The Ultimate Nullifier

No, we're not talking about the weapon that drove Galactus from Earth. We're talking about fat.

Constantly in discussions online, you see fat being used as the "ultimate nullifier" to completely refute a position or a participant. Its most frequently used in political discussions, and I'm sad to say from both the right and the left. All facets of the political spectrum seem to have people who see little reason to respect a belief if it is expressed by a fat person. Well, a fat person they disagree with.

That's the thing with fat being used as an ultimate nullifier: its almost always brazenly hypocritical. Oh, sure. There are hard-core fat bigots of every stripe who despise Michael Moore just as much as they do Rush Limbaugh. But most only find time to fat bash those whose politics aren't their own. The conservative bashes a feminist for being a "fat cow" who only believes in feminism because she's too fat to get a man. The progressive belittles the conservative as an obvious sinner on account of being fat. The conservative mocks a fat political activist with crude gags about their size. The progressive insults the fat writer for being an unattractive loser.

The effect is always the same. "Why should I listen to anything you have to say when you're so fat?"

People are always going to think that being fat disqualifies you from having anything worthwhile to say. Heck, being a fat person is usually seen as disqualifying someone from having anything worthwhile to say about fat people. Fat is an easy and almost universal thing to hate. So what do we do?

We try to push back, and we start at home. When you see someone you're political aligned with mocking someone you disagree with for being fat, call them out. Some will actually admit they were being a fool, but most will probably be defensive. Just don't back off or be afraid of continuing to stand up for fat people. They'll say its just a joke. They'll say you're too sensitive. They'll say that there are more important things to talk about it. Some will even insist that the belittlement was out of sincere concern for their health. Don't take it.

"Its just a joke" is the true refuge of the scoundrel. Being a joke doesn't make it fair or right. "Concern for their health" is the last refuge of the scoundrel. They made their intentions transparent to start with and trying to cloak it in a veneer of appropriateness after the fact.

Calling you "too sensitive" is an expression of privilege. The oppressed are always "too sensitive". Whether it be gays or women or blacks, calling someone "too sensitive" is a means of preserving privilege. Don't stand for it. The claims of there being "more important things" is much the same. It means they don't care about your issues and they don't think you should either. Believing in fat acceptance isn't exclusionary from believing in fighting poverty, stopping global warming, or any other political issue that supposedly "trumps" the civil rights of fat people. If there were more important things that person wanted to discuss, they shouldn't have insulted fat people in the first place.

Fat may be used as an "ultimate nullifier", but there is no reason we should take it. Just remember that the problem isn't just when its used against those we agree with, but also when its used against those we don't.

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