While controversy rages in my Paleo circles owing to individual values, choices, assessments, allegiances, bias—and who you’d rather get drunk with—let’s take time away from the window breakers (ref: Bastiat) to highlight and celebrate someone who has never done anything but try to help average folks who don’t read PubMed or medical journals, and don’t really care much whether the science is all in, good or bad.
Their lives are at stake. They care mostly about themselves. And, because they need to.
So while some choose to pinch pimples amongst largely like minded folks, others choose to spend their limited time finding values and helpful information here and there, test it on themselves and—where it pans out, here and there—pass it on.
…I first blogged about my friend Steve Cooksey way back in 2009. More recently, I did what turned into 3 posts about his problems with the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition:
- Menace to Society: North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition (NCBDN)
- Clear Thinking, Drawing Distinctions and North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition vs Steve Cooksey, Diabetes Warrior
- Who’s The Worstest of Them All?
That’s the background for those who want to dig deep. Those, however, who insist the science has to be in before they can eat breakfast in the morning, may be disappointed: Steve is a straightforward, smart guy who really, honest to God, helps people. Does it include a little “bad science” here and there, or up-for-grabs science? Maybe. Could be.
America is messy. That was the point.
Y’see, Americans who really get the sprit of the ethic of the thing, kinda grok that everyone lies, everyone effs up, everyone behaves at times in a manner that would not be considered their best. America is about being willing to take the risk in dealing with whomever you want—even if you make a non-optimal choice.
Whatarewe? Idiots? Go ahead. Fool my stupid ass. Teach me a lesson! Let’s see how well I do next time. “Idiot” ought to be contextual in time. It usually is, and that’s America Underground. The story underneath the story.
…I contend that Steve, even if not perfect always, is a counter to average idiocy, as are many other individuals in myriad ways. However, who is to arbitrate that sort of complexity? Or, is it way too complex when freedom to speak is a value at stake…and then, shouldn’t everyone just be left to figure it out for themselves? I’m not a fan of the state—as everyone who who reads me knows—but the 1st amendment is Darwinian in terms of information. And I’m a fan of Darwin; and more importantly, what that means in the long view. And I think: you ought to be too. That’s my advice—while still legal to give it.
And so, yes, Steve is suing the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition in Federal Court, backed by a bunch of really bright Constitutional lawyers at the Institute for Justice, led by the well spoken Jeff Rowes. Thanks to Steve, Bob Ewing at The Primal Challenge (and Director of communications at IJ), and of course Jeff, for giving me the opportunity to have the scoop on this story a full day and a couple hours ahead of the official announcement and press conference.
Can the government throw you in jail for offering advice on the Internet about what food people should buy at the grocery store?
That is exactly the claim made by the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition. In December 2011, diabetic blogger Steve Cooksey started a Dear Abby-style advice column on his popular blog (www.diabetes-warrior.net) to answer reader questions. One month later, the State Board informed Steve that he could not give readers advice on diet, whether for free or for compensation, because doing so constituted the unlicensed, and thus criminal, practice of dietetics. The State Board also told Steve that his private emails and telephone calls with readers and friends were illegal, as was his paid life-coaching service. The State Board went through Steve’s writings with a red pen, indicating what he may and may not say without a government-issued license.
But the First Amendment does not allow the government to ban people from sharing ordinary advice about diet, or scrub the Internet—from blogs to Facebook to Twitter—of speech the government does not like. North Carolina can no more force Steve to become a licensed dietitian than it could require Dear Abby to become a licensed psychologist.
That is why on May 30, 2012, Steve Cooksey joined the Institute for Justice in filing a major free speech lawsuit against the State Board in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division. This lawsuit seeks to answer one of the most important unresolved questions in First Amendment law: When does the government’s power to license occupations trump free speech?
But I’ll get to the well spoken Jeff in a minute. In the meantime, this Englishman somehow makes a good narrator for all things caveman.
That’s pretty damn clever.
- Here’s the IJ page for the case launch.
- And the pre-litigation background info.
- The Press Release. I’ll post a link to the actual filed complaint when I get it.
Finally, I got Jeff Rowes on Skype a few days back to get a lead attorney take on this whole case, what it means in the large, and did a bit of devil’s advocacy. Take a look.
See also this IJ video on the explosion in occupational licensing in the US.
For Justice. For advancement. For celebrating and lauding values. For rationally accounting for error that everyone’s susceptible to. For dumping those who fake notoriety by being squeaking pips.