Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Open letter To The Onion's Editor, Joe Randazzo: Your Diabetes Post Was A #MAJOR FAIL

Dear Joe –

My name is Kelly Kunik, and I'm a person with type 1 diabetes,who is a Diabetes Blogger/ Advocate & Living with Diabetes expert.

I’m also the daughter, sister, niece, aunt, & friend of many people with diabetes.

I’m writing to let you know that I (and tens of thousands of other) found the post that was published in the November 5th, 2010 edition of The Onion and titled: Group of Children with Diabetes All Die One Day After hearing Jay Cutler Speak;

offensive, unfunny, disgusting, and insensitive on every level imaginable.


It takes a lot to offend me, because honestly, my humor runs along the lines of that of a 14 year old boy most of the time.

And while I’ve often laughed (and tweeted and facebooked) your editorials in the past because I've always been an Onion fan - this post is not funny on any level.

I use humor to handle everything in life, including my own diabetes, but your post made me so angry that I could barely speak, let alone type.


Seriously Joe, do you have any idea what it actually feels to lose a loved one to diabetes? Do you have a clue as to how many people in the world have lost loved ones to diabetes? Yeah, I didn’t think so. So how the hell do you have the nerve to joke about that, let alone put it in print?

Forget for a moment that November is National Diabetes Month, and November 14th is World Diabetes Day, and that many of us in the Diabetes On-line community (and off) use this month, (not to mention the other 11) to teach others about diabetes. We spend 365 days a year busting diabetes myths that perpetuate diabetes stereotypes, and donate millions to find a cure. We never get a vacation from diabetes, or time off for good behavior. And we never, ever get a break from people who only believe the diabetes stereotypes.

Forget the fact that losing someone you love to a disease is hard enough, but losing someone you love to a disease that is both misunderstood & is often the butt of jokes is horrible on levels you can’t even begin to imagine.

And forget the fact that it wasn't even a funny article, diabetes or not!

Are you aware that people often blame the person with diabetes for their disease, instead of blaming diabetes?

And did you know that blaming the person with diabetes often results in not only PWDS (person (s) with diabetes) blaming themselves?

And that John and Jane Q. Public putting the blaming o n those with diabetes directly affects diabetes fundraising efforts bottom line?

No, of course you didn't!

Here’s the thing, I don’t find anyone dying from diabetes funny, children or otherwise.

In part because I am a person with type 1 diabetes and lost my father, sister & two aunts to type 1 diabetes.

In part because I have also lost friends to diabetes, and I have friends who have lost their young children and other family members to both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

And they aren’t laughing at all Joe, not one bit! Their worlds are rocked and the pain of their loss is their constant shadow and companion.

And the siblings of children and adults who die from diabetes, well they aren't laughing either Joe.

There's a hole in their heart that can never be filled and their burden is heavy.

Like Atlas, the siblings who have lost a brother or sister to diabetes carry the weight of their loss and their parents grief on their shoulders.

Joe, did you know that parents of children with diabetes don’t sleep most nights, because they get up to take their child’s blood sugars every 2 or 3 hours around the clock? Yep, true fact. These parents are meticulous when it comes to food, insulin, meds, gluten free options, and the likes there of.

They become diabetes strategists and warriors, as do their children.

The say no to their children when they really want to say yes, but can’t.

Parents of children with diabetes spend a lot of time worrying about their children.

And children with diabetes spend a lot of time worrying about the effects that their disease has on not just themselves, but their parents.

We see our parents worry and we worry for them. We see them get angry at the disease, and some times we miss interpret that anger towards diabetes, as them being angry with us.

And we try to ease their pain, as well as our own.

Personally, my own father never got over losing my sister. Her death became his before and after mark for everything else that happened in his life. And I believe that watching her die took years of his life and my mom's.

And 20 years after the fact, my mom has told me time and again, that there’s not a day that goes by that she doesn’t think about my sister and that she misses her so much that her heart actually hurts -and "that you never get over the loss of a child.'

So yes Joe, as much as I love to laugh and joke about diabetes and do so every chance I get -

I find nothing funny about joking about children with diabetes dying.

Especially since our diabetes on-line community has lost one adult and three thirteen-year-old children to dead-in bed –syndrome since February 2010, with the the most recent child passing away two weeks ago.

So The Onion’s post not only sucks and is hurtful, but your timing is shitty!

A friend of mine who is one of the funniest guys I know, said it best this past Friday, when he wrote to tell me that a person he worked with, had just lost his 41 year old wife that afternoon to type 1 diabetes complications: “ Kelly, I don't think I ever looked at diabetes as being a disease that had the ability to end a life so quickly. I'm sorry for my ignorance.”

His words from the heart spoke volumes.

Next time, before you and your staff at The Onion go for the cheap, death from diabetes joke, take the time to actually learn the facts about the disease and the people with diabetes that you are raking over the coals.


Kelly Kunik

Type 1 Diabetic 33yrs


Liz said...

Thanks for posting this... what bugs me the most is that people think that just because it's coming from a satirical "newspaper," that it's okay. I have been barraged with all kinds of comments because I find this highly offensive... That a.) I must not be familiar with "The Onion," or that b.) I must not have a sense of humor, or not know how to laugh at Diabetes, or that c.) I don't know how to consider the sources...

Come on! I am *plenty* aware of "The Onion." I have read their fake newspaper plenty of times through the decades, and their fake zodiac. This is not just someone's flaws or shortcomings they are casually dismissing... It is also the struggles of little kids with Diabetes, trying hard every day to stay alive. I am tired of people not taking us seriously.

We tend to want to justify soooo many things, because of 'the source,' and not hold people accountable. Why? Would we still not condemn the KKK for their racist tirades, and tell people to "consider the source," instead, as if that made it okay? I don't think so! Goodness... :/ It is irking me so much.

Sherry said...

I haven't read the editorial yet and honestly, I'm afraid to. I'm crying just reading your impassioned response. But I will read it so that I can be justified when I back you up 100%!

Thank you for this Kelly, and for once again being there to speak up for us.

Okay. Here I go to read it. *Deep Breath*

Hallie Addington said...

Thank you, Kelly! Just perfect. I'll be writing too. I don't think it's funny. I don't I missed the joke. Because my child dying from diabetes is a reality I face every day. And that's not funny. That's a nightmare.
Perfectly said. I think that's why it makes my eyes fill with tears. We know this disease. We know you don't dismiss it. You don't tease it. You don't laugh at it. Because it is viscous and it has no mercy.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Emily said...

It's really in poor taste. Put the letter on the Onion site

Alexis Nicole said...

Im beyond disgusted with this douche bags idea of a joke. Awesome letter. Thank you for speaking up for all of us. Youre so awesome K!

Anonymous said...

OMG I just read The Onion's "article". I'm sickened. Who do we PHONE to get this removed?,18406/
I'm horrified.

Thank you Kelly for bringing it to our attention. Your letter is PERFECT.

Love, Ellen

Rachel said...

I didn't read the original post. I don't want to. I will not give that page one more hit. I read your post and it gave me enough of an idea.

Thank you Kelly for standing up for all of us! There is not a day that goes by that I don't worry about Tristan... night time is always a concern. I don't/can't think of diabetes ending his life... unfortunately it's a reality that I can't ignore... how dare anybody make a joke about that!

Thanks Kelly, you are awesome! :)

Nan said...

thank you dear k2.

Unknown said...

OMGsh....Kelly....I'm speechless.

There is a line.

The Onion crossed it.

Thank you, once again, for your beautiful words in response to a horrendous situation.

What a horrible joke....and even worse timing for such an unthinkable thoughtless piece of trash.

Heather said...

Very well put. I'm pretty sure I will be writing a letter too. You bet this guys mailbox will be flooded with letters.

Scott S said...

It's this kind of $#!t that gets so much press during Diabetes Awareness Month, and it's just sickening. Even if the Onion is satirical, the reality is that satire is intended to be funny, and this was not funny, nor did it make the reader want to investigate the real facts. It was just crap. Sadly, unless people like us call them on it, more $#!t like this will get published. I never volunteered to correct every @$$#0le's misperceptions. But if we don't do it, no one else will, either.

Leighann of D-Mom Blog said...

I too was speechless when I read this ridiculous post on The Onion (read my thoughts here:

I just can't wrap my head around why the author and editor thought that the way to poke fun of Jay Cutler is to have 3,000 children die.


Our reality it not a joke and I do take offense at the post.

Thanks for helping fight the good fight, Kelly.

Joanne said...

Perfectly said. I read the story and was horrified that anyone would think that is funny.

I hope they listen to the voices of protest that are being raised over this and print an apology.

Renata said...

I held it together until your friends comment at the end. And that's it isn't it, it can all end so quickly.

I don't think I can read the article, but thank you to you and the other bloggers for stepping up.

Anonymous said...

I realize even before writing my comment that I may be in the minority here. I'm also re-reading this to try and re-evaluate my thoughts, from different points of view and perspectives of those I love and cherish. But I honestly don't find it as sick and offensive in the same light as what I've heard most express. Any kid dying sucks, and isn't funny - that's my disclaimer. I don't like that. But what I think happened here, based on no insider knowledge and lack of insight about the context of this whole Onion writeup: Jay Cutler is apparently boring. To the extent that even those who'd find him most interesting and relate to him, like those young starry-eyed football/athlete-loving kids with the same chronic condition as he has, would die of boredom when he entered the room. I didn't take Death From Diabetes out of this. But did I find it funny? No. Do I think anyone should joke about any kid dying? No. Especially not from diabetes, and particularly not during this month of November. I don't know... honestly. I'm just not feeling this one, and that feels strange to me because it feels like something I should be upset about, but my mind is going to that place. Maybe it's simply because it's the end of a long weekend.. No clue. Regardless, thank you for sharing your opinion and I do hope they publish it. Because opinions matter and our voices deserve to be heard. Give em hell, Kelly.

Unknown said...

As a new-to-diabetes parent, I thank you for taking the time to object to this gutty journalism. I too have written to to complain. Thanks for the commentary and highlighting this base, cheap article.

Anonymous said...

After reflection since this appeared, I see what The Onion has done, here and other similar articles where they're teasing in a mean way, as bullying. Some people see this as no big deal - not funny - but no big deal. Well, where are we going to draw the line my friends?

If this isn't about the children (which I think was absolutely inappropriate even for The Onion), it is about Jay Cutler. The Onion is a bully, hiding behind humor, in media format. More than not funny.

Kimberly said...

I am SO glad you wrote this...