Filed Under: Trial Lawyers

Big Ol’ Banzhaf

Just days after speaking at the second annual Public Health Advocacy Institute confab pushing obesity lawsuits against food makers, George Washington University law professor John “Sue the Bastards” Banzhaf popped up on C-SPAN to push these frivolous suits. His appearance included the professor’s usual dose of zany ideas and confusion of issues. The best of the worst:

Admitting a sue-first-ask-questions-later attitude, Banzhaf directly contradicted an earlier statement in which he claimed his ridiculous lawsuits were a last resort. He told C-SPAN viewers: “Quite frankly, I’d be very happy if Congress just stayed the hell out of the issue.” But he previously insisted: “I think my colleagues and I would much prefer appropriate legislation, but as in the tobacco area, where the legislatures did not act, we were forced to litigate.”

Banzhaf reiterated his despicable plan to size up respectable community leaders as potential defendants. “We’re talking about lawsuits against school board and school board members,” he said, and “possibly suing physicians.”

A supposed expert in obesity lawsuits, Banzhaf claimed that a legal threat from anti-trans-fat activist Stephen Joseph forced the maker of Oreo cookies to “substitute lower calorie fats.” If he had a decent grasp of the issue, Banzhaf would know that the question of trans fat has absolutely nothing to do with calories (all kinds of fat have nine calories per gram).

And speaking of doughboys, an astute caller — he had eyes — said that Banzhaf looked 50-75 pound overweight, and asked the professor: “How’d you put your lard on?” An offended Banzhaf said he wouldn’t “stoop” to answer such questions. But as Reason magazine writer Jacob Sullum argued earlier this year: “Surely it would be legitimate to point out that an anti-tobacco activist was a chain smoker, that an opponent of legalized gambling liked to play the slots, or that an anti-porn crusader was fond of dirty movies. So when a leader of the burgeoning war on fat, a Twinkie tax advocate who never tires of comparing Ronald McDonald to Joe Camel, turns up sporting an extra chin and an ample gut, noting those facts should not be considered out of bounds.”

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