#35 - Humorlessness

I submitted my post about the climate of fear and humorlessness in which we're raising our kids to blogcarnival.

They didn't like it.

Your post does not comply with the Carnival guidelines, found here:
http://www.jhsiess.com/carnival-family-life. Thus, it will not be included in the Carnival.

For the record, my friends' daughter has severe peanut allergies and has almost died several times. NO, it is not all in her head or the basis of shoddy science. She carries epinephrine everywhere she goes and would LOVE to be a normal kid who eats anything, but it simply isn't possible. Imagine the fun her family has trying to fly anywhere, just for starters.

Moreover, "don't beat" written in a daycare log is not remotely funny on any day at any time. Do you have any idea how much responsibility those people have, the number of times they have to defend themselves against false accusations, the number of times the accusations are true, or the rigors they have to go through just to get insurance so that they can stay in business? You're lucky your kid is still enrolled.

So even were it not for the giant offensive finger at the top of the page, given the tone, tenor, and misinformation set forth in your article, I would have serious reservations about including your post in my carnival.


Wow! Can you imagine I suggested people like that are humorless?

First of all, this reply is everything my story was talking about. I never denigrate the sufferings or deny the existence of actual food allergy sufferers. I'm sure that's difficult in the extreme and I sympathize. The point I am making is that a drug company that makes a food allergy treatment seems to have exaggerated the number and severity of food allergy reactions in order to sell more medication. This has been widely reported and debated throughout the media. Check out some excellent reporting on it here and here. (And for non-food allergy specific evidence that such practices are de rigueur for pharmaceutical companies, check out this piece detailing the drug giants' attempts to deny drastically poor Africans the right to import or manufacture generic HIV meds.)

My larger point, however, is that the damage being done to kids when parents are frightened into buying into this drug company’s exaggerations--along with the countless other things we're told to fear by people conveniently selling products meant to assuage those fears--is greater than the danger we think we’re protecting our kids from.

A Danish study quoted in the point/counterpoint piece above (one which actually confirmed the results of two earlier studies) found that while 15% of parents reported their children as food allergic, upon oral challenge, only between 1 and 2.3% actually were. And even if we take 2.3 to be the number of actually-allergic kids, it's statistically very unlikely that reactions to those allergens would manifest on the violent end of the spectrum. So, always allowing that there are kids with real allergies, we have to challenge ourselves to be brave, to use our grown up brains, make the extra cognitive leap, and answer the following question: Do the benefits of protecting >2.3% of kids with real allergies outweigh the benefits of telling 12.7% of kids they have allergies when they don't?

My piece also attempted to point out that over diagnosis of food allergies is but one symptom of the general climate of fear in which we're raising our kids. I argue that while we may be protecting them from skinned knees and sunburns, we're giving them hypertension and diabetes in the process. The reason parents are such easy targets for advertisers and drug marketers is that being a parent, especially a thinking, caring parent, is scary as hell! And the more you read and know, the more things there are to get scared about.

You want to know how easy parents are to scare? Let's look back at the email from blogcarnival. JHS accuses me of distributing misinformation. But what actually happened?

I researched and read numerous sources and presented what I learned along with some theories on what it might mean in the world at large. JHS discounted the numbers I presented because she knows one kid with allergies. One. This is just the kind of panic reaction that the drug company in question is taking advantage of. I know it feels like that one kid you know cancels out all the numbers and research, JHS, but that’s not the case.

I understand that reaction. I know the crushing terror of thinking something might happen to your kid that you failed to prevent. It’s easy to be scared and it’s hard to be brave when it comes to your kids. People with things to sell know this and take advantage of it--it's an old school advertising technique called a fear appeal. Would it be easy to seal your kid in bubble wrap before you let him outside? Of course. That way, you know he won’t get hurt. But remember: this isn't supposed to be about you. Overprotecting your child is easy, but it's also selfish. The hard thing, the adult thing, is to knuckle up and sit there and worry and deal with the bumps and bruises because you believe, in the long run, your child will be better off learning that pain is fleeting and living in fear is sad and ridiculous.

And as for the panic mentality in the daycare system, I'm sorry. You're right. Putting "Do Not Beat" on that form was not funny. It was hilarious. And the director's super-serious reaction made it even more hilarious because as soon as she realized she was on the phone with someone like me, not someone like you, we had a big laugh.

You mention the "numerous false accusations" of abuse leveled against daycare concerns. Well, who do you think would be more likely to issue such a charge, you or me? That's right. You. So which of us then is really responsible for the "rigors they have to go through just to get insurance so that they can stay in business?" Again, you.

As for the propriety of having a giant flaming middle finger at the top of a webiste to be read by dour, glowering mombots, well, you may have me there, JHS. But I'm glad you got to see it.


Bigsoda95 said...


Big fan! JHS's contempt for your humor is way funny but don't you think you were a little hard on the glowering mombot with the "numerous false accusations" comment. . .

Looking forward to reading more.

- Bigsoda95

Chris Connolly said...

Okay, I might get a little hyperbolic at the end when I accuse her of driving up insurance prices for childcare. But not by much. And she started it!

~r3 said...

Ahhhh... the old "Dateline" formula!
"Dateline: Scaring Mothers in Middle America since 1992."
Ya know JHS. If ya take life sooooo seriously, and don't attempt to look beyond the homogenized "facts", you're gonna give yourself a heart attack.
You wanna know how I know?

I saw it on "Dateline".

Viva la Chris!

maw said...

Holy shit. She's EXACTLY the type of douchebag who would sue a daycare when her kid (likely named "Walker" or "Chase") came home with a scratch. FUCK HER.

JoshF said...

I agree with Maw. Fuck her and fuck Carnival cavalcade of wack shit for losers.

That was great!

Am I crazy though or did she try to drop some funny in her prose with that line about how hard it was for her friends to fly with their anti-peanut child?