A woman for whom I am handling a legal problem has rheumatoid arthritis. To treat it, she takes steroids. One of the side effects of the large doses she requires is weight gain. When we first met, she felt obliged to tell me why she is so large. Now that her case is coming up for trial, she is asking me to handle it without her having to be present in court. She doesn’t want the jury to see her, because she believes they would be prejudiced against her because of her size. The worst of it is, I think she’s right. This is as uncomfortable as I’ve been since the time, right after 9/11, when I had a case up for trial in which both parties were Arab-Americans. My opposing counsel and I agreed, with only a sketchy consultation with our clients, that this case should not go to a jury, because there was no way to predict which way their almost inevitable anti-Arab prejudice would work to screw up the law and the facts.
An Update on the Theology of Obesity