In my last blog post I wrote about how I once had a stranger say that in the past, food allergies would have been called natural selection: implying that my son was weak somehow and the world should just let him die sooner because he is flawed. Food allergic people run into this a lot, where people feel it is a horrible inconvenience and unfair to them that they have to sacrifice what they want to eat in their school or place of work. But, I had hoped that this sort of bullying was dissipating; that people were starting to see how serious food allergies can really be, starting to see that it really is a community problem that we need to tackle head on.
I guess I am wrong, because a soon to be released Nascar Super Bowl ad says, “When our idea of danger is gluten, there’s trouble afoot. Yes, we the people have gotten soft.”
Though I can see the larger “joke,” this is why I have never liked sarcastic, slap-stick humor. I don’t see how making fun of people who live with real challenges just because they are different is funny. This is the very definition of bullying, trying to reap some form of personal gain (e.g., inflated sense of self-worth or popularity) by publicly making fun of or taunting others who are perceived as weaker for some reason.
Just as with kids who are bullied, the truth usually is that those being bullied are really the stronger and kinder human beings. The same holds true here. My kids suffer from multiple foood allergies, some life threatening. They have to learn every day how to be strong enough to be OK with who they are even though those around them see the challenges they live with daily as an inconvenience, a lie, or something to be afraid of. They have to figure out how to NOT define themselves by what they can and cannot eat, even though many of those around them do so constantly. They have to figure out how to live with the knowledge that food could kill them, when kids are supposed to grow up feeling invincible. The fact that they’ve figured all that out and are still successful makes them some of the strongest people I know.
And the fact that whomever wrote that ad, and Nascar execs who approved that ad felt they needed to disparage an entire community in an effort to make a “catchy” and “edgy” ad that will incite a large amount of attention makes them some of the weakest people I’m glad I don’t know.
This world needs far more compassion and empathy and far less sarcasm and apathy.
I will end my soap box rant now.
If you agree and wish to share your disapproval, a petition to have Nascar pull the ad is here.
If you need to see it in order to decide for yourself, the link to the ad is here.