Belo: Against Ice Cream Trucks and Diarrhea. Is There a Pattern Here?

Yesterday we talked about The Dallas Morning News and its editorial campaign against allowing children in poor neighborhoods to have ice cream -- more specifically, their call for tough law enforcement measures against ice cream trucks whose low-quality music systems apparently have been causing discomfort to rich people who are trying to relax outdoors. I think I am representing their argument more or less accurately.

There was something else I wanted to talk about as well, but I didn't think it would go too well in a discussion of ice cream, and that's diarrhea. Specifically, what have the owners of the Morning News got against diarrhea sufferers?

Isn't it enough to snatch the Popsicles out of the mouths of babes, now they've got to go on a jihad against diarrhea sufferers?

I have been getting a lot of email from readers about a sign in the new Belo Garden Park downtown, a park paid for by entities and persons involved in or associated with ownership of the Morning News. The sign warns visitors that, "Use of the Fountain When Ill with Diarrhea is Prohibited."


First of all, use of the fountain for what? Secondly, has anyone else ever notice a big problem with this? Maybe my own experience is lacking, my travel too limited, but nowhere in the world have I ever noticed hordes of people having diarrhea in public fountains.

If I had, I believe I would have started avoiding public fountains at all costs. In fact, on a planet where there is a lot of legitimate stuff to worry about, I just don't believe that diarrhea-people in public fountains is even on the list.

It would be bad. Sure. Diarrhea could be a nuisance anywhere. So are we going to start seeing discreet little brass placards at the front doors of churches? "Worshipers are asked not to enter the pews if they may have diarrhea in them."

I don't think it's appropriate. In fact I think it's odd. In fact I think somebody needs to talk to a shrink.

The particular kind of fountain they're talking about is one of these new "water features" where people are encouraged to come in and sluice around in the water together en masse with their clothes on. I do not get the attraction. I have always thought these things probably met the definition of what I believe the equity lawyers call "an attractive nuisance."

Why would anyone create something that effectively encourages vast numbers of total strangers to wade in with their clothes on and take a shower together? It doesn't take an Einstein to see there could be problems. The whole concept is like Olympic trials for the immune system.

But why single out diarrhea? But what about cholera, Ebola, smallpox, polio, not to mention the black death? How did diarrhea get to the top of the list?

The emails I have been receiving have forced me to do something that I normally would eschew, which is think about diarrhea a lot. In fact I have been doing some reading. The Mayo Clinic says we all get it at some point and that it usually goes away without treatment after a day or two.

But diarrhea can also be symptomatic of more serious disorders, so if it lasts more than 48 hours you should see a doctor. Thanks to television advertising, by the way, whenever I hear that warning now about something lasting too long I think of erections. This is a brutal culture we live in.

But that's also why I object to gratuitous health warnings in general. I don't like to be made to think about things like people parading around with permanent woodies or people with uncontrolled public diarrhea, or, God forbid, both, unless it's absolutely urgent that I do so at immediate peril of my life. And wouldn't we all just run for our lives anyway?

How about just leaving people the hell alone? I think we're capable of figuring this stuff out. Oh, here we are at the Belo Garden Park. The children want to play in the water feature, but there's a fellow out there in the middle of it having diarrhea. What to do, what to do?

And by the way, instead of glaring at the guy and jabbing your thumb at the "No Diarrhea" sign, you might want to call 911. What, you think he's just being irreverent?

I thumb through their own newspaper this morning, and frankly I could see putting up signs in Belo Garden Park saying, "No terrorizing young children and then shooting their elder siblings," "No choking people with speaker wire and then stabbing them to death," "No dousing people with flammable liquids and then setting them on fire."

I just don't get No Diarrhea. Do you have the sense I do that this is all very Freudian? I haven't been over to the Morning News in some time. Who knows? Maybe they've got No Diarrhea signs all over the place. Family owned businesses, you know. They can be quirky.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze