An open letter to all newspapers

(This is in regards to the tongue piercing = brain infection b.s.).

Anyone reading this is welcome to take this letter I just wrote to the Toronto Star and send it to their local papers. Feel free to even take my name off this letter and sign your own, or edit it however you want (well, don't put my name on it if you edit it though). Anyway, here it is:

Almost every newspaper lately, yours included, has been rerunning a story about a brain infection potentially linked to a tongue piercing. This story twists the facts and misrepresents this fluke infection to unfairly blow this risk out of proportion (even the doctors who reported this have problems believing this infection could be related to the piercing).

Body jewelry manufacturers estimate that well over a million tongue piercings have been performed (they know this because tongue piercings are done using a very specific length of jewelry). Let's look at some other risks: One in 250,000 dog owners is killed by their own dog. One in 180 people dies while running. Why have you not brought attention to these issues? The public needs to know that we need to put all the dogs to sleep and set a personal speed limit of two miles per hour!

I'm all for telling people the risks of body piercing -- people should to know what the risks are for all the things they do. That said, misleading people with false risks accomplishes nothing. If you want to focus on a problem with tongue piercing, focus on chipped teeth, as this is very common. More importantly, it's a problem that can actually be solved by the client simply returning to their piercer a month afterwards to get a snug-fitting bar installed. You see -- that just told people a valid risk that they need to worry about, and it even told them how to minimize the risk. It's not hard.

One in 86,000 skydives is fatal. One in a million tongue piercings might lead to a non-fatal infection... and you think that this one in a million risk warrants this article? I can't believe your team is that stupid. If you want to reprint articles like this about pierced people, why don't you just get the lies over with and admit this is about prejudice against a community that doesn't meet your "cultural norms". You can skip the fake risks and just make your headline simple: "Only freaks have tongue piercings. We don't like you freaks."

I hope in the future that your newspaper will desist from such frivolous -- and prejudicially targeted -- fear mongering. If not, I expect to see the headline, "Government to involuntarily commit all mountain climbers" -- after all, mountain climbing kills one in five serious climbers, whereas suicide attempts are only successful one in seventy-one times.

Shannon Larratt
Publisher, BME: Body Modification Ezine

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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