Red Lobster, you’re on notice: I find it nearly impossible to resist your calamari, so I’m going to sue you for unfairly tempting me beyond my control.
That’s pretty much the essence of a Sacramento mother’s lawsuit against McDonald’s. She’s suing the company for what she calls unfair marketing to children. Monet Parham claims she’s powerless when faced with the choice between getting her daughter the Happy Meal she demands, or dealing with her daughter’s pouting when denied said meal.
Of course, the media’s all over this, and Ms. Parham seems hell-bent on feeding their appetite for destruction. Here’s the quote heard ’round the world:
“We have to say no to our kids so many times and McDonald's makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald's is getting into my kids' heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat.”
Wow. That’s exactly how I feel about Red Lobster’s calamari. I go there, fully intending on getting the baked fish with a salad – dressing on the side, of course – but the calamari marketing is just too strong to resist. I mean, it’s listed as an appetizer . . .
There are dozens of ways to punch holes in Ms. Parham’s argument, but what’s really sad is that the Center for Science in the Public Interest is supporting her. I used to believe that was a respectable organization.
The only thing this lawsuit does is hurt Ms. Parham, a mother of two and state employee. It makes her seem incapable of parenting because she can’t say no to her small children, and incompetent because of her demand that McDonald’s be held liable because it advertises Happy Meals on TV and sells them with little toys.
What about personal responsibility? What about self control?
Why do those questions sound so familiar? Because they’re the lyrics to every dieter’s theme song. Every day we’re confronted with options that are hard to say no to, especially during the holiday season. But really, whose fault is it if we take a handful of reindeer cookies – ours, or the aunt who baked them and then laid them out on an enticing, Christmas tree-shaped tray?
I feel sorry for Ms. Parham, and worse for the lessons she’s teaching her children.
Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors. ~ Jonas Salk
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.