"Sugar, Darling, You Look Marvelous"
New York City Mayor Blumberg deserves
credit. Whether you like him or not, he deserves
credit: he started a conversation about the human
consumption of sugar. Sugar. Simple sugar.
Pervasive, ubiquitous, been-around-sort-of-forever, sugar.
But, to me, as an attorney, this particular
conversation topic is not even the important thing.
What I love about this conversation is the debate itself.
No, not the legal question of governmental intrusion by
regulation or the physiological effects of sugar. What
I love is the human conversation itself. The
Big Picture, if you will -- what drives human beings and
their sophisticated, evolved, big human brains to take their
respective positions. The influences on the debate to
find the truth. Thus, for me, it's not about the
topic, per se, it's about the truth.
Please let me explain.
I am reminded of a case taught in law school
about a dance school that kept telling an octogenarian woman
what a marvelous dancer she was, until the school swindled
her out of all of her money. We know that flattery is
an important tool of manipulation. Always has been,
always will be. What is such flattery, but a
manipulation by telling human beings what they deeply
yearn to hear.
On a related matter, my wife was upset with
me the other day. Why, you ask? She was chided
by a woman sitting in front of her, because my young child
kicked the woman's seat in an auditorium family event. The
woman presented the issue to my wife somewhat rudely and
hotly, "control your daughter or take her out of here!"
My wife looked at me for a defense, when I said, "the
woman's right." Ouch. Like many husbands, I
suppose, I am a victim of myself. I think my wife
wanted me to chide the woman because the woman's
presentation of the truth was not sweet enough.
Now, to explain my position to my older
children, I presented this story: you are the judge, there
Attorney 1. Hi Judge, your hair
looks great today, and that's a sharp suit. I know
my client stole, but, hey, can you let him off.
You sure look marvelous.
Attorney 2. Judge, you're not too cute,
and are you expecting a child? Don't let the thief
Interesting, although not surprisingly, my
children let the thief off. "How come?," I exclaimed.
"This is an admitted thief." Well, they liked the
first attorney. [I know, I should have first told them
I liked the second attorney and that they looked marvelous.]
So, I learned that I had some work to do, as
a father, to teach my children that the truth is or should
sit naked. And, if the truth is
dressed up, it must be stripped naked. Yes, the truth
is a dish best served cold, and garnishments are merely
distractions. There is presentation, and there is
fact, and, with some disciplined skill of discernment, we
cannot confuse the substance of the woman for her shoes, the
man for his clothes, the thief for his attorney, or the
truth for the sweetness of words.
There is the truth, and there is
presentation. The skill of the rhetorician is to guide
human nature into acceptance of an argument of pleasure.
To be persuaded by natural inclination. It is always
easier to pull someone downhill, I always say.
rhetorician applies the weight of persuasion until the
disciplined mental muscular skill of the listener fails.
Tell the listener what the listener wants to hear.
A form of flattery. This happens all the time. Yes, believe it, America is too good to
I mention this because, on the debate about
the sugar, the sugar industry is apparently taking the
position that sugar is being victimized and it is unfair to
single out sugar as the cause of the rampant obesity of the
common American. A refined argument for sugar.
And, so sweet to hear. According to that sweet logic,
it apparently follows that we can keep eating lots of
addictive sugar -- maybe globs of sugar -- because there is
no scientific data that sugar is the
cause of obesity.
It's not our fault that we're an obese
nation for eating and drinking so much sugar. Believe
it, it's not the dark chocolate (that's good for us), the
children fruit drinks (10% real fruit juice), or the caramel
macchiato (just a morning coffee). Really. Just
what I yearned to hear. And, it
is all so confusing because there are different kinds of
sugar -- and, by rule, without sugar we will die!
gentlemen of the jury, sugar is unjustly accused. Okay,
okay, the real reason we are an obese nation is
because we do not exercise enough to burn off all the sugary calories.
It's not sugar's fault that we don't exercise enough!
I get it. We don't exercise our bodies
enough. True. So, now, I suppose I'll now do what
wants me to do: I will look to the cause of obesity somewhere
else. Got it.
A sweet argument for sugar, but let's play
the game and put some salt into it:
We need to exercise our minds more.
Pass it Around.â