This is not my first post about the Time Magazine article but I wanted to let you know that Joel's mea culpa regarding food allergies can now be read online, in its entirety.
Joel and I are friends and as it sometimes happens with friends, we once had a difference of opinion. A big one. He originally wrote a very controversial Op-Ed for the LA Times where he stated that food allergies is a yuppie phenomenon. He rubbed thousands of us the wrong way when he said, "Your kid doesn't have an allergy to nuts. Your kid has a parent who needs to feel special." I do not think that I am alone here when I say that he was incorrect on both counts.
My daughter's severe allergies to several foods makes us feel a little too special. I would much rather take a heavy dose of "normal", thank you very much. Joel did an incredible amount of damage to those of us who struggle with allergies, every day. He fed into the beast of ignorance; giving fuel to the fire of those who think that we are just making this whole thing up. If you have ever rushed a child to the ER, as they are covered in hives and gasping for air, you know just how real this thing is. It is a living nightmare. And because people who are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts tend to react to them in a much more severe way, read anaphylaxis, it is a dangerous situation. As parents the most imprtant thing we have in our arsenal is ability to spread awareness, through education and communication. This is an epidemic that is affecting more and more families each day. We are tired of a debating whether or not allergies are real or if they are on the rise. We simply want to get down to the business of finding out why this is happening. And if we cannot stop it, we need to work on a way to cope the best way that we can.
This is what I had to say about the whole thing on my blog, at the time of Joel's original piece...
Back then, Joel and I exchanged several e-mails about our differing opinions. As I have said before, we are friends. And it was all handled in a very friendly way. Nothing I said could persuade him. I happen to come from a family of political opposition. Some of us are staunchly Democrats and some of us are proud Republicans. Even though I have developed a fine debate technique, I have learned that sometimes people will just think what they are going to think. You can love them for every other part of their personality and respect them, but often, they cannot be swayed. I can still love them for who they are, even when they are being thick headed and irrational. Joel and I ended our dialog by him making me promise to not kill him the next time we saw one another socially. I kept my promise.
And then a few months ago Joel found out that his son, who was barely a year at the time, is severely allergic to nuts. He had the typical experience... trip to the ER, allergy testing, panic and in his case, regret. His eyes were opened in a whole new way. Many people had wished some sort of karmic pay-back to Joel, because of his LA Times piece. I was not one of them. The last thing the world needs is another child with food allergies. And I am so sorry that little Laszlo now has to endure this reality. Joel decided to write another article, this one for Time Magazine; a mea culpa of sorts. He interviewed me for the column. He wanted to talk over the whole thing with me, while still processing his child's allergic reaction. We sat for two hours over lunch. We discussed how we handle my daughter's allergies in our home, the testing, the doctors, the lifestyle. We theorized why this is all happening. We had non-related friendly conversation. It was a lovely lunch. At the end of it I really got the feeling that Joel has been brought to his knees over this situation and that he does, indeed, feel remorseful. He is known for playing a devil's advocate and often takes on "the other guy's" opinion. But I think that he realized he crossed a line with his LA Times article. He owed a big apology to allergy sufferers. He needed to get on his knees and beg for forgiveness.
The Time article arrived on news stands two weeks ago. Because Joel is a comedian, much of what he wrote came across as being insincere. Several people have commented to me that they do not think he is taking the whole thing seriously. I do not live inside of his head, but as his friend I can tell you that he is. He is not a monster. He is just afraid that if he loses his humor, he will lose his "voice". So he went for the joke, rather than laying himself on a sacrificial table. Overall, I think the article was effective. He told his story and got some chuckles. But many have not yet forgiven him. They were hoping for more.
Since the piece hit, I have gotten mass amounts of traffic on this blog. And I have appreciated many of the comments that I have gotten from readers. I will say that there was one particular person who wrote some pretty horrific things, a true "nut job", who accused me of trying to take away his civil liberties. He is exactly the sort of freak that ate up Joel's original article with a spoon. He called me and my family many names and suggested that I get out of America since I "hate freedom so much." His words were actually quite toxic, scary even. He forced me to establish a filter for my comment section, that was not previously in place. There is a lot of his type of garbage floating around the internet and since this is my blog I decided that this is not the place for his filth. It was a minor set back but it reminded me of how terrifying this world can be sometimes. Our children need us to protect them and having people like this, out and about, makes it pretty hard for me to sleep at night.
When I began this blog, in 2008, I wanted to do it as a positive person who sees the cup as being "half full". Yes, our situation is daunting. But not impossible. We need to work together if we are ever going to see a change. It has been a very cathartic process. It has helped me to dispense information and to get feedback on many issues. Sometimes I vent. Sometimes I cook. But through it all, it has helped me and my family as we work our way through the madness.
If you have just discovered Freedomtoeat: Living WELL with Food Allergies, I appreciate you taking the time to look us up. Hopefully you will stay tuned and keep reading.
Sending out lots of loving thoughts to all of you who have been hit by food allergies. You are not alone.