I bumped into yet anther debate in the long, endless stream of outrage over insensitivity online this morning and am again alarmed and disappointed at the PC police. Quaker Oats corporation posted a funny 50 thoughts every Mom has at snack time piece over on Buzzfeed that included the following lines:
The kids will be home soon, and they’ll be hungry.
Are they bringing that friend with all of those allergies?
I really hope not. I mean, I like her, but come on.
If you go and read the comments, people are crucifying Quaker Oats over these lines, suggesting that the writer is incredibly insensitive and even to have those thoughts is wildly inappropriate and a sign of someone who is seriously messed up, and for Quaker Oats to have approved this piece (which it might or might not have done) means the company is just as horrible.
A few examples:
- “A truly awful display of intolerance of children with disabilities.”
- “My son is THAT kid, shame on you Quaker for being a part of the problem. My son has been bullied for his food allergies. Do you know how many families are grieving this Christmas because they lost a child to food allergies this year? Would you say the same thing about a child in a wheelchair? It is a disability. You should apologize!”
- “Quaker is a company that discriminates against kids with allergies, you know? We don’t buy products from companies like that. Ever.”
I thought the piece was probably a rather realistic portrayal of the stream of consciousness that goes through a parent’s mind and as a parent whose children have at various times had food allergies and whose friends have food allergies too, it is a pain to deal with. Not sure why none of the respondents felt they could just say that, but it’s clearly easier to prepare a quick snack for a child that has zero food allergies or dietary constraints than one that can’t have this, that or the other ingredient. Is that so horrible to say?
What’s most troubling about this, however, is that this is really is the thought police at work here: the article was framed as “what a mom thinks” and even thinking that allergies are difficult for another parent to manage isn’t okay? I have friends who have children with various disabilities, and when they’re being candid, they’ll admit that it can be a major challenge. Heck, parenting itself is difficult, whether your child is allergy and disability free or whether they’re quite afflicted.
Is the effort needed to care for a higher needs child worth it? Of course, and thinking it’s difficult doesn’t imply anything else unless you have a chip on your shoulder.
I’ll admit it: If my children have a friend over who has major food allergies and can’t be in the same room as peanuts, for example, or strawberries, we’ll deal with it, but it is a major hassle. Is it worth it so we can enjoy their company and ensure that they are safe and happy? Definitely. But it’s still a hassle.
And that’s all the original piece was trying to convey as part of a prototypical mom’s thought process.
When we can’t even acknowledge that a handicap like food allergies – or any other disability – is a challenge for both parents and the community to overcome without having to immediately justify that it’s worth the effort, then we just move into an even more tense, intolerant world.
It was an attempt at humor. Quaker, it’s okay. The thought police will move on to their next victim soon enough…