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Defend Your Rights

| By Gordon Mott , Marvin R. Shanken | From J.P. Morgan, Mar/Apr 00

"Meat consumption is just as dangerous to public health as tobacco use. It's time we looked at holding the meat producers and fast-food outlets legally accountable."  
Dr. Neal Barnard, President Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine    

"What makes animal food companies think they can get away with causing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes and...other diseases? The answer is obvious. They can't get away with it. It's just a matter of time before justice finds them, too."  
James Corcoran, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine    

The comments above illustrate one of America's most disturbing trends--advocacy groups telling you what you can and cannot do. They rely on inflammatory rhetoric and manipulated scientific data that are tailored to meet their agendas, agendas that are best described as moral or cultural crusades. Their goal is simple: everything they don't like, they will seek to deny to you, and limit your freedom to choose.  

Their targets include much more than just tobacco, red meat and fast food. These groups are aiming at coffee, sugar, cream, butter, eggs, soda, caffeine and most certainly all forms of alcohol--anything they deem to be unhealthy or risky. Their tactics include weaving a deceptive tapestry of condemnation and linking causes with effects that have no business being mentioned in the same context.  

Although they present their cases with lofty moral claims, don't be deceived into thinking that these groups are motivated by some higher calling, by an altruism that seeks only to ensure the public's safety. They must make noise to raise money to keep their organizations alive and their jobs intact. They have become institutionalized, much like any lobbyist in Washington. That doesn't mean these people are not zealots; they are true believers, people who think that if you are not with them, then you are the enemy. Their way is the one true way.  

Our founding fathers would be turning in their graves if they could see the shenanigans of these self-appointed moralists. This country was founded on the ideal of individual liberty: the right for people to do as they wish, as long as it does no harm to others. These zealots are stealing away one of our founding principles: our freedom to choose how we live our lives.   What can you do? We found out about these meat haters from Rick Berman, who runs the Guest Choice Network, a coalition of restaurant and tavern owners that monitors issues of importance to its industry. Check out his Web site at for more information.  

But don't stop there. Be vocal. When you see these extremists speaking locally or quoted in a newspaper article, challenge them; make them substantiate the science on which they base their attacks. Trust us: their science is bad science, twisted to their political ends. (See "Blowing Smoke," in our December 1998 issue, and "Puff Pieces," in this issue, for examples of antitobacco forces manipulating the facts.)   These groups are organizing against us, often using government funds to finance their blatantly ideological activities. People who believe in individual rights should be organizing to confront them. It's the only way to stem the tide. As we've said before, tobacco is just the first of many battles to come. The crusade to deny you your individual rights, to limit your choices about how you lead your life, is real, and ongoing. Through lawsuits, propaganda and intimidation, these groups want to impose Prohibition-like laws in twenty-first-century America. Prohibition failed the first time around; it won't work now.  

Stop the zealots. Don't let them take away your freedoms.  

Marvin R. Shanken Editor & Publisher  
Gordon Mott Executive Editor