Thursday, August 24, 2006

Health Fascists Laying Siege to Chicago

Scramble all freedom fighters! The health fascists are attacking Chicago! Libertarian irregulars needed at the front to protect your right to eat deep-dish ham and bacon pizza with a side of cheese fries!

The City of Chicago implemented this week a ban on the sale of foie gras, the fatty liver pate. The stated reason for the ban was the alleged cruelty of the foie gras process, in which ducks and geese are forcefed with a tube to enlarge their livers to more than 10 times their normal size.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, no fool, sees exactly where this is going.

"I think it's the silliest law that they've [the City Council] ever passed," Daley said Tuesday. "Why would they pick this and not anything else? How about veal? How about chicken? How about steak? Beef? How about fish?"

The answer is that the health fascists picked foie gras because they thought nobody would care about an expensive, French appetizer. That way, under the cover of consumer apathy, the health fascists could quietly set the precedent of banning the sale of a legal food on the ground that animals suffered in its creation. Then, when the time was right, the precedent would be slowly expanded to other meats.

The health fascists appear to have miscalculated. Chicago diners and restaurateurs enjoyed a day of civil disobedience on Tuesday (the day the law went into effect), with restaurants across the city offering foie gras, many for the first time. According to the Chicago Tribune, you could order foie gras pizza, burgers, hot dogs or soul food, among the choices.

The Illinois Restaurant Association has filed a suit challenging the law. According to published reports, the IRA's primary argument is that the City of Chicago does not have the authority to ban a food based on actions -- the force-feeding of the fowl -- which take place outside of the city. I'm not convinced that's the best argument, because, as the Chicago counsel's office said in response to the filing, cities validly ban things like guns and drugs which were not created within city limits.

Most laws are valid if they are "rationally related" to a "legitimate" government concern. For example, the State of California can attempt to reduce air pollution by requiring that all vehicles registered by the state pass an emissions test that is stricter than the test imposed by other states.

However, even a rational law -- and "rational" is usually an easy hurdle to vault -- can be challenged on a host of grounds, one of which is that the law impermissibly interferes with interstate commerce. Laws passed by cities can also be challenged on the grounds that the local council overstepped whatever authority was granted by the state.

Off the cuff, my primary legal argument would be that the law draws irrational distinctions which prohibit the sale by restaurants (but not stores) of a certain type of duck meat (but not other meats in which an animal is bred for slaughter). A secondary argument would be that the alleged suffering of specially raised ducks and geese -- which have no legal standing -- is not proven as a matter of fact and, even if it were, is not a legitimate government concern. And, even though it's not strictly a legal argument, I would make it clear to the Court -- and to every reporter who asked about the case -- that this law is just the nose in the tent, a first attempt at articulating a legal theory which would allow the gradual prohibition of all meat.

Because that's the real goal. Right now, the health fascists are focusing on foods that come from fuzzy, wuzzy, huggable little animals. But the goal -- never stated -- is to ban all meat. The health fascists are a prohibitionist group masquerading as a regulatory group and, as such, every little thing they want needs to be roundly and comprehensively opposed, even if it's just a silly local ordinance banning the sale of overpriced goose liver.



Blogger Rosen said...

Uh, Paul. I've been reading some of your recent postings and I just have one question:
Are you sure you really left the country?

11:33 PM  
Blogger Paul Karl Lukacs said...

The reach of American popular culture is so vast that the guys from Defamer could write their blog from a monastery in Syria.

Hey, aren't you about to turn 40, old man?

Happy birthday.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Thanks for the nice b-day message on Saturday...
We did a tequila shot in your honor.
And for the record, I'm still in my 30's...
until Thursday.

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Lorin said...

A couple quick comments/corrections from your French connection. First, pâté is spelled with a circumflex on the a and an acute accent on the e. Second, foie gras (literally, "fat liver") does not (in France) specifically refer to the pâté - it refers to the actual liver, in whole or in part, which has usually been cooked or semi-cooked and canned. Pâté is a derivative of this prepared liver, usually blended with spices and ground meats. Pâté literally means "paste" (an easy to remember translation since the circumflex often replaces a vestigial s. There is a good Wikipedia entry here.

4:18 AM  

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