“Pickle Company to Distraught Mom: Yes, We’ll Change Our Name”
“Cains Pickles removes a derogatory term from its labels after a mother’s protests,” Andri Antoniades informs us by way of editorializing — that “derogatory” term being “midget”, for those of you who didn’t know that any pickles short of, say, “Uncle Willy’s ‘Sho Do Likes Me Some o’ Dem Pickles’ Pickles” could even muster the audacity to deride or denigrate.
Yet the Cain pickle company, being risk-averse as are most businesses, did a quick cost-benefit analysis and quietly folded, in so doing helping cede even more control over language to morons and faux-victims who, it is clear, have way too much fucking time on their hands:
An average day at the grocery store for Rhode Island mom, Michelle Martinka, turned into a moment of activism when she noticed that Cains Pickles, a popular New England brand, produced a line called “Kosher Dill Midgets.”
Martinka is the mother of ten-month-old Adelaide, a little girl with a form of dwarfism known as Achondroplasia—and “midget” is a derogatory way of referencing those born with the condition.
In response, Martinka waged a peaceful protest, which included [a] YouTube video, urging the company to change the name of its product—and so it did, gracefully, without objection or fanfare.
Gedney Foods, the makers of Cains Pickles, explained to the Star Tribune, “The company is not seeking any attention related to this matter and believes that any publicity should be more appropriately placed on the children and families dealing with Achondroplasia.”
In her email to TakePart, Martinka explains, “Although many people do not know, the m-word is derogatory, not just some innocuous word meaning small, as it was 50 years ago.” She says, “I am fully aware that these pickles are just pickles—and my daughter is a human. This was my first step in educating just one company. Years ago I may not have had the drive for such an undertaking, but change happens when situations arise—new circumstances, such as having a child diagnosed with dwarfism.”
Stop right there and let’s unpack this: Ms Martinka has just 1) told us that “many people do not know…the m-word [that would be “midget,” to those of you still unafraid of its magical powers when spelled out] is derogatory,” an admission that the supposed derogatory nature of the term has to be pushed and essentially proclaimed by this woman, who then seeks to “educate” people about something that by her own accounting doesn’t yet even exist, except perhaps in her own mind. Meaning, it’s less “educating” that she’s interested in than it is “imposing” or “bullying”; 2) Ms Martinka claims to be “fully aware” that what she’s protesting is the name of a type of pickle, and that her daughter, though small, is not that type of pickle, or any other pickle for that matter. And yet, someone who is “fully aware” that she’s protesting two different things would likely not demand that they be conflated in order that she may then protest them as if they were the same; 3) The conflation doesn’t stop with the signifier, though: Ms Martinka, in addition to wishing to conflate her child with a pickle (despite her proclamation that she is “fully aware” that the two things differ), also conflates a noun, “midget,” (traditionally distinguished from “dwarf,”), with an adjective that leaves the noun implied, and is being used to describe the relative size of one of a variety of pickle types: “Cain’s Kosher Dill Midget [Pickles]” having been shortened for marketing punch to “Kosher Dill Midgets,” the jar of pickles itself presumably cluing in the otherwise potentially offended that the “midgets” in the name refers to the small pickles in the jar to which the label is affixed — and that said jar and said label have no earthly desire to exceed their context and declare Ms Martinka’s daughter a type of brined, garlic-and-dill seasoned, aged mini-cucumber.
When asked what she hopes her daughter will someday learn from this, Martinka says, “I hope Addie takes away the knowledge that she can bring change. I hope she learns my motto to not be reactive, but [to be] proactive and educate.”
Which is all well and good, except that being “proactive” is not in and of itself noble, and ideally, what we seek in an educator (assuming we’re seeking one at all) is one who has some idea about what it is she is presuming to teach. Were I Ms Martinka, I think I’d concern myself less with being a self-important, two-bit “civil rights” activist, and worry more that my daughter’s actual takeaway from all this is that, despite her mother’s lip-service to the contrary, she is, in fact, an outlawed pickle.
Which is a shame. Because to the rest of us she’s just short. Or a dwarf. Or yes, a midget. Which only makes her less of a human in the sense she has less mass to her — not because we seek to socially diminish her or, inexplicably, confuse her with a deli sandwich side dish.