Censorship as a cure for child obesity

California passed a law requiring beverages in Kid’s Menus of restaurants be restricted to unflavored milk and water.

The news led me to tweet:

They should cut right to the chase and pass a law allowing Child Protective Services to take children from parents who can’t get them to eat their peas.

That might be an exaggeration, but by how much? While this law doesn’t actually prevent children from getting pop at a restaurant, it seems to set the stage for it. In 2010, for instance, San Francisco banned fast-food children’s meals if they included a free toy but didn’t meet certain nutritional standards. In their determination to protect children from obesity and from the permissiveness of their parents, I think it’s plausible that soon California will ban sales of sugary drinks to children, or make other dietary laws further restricting the liberties of children and their parents.

But aside from children’s diets, there’s another issue at play: government censorship. A menu is published information. No restaurant puts beer, wine, or liquor in the children’s menu, because children aren’t allowed by law to have alcoholic drinks. They’re still allowed to have pop, however. So what this law does is prohibit restaurants from providing factual information in certain locations of their own menus. This requirement may even be misleading if it persuades children or their parents that they’re not allowed to order pop.

I wonder if it’s just coincidence that this law passed the same year Obamacare’s requirement to publish calorie counts went into effect. Large-chain restaurants are now compelled to provide the calories of each item on their menu.

What else does the government think it can do with a menu? Should it mandate the publishing of the federal government’s (dubious) federal dietary guidelines? Impose warnings of how unhealthy pop is?

Just like a newspaper or book, the government has no legitimate reason to regulate or censor a menu. But the California law and Obamacare calorie mandate attack freedom of the press by telling restaurants what they can’t publish, and what they must publish.

It’s as if satisfying customers isn’t good enough.

Well, it’s good enough for me.

Can you imagine being a police officer arresting a restaurant owner for menu violations? You wanted the job to catch rapists and murderers, and instead you confront an entrepreneur whose crime is believing a child would enjoy a root beer with the burger and fries? While the rapes and murders still go unsolved?

Human-made law are threats of violence: do this, don’t do that, or you’ll be punished. The armed police officer embodies that threat, and the threat is itself violent.

In your heart of hearts, do you think violence and censorship is part of the solution to child obesity? Or any social problem?

Would you want to be the cop making that arrest?

I just don’t see how anyone would.


James Leroy Wilson writes from Nebraska. He is the author of Ron Paul is a Nut (And So am I). Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Support through Paypal is greatly appreciated.