Massachusetts Hearing Round-Up

A few links to coverage of yesterday’s hearing, for your reading pleasure…

Susan Stinson’s description of events and her testimony

Marina Wolf Ahmad in comments

Boston Now, including video of some testimony

A pessimistic but otherwise pretty good article from the Attleboro Sun Chronicle

Boston Herald

Salem News, including this gem of a quote from the opposition:

But Rep. Bradley Jones Jr., R-North Reading, said height and weight discrimination doesn’t merit legislators’ attention, especially with the Legislature’s session ending July 31….

Jones is also concerned that obesity would be out of place alongside unchangeable traits currently considered in state anti-discrimination laws. Though height is predetermined, weight is something that’s a matter of choice, Jones said. For that reason, he said, it probably should not be grouped with race, religion, age or gender.

Emphasis mine. ‘Cause, you know, religion is totally predetermined and immutable. (Yes, I realize that for those who are born into a faith and continue to subscribe to it as adults, it pretty much feels that way. And I don’t believe anyone should be discriminated against on religious grounds, especially not because they could “just choose” to change their faith. It’s not nearly that simple. But it’s sure not that simple for fat people, either, and yet the “Fat is a choice” argument is still wielded against us.)

I find it interesting that these articles are mostly focusing on the height aspect of the bill. On the one hand, it’s a slap in the face–height is automatically seen as the more important issue because of the “choice” bullshit. On the other hand, if people are focusing on that instead of screeching about whiny fatties who refuse to diet, I’m not complaining.

What do you guys think? Any more reports from the field?

10 thoughts on “Massachusetts Hearing Round-Up

  1. I like your analogy of religion being a choice same as his saying fat is a choice. It’s not that easy to just change everything you believe in because you’re being discriminated against, same as it’s not that easy to choose not to be fat. I think that’s a great argument, one that should be brought up in front of Mr Jones.
    If it was so easy to choose not to be fat do you think the diet industry would be as big as it is today? If people could just make the choice to have Jennifer Aniston’s body don’t you think they would? It makes me angry… I need to stop typing now.

  2. Yeah, I can’t believe anyone would suggest that religion (and publicly expressing one’s affiliation with same) is immutable, while being fat is totally voluntary, since all you have to do to not be fat is agree to total starvation and exhaustion if that’s what it takes. Like that’s exactly the same thing as tucking your cross into your blouse at work. GAAAAAH.

  3. Like that’s exactly the same thing as tucking your cross into your blouse at work.

    Ehh, we (liberals) don’t accept the mentality of: “If you don’t want to be discriminated against, just hide who you are” when it comes to homosexuality, why should we advocate it when it comes to religion? I do think religion is more of a choice than being fat, but as far as discrimination goes, I don’t think it matters.

  4. Becky, right, I think that’s the idea — sometimes things you choose and could theoretically change are still protected under law.

  5. Oh, I don’t advocate it when it comes to religion at all, don’t get me wrong. But if “mutability” IS the issue, he’s got it backwards.

  6. It’s not that easy to just change everything you believe in because you’re being discriminated against, same as it’s not that easy to choose not to be fat.

    And nobody would ask you to. (Well, somebody probably would but they would be a blazing asshole.) It would never occur to a reasonable, thoughtful, non-Inquisitor human to say “if you don’t like how I’m treating you, why don’t you just stop being Jewish?” Sure, it’s theoretically possible, but it’s not my responsibility to change who I am in order to make you stop discriminating against me. It’s your responsibility to stop being a bigot. At least, it is in those cases where people are protected by law.

    And yet we still see otherwise progressive, reasonable people saying “well if they don’t like being persecuted I don’t see why they don’t just stop being fat [at me].”

  7. Fat is a choice? So…how do I get fat? Because I tried that whole “eat 3500 calories a day of mostly fried and chocolate junk and never exercise” thing, and it totally didn’t work.

    …I have nothing useful to contribute. I change my religion more often than I change my shoes. :P

  8. It would never occur to a reasonable, thoughtful, non-Inquisitor human to say “if you don’t like how I’m treating you, why don’t you just stop being Jewish?”

    Oh, don’t be so sure. There are a WHOLE lot of secular progressives who have no qualms about telling religious people they’re stupid/delusional/actively supporting a hateful institution, etc. Otherwise reasonable, thoughtful people, just like the otherwise reasonable, thoughtful people who have no qualms about trashing fatties. The attitude of, “You are wrong, and I’m under no obligation to take you seriously until you understand that you’re wrong” is actually pretty damn prevalent in some liberal circles, when it comes to religious folks.

  9. Oh, don’t be so sure. There are a WHOLE lot of secular progressives who have no qualms about telling religious people they’re stupid/delusional/actively supporting a hateful institution, etc.

    Yeah, and I always want to tell — okay, DARE — those people to walk into an AA or NA meeting, preferably one in a rough neighborhood, and stand up and tell all the people there that they’re stupid to believe in a Higher Power and that they’d be better off drinking and using again than believing in a “sky fairy.” I’d actually PAY to watch what happens. (They tend to be the same kind of people who assume there’s no such thing as an atheist who’s libertarian or conservative.)

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