Westminster Council’s proposals for obesity: awful, awful, awful

So, Westminster Council have announced something thoroughly, offensively awful: they want obese people to be monitored to check if they’re using a gym, and if they aren’t, they should have their benefits cut. Seriously. That’s actually a thing they think should be done.

I took the liberty of reading their full report, “A Dose of Localism: the Role of Councils in Public Health“. It’s a very shiny-looking report, with a picture of an apple on the front. The existence of apples, illustrated by a photograph of one, is literally the only thing which is in any way evidence-based within the entire report. There is not even a reference section. The report is entirely what a few wonks think might be a good idea.

My background in psychology is in behaviour change, so a little part of me wondered if maybe there was some sort of evidence base for this level of negative reinforcement. Then my brain woke up, and I realised that of course there isn’t an evidence base for this. When conducting research, one needs to put everything past an ethics board, and there is no ethics board on earth that would approve forcing people to take up exercise by threatening them with losing their homes. In general, it’s sort of frowned upon. In fact, the only place I could find anything positive said about negative reinforcement–of a level which was not as bad as the threat of immiseration and poverty–was on “pro-ana” websites, where people share tips for maintaining eating disorders. I’m not going to link to those, for obvious reasons.

So, it’s utter nonsense, and I am confident that fairly soon we will be seeing anyone who knows jack shit about behaviour change saying “No, don’t do that, it’s awful.” However, this particular little piece of policy kite flying could see itself being implemented despite its distinct lack of evidence base nonetheless.

There is a peculiar mindset among some individuals that they are The Taxpayer, and therefore they get to decide what people they believe they are paying for get to do. They get sulky about helping others, and a part of their minds wishes to see other human beings suffer as they are blinded by resentment. They are already honking at me on Twitter about how there is nothing wrong with threats and a denial of bodily autonomy for others. Evidence means nothing to these people, they just want to punish others for an accident of circumstances meaning they require a little help to survive. It’s illogical, it’s irrational, but it is powerful.

And this is to whom councils and governments pander, these squawking sociopaths. Many of them probably hold the same beliefs themselves. They believe that somehow they have more right to exist freely than others, more right to bodily autonomy, more right to a roof over their head than others. They’re wrong. They got lucky.

I hope that this nonsense from Westminster stays in a drawer somewhere and it does not impact the discourse too heavily, but I fear it will have serious effects. For something that was pulled out of some wonk’s arse, that’s a terrifying thought.

Why we should have seen Jim Davidson’s arrest coming

Jim Davidson has been arrested as part of Operation Yewtree, the police finally getting their shit together and investigating sexual abuse following the revelations about Jimmy Savile. I can’t say I’m surprised.

See, a few months ago, when it was all coming out, Jim Davidson said this:

The Jimmy Savile witch hunt is going a bit silly now. We all are starting to speculate and accuse – even in jest. So no, I don’t know who’s next.

Well, if I was in the pub with the lads it would be a different story. Everyone has had the nod.
Everyone is now an expert. Just pick someone you don’t like and say it’s them. So I’ll be the first one to knock it on the head and belt up. How’s about that then?

Apologies for the Mail link, but I felt this was the best link, as it also included another quote from someone else:

His comments come after Max Clifford claimed dozen of big name stars from the 1960s and 70s have called him ‘frightened to death’ they will become implicated in the widening Savile scandal.
The PR guru said the stars were worried because at their peak they lived a hedonistic lifestyle where young girls threw themselves at them and they ‘never asked for anybody’s birth certificate’.

What does Max Clifford have in common with Jim Davidson, other than the fact that they both are engaging in rape apologism? Clifford, too, was arrested in Operation Yewtree.

I’ve long railed about how rape apologism only benefits rapists. I feel suspicious and frightened when I hear men articulating beliefs that Davidson and Clifford articulate, because I don’t like that implication that men just can’t help themselves, or that there’s anything excusable about violating consent. I am afraid that if they think this, what’s to stop them from raping me under the circumstances they somehow excuse from rape? I cannot say it often enough. Rape apologism only benefits rapists.

Of course, not everyone who engages in rape apologism is a rapist–some merely help rapists by vehemently denying and trivialising rape and acting as though violating consent is a perfectly acceptable part of society.

However, some are. Some really, really are. And, as Max Clifford himself said, they’re “frightened to death” about being held accountable for what they have done.

I do not know the exact nature of the allegations against Jim Davidson or Max Clifford. Whatever happens, though, at the very least, they are complicit in the abuse perpetrated by Savile with their little statements. They were there, willing to defend rape, to contribute to a culture wherein rape is seen to be all right. Whatever happens, there is written evidence from them to attest to this fact. Whatever happens, they are involved due to the defences that they both provided.

Of course, nobody gets arrested for rape apologism, and they shouldn’t be. But remember this: whether they have raped or not, the rape apologists help only rapists.