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Hippocritic Oath —

January 11, 2012

Warning: Please skip this post if you have a serious allergy to hypocrisy or irony.

This morning, I received a curious message from Strong4Life’s Twitter account:

First of all, am I the only one who finds it ironic that a group that has financed billboards insulting fat children got their pwecious wittle fee fees hurt?

But what struck me as odd is that for someone with a short fuse and a sharp tongue, I’ve remained remarkably civil toward Strong4Life. Those who have seen me fly off the handle may find it hard to believe, so I invite you to scour my Twitter for offending passages. I have, and I haven’t found anything even remotely resembling a personal attack.

Then it struck me: I joined Strong4Life’s Facebook page yesterday and posted two items. As it happens, I screen capped both of them in anticipation of censorship and I think you may find this interesting. The first one was concerned the “research” that I tore into yesterday.

Pretty straightforward, not a single insult. But it’s the second post that cut them soooo deeply that they kicked me out of their group with the following explanation:

Okay, so they will not tolerate swearing, threats, harassment, vulgarity, or anything else that debases the purpose of their community or staff, the purpose of which is to debase fat children. Got it.

So, what did I say that violated these terms? Well, a young woman posted on Strong4Life’s page that her sister had experienced an increase in bullying since Strong4Life began, and that her sister had recently attempted suicide. Pay particular attention to the compassion Strong4Life exhibits toward the girl, then see if you can spot the offending section from my response.

Brace yourself for a torrent of profanity!

Not since Andrew Dice Clay has such vulgarity been uttered! Not since the Lenny Bruce trials have the limits of free speech been strained by the fowl and detestable language of the common man! Hide your kids, hide your wife, for the language contained is not suitable for the faint-hearted among us! Oh the humanity!

So, here’s the takeaway from Strong4Life:

  • Shaming Fat Kids = Good
  • Shaming Strong4Life = Bad

That’s it.

That’s when you know you’ve crossed the line.

I am now friends with the young woman in the post and I’m trying to find out if everything is okay. I’m not certain that her first comment is 100% accurate, but neither is Strong4Life, and rather than expressing concern for the young girl’s sister, they warn her that they “take reports of this nature very seriously.”

Well, I should fucking hope so, since you’re a hospital. (Oh no, actual, written profanity! My ears, they are melting!)

Finding out whether her sister is really experience this severe of a trauma is important, but even more important is supporting this girl, especially if you may be the one contributing to her torment. Would it have killed the Strong4Life Facebook moderator to maybe say “I’m sorry” or “Is there anything we can do?” or “How about we take down these horrible billboards already?”

Speaking of billboards, Ragen Chastain (aka Dances with Fat) contacted me with an idea that she and several others were brainstorming: our own billboard placed as near to the Strong4Life billboards that will encourage and uplift fat kids as a way to counteract the damage already done.

We’re still in the planning stages and looking for prices, but once we are ready we will be requesting donations to pay for the billboard.

Also, Ragen, Marilyn Wann and I have gathered together to create a website dedicated to this campaign at Stop Strong4Life. It is still in its foetal stage, so give us some time to flesh it out, but we will be requesting copies of your letters to Strong4Life, as well as asking to repost any and all articles on this subject.

In the meantime, please sign the Change.org petition, and continue calling and writing Strong4Life, every day, and ask yet another person to join our campaign. You can also join our Facebook page, as we continue to build up pressure against this horrible campaign.

Linda Matzigkeit (doing interviews in defense of the billboards)
Vice President of CHOA
404 785 7824 (her admin’s number, so please be polite)
linda.matzigkeit@choa.org

Stephanie Walsh (doing interviews in defense of the billboards)
Medical Director of CHOA
404 785 6104 (her admin’s number, so please be polite)
stephanie.walsh@choa.org

Kevin McClelland (who they direct you to for complaints about the billboards)
Public Relations Director for CHOA
404 785 7600
kevin.mcclelland@choa.org

Children’s Foundation
404-785-4483
choagiving@choa.org

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2012 10:30 am

    Wouldn’t written profanity make your EYES melt?

    Seriously though, S4L can’t take the heat that their campaign is causing. They should do the classy thing and take it down..but that would mean that it’s (gasp) NOT okay to harass fat children? Who’da thunk it??? Ignorant asses.

  2. Kala permalink
    January 11, 2012 10:43 am

    Shannon,

    I get that you’re super intense about this particular campaign, and that it hits you very hard personally.

    But do you really not get it? You tweeted like a bajillion messages at them, with a ton of them that were vulgar or nasty. You alternated back and forth between outright nastiness, and getting to the point, and back and forth again. Just because that crassness was on their twitter, and not on their Facebook, doesn’t mean that they can’t eliminate you completely from their social network. Did Reverend Heath, or other opposition, get banned from their Facebook page and blocked from their Twitter? My guess is probably not, but I could be wrong. If I am wrong, then I think claims of censorship would be valid here. But it seems really disingenuous to me that you would communicate with them as you have, and then complain of them censoring criticism of when they won’t allow you to publicly communicate with them at all, even with more reasonable posts.

    And as for personal attacks, does this not strike you as attack-y Shannon?

    “@strong_4_life Your ad campaign is the only thing we are pissed about. YOUR AD CAMPAIGN IS WHAT TORMENTS FAT CHILDREN. #IgnorantFuckers”

    Ignorant fuckers? Come the fuck on.

    Or maybe this one?

    “@strong_4_life Do whatever the hell you want to promote healthy diets and exercise, BUT LEAVE FAT KIDS ALONE YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES!”

    Ah, I see, you meant fucking assholes in a totally non-personal way, I get it now.

    If you want your messages to be heard, and to be not censored out, then conduct yourself in a fashion that doesn’t give the opposition completely legitimate reasons to silence you.

    • January 11, 2012 11:03 am

      Point taken, Kala, but go back through and reread them in order. The last one I tweeted with any profanity or insults was this one last week, on January 6. Granted, I did use strong language and insulted them last week, but they engaged me all this week and waited until today to block me? And from what I can tell, they are referring to the FB page blocking me. I don’t know how to tell if they are blocking me on Twitter.

      But you know what? When I started tweeting about this, I was doing the exact same thing Strong4Life was doing to fat kids: using harsh language to get their attention. If they were so insulted by me calling them ignorant fuckers (which, they are, by the way), then why did they wait to block me? Why did they answer my questions up to that point?

      This isn’t about language or insults. It’s about them trying to control the message that their fans receive on their FB fan page, and the offending passage was the one above, which simply says “Shame on you.”

      Kala, I have toned down my rhetoric substantially since last week. None of my tweets or posts from this week has directly attacked anyone at Strong4Life or called them assholes. I do swear, but you know what? This shit makes me fucking pissed, and sometimes “fuck” is the only word that captures that anger.

      I’m sorry that my language offends you, Kala, but this is how I guess this is how I respond to ignorant fuckers who bully fat children with billboards. I’m no longer making this personal against Strong4Life, but I am going to continue to write in my own voice, which includes profanity from time to time. But I don’t think you can explain Strong4Life’s sudden blocking of my account as having anything to do with what was written last week.

      Peace,
      Shannon

      • January 11, 2012 11:27 am

        The ‘tone’ arguement, that your tone is unacceptable, is a silencing technique. Personal attacks are a big no obviously, so watch yourself, but using strong language, including profanity, isn’t wrong or bad in and of itself. Being asked to talk calmly or ‘reasonably’ or ‘logically’ about something instead of being passionate or angry is something feminists and thier supporters get all the time. I’m sorry, but I can’t NOT get pissed when things get personal. Our fat bodies? Our kid’s fat bodies? That’s pretty damn personal and we’re not sitting by allowing S4L to think we support them. Our voices raised is so so SO much more important than whether or not we’re calm or reasonable. Silence is saying “This is ok with me”, and this campaign? NOT OK.

      • Kala permalink
        January 11, 2012 11:40 am

        It doesn’t offend me Shannon, in my personal life I’m perfectly vulgar.

        I keep commenting on the tone of the arguments because I want you to succeed at what you are doing, because it’s a crappy campaign, but I think the vitriol hurts more than it helps.

        And yes, I agree that you’ve cleaned up what you have been saying. But that was still after you went and made sure to prove that your intention was to be fully antagonistic. I doubt they had a round table and decided to block you for your criticism. I’m assuming they were sitting on their hands and hoping you’d go away, and when you didn’t and they got tired of seeing your messages (many of which were very repetitive), they blocked you. If they were blocking everyone who disagreed, or even more than one or two, I think claims about censorship could be made, but I still persist in saying that given your former behavior, you can’t use your case alone as prove that they are censoring anything.

        This boils down to another reason why Vesta’s letter had really stuck in my craw. Vesta’s original argument about the research, without us knowing anything about it, was essentially that she thinks that they are guilty of some kind of fraud. This was simply because she looked at the results, and decided based on her intuition that they had to be made up or seriously twisted. That is a serious allegation, and not one I think is warranted until some level of evidence is in hand. It’d be one thing if we knew that CHOA had a history of using bad data, but we didn’t know that either. I can in my personal sphere say that I think that an activity is fraudulent. It’s another story to confront or publicly declare that I know, not that it is a suspicious, but that I am sure, that they were fraudulent, even when I have no proof. It seems that we are now getting more evidence, and it seems more likely that it wasn’t a worthwhile study.

        The same logic goes for you claiming censorship, your claim for censorship was seriously sullied by your former actions, and I think it’d be hard pressed to convince people who aren’t already on your side that you were censored, unless you can find proof that other people have been censored. Now personally, I wouldn’t be surprised that they are censoring, but that doesn’t mean it’s ethical for me to publicly claim that they are. If you think censorship is an issue, reach out to everyone you can, and see if you can get any other reports of it happening, and encourage dissenters to take screenshots and other evidence of dissenting messages to show that they were there before they disappear. If you can confront them with that, and they still claim that they censor only for vulgarity and personal attacks, then that’s the point where they really lose. Legally, they have no responsibility to post any dissenting opinion, but from a community perspective they obviously lose respect and credibility when it’s proven that they do censor.

        And this is just the way I feel about things, and I think the logic has nothing to do with how the injustice makes you feel. How offensive the campaign is, doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not it is permissible for us to claim things without a leg to stand on.

        Because when activists start screaming fraud without evidence, good people sometimes go down for no particular reason.

        • January 13, 2012 4:35 am

          This.

          I think the people responsible for this ad campaign are, at the most generous reading, unaware of the implications of bullying. At the worst, they are insensitive.

          BUT, publicly accusing them of fraud or censorship does not relate to the issue at hand:

          1) These ads promote the bullying of children (not even just fat children; as other people have pointed out, “fat” is often used as a catch-all pejorative even if the victim is no larger than average).

          2) The ads are at cross purposes with the programs stated intentions (to promote health and activity in young people), as they just reinforce the notion that fat people DON’T exercise and are simply miserable and ugly.

          3) The ads also work under assumption that weight and health are linked in any way, which is false.

          I think a more productive use of resources, instead of trying to engage them directly and shame them into changing their behavior, would be to spam them to studies that have proven how false the link between body size and body health is. Despicable as their behavior is, if *we* don’t want to be shamed into being smaller, it seems hypocritical to assume that they want to (or even can) be shamed into being better. At the least, make it a two-pronged attack.

          Could we have a page on the FFF blog that’s a compendium of links to all of the assorted studies who have made the point fatties have been making since forever, for example? Like a bibliography, of sorts? It would be useful not only for Strong4Life but also for all of us engaged in the “size doesn’t matter, seriously” argument outside of this debacle.

  3. January 11, 2012 11:09 am

    As part of my career, I’ve studied and analyzed the rhetoric of domination and control. Your opponent’s responses (over solicitousness and false concern, straw man warnings, accusing others of committing the specific wrongdoings of which they are guilty–yes, “harassment”–etc) once again reveal CLASSIC perpetrator behaviors. Watch as they continue to adopt a posture of fawning, alternating with subtle warnings to those who threaten their worldview. They will continue also: to escalate reactions through baiting, and to then solicit pity from potential allies–in other words, they will reframe themselves (and their motives) as innocent victims of unfair strategies. It pays for all of us, in our dealings with them, to keep level heads. The idea of using a counter-billboard campaign is brilliant. It adopts their own strategy but for the purpose of shedding light rather than hiding–to focus energy (by mirroring), and it brings the perp’s true colors out in the open. I’m smiling and applauding your courage.

  4. January 11, 2012 12:07 pm

    God damn, Atchka, you were cussing up a fucking storm there and threatening them with firebombs and nuclear attacks and flaming death all over the place! No wonder they banned you!
    SARCASM ALERT for those whose humor chip is missing.

  5. January 11, 2012 12:15 pm

    Shannon, I am totally with you. I can’t say that I would use some of the language that you (only occasionally, I might add) used but I think that righteous indignation is the only sane way to respond to what is nothing but a hate campaign against children who do not fit into current societal norms.

    I’m not convinced that obsequiousness and a surfeit of polite, “bow and scrape” language towards S4L is going to make any difference to its proponents. And all the while, this odious campaign continues to fuel fat hatred while doing bubkes (in other words, less than nothing) to improve anyone’s health, and certainly not the health of growing children.

  6. Jackie permalink
    February 9, 2012 4:45 am

    That behavior was absolutely disgusting of them. It’s like this conversation took place:

    Sister: My sister considered suicide because of the relentless bullying and having a kid tellher she is less than human because of the language you use on your billboards.

    Strong4Life: Here’s a national suicide hotline. As we have done what is required by law for us to respond to your claims our billboards contributed to the bullying of your sister. We are trying to help children be healthy, do you hate us for that? You must think something is wrong intrying to help children be healthy and thin. That bully might have been hortible, but it’s nothing compared to your claims children should be made to endure Obesity. Did you ever consider the children who are dying from the multiple diseases related to Obesity? If you cared about your sister, you’d realize her being fat is what drove her to suicide, not bullies. We at Strong4Life hope you get some mental help, before cruelly condemning more children to the ravages of Obesity, because you wish to selfishly live in denial.

    I mean, really they can sleep at night telling someone that their sibling didn’t try to commit suicide due to bullying? That it was the victim of their ad campaign’s fault for not losing weight so they wouldn’t be bullied. Then they ban you? So Strong4Life’s goal seems to prove they are sociopaths? That the true feelings of children mean nothing to them? I think this correspondence should be put on the news. Everyone should know Strong4Life thinks the lives of fat children do not matter.

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