Sunday, November 3, 2013

Inclusion and Food Allergies: How Far Is Too Far?

I enjoy hanging out on Reddit. It feels a little like going to a teenager zoo and I consider it an important study tool in the quest to understand my own teens. Yes, there are other people there who are 40+, but for the most part, Reddit is a collection of teens and 20-somethings with too much time on their hands and often a Lord of the Flies mentality.

So I was not all that surprised to run across this one:


The original poster went on to say:
I was the only one in the neighborhood giving out small goodie bags of bite size butterfingers, recesses peanut butter cups,starbursts and other assorted chocolates during halloween. This woman comes back to my house and got angry at me for giving her son candy with peanut butter in it. He ate some and he was having an allergic reaction. How the hell am i suppose to know what her son is allergic to. It wouldn't kill her to be a good parent and monitor what her kid eats instead of blaming me.
I read through some of the almost 2000 comments, trying to keep my anger in check. The oldie but goodies were all there:

"if touching a nut kills you, you’re supposed to die"

"I went to elementary school in the 1960's. I don't remember anyone having any issue at all with foods."

"Your niece might need to be homeschooled..."


Don't get me wrong: I think the mom who did this made a big mistake. I do understand; in the panic of the moment, I have done some crazy things, including calling a food manufacturer in the middle of a reaction to ask about the ingredients.  But suddenly, I had a small moment of insight of how that Roma family in Ireland might have felt after the police took away their child because she looked too blond to really belong to them. Just because one person in your community does something questionable, does that make it o.k. for the rest of society to pour out their hate on all members? Where does all this hate come from?

No, it's not o.k. that the mom blamed the neighbor for her child's reaction. But it's really not o.k. that so many people are willing to jump on the hate bandwagon as a result.

My Reddit comments to that effect were just drops in the ocean, and I suspect a larger response would only make us look crazy. What is the answer? How do we combat this prejudice without seeming over-reactive?

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