Not a day goes by that you won't hear an ad or message from some well-meaning group called the "Council for (insert good cause here)" or "Concerned Citizens for (whatever) or "The _______ Committee for Responsible ________." They sound like charity groups, and they're always advocating for some kind of common-sense cause, from stopping littering to quitting smoking.
It all seems like the kind of thing only a total dick would complain about. And that's the idea; behind many of them are big-money interests trying to hijack your goodwill for their own, usually greedy, purposes.
Billed as a libertarian-style group supporting the free choice of consumers, The Center for Consumer Freedom runs websites and ad campaigns opposing food-related attacks on our liberty. So for instance, when other groups concerned about childhood obesity push to ban toys from Happy Meals or ask the Girl Scouts to sell healthier snacks, The Center for Consumer Freedom is the one who jumps in and says people should be able to eat what they want, dammit. So it comes off as kind of a group of regular dudes restoring some common sense to a politically correct world. Seems pretty reasonable.
"The Center for Responsible Use of Nachos" didn't have the same ring to it.
And it's a big deal -- it pressured the government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lower its estimate of 400,000 yearly obesity-related deaths in America down to just over 100,000, and it's often referenced as a group of experts in mainstream news sources.
Wait, something's not right here ...
They're basically paid shills for the restaurant industry.
That picture gets a littler clearer when you realize they also run ObesityMyths.com, which corrects common "myths" about obesity, like "being really fat might make you die" and "eating a lot can make you gain weight" (these ridiculous falsehoods are apparently spun by pro-dieting groups in order to profit from weight-loss drugs and diet plans). And that's not all. According to The Center For Consumer Freedom, high-fructose corn syrup is actually pretty cool, mercury in fish is overhyped and compulsory warning labels on foods are for sissies. So who would pay big money to lobby for that?
The Center for Consumer Freedom receives most of its funding from the restaurant, food and gaming industry, including Coca-Cola, Wendy's and Outback Steakhouse. And also Monsanto, which might have something to do with why it thinks that groups against genetic engineering are "anti-choice nannies."
"The faster we get mutant food, the faster we get real mutants."
Basically, restaurants want you to think that eating their crap without knowing what's in it is just awesome, and they know that using a nonprofit group as a front is more effective than getting a guy in a burger costume to crash Congress.
If The Center for Consumer Freedom makes you want to punch burgers in the face, you might approve more of these guys. The Luke Skywalker to the center's Darth Vader, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is on the cutting edge when it comes to healthy food and disease prevention. According to its website, it advocates "compassionate and effective medical practice, research, and health promotion." It's published articles in respected medical journals about vegan diets for children, and like the Center for Consumer Freedom, it is frequently quoted in the mainstream media.
This is what happens when you have your logo designed by the lowest bidder.
The PCRM also runs the Cancer Project, another association that explores the "link between nutrition and cancer." The site offers recipes, personalized advice, cooking classes and a wealth of cancer information. Yet another helpful project of the physicians, called Atkins Diet Alert, provides important medical information on the possible dangers of low-carb dieting, although sadly, it completely avoids the term "bacon overdose."
The best way to die?
Wait, something's not right here ...
Look closely at the PCRM website, and you'll notice that the physicians' health advice on every medical problem from arthritis to PMS centers on removal of meat and animal products. In fact, they seem to think that a vegetarian diet alone is pretty much all it takes to cure cancer. You know, this is beginning to remind us a little of some guys who aren't just vegetarian, but really, really vegetarian.
Yes, the PCRM has strong and mysterious ties to PETA, the animal rights group that other animal rights groups avoid at parties. If you're not familiar with PETA, it's the group famous for suggesting that Ben and Jerry's ice cream replace animal milk with human breast milk and renaming fish "sea kittens." It has also been responsible for more women taking off their clothes irresponsibly than the invention of 2-for-1 Jello shots.
The founder of the PCRM, Neal Barnard, sat on the board of the PETA Foundation, the unimaginatively named group that managed PETA's assets, until 2005. Barnard still writes columns for PETA's quarterly magazine, and PETA has provided the PCRM with large amounts of funding. In fact, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine could almost be called the physician arm of PETA, if it weren't for the fact that 95 percent of its members are not physicians, and that the "physician" who runs the group is actually a nonpracticing psychiatrist.
"Your depression stems from childhood sexual trauma. Also, the beef industry."
The PCRM has recently cut its more obvious ties with PETA, but the group is still affected by a particular brand of crazy. It has protested leading cancer and AIDS charities on the grounds that their work involves animal experiments, and it also advocates strict vegan diets for young children, something that can occasionally get you arrested for murder.
Now, to be clear, we have no problem at all with somebody starting a vegan advocacy group lobbying for veganism and calling itself "Concerned Vegans for Various Vegan Things." That's not the problem. The problem is that this group hides its entire agenda behind a curtain bearing the intentionally vague "Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine" name because it knows that in general, people are annoyed by hardcore vegans and tend to openly mock PETA. So from the start, there is this scent of dishonesty and ulterior motive behind every single thing it says.
It's like they think they're better than everyone else.
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights is a "nonprofit mental health watchdog" that protects citizens from "psychiatric abuse." It has been around since 1969, and it's good at what it does. In 1976, it successfully lobbied for legislation that limited the use of electroshock therapy, and it was one of the main lobbying groups that recently pressured the FDA into putting "black box" labels on antidepressants warning of a risk of suicide. It also influenced the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in its decision to issue warnings about the overdiagnosis of ADD in young people.
Damn, even the U.N. thinks these guys are swell!
Well, we can't see evidence of any bias.
Wait, something's not right here...
Half of you have already guessed who's behind this.
Yes, if you look a bit deeper, it seems like the CCHR is maybe even more devoted to ending psychiatric abuse than any of the stuff above would suggest. In fact, the more you look at its literature, the more it becomes apparent that this group believes that all psychiatrists are frauds, and that psychiatric drugs -- all of them -- are "chemical toxins with the power to kill."
Is this reminding you of anything? If you can't guess, here's a clue:
That's right. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights was founded by the Church of Scientology, which still controls it entirely. Basically, it's one of those "Free Stress Test" setups you see on city streets, only with a hand-painted anti-psychiatrist sign slapped over the top.
But a connection to Scientology doesn't automatically make them crazy, right?
Not at all. But, in 2005, the president of the group's Florida chapter did say that psychiatry's "drugs and conditioning techniques" directly led to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, which we assume could have been prevented if only Osama bin Laden had read the "May Cause Terrorism" warning label on his Lexapro prescription.
Commission members have also declared that psychiatry is the main cause of decline in the universe (fuck you, law of entropy!). Just in case that is not batshit insane enough for you, they also believe that psychiatrists are secretly controlled by alien entities called "Marcabs" who arrived on Earth 225,000 years ago.
The commission doesn't want to prevent abuse. It wants to obliterate the field of psychiatry altogether. And what do you think it wants to replace the healing powers of every current stream of mental health science with?
Hint: It's not Buddhism.