Friday, June 11, 2010

One Half of One Percent

Today I read a news story that really pissed me off.

According to the Associated Press, federal regulators are considered a ban on peanuts on planes in order to 'ease fears and potential harm to an estimated 1.8 million Americans with peanut allergies'.

I've heard some bullshit in my time, but this takes the cake. If your allergy to peanuts is bad enough that someone eating them two rows over causes you problems, you should probably get back in your hermetically sealed bubble and not be flying anyway.

The article continued:

"A few limited studies on airline passengers with peanut allergies found a number of people reporting symptoms while flying, but few were severe or life-threatening, said Dr. Scott Sicherer, who studies food allergies at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

"But there's discomfort," Sicherer said. "It's sort of like if you were allergic to dogs and all of a sudden they brought 50 dogs onto the plane."

So, basically, regulators want a peanut ban because 'a number' of people (love those weasel words) experience mild discomfort when on planes from peanut dust.

Let me put this into perspective:

According to the 2009 census, there are approximately 307,000,000 people in America. 1.8 million have peanut allergies…so what this proposed ban is going to do is put out approximately 99.4% of air travelers in order to save the other 0.6% some mild discomfort.

Does that sound even remotely fair or reasonable to anyone?

The main thing that pisses me off about this is the implications. The list of perfectly harmless things you can't take on a plane is already ridiculous, and if they ban peanuts because of allergies, what's next? You can't get on a plane if you own a cat because you might have traces of cat hair on your clothes?

I hate to be the one to say it, but if you have an allergy or disability, you can't expect the entire fucking world to bend over backwards just to accommodate you at the expense of everyone else. I mean, if forty or even twenty percent of people had peanut allergies, I'd consider a peanut ban to be more reasonable, but peanut allergy sufferers make up one half of one percent of air travelers. That means on a 747, there's a maximum of two people with peanut allergies….and because of that, the other 338 people have to go without.

Now, I understand that some people have really, really severe peanut allergies. Here's a quote from Torrie Vader, the head of a 'Food Allergy Support Group'

"This is what kind of infuriates me, is that people don't understand the consequences...they can say, 'Well, a peanut's a peanut.' Well, a peanut does not have the same value as my child's life…When an allergic reaction happens, she takes 50 miligrams of Benadryl with water and waits a half an hour. If that doesn't work, she takes another 50 milligrams and waits. If that's not enough, Alexis must administer the EpiPen and take a trip to the emergency room."

Yes, Ms. Vader, you're right, a peanut doesn't have the same value as your child's life…but you need to understand that your child is only representative of the 0.6% of the population with peanut allergies…in fact, that's not quite right. Out of the 0.6%, only a small minority are actually deathly allergic…your child is actually representative of about 0.02% of the population.

I sympathize, Ms. Vader, I really do. It sucks…but you can't expect the world to change for the sake of your daughter and the 0.02% of the population that she represents. To put this into perspective, I'm diabetic. Regular soda can literally put me in a coma and kill me…but I don't expect a complete ban on soda in case the waiter forgets to bring me diet.



Evan 08 said...

I read this article and thought very much the same thing. I'm allergic to a few things, but guess what... I am the one that makes accommodations. I certainly don't expect anyone else to bust their ass for my issue!

And I still say that we're having all of these crazy allergies because we live in a too-sterile environment. Geez, the immune system (like the liver) is a muscle... exercise it for God's sake!

Paulius said...

Thank you!

It appears we think the same thing about the immune system as well.