The following letter was published in the Washington Times on October 27, 1998.
The letter was written as a response to an editorial written on October 20, 1998 (p. A4) by Wesley
Pruden, editor in chief of The Times.
To Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of The Times:
I read your editorial "A deadly serial killer is on the loose aloft" with
great interest. I find any article that ridicules the reality of severe allergies distasteful, at best.
Your percentages are probably factual but unimportant. If one happens to be the individual who
has that allergy the numbers most certainly don't speak for themselves - the consequences are what
speaks. And the consequences are not 'an itch' - they are anaphylactic shock, which is usually deadly.
Having said that, I find the suggestion of a 'peer-reviewed' study equally
wrong-headed. Let me draw a parallel:
Suppose you have a man squashed by a concrete slab dropped off a twenty
story building. The death is observed by others, but doesn't occur in a confined and controlled
laboratory setting - it is simply seen by passerbys who are a mother, a doctor, a pipe fitter,
a school teacher and the usual mix of people found on a busy city street. If we draw a parallel to
the request being made here, then one would need to set up a laboratory with a staff of trained
scientists, and drop concrete slabs of equivalent size off of the equivalent height platform onto
'volunteers,' record the results, submit it to a peer-review panel for a specific journal, and then
have those results - if accepted - published before concluding that that dropping concrete
on people kills them.
It is idiotic to intentionally induce anaphylactic shock for any reason -
which is the severe allergic reaction mostly commonly associated with peanuts, and a reaction that is
well-documented by scientists, doctors and people in general. It is particularly idiotic when we have
excellent observed data already available.
What a stupid waste of taxpayer's dollars, and a blatant misuse of peer-reviewed
The original point of restricting peanuts in a small area within an
aircraft was to accomodate the needs of the severely allergic. It is sad that we have to legislate to
protect those who ask for accomodations from the actions of others. It is even sadder that individuals
in a position to educate the public about the life-threatening needs of these people ridicule and
dismiss the efforts that are made to provide those accomodations.
Judy Stouffer, B.S., M.S.