Diabetes Blogger Sues NC Agency for Censoring Site

    May 31, 2012
    Drew Bowling
    Comments are off for this post.

Dig, if you will, a picture: you’re a person with a remarkable story and you want to share it with others. This being 2012, the easiest and most effective way to share your message is through the very thing you’re reading right now: the internet. You start a blog, you post testimonial, you offer up opinions about some of the goings-on in the world as it relates to you and your story, and you even provide some feedback. Pretty standard, hm?

You could probably go to Google’s homepage and type in any three random words in the search bar, click “I feel lucky,” and most likely find a blog that fits the above description. This is the internet, people blog, people opine, people compare stories as a way to learn more about the world or themselves. You’re making some productive use of your experience and opinions but, more importantly, you’re not making anybody else’s life inconvenient. You’re blogging. As things go, you could do much worse.

That is, unless you happen to compose that blog in the state of North Carolina. The Tar Heel State recently sent a notice to one Steve Cooksey saying he wasn’t able to correspond with his blog readers about dietary choices and recommendations related to diabetes. It isn’t surprising that readers would look to discuss their diabetes with him because he himself is a diabetic but, through a radical diet change, was able to actually to get himself into a state of health where he no longer required multiple insulin shots per day yet still maintains a normal blood sugar level. However, because Cooksey was sharing advice from his experience and self-education through his blog, according to the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition, he was violating the law by giving dietary consultation without a license.

The board initially sent Cooksey an annotated list of examples from his website where he supposedly broke the law by giving advice. Cooksey complied by ceasing his blog posts where he answers readers’ questions, making his disclaimer more prominent, and taking down his “diabetes support package links.”

Although Cooksey agreed and revised the site so as to make it more law-compliant in the eyes of the NCBDN, he’s since filed a lawsuit against the state alleging that his rights to free speech have been violated.

In a statement released by the NCBDN, its policies do state that no person without a state-approve license can provide something it calls “nutritional care services.” This befuddling and vague descriptor includes:

  • Assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups, and determining resources and constraints in the practice setting.
  • Establishing priorities, goals, and objectives that meet nutritional needs and are consistent with available resources and constraints.
  • Providing nutrition counseling in health and disease.
  • Developing, implementing, and managing nutrition care systems.
  • I mean, it’s not like he grabbed a stethoscope, put on a white coat and went around collecting blood samples from diabetics. The guy was blogging.

    As I said, Cooksey’s story is a remarkable one good on him for wanting to share his experience so that others might be inspired to try his method. He clearly states on his site (it’s all the way at the bottom in bold) that he’s not a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist; he’s just blogging to share his journey and, since he’s someone with some experience, readers are wont to ask for his input on certain topics. But should keeping a blog about your personal interests and experience, a blog that happens to attract people looking for more information about your experience and knowledge gained from that, be subject to censorship?

    It’s a small story with large implications because several parallels can be drawn across the internet where, like Cooksey’s situation, other sites might be found to be in violation of the NCBDN’s regulations. Is this claim that he was offering dietary consultation a matter of language choice? Had he chosen to couch his answers to readers’ inquiries in a more indirect manner, would that have circumvented any problems with the NCBDN? If that’s the case, then this really might be a farcical legal adventure the state of North Carolina has initiated.

    However, this is a specific law that isn’t native to the internet. It was passed as official law in 1991, years before the internet and many more years before any of us started to tap into the real communicative potential of the internet. The law couldn’t have anticipated that there would one day be blogs where non-professional but experienced people might share on the internet their examples about life changes they’ve enjoyed due to the choices they made. Even still, thinking pre-internet, what’s to distinguish between one blogger communicating to a reader some advice and somebody standing in a grocery store asking the stranger next to them if they think whole milk or skim milk is better for them? No government is going to outlaw that two-person communication in the dairy aisle, so why make the case on the internet just because the sources of the voices aren’t standing next to each other? More, this entire law undermines the very purpose for online forums existing; or, at least in this case, any online forum that deals with the communication of health or diet information.

    Sometimes these legal issues come around and you really have to wonder if the people who raised this whole stink, in this case the NCBDN, are even remotely familiar with how the internet works.

    • http://www.eating-veggies.com Randy E Powell

      This is ridiculous! Big medicine is behind this as they fear that people will choose nutrition over drugs. His methods must really be working. More power to all who choose alternative nmethods to treat their diabetes.

      • http://www.cookingnook.com/ Karen

        So true. If they can’t patent it, they don’t want us to have access to it, whether it helps us more than their medicines or not. They don’t care about our health. I sometimes wonder how many of the drug company executives actually believe their own loved ones should only be on their drugs.

    • http://www.cyberfix.com Brad Kellam

      This is complete and utter BS!

      It never ceases to amaze me how people simply look past the money grab here. I don’t think this has much to do with North Carolina trying to censor this guy, I think it is more about North Carolina trying to charge a fee for yet again, something else they can charge a fee for. They have created yet another government “agency” run by someones brother in law that can sit in judgement over others and collect a fee for it in the guise that they in their infinite wisdom are the protectors of the poor little citizen out there that cannot make a decision by themselves.
      Taxes aren’t raised these days, they simply create another FEE for another agency, or simple service that we simply aren’t smart enough to figure out for ourselves .. total money grab …

    • Spamexterminator

      hmm Just another Entity making itself a target for Anon. Destroy them Anon. Post all their corruption online for the World to see.

      • Careyp

        It just goes to show how corrupt govs of this world can be , good on WIKI Leaks .


      It’s obvious that no agency wants a individual to open other people’s eyes for treating without drugs.

      For everyone: all diseases are in your head and amplified by drugs, that are pure chemicals meant to drive your nervous system to permanent damage and addiction.

    • http://www.cookingnook.com/ Karen

      I think that some legislation is required to prevent people from doing physical harm to others, as in pedophiles. BUT anyone should be allowed to comment on governments, governmental agencies and corporations without fear of reprisal and actions against them. We all have a right to our own beliefs and practices and as long as we do not physically harm another or bully another person, we should have a right to true free speech.

    • Jim

      So the government wants it both ways–everyday people get in trouble for promoting taking drugs they don’t like, but also for not promoting drugs they do like!

    • http://blueflux.eu Martin Hookem

      I’d like to shake his hand congratulate him on using his own initiative with regards to his own health.

      Some people develop diabetes from a bad long term diet and we should have more people like him thinking about himself in a way only he can.

      I hope he keeps raising awareness about his success.

      From what I’ve read here, it’s clear on what his blog is all about.

      Every person has the right to make a well informed choice.

      Censoring other opinions from a sufferer of diabetes who wants to share his success leaves me with an obvious suspicion of why they want it censored.

      If you keep censoring this kind of thing, no one will ever be able to make their own well informed decision about their own life.


    • Cj

      LOL – the great thing about the web is that is it almost impossible to censor everyone else talking about someone being censored – now everyone knows about the Paleo diet.

    • http://www.opinionmaster.co.nr gad zihlorne

      the courage that one needs to plough the lonely road is what distinguishes an innovator from the rest of us. V’d be honored to stand by him when needed

    • http://www.hardtofindsoftware.com David T. McKee

      On closer examination we find that the NCBDN are a non-elected “board” that resides in Carey North Carolina. I lived in Carey for nearly 10 years, and worked in the triangle – it is jam packed with drug companies. Companies that profit big-time off of people having diabetes. Now, if you find a cure for diabetes, well, then these companies stand to loose a lot of money. I have nothing against making money, I am a staunch capitalist, but this is different. These people set them selves up as problem solvers, but when someone actually solves the problem, they try to stop it. I cannot claim that they are actually doing this, but it sure seems a bit suspicious.


      • http://www.hardtofindsoftware.com David T. McKee

        Stupid spell checker… it should read “Cary” NC.

    • A


    • http://Q Bereshit9

      Interesting that it occurred in the most litigious country in the world.

      Maybe the pursuit of a just and fair system delivers the complete opposite when the justice system is the means of its establishment.

      This isn’t a conspiracy folks, it’s the law being an ass as usual.

    • S

      The law, usually, is intended to prevent charlatans from passing themselves off as medical experts and providing health care advice. This is to ensure that those people who have gone to legit schools and are trained, and presumably competent, in a field are the ones that people go to for their health needs.

      As long as this fella isn’t counseling, but rather offering up his own experiences, then he’s not stepping over the limits set by those types of laws.