It's Not Ronald McDonald's Fault

It’s 3 a.m. There you are—exhausted, starving, and hoping to erase the memory of your best friend singing “Stop! In the Name of Love”—pink boa included—at the karaoke bar after his fifth round of tequila shots.

You sit down and get ready to heal some wounds with a Big Mac, two orders of fries, and a Coke.

You pause to ponder how your marathon trainer, nutritionist, and/or significant other would disapprove. But you quickly remember that it’s your body, your responsibility, and your choice.

So, you dive in. And if you feel a little crummy in the morning, you’re ready to take the blame.

In other words, it won’t be Ronald McDonald’s fault.

This week, McDonald’s was targeted in a television commercial directed toward Washington, D.C., dwellers and produced by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The commercial will air in other cities in coming months.

The ad features a woman crying while standing over a man’s body in a morgue. The man holds a half-eaten hamburger in one hand. At the end of the commercial, a McDonald’s arch appears above his feet, followed by the slogan “i was lovin’ it.” An announcer closes with “High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian.”

PCRM said that “a PCRM survey shows that Washington has more McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC outlets per square mile than eight other cities with similar population sizes.” According to Susan Levin, PCRM’s nutrition education director, “A moratorium on new fast-food restaurants could be a critically important step toward fighting this epidemic.”

Let’s tackle the word “vegetarian” first, which appears in the PCRM commercial as the suggested healthy alternative. I know it sounds awfully healthy, but the truth is that one can be a vegetarian and spend his or her days feasting on cheese, eggs, white bread, and pasta with butter. The notion that vegetarianism is automatically synonymous with good health is blatantly untrue.

And now for some bigger questions.

If you suffer from high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure as a result of too many Big Macs, is it your fault? Or is it the fault of that manipulative Ronald McDonald? 

You know, because Ronald and the golden arch crew stand over you with sledgehammers to make sure you scarf down those burgers.

Kind of like how every McDonald’s is lined on the outside with invisible magnets so that your car is yanked towards it if you happen to be within a five-mile radius.

Or how when you hit the counter, the McDonald’s crew is able to program your responses so that even if you think “salad, fruit, and water,” it comes out “burger, fries, and Coke.”

Is it all just proof that you should never—ever—trust a man wearing enormous red shoes, red and white striped tights, and an oversized yellow jumpsuit?

And now for some truth.

McDonald’s—or Dairy Queen or Whole Foods, for that matter—doesn’t control your decisions. You do. Choose to eat right—or don’t. Choose the burger—or the salad. Eat at McDonald’s three times a day—or never set foot inside one. That’s what we call choice.

It shouldn’t be about moratoriums on the construction of fast-food restaurants.

It should be about teaching our kids that no matter how many fast food joints are in a one-mile radius, they will have the power when they grow up to decide whether or not they’d like to eat at them. And to choose what to eat if and when they do.

We should be teaching children that their actions have consequences. So, if they don’t do their homework, don’t study for a test, or eat three cheeseburgers at lunch, bad grades – and possible stomach aches – will follow.

And we should be teaching them that they can’t do whatever they want and point the finger at someone else in the end.

Some may argue that Ronald McDonald sends a bad message to kids, one that involves French fries and chicken nuggets. In fact, Michael Moore stated with respect to Park51 that “There is a McDonald’s two blocks from Ground Zero. Trust me, McDonald’s has killed far more people than the terrorists.”

Actually, Moore, McDonald’s doesn’t kill people. If people choose to completely overindulge in Big Macs, then they just might wind up killing themselves. We conservatives call that personal responsibility. It’s just a tad different from murder.

The real bad message in all of this involves the notion that will power, personal responsibility, and sound judgment aren’t necessary because someone will come along and make your life a whole lot easier by putting moratoriums on fast-food restaurants and/or reprimanding Ronald McDonald.

That’s the same bad logic that has led to bailouts and entitlements slowly drowning out the values of personal accountability and self-sufficiency that built the America we know and love.

So, put down the burger and fries. Or don’t.

Just remember that they’re your choices and your consequences. Pink boas included.