Monet Parham, an employee of the California Department of Public Health, has lent her name—and that of her daughter Maya, age 6—to a preposterous class-action lawsuit alleging that McDonald’s is “unfair” to parents. The lure of a Happy Meal toy, Parham claims, so provokes Maya’s “pester power” that familial conflict ensues.
We’re not making this up.
The real tragedy here is that Parham is free to file a wholly frivolous lawsuit, while there’s no recourse for McDonald’s to recoup its legal costs. Nor can Maya hold her mother responsible for thrusting her into the national spotlight as a “pest” when, in reality, there’s nothing the least bit untoward about the little girl’s attraction to toys.
Perpetrating this scam is the (so-called) Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), whose bread and butter is filing baseless lawsuits against major food manufacturers and restaurants, including Denny’s, Burger King, Coca Cola, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. All of which generates loads of front-page headlines and major bucks from liberal foundations. But were it not for the capitulation of some gutless corporations, the CSPI would likely have been rendered powerless a long time ago.
To their credit, McDonald’s executives have pledged to “vigorously defend” the Happy Meal against the CSPI suit, the particulars of which ought to make every responsible parent wince. To wit:
- “Maya has requested Happy Meals from Parham because of McDonald’s marketing practices, and sometimes Parham, not wishing to cause family rancor, purchases such meals.”
- “Because of McDonald’s marketing, Maya has frequently pestered Parham into purchasing Happy Meals, thereby spending money on a product she would not have otherwise purchased.”
- “Maya, age six, continually clamors to be taken to McDonald’s ‘for the toys.’ Maya learns of Happy Meal toys from other children in her playgroup, despite Parham’s efforts to restrict Maya’s exposure to McDonald’s advertising and access to Happy Meal toys.”
It’s rather perverse for Parham to claim that McDonald’s is “interfering” in her family while, at the same time, she’s inviting judicial intervention into parenting decisions. As an employee with the nutrition section of California’s health department, Parham can already nag her fellow citizens about their eating habits. But asking the court to strip parents of their authority to decide what to feed their children constitutes Nannyism of a different scale.
CSPI lawyers were undoubtedly emboldened to file suit after officials in Santa Clara County, California, in April, imposed a ban on Happy Meals there. Likewise, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in November banned Happy Meals and other toy giveaways associated with foods containing more sugar, sodium, and fat than the food fascists regard as appropriate.
Nor does it seem coincidental that the lawsuit coincides with congressional approval of an unprecedented regulatory takeover of the nation’s food supply by the Food and Drug Administration. With government now controlling the provision of such basic services as food, housing, health care, and the like, we can only hope that the regulatory pendulum will soon swing back toward the freedoms upon which this nation was founded.