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Obsessive Parents More Harmful to Kids Than Bastardized Peter Rabbit   

Dear Parents

Any chance you could just lighten up a bit? You know, see the funny side of life?

Yes, I know little Theobald is allergic to 28 kinds of food stuffs, including raw paw-paw and the Himalayan turnip you get from the organic grocers.

I hear you, sister, when you tell me that certain kinds of cashew land little Arabella in the emergency room, sucking on an oxygen cylinder harder than Monica Lewinsky on a… well, you get the idea.

And I do accept that last year there was an awful story of a child who died at school after he was exposed to cheese. No one is making light of that.

But please, can you all just get your chubby little fingers off your mumsnet forum –  #BoycottPeterRabbit – and calm the hell down?

It’s a bloody rabbit.

A computer-generated, digitally manipulated thing of nothingness. In a blue coat with a voice belonging to James Cordon – which should be more than enough of a hint that you should disregard anything it says as complete buffoonery.

Even his fur is fake, which should please the vegan masses.

Your ability to lend an imaginary rabbit sufficient credence to actually offend you says far more about your emotional intelligence than it does about Sony Pictures or whomever else you want to blame for your issues this week.

How the hell did you survive Tom and Jerry? Given how literally you take the big screen, maybe you think the ACME bombs and violence of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner inspired a whole generation of British jihadists to blow things up.

In the controversial scene in question, Peter Rabbit and his mates attack Tom, the nephew of Mr. McGregor, with blackberries. The group knows Tom is allergic to the berries, and at one point even shoots one into his mouth. He quickly becomes seriously ill and has to stab himself in the leg with an EpiPen.

The horror of it. As a full-blown, drop-down, fit-in-the-street-and-dislocate-both-arms-in-the-process epileptic, I can honestly say that even if Peter Rabbit had a seizure and wet himself in the process, I would still be able to understand this was not a direct dig at me.

Most rational kids of reasonable age will be able to figure out that the film is meant to be nothing more than entertainment given they are a) in a cinema; b) watching a CGI rabbit; and c) the rabbit just stuck a carrot in someone’s butt.

Food allergies are very much a modern phenomenon. According to the non-profit group, FAIR Health, allergic reactions to food have increased five times over the last decade, up 377% from 2007—2016.

Forgive my cynicism, but food allergies are very much in vogue. If you aren’t gluten-free you’re a virtually prehistoric Cheddar man.

You don’t meet many gluten-free kids in Syrian refugee camps, or kids with nut allergies displaced from Yemen. Funny, that.

Lest we forget, we are not talking about reasonable parents here. We are talking the full-on obsess-about-birth-like-it’s-a-baby-panda, read-about-parenting-from-manuals-as-if-your-kid-is-a-car, and if you’ve got a perfectly healthy kid, search-out-an-illness-for-them-to-acquire-so-that-YOU-TOO-can-belong-to-a-community kind of parent.

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Bugger me sideways with a shish kebab if I’m wrong, but if you don’t belong to a minority community (preferably with some form of impediment) these days you are nothing, nothing I tell you. You are out in the cold, like a German luge rider at the top of a skeleton run in spandex without a tray.

The American group, Kids with Food Allergies Foundation, issued parents a trigger warning on Facebook about the Peter Rabbit film, saying that “food allergy ‘jokes’ are harmful to our community.”

Ah ha! There it is. The badge of the eternally afflicted: community.

“Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger,” the warning reads.

Do you hear that, children? Never be cavalier. Especially not about nuts. Or gluten.

Australian group Global Anaphylaxis Awareness and Inclusivity (Globular) has created a petition asking distributor Sony Pictures to apologize, saying the film “mocks the seriousness of allergic disease and is heartbreakingly disrespectful to the families of those that have lost loved ones to anaphylaxis.”

First up, whoever named that group is an absolute arse. Try saying that name down a telephone line or turning it into an email address. I was bored after the word “global.”

Secondly, it is not heartbreakingly disrespectful. It is finding some fun in a world filled with fear, and clicking on a petition to demand an apology is about as useful as complaining about a movie involving an imaginary rabbit. Oh, wait…

All too predictably, an apology was forthcoming from Sony Pictures, which grovelled that the film “should not have made light” of a character being allergic to blackberries “even in a cartoonish” way. And that they regretted not being more aware and sensitive to the issue…

But that wasn’t enough.

Take it from me: never apologize. It will either be too little too late or it will be too disgustingly disingenuous to mean anything. Once the offendatrons get a hashtag and have you in their crosshairs, only blood will do. #Boycottpeterrabbit is the most tragic case of its kind. What next –  #boycottbutterflies?

I wonder what Beatrix Potter would make of these parents. She was a stickler for protecting her work, refusing to sell the Peter Rabbit rights to Walt Disney, so there is no way on earth that she’d have ever given the green light to a movie as effortlessly displeasing as this one.

Nevertheless, the fact that in the midst of the movie’s general vulgarity some parents have managed to eke out offense over the issue of food intolerance is indicative of the modern obsession with an incredibly fragile sense of self.

The real danger to our kids is not nuts or turnips or even cheese. It is obsessive parents like these, with a hashtag and a hard on.

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