Sir Jeremy Bentham, Fallacies, 1824
Sen. Jarrett Barrios is a very dedicated father. Last year, during the debate on gay marriage, he explained that he wasn't just fighting for himself as a gay man, but for his adopted son. He stated the reason he opposed allowing the electorate to vote on gay marriage is that he was concerned that his young son would be teased and bullied during a vigorous political battle, and would have his feelings hurt. So there.
Now, he is again acting on behalf of that same son again by putting an amendment into a bill which would ban marshmallow Fluff from being served in Massachusetts Public Schools.
The person Porcupine feels worst about in this whole sticky mess is Sen. Barrios' third grade son. Aside from the fact that the lunch ladies will now have a 'special' lunch prepared for him underneath the counter, possibly tofu and broccoli, imaging how your classmates would react. 'Why is your dad trying to get rid of the only lunch we like, huh?' Talk about teasing!
The Senator didn't do very much homework before acting, as is his wont. It turns out that Fluff has less sugar than honey, grapes, strawberries, and a host of other 'healthy' snacks. It has no fat, sodium or preservatives, and is so fresh that it does not even need refrigeration. Sen. Barrios may also have not realized that he is slamming a venerable New England institution. Made by the Durkee family since 1920, on Empire Street in Lynn, Fluff offers excellent wages, full health benefits and is a booming little concern in a depressed city. Fluff has a great web site, and can be viewed HERE.
Ironically, Durkee-Mower (Mr. Mower is long gone) most probably didn't benefit from purchase by the Dept. of Education. The school systems probably purchased generic knock-off goo. Yet, it is the Fluff name and reputation that Barrios has heedlessly put on the line in the name of childhood obesity.
There were many non-confrontational things the Senator could have done besides filing half-cocked legislation. He could have spoken to or written to his school’s principal. He could have sent a letter of inquiry to the Department of Education, asking them to outline their nutritional policies. He is, after all, a state senator and probably would have gotten an answer. Ah, but a polite inquiry made of the proper authorities wouldn’t have gotten him onto the news the way legislation would! So now, we need a law to tell us that marshmallow Fluff is made out of sugar.
The only thing more foolish than Sen. Barrios' original amendment is a bill filed by Rep. Kathi Anne Reinstein to defend it by making the Fluffernutter the Official Sandwich of the Commonwealth. At this time, she has found fifteen or so other Fluffy thinkers to cosponsor it with her.
The Legislature complains continually that it is too busy and preoccupied with important matters like education, affordable housing, elder services, Drunk driving, gang violence (just a few items plucked from the Senate calendar HERE) but they are too pressed for time to act upon these measures – let alone the 6,000 or so that are behind them and haven’t even made it ON to the calendar yet. But, a trivial matter is proposed and the Legislature is entirely engrossed in its solution. It is not a coincidence that school lets out this week (rendering the matter of school lunches moot until next year). Perhaps the Legislature is looking for some time off, too.
It seems that the Legislature is obsessed with Fluff as the days of the Session wind to a close, but that may be water seeking its own level, sticky though that may be.