: So, Ronald McDonald is comparable to Hitler, Manson or Dahmer.
: And he is responsible for many deaths because he promotes an unhealthy diet.
It's not as simple as that. As we all know, he does not possess any objective existence, unlike the other three. He is a figurehead, something friendly for people to identify McDonald's with. As such, he is portrayed as a trustworthy figure, someone the kids can cheer.
If you read the Geoffrey Guiliano interview that's recently been added, you will see that the people who played Ronald were instructed to mislead children. That he was supposed to dress up the bloody mess in a pretty fantasy.
So, take one figure trusted by the masses, get him to hide his true agenda whilst misleading the public, and fail to mention that following his advice would lead to suffering of one sort or another.
You could apply those criteria to Hitler's rise in 1933 or Ronald McDonald's primacy in 1997.
Ronald McDonald is a figurehead used by a corporate body for his mass market appeal. The main objective of that corporate is not (or does not appear to be) the well being of their clients - their driving motive is profit, regardless of the effects to the world at large.
Unlike some of the posters here, I'm not going to bandy the term "evil" around. I think it's oversimplistic and too "neat". I would say he is culpable of the misinformation of large sections of the populace.
That, in my books, gives the _iconic figure_ a partial liability for the deaths, as he is one of their best marketing devices.
: Should we compare Helen Steele to these killers as well? As I understand it she is/was a bartender. Now, alcohol has caused needless suffering for thousands. It has destroyed families. It has caused the deaths of innocent children due to drunk drivers. It has caused disease and early death in countless numbers.
All this is well known - no alcohol manufacturer would attempt to deny that overindulgence in alcohol is a _bad_ idea. McDonald's do their best to promote their product as "healthy". That's the difference.
(Their phrase was "..it forms part of a balanced diet". Under cross-examination, they said that, for example, Coca-Cola was part of a balanced diet as it contained water. They failed to mention that it also contained phosphoric acid, which isn't recommended in any diet and caffeine, a known heart stimulant. Or that aqueous hydrogen cyanide also contains water, despite being a deadly poison.)
Would Grand Metropolitan sue you for saying they sold a known poison?
No; it is an undisputed fact that alcohol isn't good for you, and no-one tries to pretend otherwise.
: Was she not a promoter of this product? Should she be found guilty? Where is her concern for the children of alcoholics?
No. Bar staff don't necessarily promote alcohol consumption any more than McD's ground crew promote McD's (read the McJobs section, or Siamak's witness statement).
Actually stopping someone from doing something that might harm them is making their decisions for them - not something you really have any right to do. Yet doing your best to provide the full picture, so that people can make their own choice, is neither coercion nor avoidance.
Where the dangers are well known, as in cigarettes & alcohol, the warnings are flashed about freely - you don't need to be told of the risks to you. People will still fall victim to them, but you can't say you weren't warned.
Where the producer does their best to evade the issue of health risks, despite their global presence, it is necessary to air these issues. It's not a case of spreading lies, it's a case of balancing the pro- and anti-McD's message.
How can anyone make an informed choice if one side does it's level best to stop the other side ever being heard by anyone?
: I wonder if a poll was taken on which caused the most suffering in the world, alcohol or Big Macs, what the results would be?
It depends how deeply you take your analysis - would you count non-fatal ill health due to things like furred arteries?
(something that a glass of wine a day will actually help prevent!)
Define "suffering". I think you'd be surprised.