April 24 2012
Food Nannies vs. Freedom of Speech
Let's not pick on my home state of North Carolina; many states have a government board that determines who can or can't practice nutrition.
But I was bummed this week to find out that NC's board is on the attack, asking one man in Charlotte to shut down his three-year-old blog detailing his experiences with the "Paleo diet" after he ws diagnosed with diabetes in 2009.
The Carolina Journal reports:
Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes makes it a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition” without a license. According to the law, “practicing” nutrition includes “assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups” and “providing nutrition counseling.”
Steve Cooksey has learned that the definition, at least in the eyes of the state board, is expansive.
When he was hospitalized with diabetes in February 2009, he decided to avoid the fate of his grandmother, who eventually died of the disease. He embraced the low-carb, high-protein Paleo diet, also known as the “caveman” or “hunter-gatherer” diet. The diet, he said, made him drug- and insulin-free within 30 days. By May of that year, he had lost 45 pounds and decided to start a blog about his success.
But this past January the state diatetics and nutrition board decided Cooksey’s blog — Diabetes-Warrior.net — violated state law. The nutritional advice Cooksey provides on the site amounts to “practicing nutrition,” the board’s director says, and in North Carolina that’s something you need a license to do.
Unless Cooksey completely rewrites his 3-year-old blog, he could be sued by the licensing board. If he loses the lawsuit and refuses to take down the blog, he could face up to 120 days in jail.
But what about Cooksey's right to free speech? Doesn't he have a right to express how his diet was helpful? Can't individual readers decide for themselves how seriously to take the experience of one person?
In the eyes of the NC food nannies, the answer is no. And this points to a disappointing trend in big-government: Individuals are weak, helpless, and incapable of thinking for themselves. We don't know how to select the right type of insurance coverage, so ObamaCare will tell us. We can't even make responsible decisions about lightbulbs, so the EPA will limit out choices. We surely can't be trusted to choose which school our children should attend.
And now it seems we can't be trusted to browse the food blogs of other people, for fear that we will hurt ourselves by cutting back on carbs.