Historical note: August 2010 was the biggest month ever for the Assassin Bug, when for some unknown reason , searches for Brigitte Bardot (its matron saint) shot up like the price of Halliburton shares during an unnecessary war. The Assassin Bug was the unintended beneficiary.We are hoping that this August we will top last August’s number of visitors, when over 6,000 gawkers drooled over pictures of France’s most famous hate-speech criminal. Please check in daily to The Assassin Bug, or the Meta-Bug if you must, as often as possible between now and Labor Day. Every time you visit, another mosquito is squished.
August Sweeps Month is coming up for the Assassin Bug, and the foaming-at-the-mouth believers in raw milk can always be counted upon to drive up a site’s number of hits whenever their sacred cow (ha!) is looked at askance. But I won’t write about this on my public health blog, because as a matter of public health, this is settled (at least as far as the science is concerned).
So I’m not going to write about raw milk. I’m going to write about the Tragedy of David Gumpert. It’s a minor league tragedy in comparison with real tragedies, like the dismembered child in New York, or that woman whose drowned body wasn’t discovered for two days in Massachusetts, or that there are people still not able to find adequate medical care. It’s hardly poignant like great fictional tragedy, like Othello or the book version of The Natural (Roy Hobbs does not hit a homer off of the lights, but strikes out–How could Hollywood change that?) But it is tragic nonetheless in the low level why-do-the-Cubs-keep-losing- and-won’t-I-ever-see-a-pennant-in-my-lifetime kind of way.
Gumpert has become the Glenn Beck of the “food rights” movement. (No, this is not the right of foods to vote, marry each other, or not be eaten–it is the supposed right of any citizen to put into commerce whatever he or she deems is edible, though I daresay that that has as much sense. )The movement would have us believe that there exists in the Constitution something that they call food rights.
Historical aside: Some noted historians claim that Food Rights are found in the famous “Lost Amendments Scrolls,” purportedly written by Jefferson while in France (Jefferson was serving as Ambassador to France while the Constitutional Convention was meeting), and lost in transit on their way to the United States. Some scholars go on to say that someone paid to have these parchments hijacked and taken to the Barbary Coast by the hired pirates. On the beaches of North Africa one can occasionally find a pink-skinned American wearing something that looks like a medical detector, but is actually a parchment detector in the hands of a history buff. I know one guy, Apoteoso Arco-Balena’s father of all people, who regularly goes there on his vacation to look for such lost parchments. He never found any of interest in terms of American History, but he did find communications between Hannibal and his generals. Alas, Roman history didn’t interest him, and he sold them for a song–literally–and they eventually ended up in the National Museum in Iraq where they were lost during the pillaging of that institution during the recent sacking of Baghdad. Apparently, Apoteoso’s father, Heinrich, was convinced that Arabic covers of Connie Francis songs were to be the next big thing. He heard a band playing that very stuff at a night club in Oujda, and traded a band member the manuscripts for some low-quality cassette recordings and the international rights to their music. The band’s oud player, it turns out, was an out-of-work archaeologist who specialized in the Roman Conquest of North Africa. Having received a rather healthy sum for the parchments, he now lives in villa on the Costa Smeralda. Much to the dismay of his mother, he hasn’t touched his oud in years.
The Fightin’ Foodies usually fail to distinguish between the right to consume something and the right to enter something into commerce. No matter. In the mind of the zealot such distinctions are useless. The playbook is familiar: Take no quarter! Admit nothing negative! Attack on any level! Play victim! Reading the comments on Gumpert’s blog seem to bring to mind the worst groupthink tendencies of the our current political hostage takers. It seems that fanaticism in our country ranges from tax policy to what goes into your cereal bowl.
But, yesssssss, Gumpert’s Blog, a kind of Cosmic Convergence point of hokey-anna. A milky white hole, if such a thing existed, where misfit minds are sucked in and nothing with any sense escapes. First of all, it’s got a great title: The Complete Patient. Secondly, it’s a complete misnomer. It’s not about being a patient, and it’s far from complete. It’s a busted old harmonica that plays but one note, the one that the Gummint and Big Dairy are engaged in an not-so-secret evil plot to deprive the public of nature’s most miraculous food: milk that has not been pasteurized.
To be continued. . .
Jeez, The Tragedy of David Gumpert…you had me worried there, Richard…thought you knew something I didn’t know. Anyway, appreciate the market feedback. Agree that the title of my blog isn’t any more as descriptive as it once was, and am considering a change. But you really ought to brush up on the legal aspects of food rights. You mention “commerce” several times, as in “the supposed right of any citizen to put into commerce whatever he or she deems is edible.” No, this fight isn’t over the right to sell any and all foods. It’s about finding the right balance between food safety and food rights. It’s also about the right to access any and all foods. The FDA and Justice Departments, together with a number of states, including California, are right now focused on breaking up private associations of consumers who have organized themselves to access the foods of their choice, outside the commercial system. The U.S. Supreme Court has on numerous occasions backed the right of association in this country, placing that right outside the over-extended “interstate commerce” provision in our constitution. As you suggest, the fight has become very emotional, so much so the courts may have to settle the matter in the end.