Bill Maher, who’s never met a conservative woman he doesn’t treat like a piece of meat, doesn’t actually like meat. He is a long-time member of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) the extreme animal rights group that likens eating chicken to the Holocaust. Maher was therefore terribly excited about the horse meat scandal in Great Britain, which has seen the English, a horse-loving people, learn that stores, restaurants, and fast food providers have all, wittingly or unwittingly, served horse meat to the British public.
Maher used the scandal as a springboard to lambast California voters for rejecting a proposition that would have required manufacturers, and other food suppliers and producers, to label any food that has been genetically modified. His argument, expressed in the grossest terms, is that Californians have only themselves to blame if they find themselves eating horse meat, or other misleadingly labeled food.
In a long, mean-spirited, obscenity-laden, unusually (even for him) gross monologue, which gave with a giggling Snoop Dogg on one side and a smirking Gavin Newsom (California’s Lieutenant Governor) on the other, Maher tried to tie mandated labeling, on the one hand, in with fraudulent labeling, on the other hand, all the while encouraging people to believe that any meat products sold in America are, in general, too disgusting to eat. Highlights (or more accurately low-lights) of the monologue included the following:
If you’re one of the millions of Californians who voted against labeling genetically foods, you can’t complaint when it turns out that there’s horse meat in your hamburger and your sushi is made out of lost cats and condoms. You said you didn’t want to know. Now lap that s**t up.
Yeah, it’s been big news the last couple of weeks that the food supply is not what it appears to be. I hate to break it to you haute cuisiners, but did you know that your Chilean sea bass is neither Chilean nor bass nor from the sea? It’s Koi from the eh pond out front that the valet guys piss in.
And your mahi mahi is really made of mercury-drenched bottom feeders like tile fish that squirm along the ocean floor, eat feces and occasionally provide legal representation for Donald Trump.
And if you like sushi, you really don’t like what you’re eating, because those fish are mislabeled 74% of the time.
All of which made me think about last year, when Californians rejected the GMO law, Prop 37, the one that said if food was genetically modified it should just say so on the label — to which people said “No, thanks. GMO? More like TMI.”
Fifty other countries require GMO labeling, including most of Europe, Japan, Australia, India, Saudi Arabia, China…. That’s right. China — a country that puts melamine, a chemical fire retardant in their baby formula. Which sounds irresponsible, but . . . come on! When was the last time you saw a Chinese baby catch on fire?
But, hey. Let’s look at the silver line. It’s actually a good thing that Americans don’t care what they put in their mouths because, in the future, thanks to overpopulation, and overfishing, and global warming, and Chris Christie, we’re running out of food we do like to eat.
If we don’t fix how we grow food and don’t stop turning our oceans into a carbon sink for coal, we’re going to have to learn to eat all the few gnarly, maggoty things that can survive mankind. Your grandkids are going to grow up dreaming of getting some horse meat while they munch down on their McPlankton sandwich.
To use an expression that would undoubtedly offend Maher, finding the gaping logical hole in his monologue is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Maher seems to think that labeling and honesty are the same thing. Every one of his examples — of gross fish or gross meat — is an example of fraud in marketing. Pay attention, and you’ll realize that he’s decrying the fact that the food is one thing, while the label says it’s another.
The problem isn’t labeling, it’s dishonesty. Mandating labels about genetic modification will not only be a bonanza for trial lawyers (who shoveled millions into trying to get Prop. 37 passed), but they’ll also just add one more thing to lie about for people who are planning to lie anyway.
Maher inadvertently gives the game away when he praises China for requiring GMO labeling, even as he acknowledges that the Chinese routinely poison the food that they sell at home and abroad. Melamine is just one bad thing Chinese food producers do. Another example is Chinese honey, which is found in most of the honey-sweetened food you find on your grocery store shelves. That honey is drowning in pesticides and antibiotics.
Labeling doesn’t stop food fraud. The only thing that stops fraud is consumers who buy smart and share information about foods in the marketplace of ideas. Maher, however, high on his Progressive HBO perch, is pretty sure that most Americans are too dumb ever to be smart.
Here are a couple of things to chew on once you’ve recovered from the queasy feelings you got after Maher’s monologue. About two hundred years ago, Thomas Malthus predicted an ugly future in which the human population outran the food supply. That didn’t happen. Indeed, barring places that are too dysfunctional for the citizens to produce food or that have been hit by epic droughts, people around the world — and especially in the first world — are better fed than ever before in human history. We have more food than ever before and our food supply, despite stomach-churning stories about fingers in chicken nuggets, or horse meat in burgers, is also safer than ever before. With refrigeration and pasteurization, we — and most especially our children — don’t die in great numbers because of food-borne pathogens.
For Maher to push his PETA agenda through a flawed logic that pretends that labeling will prevent fraud is a cheap trick. Of course, considering the source, I guess none of us are very surprised.