The Instigator
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0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

The obese should not be entitled to disability benefits.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/18/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 893 times Debate No: 68356
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




If you saw a physically handicapped person begging for food on the streets you'd help them out with a few quid (bucks) wouldn't you? You might also think it is disgraceful that disabled people are reduced to begging on the streets of a modern civilized country and decide to give money to a charity that helps handicapped people. You might even lobby the government to allocate disabled people more financial support from the public purse.

And I would admire you if you did try and assist disabled people who, through no fault of their own, are often unable to earn enough money to meet their needs - any decent person would feel sorry for them - the handicapped are less fortunate than ourselves and we have a moral obligation to extend a helping hand to them.

That's why we don't mind the fact that disabled people have free priority parking spaces located right outside venues in which to park their brand-new, taxpayer-funded Motorbility cars while we not only have to pay for our own cars and also to park them, but, additionally, have to walk further to get to where we are going.

Neither do we mind giving up our seats on public transport to handicapped people, nor do we care that they get discounts at shows and at sporting events, and nor are we concerned that they are allowed to push in at the front of queues (jump the lines of people waiting) for rides at fun fairs (amusement parks).

All well and good, until now that is, because now the obese have stuck their porky snouts in the handicapped people's trough by deciding that going to work to earn a living is too much effort for them and that they'd rather sit at home guzzling junk food at our expense by claiming benefits that used to be allocated only to genuinely disabled people.

Sadly, we in Europe have got no choice but to subsidize the obese now that they have successfully lobbied for grossly overweight people to be classified as disabled.

That's right, the European Court of Justice has ruled that people who are clinically greedy and chronically idle (big, fat, lazy gluttons to you and me) should henceforth not be required to pay for their own luxury homes, prestige cars, sumptuous banquets, decadent consumer items and lavish entertainment, and that European taxpayers should pick up their bills (pay their invoices) instead. [1]

But wait, that's not all, from now on the obese will also be entitled to VIP car parking privileges at shopping centres (malls) and push in front of you at the fun fair.

So, should the United States, where the percentage of the population which is overweight is sizable (no pun intended) follow the European example?

No, America is the land of free and home of the brave, not the land the freeloader and home of the broke, as it would be if slobbering big fat piles of sweating blubber were allowed to sponge of the state as they now are in Europe.

The obese are not disabled and they should not be entitled to disability benefits.

Thank you.



1. Let's have the facts.

I'll start by clarifying a few facts and explaining why Mr. Eggleston's misrepresentation (or ignorance) of the facts is important.

First off, his representation of the Court's ruling is not accurate. He claims that the Court's ruling establishes obesity as a disability and that the European taxpayer must now pick up the tab for them. This is completely false--in fact, the complete opposite of the Court's ruling.

The question that was before the Court was whether (a) obesity gives rise to anti-discrimination protections; and (b) obesity could trigger the legal requirement of a workplace accommodation.[1] The Court determined that obesity does not give rise to broad anti-discrimination protections, but that it could in some circumstances trigger the legal requirement of a workplace accommodation.[2] If an individual's obesity causes a long-term physical, psychological, or mental impairment that hinders job performance, that may result in the requirement of an accommodation.[2] Notably, as in U.S. law, European law requires only accommodations that are reasonable in the circumstances, and the employee may still be terminated if the employee is not able to perform even with reasonable accommodations.[1]

So, far from being a ruling that obesity is now grounds for the dole, the ruling stands for the proposition that, if reasonable accommodations can be made, the employee should continue to work. This is quite the opposite of how Mr. Eggleston has described the situation, and it should radically change the way he views the decision. The purpose of laws that prevent termination for a disability that can be accommodated is to keep people productive and off the dole, not to take people out of the work force.

Second, Mr. Eggleston's representation of the situation in the United States is patently false, except for his proposition that we are "the land of the free and the home of the brave," which is spot-on.

He warns the U.S. not to follow in Europe's footsteps, when, as usual, the U.S. has been far ahead of the curve, and has long since beat Europe to the realization that we are better off with working obese people than with unemployed obese people.[3] Our Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employment discrimination against persons who are found to have a disability due to obesity, as recognized by our courts and counsel.[4]

When it comes to unemployed people, obesity can contribute to a determination that the individual is eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, and this has been true in the U.S. for quite some time.[5] Not that we in the U.S. have anything over the Europeans, whose welfare state has been encouraging all workers, both fit and obese, to seek the European dole. In other words, tying my first two points together, Europe has long been a beacon to the slothful, and with this new Court ruling Europe is now more in line with basic logic, which is that if you're going to be so kind to the lazy, you should likely make sure the employable are protected from needless termination and thus don't end up drawing a welfare check.

Third, when it comes to costs, it is clear from Mr. Eggleston's exposition of his argument that he believes that the U.S. approach is quite ideal in terms of its expense, since he predicts doom should we deviate from it. Granted, he is completely unaware of the fact that the U.S. is leading this march; however, let's take him at his word that the U.S. approach has been economically superior, which, indeed, it has. Protecting the working rights of employable people is a good economic policy.

In summation of this bit of factual clarification, I'll point out that protection of employment and the requirement of reasonable accommodations is, in fact, a benefit. And, it's clear that offering social security disability to some people with obesity has not managed to put the U.S. in competition with the European welfare state, so Mr. Eggleston's prophecies of doom are overwrought.[6] So, even if Mr. Eggleston tries to arbitrarily narrow the definition of "benefit" to eliminate the relevance of the Court opinion that he completely misunderstood or misrepresented (a narrowing to which I will not agree), that will not help him show the great danger in extending other benefits.

2. Let's consider the morality.

Mr. Eggleston's tirade reeks of moral disapprobation and a sense of his own moral superiority, so, I will consider the morality of benefits for the obese.

First, I will dispose of his discussion of benefits for the truly disabled. It is irrelevant to me whether an obese person obtains handicapped parking, a place to sit on the train, or the like. I do not need it, and I do not begrudge him it. I do not understand the moral value of insisting that a person should suffer because he is obese, and if there is one, I encourage Mr. Eggleston to offer something other than harsh words.

Second, as for his claim that the obese have done something to deserve their condition, while others have not, this is a false distinction. As pointed out by both the European Court and the U.S. Fifth Circuit (a very conservative circuit), persons with disabilities are eligible for accommodation without regard to their fault in their condition.[2,3] It is not true that obesity indicates higher culpability, because many other disabilities are caused by choices, risk, and misadventure.[2] Furthermore, obesity is influenced by a number of conditions outside of one's control, as discussed by one of our less-than-liberal news sources.[7]

Third, obesity is, as discussed by scientists,[8] influenced by a number of factors, including genetics and one's work environment. Making such harsh moral judgments as Mr. Eggleston offers about individuals who may have different results from the same behavior because of genetics is highly suspect. But what is even more suspect is his moral ignorance of environment. For instance, many sufficiently aged adults have had the experience of the combination of age, stress, long or irregular work hours, and limited time for proper diet and exercise due to commitments, leading to decreased fitness. For Mr. Eggleston, he sees a "greedy" person sticking his "snout" into the larder. A reasonable person would instead see a hard worker who has acquired a condition in large portion (no pun intended) because of his devotion to his work and commitments.

Certainly it is desirable for a person in such a situation to take measures to improve his health, as most of us do. However, implying that those who fail or who may have more serious conditions that dispose them towards failure in health is something we should associate with laziness and lower life forms is simply harsh words. We should, rather, assist such people.

3. In conclusion.

I have established a case for extending benefits to certain obese individuals. The benefit of accommodations keeps people gainfully employed when possible, which is desirable, and there are moral grounds to assist people who have failing health. The Court's decision, and U.S. policy, is correct and economically desirable.

Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank Beagle Hugs for accepting this debate and for responding with a thoroughly researched and eloquent rebuttal.

Indeed, I fully accept the facts my opponent cited and would concede that my opening arguments could be viewed as a (well-intentioned) elaboration of those facts. However, I should like to make it abundantly clear that the only reason I coloured the truth with some flowery language was to illustrate the dangers of allowing the obese to take advantage of our generous nature as a society.

You see, in most developed countries the judicial branch of the government interprets the acts of the legislative branch in legal cases and thus sets precedents. The case I referred to in the opening round where an obese person was classified as disabled for the purposes of his accommodation in his place of work sets a dangerous precedent insomuch as if a person is classified as disabled as an employee then why should he not be entitled to a blue badge car parking permit or any other of the munificent benefits bestowed upon the handicapped?

It is the thin end of the wedge. If someone is classified as disabled at work then, having been given an inch it is only a matter of time before the obese take a mile and try and cash in on all the benefits currently accorded to the genuinely disabled.

Thank you.


I'd like to thank Mr. Eggleston for proposing this discussion of an important topic. Because an obese person deviates far from what our societies deem attractive, people find it very easy to be cruel and close-minded and make a number of unwarranted assumptions about obese people. This is a chance to discuss facts.

I appreciate Mr. Eggleston's concession that the facts are exactly as I have explained them. Unfortunately, he has introduced a sort of slippery slope argument that is ungrounded in the law and contrary to the facts.

Starting with the latter, Mr. Eggleston claims that this case is the thin edge of the wedge. If he is still discussing the U.S., as was his initial argument, this is contrary to the facts. As already set forth at reasonable length, the U.S. has taken obesity into account in determining eligibility for SSD for some time, and requires that obese people are offered reasonable accommodations so that they can stay employed. This is the think end of the wedge, and it is precisely the system that Mr. Eggleston claimed must not be changed.

If he is disussing Europe, as pointed out there is already a vibrant welfare state in Europe. Going a step further, there is no reason to conclude that obesity and the effects of obesity, such as muscular-skeletal diseases, are not taken into account in determining whether a person is incapable of working and thus eligible for full or partial disability. In fact, Denmark itself may be at the thick end of the wedge, and a ruling that requires that accommodations are made to avoid the payment of partial or full disability is likely a boon.(

In short, the proposed slippery slope is contrary to the facts as admitted by Mr. Eggleston, and is illogical because there is no reason to suppose that keeping people employed sends anyone down the path to reliance on the welfare state.

Proceding to the former, Mr. Eggleston's assumption that this ruling is precedent for an expansion of disability benefits is unwarranted. As pointed out in my original argument and sources, this cannot be true in the U.S., where SSD for obesity-related condition long preceded the requirement of workplace accommodations. And, it may not be true in European countries, where by all appearances an obese person with related conditions that rendered him unable to work would already have been eligible for disabiity benefits.

But, more importantly, Mr. Eggleston's assumption runs contrary to the way in which a judicial system based on precedent and the rule of law actually works. Courts make limited rulings, and have done so since time immemorial, without succumbing to the slippery slope, in large part because courts are in fact bound by the necessity of interpreting statutes. Here, disability due to an inability to work is completely different from disability requiring workplace accommodations, because of the simple logical reality that a person eligible for workplace accommodations is not eligible on a claim of inability to work. And, the inability to work one particular job does not qualify a person for disability benefits, rather, it is required that the person is permanently unable to work. (

So, the concept of a disability that requires a workplace accommodation is vastly removed from the concept of a disability that creates eligibility for benefits due to an inability to work. The two are not even remotely the same. Courts are aware of the distinction, and it is unreasonable to conclude that they will create a rule whereby people who by definition can work are thus eligible for benefits that require that they cannot work.

As a parting shot after all of Mr. Eggleston's resistance to facts and logic, I will point out that in the U.S. (and likely elsewhere) it is already the case that persons who cannot walk long distances can obtain handicap decals, despite Mr. Eggleston's warnings about this being an eventuality of the decision. (

I wonder how we can fear Mr. Eggleston's bogeymen when he is blissfully unaware that they are walking about beneath his nose.

Thanks for the debate.
Debate Round No. 2
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Beagle_hugs 1 year ago
Thanks! Gloves back on!
Posted by brian_eggleston 1 year ago
Cool, I couldn't have asked for a more eloquent and informed opponent: I look forward to the next round!
Posted by brian_eggleston 1 year ago
Oh yeah, thanks!
Posted by XVIII18 1 year ago
You need to switch your stance to pro in regards to your debate title: The obese should not be entitled to disability benefits. Being Con on this means you are indeed for it.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Austin1061 1 year ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: PRO: Based majority of argument on one source. Fails to explain why the obese should not be entitled to disability benefits. No evidence that supports his claim that obesity is not a disability. Poor assumption that everyone doesn't mind disabled priorities, such as parking. CON: Good job analyzing the pro's source. Appropriate, mostly reputable, sources. Backs claim with reasons supported by evidence. Provides many facts about obesity and disability benefits in general, linking them to the main argument.