The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid

So, I’m just going to say it. Tucker Carlson needs to shut the fuck up.

I know, it’s harsh. But I have good reason. And I’ll get to it.

May is getting a little long in the tooth, but I’m still enjoying my break from school. Since the first week of this month, I’ve had some much-needed down time after two stressful semesters. And at the moment, I’m still in that lovely post-semester afterglow, with another glorious week before summer session begins.

This has given me the opportunity to play in the kitchen, to finish unpacking, to binge on mindless television and movie selections, and to read books which don’t have something about Health Promotion in the titles. And I’ve been catching a little more of the news, which I frequently miss.

Over the past few weeks, there have been some good things in the news, although not nearly enough. There have also been some bad things. And then there have been some stories which can only qualify as downright asinine. Which will lead us back to Tucker Carlson. Eventually.

On the good front, that magnificent band I love so much was recently spotted hanging out in the Big Easy, and on Saturday, May 17th, they played a surprise gig at Preservation Hall, and drew quite a crowd. I would have loved to have been there for that. This news gives me hope that at some point, the Foo Fighters will show up here in the Fort and play a surprise gig at Bass Hall. Let me know, guys. I’ll keep it under my hat AND I’ll cook you dinner to show my appreciation.

Also good news was seeing that Michael Sam, who I wrote about here back in February, was picked up in the 7th round of the NFL draft by the Saint Louis Rams. Sam, as you may recall, is the first openly gay football player to go into the draft pool, and this development makes him the first to be drafted by the NFL. I’m happy for Sam, and I applaud the Rams for being more interested in his playing abilities than his sexual orientation. I’ll be watching Sam and his new team this fall with great interest.

Sadly, the bad news was the report that seven people were killed by a drive-by shooter in the heart of the campus of UC-Santa Barbara. This appears to be another situation where fragile mental health and seemingly unfettered access to firearms have once again collided.

I’m not going to dive into the subject of gun control right now. I know it’s a hot button issue and most everyone with a pulse and an opinion is either strongly pro-gun or strongly no-gun. Not much in between. I believe guns have their place and purpose in a civilized society, but this latest story is just another in a long line of stories that leave me thinking this was just another tragedy that shouldn’t have happened, and that somehow, we’ve got to get the whole gun situation sorted out. I have no answers.

And perhaps I feel more strongly than some. After all, I live in the heart of gun country, where here lately, the open-carry proponents are insistent that they be able to exercise their right to carry their assault rifles into Starbucks or Chipotle, because apparently, you can’t drink a Frappucino or eat a burrito without the appropriate weaponry slung over your shoulder. And to think, I’ve been doing both activities wrong all these years.

And now we come to two recent news stories which I can only classify as stupid.

Pat Sajak serves as host of the popular “Wheel of Fortune” game show.  Turns out, he’s also a big old climate change denier. Recently, Sajak sent out a tweet, seemingly for no particular reason, stating this: “I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends.”

According to him, if you believe global warming is real, you’re an alarmist. How that also makes you an “unpatriotic racist” is beyond me. Climate, last I checked, is a global situation, not a national one. And other than snow being white, weather is sort of race-neutral. But hey, I’m no expert.

Of course, you are free to believe in climate change, or not, as you wish. But if you’re going to doubt it, at least base your doubt on something other than the Twitter rants of a game show host with no background in climatology.

In the wake of this tweet, which kicked up a firestorm of controversy, Sajak claimed he was only joking.

I’d like to solve the puzzle, Pat. What is “I can make an ass of myself in 140 characters or less?” And speaking of asses…

Tucker Carlson is a Conservative commentator for Fox News. Normally I don’t listen to Fox News, because I don’t find anything that emanates from them to be either fair or balanced. Extended exposure to Fox News makes me angry and causes my blood pressure to spike. So I avoid it.

But a recent story involving Carlson popped up in my newsfeed, and upon reading it, I was instantly outraged.

Carlson and Harris Faulkner, who hosts Fox News’ Out Numbered, were discussing the correlation between unemployment and obesity. It seems that when people are out of work, they tend to put on weight. The two pundits put the blame for this squarely on President Obama’s shoulders, of course, because he’s failed to produce enough jobs, hence the unemployment problem. No mention was made of the steadily declining unemployment rate, or Congress’ failure to do anything about passing a jobs bill. But I digress.

And then, Carlson, ever the optimist, took reassurance in the idea that unemployed people are getting heavier.

“All of us should be happy about one thing, and it’s that for the first time in human history, you have a country whose poor people are fat. So this does show this sort of amazing abundance.”

Wow. Just wow.

I can’t gig Tucker Carlson for lying. He’s not far off the mark. The obesity rate in America is now double what it was in the 70s. Roughly two-thirds of the population in the U.S. is now classified as either overweight or obese. It’s certainly no wonder that obesity greatly affects the unemployed, and people who rank in the lower socioeconomic classes. Fast food, full of fat, starches, and sodium, is both abundant and cheap.

But with obesity comes a surplus of health issues. Diabetes. Heart disease. High blood pressure. All of these health problems create higher health care costs.

My outrage at Carlson is not because he made this stuff up. No, I’m simply floored by his cluelessness and insensitivity to an extremely serious problem that affects every U.S. citizen. We are all paying for the obesity crisis in America. And just because the poor and hungry here don’t look like the poor and hungry in a developing nation, that’s not a cause for celebration.

Hunger. Poverty. Unemployment. Obesity. They are all linked. They are all preventable. And yet, their prevalence here in America continues to grow.

Let’s not start the party just yet, Mr. Carlson.


2 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid

  1. One of the grants I wrote last year dealt with addressing social determinants of health in nursing education. The research indicates that income one of the most important factors in how long you live and how healthy you are at all points in your life. The point of the grant was to teach nurses how economic status contributes to health – so instead of telling an obese person, “Eat healthier and go jogging,” understand that jogging in particular neighborhoods is not safe. Instead people need to realize that not everyone can afford a gym membership, but they might not know what exercise they can do at home with no equipment, and not everyone KNOWS how to eat healthy on a budget (it can be done!). It’s a complicated issue and the steps to improving the situation are further complicated by people who don’t understand or just don’t think it through.

  2. You are exactly right. It does no good to tell someone to eat more fruits and vegetables when that person lives in a neighborhood without easy access to a grocery outlet. Produce from a convenience store is both scarce and expensive.This is a terribly complex issue.

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