The author of "Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman" deflates a shopworn argument about bodies, health and money in the U.S.A.

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Lindy West — author of the brand-new “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman”thrilled a sold-out crowd of 1,200 at Town Hall here in her hometown on Wednesday night. Her sharp wit and kind soul both shone as she talked about her path from feeling broken and wrong in her body to becoming a vociferous (and hilarious) defender of women’s bodies, fat bodies and every body’s right to be respected and accepted. During the Q&A after she read the first chapter of “Shrill” (“Lady Kluck,” about the dearth of role models she had growing up), someone asked her what had been the best moment in her troll-slaying, expectation-flaying journey so far. “This one,” she said, beaming, and everyone clapped as hard as they possibly could. (You can catch her in Portland, Vancouver, B.C., and beyond, all the way to the U.K.)

After Lindy and I talked recently, the column I wrote about her and her crusade got a number of responses like this one, from a post on The Seattle Times’ Facebook: “This is why universal health care mandates suck, because a lot people [sic] choose to be unhealthy and its no one else [sic] responsibility to pay for it.” (We turned off comments on the column online; last night, Lindy said, “I’m a fan of no comments section,” because they so often devolve into “thousands of exploding toilets.”)

Healthcare is brought up over and over again in this context. Lindy already addressed this canard, though not directly, in last week’s column — instead of shaming and devaluing people, she would suggest: “Why don’t you just campaign for healthier school lunches? Why don’t you campaign for longer recess? Why don’t we raise the minimum wage so that moms — or dads — don’t have to work three jobs, and they can be home and cook food for their families? Instead … we stigmatize them and call them stupid and fat for feeding McDonald’s to their kids. The whole system is broken, and the only solution people can come up with is to punish the people victimized by that system.”

I emailed Lindy for more specifics on the fat-people-and-healthcare “issue.” She sent a characteristically eloquent mini-essay:

“Lots of people have conditions that make them prone to need more medical services, and we don’t call them a ‘drain’ on our system. That all comes from the idea that fat people can choose not to be fat. But even if we could, why don’t we complain about marathoners being a drain, since the wear and tear they put on their bodies often results in the need for costly surgeries? Or people who choose to get pregnant — why don’t we call them a drain? Or people who choose to ride motorcycles, or veterans, or professional football players? Why does everyone get to have a body except fat people, basically?

“For that matter, why don’t we complain about old people, who are the biggest drain? If fat people have shorter lifespans, we’re doing our bit for the economy, dammit.

“…I reject the premise on the grounds that I’m in favor of universal healthcare, because I believe that should be considered a right and not a privilege. I believe we should all be pitching in so that people who need medical attention can get it, end of story. Picking and choosing who ‘deserves’ it, as opposed to who should literally have to pay for their perceived sins, is inhumane bullshit, as far as I’m concerned. Fat people are not the cause of our broken healthcare system — they are victims of it, just like everyone else.”

So there you go, Guy on Facebook.