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Friday, September 17, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 19

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Time to defend the defenseless

R. Alex Whitlock

For those of you who don't remember or didn't read it, last week's column involved my lamenting some recent weight gain and my desire to be a thinner, healthier person. I ended with a note resolving to lose the weight I've recently gained and figure out what to do with it. I was watching the news one day when it finally came to me: liposuction.

I had always discounted liposuction because that type of thing costs money. By definition, I am a lowly college student working two jobs and writing a weekly column. How in the world could I afford such a procedure? The evening news told me the answer: lawsuits.

You see, they were talking about cities suing gun manufacturers because people were using their products for purposes they were designed for. It reminded me of the litigation over the last couple years where smokers were suing cigarette companies because they smoked for decades and got cancer.

That's when it occurred to me. The fast food eateries should pay for my surgery since they're the ones that made me gain the weight.

You might be thinking that it is my own fault for eating too much, but you're blaming the victim. Let me illustrate.

If a smoker who voluntarily picks up cigarettes every day even though all the evidence points to the facts that cigarettes are unhealthy can turn around and make millions of dollars, why can't I?

Now you're probably going to try to tell me that the cigarette companies tried to conceal the fact that their product is unhealthy and that they should pay for that. Well, McDonald's certainly never told me that their food was greasy and unhealthy. 

They only talked about the taste. While cigarettes make your lungs look gross, fast food makes your arteries look gross.

The fact is that McDonald's knew their product was unhealthy, yet they never put that in their ads.

The least they could have done is put a warning on the bottom of the screen saying "Our burgers go straight to your spare tire" or rename the Whataburger into the Whatatuboflard or something.

Their failure to alert me to the unhealthy nature of their food must constitute negligence or careless disregard or something that I'm sure will rake in the big bucks for me in court.

Of course, the cigarette companies knew that cigarettes are addictive but then again, so does Burger King. Burger King has (or had -- I'm in exile from BK these days) this great sandwich called the Big King. 

They know the Big King tastes good. Because the Big King is so good, they also must have known that I would want more and the irrational desire for more is the very foundation of addiction.

You see, at this point in time I cannot afford to get a liposuction. I think it's only fair that the people to blame for my predicament (not me, of course) should take "responsibility" for their actions. 

It doesn't stop there. There must be punitive damages. The corporate fatcats and merchants of greasy and delicious death must pay for pain and suffering as well.

Come to think of it, when I was in intermediate school (four inches shorter and 25 pounds heavier), they made fun of me a lot. Every time I looked in the mirror I would be horrified. The horror! (Show me the money!)

We must, after all, hold those to blame for my problems accountable for my err, their actions.
 

Whitlock, a junior information systems major, believes that 
if you smoke it, fire it or eat it, you're responsible for it. 
He can be reached at pariah@tmbg.org.
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