The Magazine


May 22, 2000, Vol. 5, No. 34 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
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Here's good news: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has just voted 11-0 to ban discrimination against fat people. The District of Columbia had already adopted such a law -- no Ted Kennedy jokes, please! -- and so had the state of Michigan, as well it should. I was just in Michigan, and at least two-thirds of the inhabitants beep when they back up. But San Francisco is a famously thin and wispy place. There's hardly a dirigible gut to be found within its city limits. Obviously the Board of Supervisors is acting from simple trendiness. Bless them. The trend comes just in time for me.

I'm not a complete dessert scow. Yet. But I'm in my fifties and looking a bit like Brazil where I used to resemble Argentina. Well, I say it's a poor man who can't build a shed over his tool. Prejudice against us wide-loads should, by all means, be made illegal -- especially the very strong prejudice that cute young women seem to display when we ask them, "Do you come here often?" or "What's your sign?" I'm happily married myself, so this type of insensitivity to People of Pudge does not affect me directly. But I'm thinking of my fellow middle-aged slobs and how their rights are being violated in Hooters franchises every night, nationwide. Also, I presume that the new civil flab laws apply to cute young wives, and that hence-forth it will be a hate crime for a certain particular cute young wife to laugh out loud when I emerge, in a Herman Melville-inspiring manner, from the hot tub.

Government protection of pie wagons is law-giving at its most noble, legislation worthy of a Solon or a Hammurabi -- assuming that they were porkers too. But the San Francisco Board of Supervisors does not go far enough in its concern for oppressed minorities (or majorities, as the case may be, since current National Institutes of Health statistics indicate that everybody in America except Calista Flockhart is overweight). Yes, fatsos need the help of elected officials. But then so do boneheads. Of course, many elected officials are boneheads, but there is hardly room in Congress, state legislatures, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, etc., for all of the country's nitwits. Meanwhile, numbskulls lag woefully in college admissions, employment opportunities, career advancement, and remembering to open the garage door before backing the car out. (And don't those garage door repairmen charge like the dickens?) How long can America bear the shame of its bigotry towards the dim? When -- at long last -- will we make bias against stupidity punishable by law?

Think of all the things that our nation owes to birdbrains. The very voyage to America in the Mayflower itself was a pretty dumb idea, not to mention the settlement of the West with its log hovels, Indian scalpings, and San Francisco Board of Supervisors. What would be the state of professional athletics in the United States without hockey score I.Q.'s among players, fans, team owners, and businesses willing to pay for Super Bowl television advertising time? Indeed, our entire entertainment industry depends upon a monumental unintelligence the likes of which is . . . wearing a tone-on-tone shirt-tie-suit combo and asking people with hockey score I.Q.'s monumentally unintelligent questions on a quiz show. The stock market depends on it, too. (N.B., anyone seeking a terrific deal on quite a bit of Iridium stock contact me c/o this magazine.) And without the mentally challenged, Internet chat rooms would be empty and e-mail unused. Then there's politics. Just imagine politics with its cretinous element subtracted. There would be no Republican candidates. There would be no Democratic voters. The whole system would collapse.

The fat and stupid are a vital part of America. We need forceful legislation and wide-ranging government programs to ensure that America's fattest and stupidest people receive the rights and opportunities, the benefits, the hopes for a brighter future that every citizen of this Republic deserves, plus a chance to run the mutual fund that my IRA is in. Although that has happened already.