OK, most of us who follow food allergy stuff in the news remember that vile, and I mean VILE, column in the LA Times a year ago in which writer Joel Stein blasted parents of kids with food allergies. He wrote “Your kid doesn’t have an allergy to nuts. Your kid has a parent who needs to feel special”. Like many other outraged and hurt parents of food allergic kids I felt compelled to respond to Mr. Stein’s outrageous comments. On January 13, 2009 I posted:
“When I was in journalism school I lived and breathed all things Edward R. Murrow. In case some of you don’t know who Murrow was, he was the pioneer in broadcast journalism who set the highest standard for other journalists. Two of my favorite Murrow quotes came to mind when reading Mr. Stein’s piece:
“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices – just recognize them.”
“To be persuasive we must be believable, to be believable we must be credible, to be credible we must be truthful”.
Truthful Mr. Stein was not. Instead, he was outrageous, uneducated and quite frankly an embarrassment to the code of ethics set forth by journalists. Check your facts, be truthful, put your own agenda aside and respect the power that has been granted to you. The freedom of the press is so important we protect it in the constitution, but when wannabe journalists like Mr. Stein abuse their platforms to write stupid articles it is an abuse to all journalists. Viewers and readers across the country are losing their trust in the media. We expect more. And as Newton Minnow once predicted that TV would become “a vast wasteland”, the print media is just as guilty.”
Fast forward to a column written by Mr. Stein in the August 9, 2010 edition of Time Magazine titled “Aw Nuts! I had an airtight, zero-tolerance stance on nut allergies. Then my son developed them”. Yes, you read that right, Joel Stein, the same person who ridiculed every food allergic parent in America just over a year ago recently discovered his 1-year-old son is allergic to nuts. He writes “Sitting up at 3 in the morning, I found myself totally believing in the nut-allergy epidemic.” Yes, Mr. Stein, many of us know precisely what that feels like, lying wide awake in the middle of the night thinking about all the ways our seemingly normal lives have changed in that moment our children got their diagnosis of a food allergy. It’s earth shattering and life changing.
I am not going to go down the road of “Karma’s a bitch” with this one. Having a child with a life threatening food allergy is something I would never wish on anyone, even my worst enemy. I honestly feel terrible for Mr. Stein and his wife. But the food allergic children are the innocent victims of this disease with no cure, and they are the ones who have to endure a lifetime of exclusion, anxiety and living with a special set of needs than other children. Of course, these food allergic children NEVER say “woe is me”. These kids are the real heroes, because they never complain about their food allergies.
Instead, I would love to see Mr. Stein use his journalistic platform to raise awareness about food allergies, about what it is like to send your child to preschool, birthday parties, field trips, camps, plane rides, the list goes on. It is in this moment that I think of Edward R. Murrow again, and how he took his platform as a journalist VERY seriously, and demanded everyone else around him do the same. And in the meantime, the rest of us will keep doing what we do, raise our children to be aware and raise money for a cure.