Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Free Speech--Only For Qualified People

Here's a quick quiz: which of the following statements are protected by the US Constitution's First Amendment?

1) Carbs, especially processed carbs and sugar are bad for a diabetic.

2) Hitler was a cool guy and the Holocaust is just Jewish propaganda.

3) The way to fix the economy is for the government to borrow colossal sums of money and spend it by giving it to politically connected companies and paying people to junk their cars. This increases aggregate demand and prevents a liquidity trap, and is really fun if you are politically connected or were planning on buying a new car.

4) Twilight is the greatest movie of all time.

Answer, all of the above...unless you live in North Carolina. While all the statements, except for the first one, are offensive to anyone with a couple of brain cells to rub together, it is only the first one that can land you in hot water, unless you've been certified to say it.

This is what's facing Steve Cooksey at the health blog Diabetes Warrior. Steve was apparently providing "illegal nutritional counseling" for suggesting pizza and Mountain Dew might not be the optimal diet for a person whose pancreas is dying.

Let's just take a look at the First Amendment, shall we?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Since it is his blog they are going after, isn't that also violating freedom of the press? Or does that only apply to the "real" press, such as the NY Times or the Washington Post?

The interesting thing about a law only allowing certified people to dish out advice is that were a certified dietitian to give out the same advice as Steve, they would be in danger of losing their certification. So what the law essentially is saying is that only people who follow the party line of the ADA are allowed to tell diabetics what they should eat. Uhm, if that's not a violation of the First Amendment I don't know what is.

Only us experts are allowed to tell you what to eat--it's the law!

If someone is making false claims, that's another story. There's the famous case of Listerine having to redact its claims that its product could reduce or alleviate the common cold (although I'm not a huge fan of the FTC the ruling was upheld in court).

So perhaps the NC State Board of Dieticians would like to challenge Mr Cooksey's claims that vegetarian pizza really sucks ass for diabetics. What an awesome court case that would be! I'm pretty sure Dr Bernstein would be happy to testify for the defense. Also, I'm sure "qualified" people like Robb Wolf, Emily Deans, and Chris Kresser could be convinced to testify. Perhaps even Kurt Harris would leave his Fortress of Solitude, to make an appearance.

This is all reminiscent of Dr Annika Dahlqvist's struggle to treat diabetics in Sweden with an HFLC diet. She lost her job and went through a lot of shit for that (although she's now practicing as a full-fledged doctor again), but thanks to people like her (and especially her), Sweden is now a leader in HFLC.

I'll leave you with this video interview Jimmy Moore just did with Steve Cooksey. Which also has this awesome YouTube comment:
Guess what, Michelle Obama is going around this country trying to tell us what to eat and she is not a certified nutritionist either...!!! I rest my case..!!!

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