Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Jews, Muslims, Ferris Wheels And Cheeseburgers.

Cheeseburger
A few days ago, I posted about La Ronde, the Montreal Six Flags amusement park, who force parents to feed their children greasy cheeseburgers and corn dogs.

Essentially, they forbid anyone from bringing their own food into the park. They actually search your bags and remove the food like some crazy airport customs officer!

So if you don't want your kids to eat unhealthy carny food or you're trying to cut out gluten, you'll have to keep the food in a cooler in the car and eat out in the picnic area.

Up to just recently, Jews and Muslims were allowed to bring their own bagged lunches. I can only assume it's because their religions are way more important than the tummies of non-believers. When word of this got out on the street there was a great deal of public frustration and the park has since discontinued the special exception for Jews and Muslims.

So, I got this excellent comment from reader Mick:
Why do you care if religious Jews and Muslims bring food into an amusement park? It absolutely does not affect you in any way. It's an amusement park, these rules mostly affect children who are too young to have any choice on what they are allowed to eat. You think they're sitting at the park eating homemade sandwiches, watching all the other kids eating pizza and fries and saying "suckers?" You pretend this is such an injustice. Just be glad you're allowed to eat a cheeseburger.People like you are just as bad as religious bigots. Unable to live and let live.
There's a lot here. Let me respond to each sentence.
Why do you care if religious Jews and Muslims bring food into an amusement park? It absolutely does not affect you in any way.
I absolutely do not care if anyone brings food into the park, regardless of their piety. What bothers me is that nobody else is allowed to do the same - because they don't have the proper religion. The discriminant function here was whether or not the person was a religious Jew or Muslim - e.g. religion.  And the victims of this discrimination were non Jews and Muslims - e.g. people like me.

Here's a little more information. My son is a four year old high-functioning autistic. He eats peanut butter sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches and potato chips nearly exclusively - other things are a crap shoot. Other foods will end up spat out on the ground.  In the past, he has even vomited any morsels of unacceptable food that have made it down his throat. All of this will occur after hours of demanding, pleading and fighting. We are working on addressing his eating issues, but for now, this is the way it is.

So, I would love it if he could eat a hamburger or a corn dog or anything at all at the park. I really would.

Alas, I could tell the park attendants the Flying Spaghetti Monster forbids him from eating anything other than what's in his lunch bag. Or I could attempt to get a doctor to produce a letter for me to be presented to the park attendants. Assuming the doctor even understands autism - it took us years to find one that did. And in the end there is nothing "medically" dangerous if he ate a cheeseburger.

Now, am I asking for special dispensation to allow for autistic children to bring their own food into the park? No, I'm not. This is because I realize there are other groups out there with children who have dietary restrictions - whether they be truly medical in nature or based on some irrational interpretation of bronze age mythology.

I think that at the very least, all children should be allowed to bring in a bagged lunch - plain and simple. See how fair that would be? Religion - or lack thereof - doesn't even come into the picture. There is no discrimination here based on who's a Jew or Muslim and who's not. It's really nothing personal against anyone. I just don't like being penalized for not believing in someone's sky god.

In fact, I may just boycott the park altogether until all children are able to bring in a bagged lunch.  Would you join me in this cause? Will Jews and Muslims, now that they are no longer in a position of privilege, come to the aid of all children visitors to the park?
It's an amusement park, these rules mostly affect children who are too young to have any choice on what they are allowed to eat.
I know, it's sad these children have no say in whether or not they have to follow silly dietary restrictions. But I'm fine with this so long as the children are not malnourished. Although I would love to see everyone be allowed to bring in their own food, I'd be happy to see all children be able to eat bagged lunches inside the park - not just Jews and Muslims.
You think they're sitting at the park eating homemade sandwiches, watching all the other kids eating pizza and fries and saying "suckers?"
To be honest, I believe many people, myself included(!), would prefer eating homemade sandwiches to pizza and fries. And I don't care what the sandwich eating children or their parents are thinking and it doesn't matter.
You pretend this is such an injustice. 
No, you're right, it's not a huge injustice. But it is unfair and highly annoying and it did touch a nerve with many people.
Just be glad you're allowed to eat a cheeseburger.
I love cheeseburgers and I'm not stopping anyone from eating them. The only person who apparently has a problem with them is my nutritionist. Oh and a fictional character in an old book as well.
People like you are just as bad as religious bigots. Unable to live and let live.
Look, I have no problem letting religious people follow their dietary restrictions all they like. What I do have a problem with is businesses providing privileged status to them because of their religion.  I would like to see everyone have the right to bring bagged lunches into the park - not just religious people.



Children standing in front of Kasese Humanist Primary School.
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6 comments:

  1. Great writing, and by the way I agree with you 100%.

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  2. It's amazing how badly he missed the point

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  3. Thanks, Jim!

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  4. I take you mean the commenter? :-) I think it happens to anyone who is "inside" privilege. They feel like they are being discriminated against when the playing field is finally levelled. Before I married a black woman, I had *no idea* how much privilege I had as a white male and I used to get threatened and offended when people would point it out.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment!

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  5. yeah, I meant the commenter :)


    And it is definitely amazing how hard it is to see your own privilege. As a white guy whose lived in pretty progressive areas, it's easy to forget the position I'm in. Occasionally I'll read a story online that reminds me of the kind of stuff other people have to deal with on a daily basis.

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  6. Thanks for your excellent point!

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