“My View” from the June 15, 2012, edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer”
Citizen activism, protest and holding the government accountable — we love that around here, especially when it starts young.
So we’re inspired by a 9-year-old girl in Scotland who led a crusade for freedom and human rights, despite the intransigence and overweening suppression of an uncaring government authority.
Well, maybe I’m overstating just a bit.
What Martha Payne did was take pictures of her school lunches in a little town 130 miles from Edinburgh and post them on her blog, so everyone could see just how bad the food was.
That simple idea seized the world’s attention, and in the last six weeks her website got more than 3.5 million page views.
OK, this isn’t exactly the Arab Spring we’re talking about. But who hasn’t wondered what is in the mystery meat?
This is true activism — and you can see the difference it made.
Here’s one of the first photos on Martha’s blog, from early May, when she complained — and rightly so — that this just wasn’t enough food for a growing kid.
Compare that with one of her lunches this week. Martha scored this one a nine out of 10.
But after Scotland’s Daily Record ran a headline saying, and I quote, “Fire the Dinner Ladies,” a local council told her to stop taking pictures and putting them online.
But you cannot reverse the river of history, or unring the bell of liberty, or delay the dawn of a new and defining idea.
Or, to put it another way, the council backed down after an onslaught of complaints from Martha’s friends — including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
So the good news, Martha is free to write food reviews again, and she has also used her page to raise $31,000 for Mary’s Meals, which provides school lunches in places such as Malawi and Somalia.
So a local government marshaled all its resources against a 9-year-old girl — and lost. Just proving that with determination and unity, the multitudes can rise up against the forces of fear and censorship and win back the right of a 9-year-old girl to take pictures of lunch.
That’s “My View.”