The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Parents should protect children from fast food advertising

A question lingering throughout the United States ever since fast food companies have become a staple in the lives of average Americans is this: should fast food companies be allowed to advertise without restriction? 

Last week a fellow writer for The Reflector threw his hat into the ring and wrote an article entitled “McDonald’s should not advertise to children.”

I do not wear hats, but I am about to throw my proverbial one in the ring, and challenge the claim that fast food companies should be censored. 

First, I will address some of the claims made within the article, and then I will discuss that ultimately this a freedom of speech issue and  censorship will carry unwanted repercussions. 

The main objective of the article was to show that fast food companies, McDonald’s specifically, target children in order to get them hooked on the food they serve. 

The objection with this, understandably, is the fact that the food is unhealthy. Some of the marketing schemes used by fast food companies are toys and areas for kids to play at within the restaurant. 

So, essentially, we have these evil fast food companies advertising toys and unhealthy food to kids, and they should be stopped, right? Wrong. 

While I can agree that children lack the cognitive ability to question what their food is made of, I feel like the article was missing a key component: parents. 

The only time parents were mentioned in last week’s article was when it came to the money being spent on the food. I feel like this response is quite obvious, but why can’t parents tell their kids no? 

McDonald’s can pour billions of dollars into advertisements and toys all they want, but ultimately it is the parent’s responsibility to determine whether or not they should buy the food. 

We are placing blame on the seller, when we should be placing blame on the purchaser. This is no different from the argument of people claiming that fast food companies made them obese. No, they have not. They offer a product that you voluntarily purchase. 

Another thing the article mentions is the fact that it doesn’t matter that  fast food companies offer healthier options. 

My response to this is simple: why? If these companies offer healthier options, and the parents do not take advantage of this, it is not the fault of the company.   

Claiming the fault lies with McDonald’s and not with those responsible for purchasing the food is just a method of deflection, a way to shuck personal responsibility and blame others for unfortunate decisions you have made. 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Look familiar? 

This is the first amendment; the foundation for which all freedoms spring from. This issue is not only an issue for parents deciding what their kids should, or should not, eat; this is a freedom of speech issue. 

The Atlantic, a magazine based out of D.C., stated that the government should override freedom of speech and censor these fast food companies. Apart from the fact that any, and all, government censorship is wrong, what are some of the ways this could set a dangerous precedence for you individually?

 If the government was to shred the first amendment in this case, it would leave the door open for them to do so any time they deem “necessary.”

This is a classic example of the snowball effect; one minor occurrence could gradually give way to major occurrences. If we demand the government overstep its authority in this scenario and do what is “necessary” for the health of future generations, what will they do next? 

You could wake up one morning to all sodas being recalled, or alcohol being made illegal. I know some of you reading believe this would be a good thing, but what you believe to be good should not be legislated and made law for everyone else to adhere to. 

I am not against personal health and wellbeing, but I am very much against the government being the entity that is going to force me to be so. 

The aftermath of this would be a classic and simple example of government overreach into the lives of everyday citizens. Should people try to live a more healthy lifestyle? Absolutely. Should the government remove all personal choice from the matter and force you to do so? Absolutely not. 

The principle of self-ownership states that we alone own our bodies and we alone are responsible for the outcome of what we do with our bodies. Like John Adams once said, “Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” 

If you are not loving it, then exercise your liberty and seek other options, but don’t demand the government force your viewpoint on everyone else, I am not loving that. 

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Parents should protect children from fast food advertising