So I’ve just noticed that Twitter and the blogosphere are ablaze with angry parents of peanut allergic kids turning their fury on US journo/ author/ humourist Marty Beckerman.
What’s he done? Penned a scabrous article about how peanut allergic children are “shitty… sissies” and how America, once a nation of “burly outdoorsmen”, is now a “nation of oversensitive babies who can’t eat legumes without our esophaguses fatally closing”.
Instead of “the pursuit of happiness”, he adds, “we [America] have a surplus of sensitivity”.
Contrary to the cautions on Twitter not to read the post I, er, read the post (sorry but how could I not?). And honestly? I don’t see what all the fuss is about.
Number one – he’s being funny. Viciously funny, perhaps, but funny, in the vein of a Bill Hicks rant or a Hunter S. Thompson diatribe. Maybe not Eric ‘n Ernie funny, but he’s not Sunday Night at the London Palladium.
Number two – what this piece really is is not a violent assault on genuine allergy (for heaven’s sake he confesses to being allergic to stuff himself) but an ode to peanuts. Now who can argue with that? Personally, I’m devastated that Sidney can’t ever sample a Snickers (the Marathon of my youth) or Nutella spread thick on hunks of white bread, or – my husband is particularly devastated about this one – peanut butter on hot toast (don’t even get me started on peanut butter and banana). Not too bothered about M&Ms, though. Too brash.
Number three – he has a point, buried in the midst of all the bombast and belligerence. America, Britain, Australia, so many countries in the world today, have become nations blighted by a surplus of sensitivity. It’s perfectly true – we just don’t know why yet (and, no, I very much doubt he really thinks the reason babies like Sidney are allergic to peanuts is because they’ve spent all their time “playing video games, watching TV, text messaging, surfing the web, and murdering their parents in Satanic rituals”). Though probably some kids do spend too much time doing that stuff (maybe not the killing bit) and, as an aside, it’s a valid comment.
Number four – just because my baby has allergies doesn’t mean my sense of humour needs to leave the room along with the nuts (and the eggs and the banana…). This may prove controversial, but one of the big problems that surrounds the issue of allergy today – and which I think serves as a block to other people, frankly, giving a shit – is a ‘woe-is-me’ mentality. Woe is me, a bit, but we’ve got to live with it, and deal with it and, truly, I’ve heard and read far more offensive stuff from people with far less tongue in cheek than Marty Beckerman plainly has.
In short? Laugh at it, ignore it, harrumph at it if you want but move on. There are bigger battles to be fought and this isn’t one of them.
(PS It’s up to you but you can find the post here)