Let’s take this argument to the next level. Is anyone considering barring straight people from marrying and having children? Research can point to many examples of heterosexual couples being terrible parents. Yet somehow they retain their right to marry and have children.
SUSAN BEHRENS Brooklyn, Feb. 23, 2014
To the Editor:
Even if the social science evidence on whether children brought up in same-sex marriages do worse than those in heterosexual marriages is accepted (which is unlikely and unwarranted), it should not come as a surprise. Children brought up in a society that stigmatizes same-sex marriage will be victims of the very homophobic prejudice underlying such stigmatization.
ALLAN C. HUTCHINSON Toronto, Feb. 23, 2014
The writer is a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University.
Note from KBJ: I feel sorry for these kids. Every child deserves to be reared by a mother and a father.
Crystal L. Hoyt and Jeni L. Burnette’s studies are very interesting, and raise an important question about how the medicalization of obesity might encourage obese people to make unhealthy choices. Debates over whether or not obesity is a disease are being oversimplified and are in danger of distracting us from the real issue of how we prevent other diseases to which obesity can contribute.
Regardless of whether or not obesity is a disease in itself, people do not die from it. Rather, they typically die from coronary and arterial diseases to which a consistently high body mass index is a contributory factor.
Obesity should be thought of as “predisease,” a biological marker of something that may develop into a disease but that can be prevented. This is what public health education messages should focus on.
SIMON WILLIAMS Chicago, Feb. 23, 2014
The writer is a clinical research associate at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University.
To the Editor:
The classification of obesity as a disease is not rhetoric to attract research dollars and public urgency, despite what Crystal L. Hoyt and Jeni L. Burnette seem to suggest.
I would go even further than the American Medical Association and label obesity a communicable disease, one passed from person to person, and generation to generation, in urban communities with insufficient access to vegetables, limited space for exercise, low physical activity in schools, and scant attention from local legislators to enhance policies and programs like food stamps and Head Start that address obesity among young people.
What is needed is to have the new disease classification lead us to invest much more in preventing this disease, as well as in caring for those who have it. This needs to start with prevention science to find more effective approaches for our whole population so that this communicable condition is prevented from spreading.
LINDA P. FRIED New York, Feb. 24, 2014
The writer is dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and senior vice president and professor of medicine, Columbia University Medical Center.
To the Editor:
Crystal L. Hoyt and Jeni L. Burnette’s research and conclusion only perpetuate the idea that labeling obesity a disease gives fat people an excuse for staying fat! Do the writers feel the same about those with other afflictions like schizophrenia, depression or hypertension? By labeling those afflictions as diseases, do they believe that people have an excuse to stop taking their medications? I hope not.
Labeling obesity a disease helps health care professionals and others understand that weight loss is not a quick fix, that it is a lifelong struggle and one of the hardest things a person can do. It is an addiction, no different than smoking, alcohol or drugs, and must be managed and treated in a similar fashion.
I should know. I have been dealing with this affliction for more than 50 years and have gained and lost hundreds of pounds trying to manage it.
If we want to fight one of the most challenging and dangerous diseases within the last several decades, we must devote the time, energy and money to manage this problem as we have other diseases like cancer and heart disease.
ROBERT R. KARPMAN Ithaca, N.Y., Feb. 24, 2014
The writer is an orthopedic surgeon.
To the Editor:
Crystal L. Hoyt and Jeni L. Burnette say the ideal public health goal is a “decrease in self-blame and stigma while at the same time promoting adaptive self-regulation and weight loss.” But there are two possible effects of stigma that may have an important role in prevention of obesity.
One is as a warning to the overweight to take care of themselves to avoid obesity. The other is some evidence that such a threat leads many people to weight-loss programs.
In the case of the already obese, however, the evidence shows that no more than 5 to 10 percent succeed in losing weight and keeping it off. That data actually lends support to the writers’ agreement [sic] that the American Medical Association’s “disease” designation will allow the obese some greater satisfaction with their bodies.
The “significant negative consequence” they foresee, however, is thus put in a different light: Most of the already obese will not be able to lose weight, and any relief from societal stigma will be valuable.
DANIEL CALLAHAN Garrison, N.Y., Feb. 24, 2014
The writer is president emeritus of the Hastings Center, a bioethics and public policy research group.
The chant seems endless. “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.” President Obama keeps saying the economy is growing healthier. Folks, the unemployment is plunging. There are 12 million jobless people in the U.S. Forty-seven million people are in the food stamp program. The country’s debt is hovering around at $17 trillion. President Obama proclaims optimism “the ship is riding the storm.”
The country needs no more lies, no broken promises.
President Obama is delaying approval of the Keystone pipeline project because the government wants more power.
The Benghazi scandal, Fast and Furious scandal and the troublesome DOJ interdiction of news reporters is a blatant curtailment of the first amendment rights. The White House officials hold no accountability for the murder of the ambassador in Benghazi nor the killing of a border officer in American-Mexican territory. This unsolved matter is a gross cover-up or corruption in Washington, D.C.
President Obama took the oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. He has not. He abused his executive power changing the law unilaterally going around the Congress if he does not like the law. In my view it is a criminal act. If a person commits multiple mistakes he ought to pay for these mistakes. The golden rule is compelling because no one is above the law.
America needs new direction. A man with immense zeal who is endowed with honesty and compassion to serve his people. A man with common sense deserves to be a leader.
A big thank you to Ajit Pai for alerting Journal readers to the FCC's effort to influence what the press tells us about public policy, economic matters and a host of other issues that affect our daily lives ("The FCC Wades Into the Newsroom," op-ed, Feb. 11). The "critical information needs" initiative, which masks this pernicious effort, should absolutely scare liberals and conservatives alike. If you consider that America's most important and defining value is democracy, then freedom of the press—implicitly guaranteed by our Constitution's First Amendment—is indeed the most important foundation of our national security. If the press cannot freely report, then America's fundamental character will change for the worse.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai's op-ed is a knee-jerk reaction to his agency's initiative to study the way the stations determine the content of their broadcasts. The agency has the right and duty to see that owners of broadcast licenses are serving their communities. Yes, we have eliminated the so-called Fairness Doctrine—the requirement that a station show both sides of an issue of controversial importance—but we have never eliminated the stations' obligation to ascertain that licensees serve the needs of their community. That obligation of station owners has never changed. After all, broadcasters are public trustees. They sit on over $70 billion of spectrum given to them by the government. If they don't meet the needs of their community, then the license should rightly go to someone else who will.
Prof. John M. Eger
San Diego State University
Mr. Eger was a legal assistant to FCC Chairman Dean Burch from 1970 to 1973.
The average high temperature at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport this past February was 57.5º Fahrenheit, which is significantly lower than usual. (So much for global warming.) The range was staggering. We had one day in the 20s, four in the 30s, five in the 40s, five in the 50s, three in the 60s, eight in the 70s, and two in the 80s. I rode my bike 183.6 miles, which isn't bad, considering that I was sick with influenza (or something similar) for more than half the month.
For the past two decades, the University of Michigan has been at the forefront of the effort to manufacture campus diversity through race-based policies. It has been limited in this pursuit by several Supreme Court decisions and a Michigan constitutional amendment. Still, how is it that an institution that places such a high value on diversity could produce an environment so seemingly hostile toward certain races?
The fault lies squarely with a university administration that has cheerfully debased the idea of diversity to merely a variety of skin colors in a glossy brochure. The result of monumental efforts to restore special preferences for certain races and ethnicities has been to reinforce a way of thinking that imposes stale racial categories on unique individuals. Sadly, it is no wonder that students struggle with racial stereotypes when their administrators insist on treating minorities as racial tokens.
Race does not determine an individual’s background, views, talents or achievements. Every student, regardless of color, deserves to be seen as he is, not as public officials wish him to be.
JENNIFER GRATZ Fort Myers, Fla., Feb. 26, 2014
The writer was the lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court affirmative action case Gratz v. Bollinger (2003). She is the founder and chief executive of the XIV Foundation, which defends the principle of equal treatment.