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colson

Nice column and site - too bad Fox jacked the link to your regular blog. Seriously, Spurlock will end up leading some cult based on East Asian philosophy and hell-bent on drinking Kool-Aid to bring his cult closer to nanny-statedom. Then again, I shouldn't give him ideas - next thing you know, he'll be sucking down powdered kool-aid by the bucket load per day and then crying about it to the giz-mopping media who just soaks it up like a sponge.

labrat

How about this for a source of McDonalds flaunting the law-

Just in time, the USDA reveals that there were over 1000 violations of mad cow prevention procedures at meat packing plants from Jan 2004 - May 2005.

http://blog.thedemocraticdaily.com/?p=255

Nanny state aside, I'd rather have my burger without a side of spinal cord, if you please.

labrat

here is a UPI story also on violations

http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20050719-050502-6016r

Steven Jens

I'm not sure what that has to do with McDonald's "flaunting" (or even flouting) anything. The only connection McDonald's appears to have to those stories is that they sell beef products.

rob

for every eastern-inspired, koolaid-imbibed, nanny-state-promoting cult, there is a reactionary, nationalist, consumerist astro-turf movement to counter it. fortunately for the latter, there's no need to do any volounteer work, as there's enough PR money to keep K-street plush for eternity.

briefly, for every con-man, there's another who covets his niche.

apparently the most difficult task for some people is to choose who to be bamboozled by. if it's between fox and spurlock, you may as well have another hamburger.

Legate Damar

There seems to be pretty good business out there for being a media whore. I'll happily peddle any philosophy with a short-term stunt (BUT NOT with a lifetime of writing/speaking/effort) if there's some $$$ in it. I can later point out that the whole thing was a sham, if necessary, thereby increasing my 15 of fame. Any ideas as to how I can do this?

Rupert Murdoch

Yeah, I'm against Spurlock! That's the ticket! How're the ratings on my F/X network? How's that 30 Days show going?

jic

"For a long time, for example, McDonalds claimed its fries were vegetarian"

What is your source on that? It was my impression that people merely assumed that fries were vegetarian, not that McDonalds made specific claims.

jic

I have found some articles from reputable sources that confirm what you said. I apologize for querying you before checking for myself.

John H.

Radley:

I know you made a post about the messages on the F/X boards a few days ago, but did you confirm that the people posting there were, in fact, the mother, her daughter, and the professor? I'm sure you did, but I thought it prudent to ask.

labrat

So here is a question- is bad "journalistic" coverage by people the likes of Spurlock on lax controls at meat processing better than no journalistic coverage at all? Its easy to shred his case, as Spurlock doesn't really offer anything other than cinema stylized versions of reality. However, according to the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center, the key which prevented more UK people from getting sick was strict enforcement of controls (http://www.cjdsurveillance.com/abouthpd-animal.html)


"Since 1986, when BSE was recognized, over 180,000 cattle in the UK have developed the disease, and approximately one to three million are likely to have been infected with the BSE agent, most of which were slaughtered for human consumption before developing signs of the disease. The origin of the first case of BSE is unknown, but the epidemic was caused by the recycling of processed waste parts of cattle, some of which were infected with the BSE agent and given to other cattle in feed. Control measures have resulted in the consistent decline of the epidemic in the UK since 1992. Infected cattle and feed exported from the UK have resulted in smaller epidemics in other European countries, where control measures were applied later.

Compelling evidence indicates that BSE can be transmitted to humans through the consumption of prion contaminated meat. BSE-infected individuals eventually develop vCJD with an incubation time believed to be on average 10 years. As of November 2004, three cases of BSE have been reported in North America. One had been imported to Canada from the UK, one was grown in Canada, and one discovered in the USA but of Canadian origin. There has been only one case of vCJD reported in the USA, but the patient most likely acquired the disease in the United Kingdom. If current control measures intended to protect public and animal health are well enforced, the cattle epidemic should be largely under control and any remaining risk to humans through beef consumption should be very small."


So I think its at least worthy to determine whether or not these same controls exist and are being followed in the US. My worry isnt necessarily that people will start dropping from vCJD, its that no real journalist really cares about the risks that other people (read meat packers) are taking with my safety, when clearly such safeguards are purported to be the main stop in dissemination.

Does Spurlock's variety TV show serve some purpose to goad at least one reporter into doing a more comprehensive review of meat packing procedures and USDA regulations in general? If it did, is it now justified in its loose interpretations? If it didn't, well then what else can be done?

Mark S.

Not sure when the episode originally broadcasted, but Spurlock was on Conan O'Brien last night.

It was a typical 'You're great, I'm great' interview. Except for one part, where Spurlock talks about a guy he knows, which I guess he mentions in his book, that is tall and skinny and eats nothing else but two Big Macs a day. His comment was something to the effect of, "Those two Big Macs satisfy his 1500 calorie a day requirement." How can you be taken seriously as a Big Food actitivist when your claim to fame is arguing that excessive intake of a product is bad for you but correctly eating it is perfectly safe? Where's the deception?

I wish I had recorded the thing so I could quote him directly.

nobodyspecial

Well labrat, I guess the whole problem isn't that Spurlock is trying to make people scared of eating meat, it's that he's tring to say that the existance of corporations is the cause for these evils.

That's what most people take issue with, and that's the focus of most of the dislike engendered towards him. I like clear and plain facts; I don't like facts that I have to sift through a BS filter make heads or tails of.

Nobody's going to change your mind I'm sure; you'll just keep getting your nutritional information from PETA and Spurlock, all the while wondering why your teeth are falling out and your kids are retarded.

rob

my teeth are falling out because i drink too much coca-cola. i blame dell for making the computer that i work on until 2AM every night, nursing a bottle of black bubbly all the while.

speaking of facts, nobodyspecial, did you note the origin of labrat's cite? sorry to inconvenience you, but it's not PETA or spurlock.

if you want to talk about the BS filter, have a look at your own post: "...wondering why your teeth are falling out, and your kids are retarded..." - puh-leeze. i know plenty of vegetarians and vegans who are much healthier than i am, and i'm doing alright. if you are incapable of putting together a balanced vegetarian diet, you are incapable of putting together a balanced diet, period.

if people are "scared of eating meat," it's because there's evidence that the supply is tainted and that the process of producing it is inefficient and destructive. if you could provide any evidence that it is not possible to create a balanced menu using only vegetable products, by all means...

nobodyspecial

Certainly. B12. It is only available in useful amounts by eating herbivorous animals. Humans need it for proper nutrition. Any and all arguments regarding its modern production are null and void to the fact of the only natural source. And don't even try to say you can get it from seaweed, since many humans lived inland for thousands of years over hundreds of generations.

Read labrats "sources" a little deeper and you can see where they are getting their information in turn. Both of the links reference the EXACT SAME STORY. The content? Hot air from Public Citizen, Nader's little socialist fart tank; a flat-out distortion of classifying NR's as proof of contamination when in fact they are reports about the stopping of said events; endless "may have"'s; and very little real evidence beyond pointless speculation. I can write an essay speculating that the moonlanding was faked; are you going to run around with my article shouting that it's proof?

As far as my previous post? I was drunk (plug: Wild Turkey Rare Breed) and used some hyperbole. Of course, Spurlock can't really use that excuse unless his liver is currently the size of a watermelon.

The process of mass producing vegetables is just as laden with petsicides, GM products, and various other forms of pollution. Oh wait, we can all go organic! Not. Organic food would have no chance of replacing normal production methods unless everybody was called in to work on the government farms for mandatory "public service". Which of course is the main goal of most fruitcake vegetarians, so I guess that doesn't trouble them that much.

If you are a vegetarian, you are practicing a religion. It is not based on science, it is based on "eating animals is wrong". Nothing more. Healthier? Debatable, and why is there such a great urge to live as long as possible? Isn't that counter to the problem of overpopulation?

I hope this has been a sufficient response.

labrat

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture claims it has found no evidence to support allegations by one of its meat inspectors that mad cow disease safeguards are being violated, possibly exposing consumers to the deadly illness, but United Press International has seen internal agency documents that verify violations have occurred for many months."

Independent verification by United Press International of significant violations that continually occur- Public Citizen was later referenced in the article as bringing the FOI suit against the USDA, but UPI confirms the existence of these documents and that, again, "violations have occurred for many months"

Here is another quote from UPI "Although the non-compliance reports UPI viewed indicated the beef products from the older cows were condemned and did not make it into the food supply, some of the documents suggested the products were ready for distribution and could have reached consumers if they had not been caught at the last moment."

Again, the issue is how effective sensationalistic "journalism" (read Spurlock) can be if it pushes real journalistic sources to investigate the issue (read UPI) and expose inadequate controls which, according to the CDC's own national program can keep if enforced "...any remaining risk to humans through beef consumption...very small."

rob

>Certainly. B12. It is only available in useful amounts by eating
>herbivorous animals.

That appears to be true. It's a problem for vegans, but not vegetarians, necessarily, as they're not as rigid about animal products (beside meat) in their diet.

> Any and all arguments regarding its modern production are null and void

Wrong. Research continues, and there are several sources that may or may not be as efficient as meat products.

However, I concede the point.

> Read labrats "sources" a little deeper and you can see where they are
> getting their information in turn.

I read labrat's last source, you might do that, as well. His other sources go to the point he made in his last post, which I expect you will choose to ignore.

> Nader's little socialist fart tank;

I'll take a socialist who cares about our safety over a corporatist who doesn't, any day. Put your seatbelt on, and thank Nader that it works. The guys who fought him then prayed to the same god you do now. If his assertions aren't entirely accurate, fair enough. His business is to raise consciousness and he's good at it. Read labrat's post again.

> a flat-out distortion of classifying NR's as proof of contamination
> when in fact they are reports about the stopping of said events;

Read labrat's response.

> I can write an essay speculating that the moonlanding was faked;

Go for it. I'd like to read it.

> As far as my previous post? I was drunk (plug: Wild Turkey Rare Breed)

Is this an excuse, or an explanation? If I start drinking (I don't, ever), does that mean I can shoot my mouth off and be forgiven later?

> The process of mass producing vegetables is just as laden with
> petsicides, GM products, and various other forms of pollution.

Is this a natural condition, or one created by the status quo that you appear to support?

> Oh wait, we can all go organic! Not. Organic food would have no
> chance of replacing normal production methods unless everybody was
> called in to work on the government farms for mandatory "public service".

What? You are making a connection between the interest in healthier lifestyles, and Stalinism? Is there an equivalent of Godwin's law for Stalin?

> Which of course is the main goal of most fruitcake vegetarians,

Is it? Do you know any vegetarians? I know many, and I haven't heard any talk about work-camps. Of course, I seem to have misplaced my tinfoil hat... Also, no need for an ad-hominem. It makes your argument look cheap.

> If you are a vegetarian, you are practicing a religion. It is not
> based on science, it is based on "eating animals is wrong".

Explain why it is wrong to think that eating animals is wrong. I like eating animals. Some people don't. I suppose that people who choose to live differetly than you are somehow inferior.

Vegetarians have many reasons for not eating meat. You are deliberately ignoring those and hanging on to your apparent hatred of vegetarians with what appears to be *ahem* religious fervour.

> why is there such a great urge to live as long as possible?
> Isn't that counter to the problem of overpopulation?

Do we have our first volunteer? By all means, show us how it's done.

> I hope this has been a sufficient response.

If you're still drunk, sure.

John H.

Hey guys!

Pile on over to this site and respond to this twit:

http://fobo.fotographie.ca/2005/08/letter-to-radley-balko.html

Reason him to death!

DS

You'll have to forgive me, as the some of source links on the following page have since moved on, but the page referencing them still exists: http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=grill

"Well here's something that not many vegetarians know (or care to acknowledge): every year millions of animals are killed by wheat and soy bean combines during harvesting season"

"So let me get this straight; not only are animals ruthlessly being murdered as a direct result of your diet, but you're not even using the meat of the animals YOU kill? At least we're eating the animals we kill (and although we also contribute to the slaughter of animals during grain harvesting, keep in mind that we're not the ones with a moral qualm about it), not just leaving them to rot in a field somewhere. That makes you just as morally repugnant than any meat-eater any day. Not only that, but you're killing free-roaming animals, not animals that were raised for feed. Their bodies get mangled in the combine's machinery, bones crushed, and you have the audacity to point fingers at the meat industry for humanely punching a spike through a cow's neck?"

"Sources:
TIME Magazine, July 15 2002, Pg. 56

Steven Davis, professor of animal science at Oregon State University (at least one study has shown that simply mowing an alfalfa field caused a 50% reduction in the gray-tailed vole population): full article


Least Harm Principle suggests that Humans should eat beef not vegan., first published in the Proceedings of Third Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics, 2001"

Here's some quotes from one of the still active sources:

""Vegan diets are not bloodless diets," Davis said. "Millions of animals die every year to provide products used in vegan diets.""

"Davis proposes a ruminant-pasture model of food production, which would replace all poultry, pig and lamb production with beef and dairy products. According to his calculations, such a model would result in the deaths of 300 million fewer animals annually (counting both field animals and cattle) than would a total vegan model. This difference, according to Davis, is mainly the result of fewer field animals killed in pasture and forage production than in the growing and harvest of grain, beans, and corn."

And some people defend vegetarians who do it for "moral" reasons, why?

rob

my immune system murders millions of innocent pathogens every day. my car slaughters millions of innocent insects every year. my municipality's water purification system is a taxpayer-funded holocaust.

what the hell is your point, man?

what is the ecological cost of meat production overall? how efficiently does meat production convert the sun's energy into food energy, and how many people can you feed on an acre of ranchland, versus rice-paddy or wheat field?

if your last point is directed me, DS, the answer is this: i defend anyone's right to believe what they want. even yours, even though I might disagree with you (or, might not).

we know some of the reasons why vegetarians hate the consumption of meat. maybe someone can tell me why meat-eaters are so hostile towards vegetarians. no, really. i'd like to know.

nobodyspecial

Well, you ask again:

"Maybe someone can tell me why meat-eaters are so hostile towards vegetarians."

Although you continue to ignore and dodge when we respond, here's why. Meat eaters are happy to continue eating meat, and to allow vegans to do the opposite. "Eating meat is OK; choosing not to eat meat is cool too." Vegans have no such live and let live philosophy. "Eating meat is wrong." At every turn they attempt to shove their rhetoric down other peoples' throats, much like fundies. We aren't against veganism, we're against vegans.

To close, telling me to go kill myself is a classy way to end an argument, especially when your next post is a whiny "why don't you like me" diatribe.

hephaestussum

Dude, I'm a dedicated reader, but where's the update? It's been so long since you've posted! What's up?

DS

Rob.. what I'm saying is that when someone says that they don't eat meat because it makes baby cows cry, the reality of it is they are making a false choice based on false information. That is not a position that is defendable. I also like how you fly off the handle, and accuse me (as a meat eater) of being hostile twards vegetarians. I'm only hostile to people who are hypocrites, or try to force their ideals on others in that 'I'm right, you're intolerant' self important bullshit. If someone says "Hey, I don't eat meat, because I don't like it", sure, no problem. I don't like eat many types of foods that I don't eat either. But when someone says "Meat Is Murder, so you shouldn't eat meat either", gee, I wonder why meat eaters get peeved. When you see vegatarians protesting what is considered normal food choices in our socity, gee, I wonder why meat eaters get peeved. I don't see meat eaters trying to force people to eat meat. But I do see vegatarians forcing people not to. And that my friend, is the problem at hand.

labrat

Arg...the issue is not meat vs. veggie- it's how sensationalism and hype passes for journalism, and how that is propagated and promoted by networks for better ratings...

I think one problem is that Balko's article could have been structured differently to frame the issue in terms of how spurious science can have overreaching and terrible influence over public policy. Instead of just listing how Spurlock can't reference sources, and show him as a huckster or media monkey with his kinda farciscal show, I'd portray him and his show as much more seriously flawed and outright dangerous to the truth and actual discussion. Kinda like what Jon Stewart said- he is hurting the country, really hurting the country.

The article could have been framed in a "thanks but no thanks...we don't need your kind of activism" so that it wouldn't generate simply the "spurlock is bad" vibe it had. That way Balko could have gotten more support from independents, greens, more lefty types, since a serious discussion of how bad science (thimersol causes autism, breast implants cause autoimmune disease, margarine is better than butter, secondhand smoke hurts adults [research does show it can hurt kids...but only kids or really sick old people with reduced lung capacity]) gets propogated by the likes of Spurlock in the face of actual research. That Spurlock has this media vehicle should also be much more of an issue- why does Fox feel like they need his show? Why can't someone else who does more Mythbuster type of studies get a show? I mean, I can see some of it in the article, but there is more "Spurlock is a hack" type of style. The wendy's reference wasn't entirely well placed- no one cares if Wendy's gets hit for $25 million.

I was suprised Balko didn't find that UPI article, as I did a fast google search and turned it up (and it was dated a couple of weeks before his article). That could have even been included in the article if it was framed in simple terms of consumerism. I pay $8.50 per pound for a ribeye (choice...blech), a huge amount compared to chicken and pork, and *this* is what I get? That is what pisses me off- I pay a shitload of money for beef (as I can't have chicken 7 days a week)- and I feel like I'm getting screwed by the meat packers as they laugh, pocket my money, and then serve feces or brainstem smeared beef. All because they can't be *bothered* to follow simple friggen rules. Framing it that way could have easily attracted both vegetarians and non vegetarians- that Spurlock can't be bothered to show a different side of nature, and that the discussion really should be on the quality of the product in question, and why should we accept anything less than topquality beef., but in Spurlock's hands it becomes some beacon of Social Justice to throw off the oppressive yoke of meat consumption.

But in any event, its semantics- I don't have the journalistic credentials that Balko has (though maybe more than Spurlock does...) Just some thoughts so that next time an article is written, there can be a more subtle way of framing the issue so that it doesn't boil down to Us vs. Them, but rather Better vs. Worse.

Chris Sanger

I was amazed when I read
Spurlock Food Scare a Super Size Scam
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
By Radley Balko
on the fox news website!

accusations such as "Spurlock himself seems to have problems with the truth." without any backing and without providing any sources, any direct quotes from spurlock or his books and without a single shred of evidence from anywhere showing spurlock is guilty of deception anywhere in your article? Notice I did not say a single shred of assertion or accusation, I said proof. At least spurlock has sources in his books, his quotes may be
"often distorted by a complete lack of context and, at times, outright misinformation." but so are yours. Where is your context? where is your backing of this statement? You have provided me with none, so why, I ask, should I believe you instead of spurlock?
, "Spurlock provides no sources for his accusation." where is the quote? where exactly does spurlock say this? does he imply it? you don’t provide any sources either,
your comparison for Spurlock to "Anna Ayala, the woman who falsely claimed to have found a human finger in her bowl of Wendy's chili last April in order to win a big settlement." Is so off base it pains me that you make a cent off your opinions. Why is spurlock no different than Ms. Ayala? How do you draw this comparison? Because he is attacking the fast food industry? well guess what, I think you are a propagandist, you are no better than Goebbels . Is that fair? no. I have no backing and neither do you.
your dismissal of Spurlock by citing Spurlock's dismissal of opinion columnists (im sure such as your self) "in his book not by actually addressing their arguments, but by merely pointing out where they get their funding." is tripe. You do not address his arguments but simply address his past, try to debunk Supersize me by calling it conceited, call out two points he made in his book (without quoting him) and compare him to Anna Ayala.
So where do you honestly address his arguments? You don’t, you try to ruin his credibility without actually attacking any of his arguments with any form of intelligent debate.
and your total dismissal of Spurlock in the following text by citing his past, a past in which everyone was well aware of what they were getting into, as they must sign a contract, unlike when they eat at McDonald’s where they (from personal experience) are lucky to find a nutritional value chart;

Ironically enough, Spurlock began his television career at MTV on a show called "I Bet You Will," in which he paid people to eat disgusting things on camera. He once paid a woman $250 to shave her head, then eat a giant ball of her own hair mixed with butter. He paid another man to eat an entire jar of mayonnaise. Still another to swallow dog feces. When asked if he felt his show was exploitive, he replied, "No way. Everybody knows what they're getting into. Everybody has a good time. If somebody walks by and doesn't enjoy it, hey, it's a free country. Just keep on walking, man."

and the following paragraph just makes me wonder, what exactly does your oeuvre suggest about you? what’s your problem with control on how food companies market their products? should a McDonald’s salad be marketed as a healthful food even though the Cobb salad boasts 30 grams of fat? more than a quarter pounder with cheese and as much as a big mac?

Spurlock has apparently had an epiphany about personal responsibility and good nutrition. Today, he wants tight government controls over how food companies market their products. But a close reading of Spurlock's oeuvre thus far suggests he's no Upton Sinclair.

I was amazed when I read this, I was amazed by your hypocrisy and lack of journalistic integrity. It saddens me to know that people read what you write and don’t question it. Yes Spurlock’s film had its problems, as did his book, but when you call someone on being an ass, its best if your not an ass yourself.

--
Contact Info:Email: saintfirky@gmail.comafter 5 and weekends414-491-21249-5 monday-friday262-242-4620Fax262-242-0755

Where in Spurlocks Movie did he once say "take the bad choices away from everyone." Anyone? NEVER.

People must be educated, nothing can be taken for granted. There are people that are extreemly obese and have no idea that McDonalds should not be consumed on a daily basis. Well guess what they watch this movie and they do.

Your putting words in Spurlock's mouth.

That makes you a liar, which is what you accuse Spurlock of, that makes you a hypocrite too.

Please, if you can muster up a legitimate response email me back.

As for Rob-

The process of mass producing vegetables is just as laden with petsicides, GM products, and various other forms of pollution. Oh wait, we can all go organic! Not. Organic food would have no chance of replacing normal production methods unless everybody was called in to work on the government farms for mandatory "public service". Which of course is the main goal of most fruitcake vegetarians, so I guess that doesn't trouble them that much.

If you are a vegetarian, you are practicing a religion. It is not based on science, it is based on "eating animals is wrong". Nothing more. Healthier? Debatable, and why is there such a great urge to live as long as possible? Isn't that counter to the problem of overpopulation?

B12 is available in-
fortified soy beverages and cereals, brewer’s yeast, seaweed and seaweed. This is only a problem for VEGANS not vegetarians (learn the difference) as most vegetarians still eat eggs which provide plenty of B12. And plant products are the most efficient way to absorb ANYTHING, learn about the ATP cycle, basic biology.

Vegans have no such live and let live philosophy.

Don’t generalize it makes you look like a complete putz. I have sat down with a vegan friend and a friend who loves rubens. They had never met. We all ate meals according to our own convictions. Not a word was said to anyone about our diets, except once- when the meat eater said veganism is stupid. The vegan said “I don’t think animals are here for us to use” and went back to his meal. We eat together every so often now and NEVER once has the vegan told me to stop eating eggs or my friend to stop eating meat.

Again, please, if you can muster up a legitimate response email me back.

Don’t generalize it makes you look like a complete putz. I have sat down with a vegan friend and a friend who loves rubens. They had never met. We all ate meals according to our own convictions. Not a word was said to anyone about our diets, except once- when the meat eater said veganism is stupid. The vegan said “I don’t think animals are here for us to use” and went back to his meal. We eat together every so often now and NEVER once has the vegan told me to stop eating eggs or my friend to stop eating meat.

Unless everyone was called in for work on government farms??? Where on earth are you getting this from? Seriously please tell me! Organic food is more expensive, if everyone ate more organic food the demand would go up thus the supply would have to go up as the production is not limited. More farmers would make better money thus allowing for farm hands to make better money, government subsidies for farms would decrease thus allowing for a legitimate tax break. And where do you get off calling vegetarians fruitcakes and slave drivers? You have no basis!

As far as the religion thing? No. Im a vegetarian, I have been for 6 years. I wear leather. Guess why? I don’t give a damn about the animals. I don’t want the antibiotics in my system, I don’t want them in your system. Because you eat meat, you eat antibiotics. You get a cold, that cold builds up a resistance to the antibiotics that were in your cow. My not eating meat is a matter of protest. Don’t you dare talk to anyone about anyone else’s religion or convictions, especially when it is so obvious that you have no idea what you are talking about.

Again if you can fathom any argument against a word I have said please feel free to email me, as I doubt I will be looking at this site again, as it is completely laden with opinion masquerading as fact and dishonesty.

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