The imbroglio involving TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley’s comments about obese people is one of those incidents that you find it hard to agree with either side. Barkley — once known as the “round mound of rebound” should be the last person making fun of fat women. His fellow analyst Shaq O’Neil looks like he’s been packing on the pounds himself since he retired.

You have to imagine the TNT studio guys sitting around, mouthing off as guys might do in a locker room or a Man Cave, giving their opinions about how some women look, how ugly or hot they are. Except these guys are on national TV with a couple of million people tuning in.

A few choice excerpts:

Barkley was prompted by co-host Kenny Smith, another retired NBA player, who asked, “what kind of women are in San Antonio?”

“Big old women down there,” Barkley replied to extensive laughter from his fellow hosts on Tuesday, who aside from Smith include Shaquille O’Neal and Ernie Johnson. “That’s a gold mine for Weight Watchers.” (Barkley himself is a spokesperson for Weight Watchers.) He later added, “Victoria’s definitely a secret. They can’t wear no Victoria’s Secret down there,” and “they wear big old bloomers down there, ain’t nothing skimpy down in San Antonio.”

Barkley went on and on as his co-hosts egged him on, asking, “they have spandex down there in San Antonio?” and “it’s a gold mine — it’s a gold mine.”

Quite insensitive, no? But the reaction from a “fat acceptance” group should put America on notice that the next great drive for victimhood status is going to come from the BBW crowd.

Talk about a “gold mine” — imagine the smiles on the faces of the big, beautiful women who are working to make criticism and mocking of obese people something akin to racism:

The statements are not sitting well with the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance which is now calling for Chuck to apologize, ASAP.

“Making slurs about body size is just as offensive as making comments about body color,” spokesperson Peggy Howell tells TMZ Sports.

“One would think being a black man, he’d be more sensitive to having his physical body criticized. It’s totally out of line. He should absolutely apologize.”

What’s frightening is that she’s serious. The NAAFA says this about the affects of obesity:

Size Discrimination Consequences are Real!

Creates medical and psychological effects
Results in wage disparity
Affects hiring and promotion
Affects academic options and advancement

Affirmative action for people who are weight challenged? Why not? Every other “victim” of white male privilege wants it. Why should obese people be any different?

And victims they are, according to their “Mission”:

To eliminate discrimination based on body size and provide fat people with the tools for self-empowerment though public education, advocacy, and support.

What’s the best way to “eliminate discrimination based on body size”? Piggyback your grievances on those of other oppressed minorities of color, or sex, or sexual orientation.

Fat people are discriminated against in all aspects of daily life, from employment to education to access to public accommodations, and even access to adequate medical care. This discrimination occurs despite evidence that 95 to 98 percent of diets fail over five years and that 65 million Americans are labeled “obese.” Our thin-obsessed society firmly believes that fat people are at fault for their size and it is politically correct to stigmatize and ridicule them. Fat discrimination is one of the last publicly accepted discriminatory practices. Fat people have rights and they need to be upheld!

NAAFA’s message of size acceptance and self-acceptance is often overshadowed by a $49 billion-a-year diet industry that has a vested economic interest in perpetuating discrimination against fat people. Without active financial support from people like you, NAAFA would not exist and could not fulfill its crucial role defending your rights. While it is an uphill battle to achieve our goals, together we are making a difference.

In other words, you, too, can become a protected class under EEOC, affirmative action, and — the jackpot — the Americans with Disabilities Act. All it takes is money to hire a bunch of lobbyists and to contribute to the right political campaigns.

And Barkley, O’Neil, et al just gave the NAAFA and other like minded groups a powerful fundraising tool.

It’s one thing to act like a jerk when you’re alone with your friends making cracks about various women’s anatomical shortcomings. But doing it on national television takes a special kind of insensitivity. Not akin to racism, to be sure. But the simple, empathetic recognition that remarks like that are hurtful of other people’s feelings should have zipped Barkley’s mouth shut — especially considering his own weight problems over the years.

There are many factors that go into obesity and not all are controllable by the individual. Many men and women suffering from thyroid disease are obese, and some adrenal conditions also lead to medical obesity.

But the vast majority of obese people get that way from overeating combined with lack of exercise. When I was 285 pounds and headed for an early grave, I made some very basic, simple changes to what I ate. I didn’t starve myself. Just ate more of some things and less of others. I also made an effort to exercise a little bit.

That was 4 years ago. Since then, I’ve lost 60 lbs. and continue to lose a pound or two every few months. I have no claim to superior “will power” or anything else. It’s just a matter of making smart life choices and sticking with it — without the drama often associated with formal dieting.

Fat people don’t deserve to be ridiculed on national television. Neither do they deserve the protections offered by the federal government for “oppressed” groups. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that groups advocating “fat acceptance” will become as whiny and demanding of special treatment as any other “civil rights” group in Washington.