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Dear Sony, Your Apology for That 'Peter Rabbit' Scene Is Not Enough

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Dear Sony,

I feel pretty safe when I say the food allergy community is up in arms about your new movie, “Peter Rabbit.” They are enraged. People with life-threatening food allergies themselves, parents and families are starting and signing petitions calling for the movie to be pulled from theaters entirely. I can’t agree more.

It’s bad enough that the movie, for children, depicts rabbits trying to kill the human, Mr. McGregor, in the story, but there is a particular scene that concerns us. I have yet to see it, and at this point will not, but the scene I’ve been told
shows Peter Rabbit and friends throwing berries at the Mr. McGregor.

What’s so bad about that?

He is anaphylactic to those berries, and they are trying to kill him through
his allergy. They actually do aim and project a berry into his mouth, which proceeds to cause anaphylaxis. He stabs himself with his EpiPen and
miraculously lives through the scene.

Anaphylaxis kills people.

Anaphylaxis kills people who have tried to stop the reaction with an EpiPen.

Children and adults have died from anaphylactic reactions. Essentially it’s your body strangling you to death or causing cardiac arrest or both. It is a horrible way to die, and it only takes minutes to happen.

I have almost died myself and watched my son almost die twice — once on the way to see Santa Claus when he was only 3 years old.  His reaction was so bad, it came back in the ambulance, and he needed more epinephrine. Thank God he lived.

Not so many children and adults are that lucky.

This scene’s actions are being called bullying. I dare to take it much further than that.

I would call it attempted murder. If a child tries to intentionally introduce my child to his allergen, it’s attempted murder. If he or she succeeds in killing him, my greatest fear, it’s murder. Simple as that. Call it what it is.

You wouldn’t allow a child to chase another on the playground with a knife. Why this?

You are teaching children to bully those with disabilities.

Food allergies are considered a disability. Did you know that? They are. So, let’s tack on hate crime to the impending charges.

You’ve issued an apology, but where’s your apology if someone follows suit and kills one of our kids?

You also can’t expect adults to have a conversation about the scene with their kids. Unless someone in their family or close to them experiences food allergies/anaphylaxis, they probably don’t even realize the severity of what’s going on. This is the problem. Anaphylaxis is not considered the life-and-death issue that it really is.

Kids though, they pick up on everything. Take the fraternity who smeared peanut butter all over a pledge who is anaphylactic to peanuts — they almost killed him.  And they are supposed to be responsible young adults! Kids will remember that scene, and they may use it. If it’s in children’s film, it must be OK, right?

Do the right thing: pull the movie and remove the scene because an apology isn’t even close enough to righting this deadly wrong. Create a dialog that sends a message that bullying and attempting to kill someone is morally wrong and completely unacceptable in this society.

Stand up for people with life-threatening food allergies, and teach others to do the same. You are one of the most powerful mediums in the world.

Use your power to help empower others.

Do what’s right. Lives depend on it.

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Originally published: February 13, 2018
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