Far-right provocateur Ben Shapiro is once again at the center of a social media firestorm after posting a tweet in which he made an absurd comparison between obesity and people refusing the vaccine.
Shapiro's tweet came in response to a recent walk-out by doctors in Florida to raise awareness of the astonishing waves of unvaccinated patients being hospitalized with the virus in the state, which threatens to collapse its hospital system.
In it, Shapiro accused these medical professionals of "refusing treatment" to the unvaccinated and then attempted to highlight a non-existent double standard for obese patients.
Shapiro's tweet read:
"If this is the new standard -- that failure to take measures to alleviate your own health problems are punishable by doctors refusing treatment -- the extension of this logic to obesity will certainly be something."
It makes little sense, since the virus and obesity are essentially apples to oranges. Obesity is not a communicable disease, it is not preventable with a vaccine, it is a slow-moving, often lifelong condition, it is not the cause of a global pandemic, and it has never crippled a single hospital system in the entire world--and that's just for starters.
Perhaps most importantly, the conventional wisdom that obesity "causes" certain conditions of ill health has begun to be widely contested within the medical community itself, as recent studies have shown that frequently is not the case.
Nevertheless, Shapiro doubled down with a follow-up tweet that theorized how this supposed "refusing treatment" model--which, by the way, doesn't even exist, which we'll get to in a moment--would work with obese patients. It made no more sense than the first tweet.
The Florida doctor walk-out does not constitute a refusal of treatment in the first place. About 75 doctors attended the pre-dawn gathering in a state that has more than 250 hospitals--an average of less than one doctor per hospital, which hardly constitutes "refusing treatment."
And refusal of treatment was not the subject at hand in any case. The doctors walked out to draw attention to the dire need for increased vaccination rates and other pandemic precautions and to protest Republican Governor Ron DeSantis's continued refusal to take precautions. DeSantis has even gone so far as to ban mask mandates in public schools.
As a result, Florida's hospital system is all but crumbling under the weight of an extraordinary surge in cases of the virus as the Delta variant continues to rip through the United States. In most areas, the unvaccinated account for as much as 98% of case loads.
In short, Shapiro's tweet made no sense and was the usual alt-right trolling to stir up outrage--and scores of people on Twitter lined up to tell him so.
Though pandemic-related hospitalizations in Florida have, thankfully, begun to fall, nearly 53% of ICU beds statewide are currently held by patients with the virus, among the highest in the nation.