I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Mike “The Birdman” Dodd at Podcamp Toronto this year, and I have been checking out his blog and chatting about nothing much with him on Twitter. His most recent post was a call to action, and I accepted the call, because some shit ain’t right.
A University Paper (the University of Toronto no less) published an article entitled “10 Reasons it’s Not Ok to Be Fat”. That ain’t right.
Here is the response I sent to the President of UofT, the editors, and various other people on staff.
Dear Dr. David Naylor, et al:
I was deeply disappointed to read about the article “10 Reasons It’s Not Ok to be Fat” printed in the March 27th 2008 edition of The Newspaper. Let me begin by saying that while I firmly believe in freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, this article falls so categorically into the realm of hate speech that it is unacceptable. Imagine if the article had targeted not the overweight, but some other easily identifiable and marginalized group. Would this article have been acceptable if it were marginalizing Blacks, Asians, Homosexuals, or Women? If the article was “10 Reasons it’s not OK to be Disabled” , would it have been printed in this newspaper? I truly doubt it. I wonder, then, why it is considered acceptable to publish a hate piece about the overweight. Is it that the author is unaware of the genetic conditions involved? Does he really believe that fat people are fat just because they sit around doing nothing but eating all day? Or that overweight people are less than human, and thus are the perfect target for this kind of abuse?
Is it not enough that the mass media continues its obsession with the anorexic, waif thin models and celebrities that fill pages of magazines, and our television screens? The University of Toronto is one of the most distinguished universities in the world, in one of the most eclectic and multicultural cities in the world, but this hate piece is published by its student community paper. Is the University of Toronto not intended to be a bastion of higher learning? I suppose not, because this article drags it firmly back into the gutter of shallow, worthless journalism. I have no suggestions, nor desire to see the author punished. I just wanted to write to express my profound disappointment and dismay.