since 2000, such Web sites have multiplied in many languages, offering blunt tips on crash dieting, bingeing, vomiting and hiding weight loss from concerned parents.
I guess its authors mean well. They’re concerned about impressionable young people, mostly female, who emulate the super-skinny models they see and read about who make scads of money parading their protruding bones on stages and in magazines. They’re worried about the plethora of fake dieticians promoting literal starvation programs — the Dachau Diet, the Ethiopian Fly-on-the-Lips Weight Loss Regimen — influencing gullible girls to become hollow husks in their pre-teenage development.
But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. This law not only steps all over personal freedom, free expression, and everything about teh internets’ capacity to maximize the unfettered flow of information. It would criminalize either promotors of imbecility or the willingly imbecilic. Hell — if it’s illegal to promote stupid behavior or behave stupidly, the entire US Congress would get frog-marhced off to Leavenworth (not a bad idea, actually).
“As arbiters of good taste, we French must take the lead on this modern plague that is endangering innocent children,” declared Merde Derriere, a sponsor of the bill. “We expect the cause will be taken up by Hollywood and American media personalities, whose influence among this vulnerable population is unparalleled.”
Well, they can count on Orka Winfrey.