Libertarianism often teeters on the brink of self-parody. By insisting always and everywhere that individual liberty ought to trump all other concerns, libertarians end up saying some pretty bizarre things. Thus, for example, Rand Paul’s firm commitment to free speech and private property led him to express reservations about the Civil Rights Act in a recent interview with Rachel Maddow.
And then, just yesterday, Reason Magazine’s Nick Gillespie stridently criticized Jamie Oliver for crusading against obesity:
If there’s one thing more nauseating than Michelle Obama replacing candy with vegetables at the White House Easter Egg Roll, it’s celebrity chef Jamie Oliver hectoring the residents of America’s fattest city, Huntington, West Virginia, into eating better . . . Each episode is chock full, not simply of basic nutritional truisms (easy on the sweets, hurrah for fresh veggies) but the sort of Manichean bullying that attends contemporary discussions of food and fatness. “You gotta be afraid of me or come with me,” Oliver tells a recalcitrant radio host.
The show brilliantly reveals the nanny mindset as only a pro-nanny show could, ignoring the range of safe choices people can make without privileging health above pleasure always.
Who does Jamie Oliver think he is, asking a town infamous for its high rates of diabetes and heart disease to consider laying off the cheeseburgers and pizza? This is the same kind of nanny mindset that led LBJ to pass a law outlawing segregation — and look where that got us!