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Should calling someone 'fat' become a hate crime?


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While I agree that ‘fat’ is a word not that can be insulting or uncomplimentary, I strongly disagree that it warrants becoming a hate crime. 

Let’s take into account the recent widely reported case of 63 stone teenager, Georgia Davis; her house had to be smashed, an operation that cost £100,000, in order to remove her and take her to hospital. Consequently, Georgia was dubbed by papers as ‘Britain’s fattest teenager’: a hateful title, or just plain accurate?  We can use numerous words to skirt around describing a ‘larger’ individual – obese, overweight, chubby, chunky – but, ultimately, they all mean the same thing: fat.  So why should it become a crime to state the obvious?

When doctors tell a patient they are fat and need to lose weight, are they being discriminatory? No, they are stating a fact. Of course, it can and will be argued that this is not the same thing (though, really, it is – once the word becomes a hate crime, where is the line drawn regarding the circumstances that constitute its use as criminal or otherwise?), but I also draw attention to the more everyday use of the word ‘fat’, which presents the core of the issue. Some MPs argue that fatter people are discriminated against, for instance, when it comes to employment.  This may well be the case but, surely, it is any employer’s right to be wary of the implications that weight could have on an individual’s suitability and ability to best fulfil a job, considering potential physical fitness or incapacitating weight-related illness?

There is also concern for the word ‘fat’ acting as verbal bullying. As I have acknowledged, people can be hurt by this, but people can be equally hurt by being called ‘smelly’ or ‘ugly’. As politician Norman Tebbit points out, if this proposal is to be seriously considered, then shouldn’t calling someone too skinny become a hate crime too?  He justifiably argues, ‘[Sh]ould it then be a crime for a mother, worried about a daughter's loss of weight, to talk to her about the dangers of anorexia? Is the word "skinny", or perhaps even "slim", not to mention the expression "dangerously undernourished", to be criminalised?’

The word ‘fat’ itself is not the issue here, but bullying and prejudice, which are problems within our society that most definitely need to be tackled.  As well as this, how about instead of debating whether or not it is criminally rude to call someone chubby, we tackle the issue of obesity which, fittingly, is a growing problem for the UK year on year?

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