“Run, Rabbit, Run!” Rabid Parents on the Prowl

These days, nothing is safe from an attack of the PC moralists. Not even classic children’s literature. In the latest edition of the PC “police blotter,” a film adaptation of the Beatrix Potter series, “Peter Rabbit,” has been attacked and now boycotted. The attack was started because of a scene in the film, which shows Peter Rabbit and his forest friends ganging up on Rabbit’s arch nemesis, Mr. McGregor, by throwing blackberries on him. Mr. McGregor is allergic to blackberries, he begins to choke, and has to inject himself with epinephrine.

The parents were shocked and scandalized by such a careless exhibition of “allergy bullying,” which, we are asked to believe, will scar their children for life. Food allergies are not a laughing matter (for these folks, what is?), they intone. And so, in the grand tradition that is the SJW tribes manner, they condemn the producers of the film for showing bad form and poor taste by including such a scene in the film.

As is to be expected in today’s weak-willed corporate atmosphere, Sony Pictures apologized, citing lack of sensitivity on their part for such a “serious issue.” Apologies like these usually ring hollow because they are. They mean nothing. Usually, they are mere statements issued either to protect the “offending party” legally or to make sure no money is lost on the project.

For some children, food allergies are, indeed, a serious health issue. They and their parents have to closely monitor the condition. No intelligent person disputes that, but the relative seriousness of actual food allergies is not the concern here. At the heart of this particular problem is the phenomenon we see all too often in our society—the culture of embracing victimhood for power.

This extreme form of narcissism threatens to destroy any semblance of imagination that is left in this world. It is a cruel ideology that lacks authentic emotion, and instead has replaced it with a primitive sensitivity to anything which is distinctive in character and experience.This particular form of victimhood is rooted in conspicuous parenting, which means that anyone who either is not a parent or who doesn’t have a child with some kind of disability must conform to their reality. The idea that society owes one deference is not only moralistic but also unrealistic and impractical.

These same types of parents also continuously dote on their children, expect them to be recognized as “special,” and of course recognized as fully equal in their abilities—even when they are manifestly lacking or mediocre.  And yet, this insistence that children should not engage in competition or that reality should in some other way be denied, reveals the hypocrisy of the entire phenomenon of victim culture. The whole thing is based on a twisted sense of competition. What we hear in the constant hue and cry reverberating from the trumpets of this endless parade of fake grievances is a competition for “America’s Top Victim.”      

The controversy over Peter Rabbit’s transgression has nothing to do with actual food allergies. At least, it’s not mainly about that.  Another aspect of our society’s glorification of victimhood status is an inability to recognize and understand conflict for what it is. This is not limited to moralistic parents. Rather, this is part of the globalist mind—the notion of embracing incompatibility, competition, and real-life conflict as a necessary part of the human experience is a foreign idea to too many people. And yet, it is part of human nature. So as much as the victim mongers try to eliminate it, these competitive aspects of human nature simply manifest themselves under the new and artificial rules they’ve established. Thus we get competition for victimhood status and among victim groups.

 Returning to “Peter Rabbit,” if we simply analyze the scene in question, we will see a very basic plot structure. In order for any story to move in a literary and imaginative fashion, particularly children’s stories, there has to be some kind of conflict followed inevitably by a resolution. In order to have a conflict, the story has to have a variety of characters—some are good, some bad, some antagonistic, some nice and friendly. These are human archetypes anthropomorphized in animal form and they have been a part of all great Western literature aimed at children as early as Aesop’s fables. To impose one’s own personal difficulties and challenges onto a children’s story is not only an attempt at censorship, it is a sure way of killing off imagination, so necessary for the proper growth of a child’s moral character.

Whether we like it or not, conflict is part of life. Some conflicts are bigger than others, but there will always be some resistance in every endeavor. The outcry over this film tells us more about the character and entitlement of the screamers than it tells us about the film. Without a doubt, every normal parent wants what’s best for their children. But expecting society to bend over backwards to accommodate one’s idiosyncrasies is not teaching children to be compassionate. It is teaching them to be bullies. Worse, it stultifies creative thinking and imagination. It feeds an already regrettable inclination toward narcissism in our society and teaches children, incorrectly, that conflict and misfortune (and by implication, evil) can be erased by sheer force of will. This is a dangerous lesson unworthy of citizens who value freedom.

About Emina Melonic

Emina Melonic is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness. Originally from Bosnia, a survivor of the Bosnian war and its aftermath of refugee camps, she immigrated to the United States in 1996 and became an American citizen in 2003. She has a Ph.D. in comparative literature. Her writings have appeared in National Review, The Imaginative Conservative, New English Review, The New Criterion, Law and Liberty, The University Bookman, Claremont Review of Books, The American Mind, and Splice Today. She lives near Buffalo, N.Y.

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2 responses to ““Run, Rabbit, Run!” Rabid Parents on the Prowl”

  1. I am as insensitive as anyone could hope to be, but I have a son with a severe peanut allergy and I am fairly sure I’d be a little distressed if I watched the scene described, as I would worry it might make it easier for kids to behave recklessly toward someone w an allergy. A FWIW comment, not intended to address the article’s main points. But were I to show this article to my son’s mother, she would likely consider the author to be lacking in empathy & suggest she find a better example on which to hang her arguments.

  2. I can’t tell you how many times I saw Wyle E Coyote fall hundreds of feet off a cliff; or Daffy Duck get his bill shot off.

    Can I apply for disability?