"You're allowed to be humiliating, degrading and hurtful. I'm allowed to petition you to at least recognize what you say and be aware of the option you have to stop." Tim Shriver

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NASCAR and the R-Word

The past two months have been incredibly crazy.  Joey has had over 30 appointments in 60 days as well as another eye surgery. In the meantime there are some new updates to the world of the The R-Word Reporter. A huge thank you to the readers who send emails and leave comments when they hear the word used. I try to report on every incident that I receive.

The Movie "Bachelorette"

If you are thinking about renting the movie "Bachelorette" written and directed by Leslye Headland, you may want to think twice.  We watched the movie on demand and quickly regretted it.  Headland has been reported as saying she loved the movies of John Hughes and wanted to dedicate this movie to him. Unfortunately, she also overuses the R-word as it often was in the 1980's.  

In an early opening scene Isla Fisher's character, Katie makes a face at a woman's dress and Andrew Rannells' character Manny says, "No. No. She's retarded.  I mean Asperger's.  She can't control her face."

During a scene in a strip club, James Marsden's character, Trevor, is talking to a stripper (played by Melissa Stephens) says, "I'm talking to the retard, here."

Finally, about 47 minutes into the movie, Trevor says to Regan (played by Kirsten Dunst), "What you're doing with retarded kids is amazing."  She replies, "They have cancer."  He says, "Whatever."

Not only was the excessive use of the R-word incredibly disruptive and disturbing, but the movie as a whole was a major disappointment.  This is NOT "The Hangover" for women as some billed it. 

Movie: "Trouble with the Curve"

Trouble with the Curve Poster
In "Trouble with the Curve" written by Randy Brown and directed by Robert Lorenz, the young baseball player Bo Gentry (played by Joe Massingill) plays a rising high school baseball star who is treated as a demi-god by his parents, teammates and coaches.  In one scene he calls another player "retarded".

These are the latest updates in movies, but please leave a comment if you have any additional movies or shows you would like addressed.  I have received a number of comments indicating that the new version of the movie "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is often run on television with the full dialogue piece by Mike's character that includes the R-word.  Just a head's up in case any parents want to take this particular movie off the family viewing list.

Finally, a special thanks to Mike Holden of http://mikeholden.wordpress.com who alerted me to the recent use of the R-word by NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer.  With his permission, I am including Mike's full article he wrote about the recent incident in which Bowyer said that Jeff Gorden's actions "made us all look like a bunch of retards."

Holden makes a compelling and very well-reasoned plea for NASCAR to fine Bowyer the way the NBA did when Kobe Bryant used the gay slur "faggot."

Blogging on PR, marketing, sports, the media, etc.

Posted on November 13, 2012

NASCAR is looking far from impressive for the way they’ve handled an incident that occurred over the weekend, when driver Clint Bowyer said that opponent Jeff Gordon’s actions on the track made them and their fellow racers “all look like a bunch of retards.”
After speaking with NASCAR officials about his part in a late-race crash and melee in Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix, Clint Bowyer was both angry and downtrodden over Jeff Gordon’s actions.
Bowyer, who still had an outside chance at winning the Sprint Cup Series championship entering the race, was taken out by Gordon in an act of blatant retaliation that set off a brawl between the teams.
Gordon’s retaliation, Bowyer said, “makes us all look like a bunch of retards.”
Bowyer apologized on Twitter for his use of the word and his message was less than fantastic:
I can’t imagine someone using unacceptable terms like “nigger,” “spic” or “faggot,” issuing an apology like that and it being found acceptable. Like the video at the bottom of this post explains (which is 100% worth taking 30 seconds to watch), “the R-word is the same as every minority slur…” and it needs to be treated that way.
Last year, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for using the gay slur “faggot” during a game. I’m not sure why NASCAR isn’t slapping Bowyer with a similar punishment for his insult. He was fined nothing at all by NASCAR for his actions Sunday.
Whenever someone in the spotlight uses the r-word, there’s often discussion about whether it’s really an inappropriate thing to say, since long ago it was an acceptable term for the intellectually disabled. But when people use the word the way Bowyer did, they’re not expressing it as a medical concept from a bygone era or in delicate talks about the issue; they’re using it as an insult.
The n-word wasn’t always considered a derogatory term, but it’s far from appropriate today. The r-word has gone through an evolution as well and the hurt it carries should be clear to people by now, or getting extremely close to it.
In the reader comments for a Sporting News article, “Clint Bowyer ripped by NASCAR fans for using R-word in interview,” many are pointing out that we’ve become too “politically correct” and are “over-sensitive.” But what these people fail to realize is that this isn’t about them.
There’s also a comment on that article from a father saying, “Maybe people are a bit over delicate as some have said but my son, a special needs child and MWR fan was DEVASTATED beyond belief when he heard Clint say that. That’s hard to take as a parent. There is not excuse and the 140 character or less tweeted apology didn’t seem to help when I read it to my son.”
Those who see no harm in Boyer’s words need to open their eyes to the fact that there are people with special needs who are offended by the inappropriate use of the word retarded (there’s been an entire campaign built around this). Isn’t this enough for everyone to consider its inappropriate use unacceptable, the same way other slurs are not tolerated by those with any decency?
Bowyer should have issued a more serious apology that didn’t say anything about how he “was so focused on not saying the F or the A word.” And NASCAR should be sending a message that it won’t tolerate the use of slurs, just as the NBA did with Bryant.
Until NASCAR takes action, they look just as bad as Bowyer.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ann Coulter Speech Cancelled After "Retard" Tweets

I think Perez Hilton's headline says it best, "Ann Coulter Speech Cancelled After 'Retard' Remark And The World Is A Better Place." 

Photo from here.

As reported on Foxnews.com a protest by students at the University of Ottawa led organizers to cancel a Tuesday night speech Ann Coulter was supposed to give. 

Conservatist political activist Ezra Levan said it would have been "physically dangerous for Ann Coulter to proceed with this event." He then went on to say it was an embarrassing day for the University of Ottawa and their student body who, "chose to silence her through threats and intimidation."

On the other hand, Mike France, a protest organizer and international studies student said he was happy they were able to stop Coulter from speaking, "What Ann Coulter is practicing is not free speech, it's hate speech.  She's targeted the Jews, she's targeted the Muslims, she's targeted Canadians, homosexuals, women, almost everybody you could imagine."

Francois Houle, a university academic vice-president wrote a warning letter to Coulter and said that Canadian laws make provisions for hate speech.  Coulter leaked the letter, which included this line, "Promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges."

Piers Morgan Rattles Coulters' Cage

Ann Coulter appeared on Piers Morgan on Friday night and is clearly rattled by his questioning of her use of the word 'retard' in her tweets.  He does an excellent job of trying to force her to explain why the R-word is okay to use, but the N-word is not. What I wish they both would understand is that we don't have "Down syndrome children"-- we have children who happen to have Down syndrome and who have for way too long been labeled as "retards" by individuals who are being purposefully cruel. 

Continue to fight the good fight! We are not the word police, we are just trying to help make the world a better, more accepting place for individuals who happen to have a disability.

If you would like to have your voice heard as well, you can visit Change.org and sign a petition to try and get Coulter to apologize. Visit here to sign the petition.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mean Girl - Ann Coulter and Her Obsession With Using the R-Word

One of the things that angers me the most about the use of the R-Word is that people with disabilities know what it means and the word gets bandied about as if they do not.  

I read about Ms. Coulter's use of the word last week in a tweet about a video the president made for the National Forum on Disability Issues: "Been busy, but is Obama STILL talking about that video? I had no idea how crucial the retarded vote is in this election." 

Ann Coulter

It pains me to feed the beast (ie: her ego) and discuss her a public forum and I chose to ignore her first comment because living in Ohio means we are saturated from sun up to sun down with television ads, mailers, phone calls and people ringing our door bell to persuade us who to vote for in the presidential election this year.  The last thing I wanted to do was to provide another forum for Ms. Coulter to gain any additional attention.

Then she tweeted this following the presidential debate last night, "I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard." 

The more I think about it, perhaps we should actually be thanking Ms. Coulter for bringing the horrible use of the R-word to light for more people to discuss and understand.  Actually, yes-- I do thank her for that.  I thank her for showing what bullies sound like.

I thank her for opening up a national discussion on a topic that is so very near and dear to me so that I can somehow try to help encourage the world to be a more accepting, educated and aware place for individuals with disabilities (not just Down syndrome like Joey, but all disabilities) to live in. 

In 2010 Congress banned the use of the words "retard" and "retardation" in federal health, education and labor laws and now favors using the term "intellectual disability."  By 2013 the American Psychiatric Association will also replace "mental retardation" with "intellectual development disorder" in the 5th version of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 

Ms. Coulter-- having a son who has an intellectual disability means that not only do we have to help show the world everything he CAN do, but it also means proving to the world that outdated slurs that paint an incredibly wide brush of misconception are not accurate.  Our son has had open heart surgery, eye surgery, ear surgery and is preparing for another eye surgery on Friday, the last thing in this world that he needs to battle is ignorance and hatred from people who have a public pedestal.  To be completely honest, we have enough on our plates as does Joey and having to continually fight to change ignorance is a battle we wish we had more time for.  For Joey, everything he does take extra hard work, effort, devotion, struggle, and heart.  From learning sign language to learning to sit up to learning to crawl and to someday learning to talk and walk, he has to pour every single ounce of himself into it and we try to do the same. The pride we feel as parents is beyond any love that I ever imagined possible. I wonder what Ms. Coulter's parents think about her approach to the world right now?

As Ellen Seidman writes on her blog Love That Max:

Most people would never call a kid with cognitive disabilities a "retard" to his face (and if you are a person who would do that, step away from this blog and go search for your soul). If you wouldn't say the word to my child because you know it's offensive, you should avoid using it elsewhere, too. Either way, it's demeaning.Either way, it hurts my child.

As disgusting and hateful as Ms. Coulter's remarks are, I am in awe with the response that others in the entertainment industry are tweeting and as Joey's parent and as an advocate, I thank them each for using their voice for good and not evil-- as reported on E Online:

"@AnnCoulter You disgust me," tweetedSophia Bush. "That man is the president of this country. (& I'm sure all of the disabled children in America appreciate you.)"
Comedian Patton Oswalt also responded,posting, "Ann Coulter died of prostate cancer in 2002. Her Twitter account's a sentient emu skeleton with a swatch of eyelid skin stretched over it." He later added: "If Ann Coulter's calling the President a 'retard' it means he won/is going to win. She's our un-pettable Punxsutawney Phil."
Holly Robinson Peete also spoke up, writing: "As a mom of a son with autism the words Retard or retarded are like nails on a chalkboard. A lot of people say it benignly esp kids...So when a grown woman deliberately uses it publicly over and over you just have to wonder if there is a chip missing ya know?"
Singer Michelle Branch tweeted as well, saying, "I don't care who you are. The "R" word is so absolutely disgusting," and Oscar winner Marlee Matlin noted, "Despite our differences, it's NOT ok to use the "R" word. Consider millions of developmentally challenged Americans. It's just UNBELIEVABLE."
Glee star Lauren Potter, who, like her character on the hit FOX show, also has Down Syndrome, tweeted, "Thank you to everyone who has taken a stand against the R word tonight!"

What I think is most powerful and is the best response to Ms. Coulter's hateful comments is what Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens wrote in response to the tweets on the Special Olympics site:

John Franklin Stephens
The following is a guest post in the form of an open letter from Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens to Ann Coulter after this tweet during last night's Presidential debate.
Dear Ann Coulter,
Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow.  So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?
I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow.  I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you.  In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.
I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.
Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next.  
Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift.  
Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more.  
After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me.  You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.
I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.  
Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.  
No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.  
Come join us someday at Special Olympics.  See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.
A friend you haven’t made yet,   John Franklin Stephens
Global Messenger
Special Olympics Virginia   
EDITOR'S NOTE: John has previously written powerful opinion pieces on the R-word. Read one here.
With individuals like John Franklin Stephens, Tim Shriver and other advocates such as Max's mom, I know that we will change the how the world thinks and I know that we can make it a more accepting and better place to live in not only for Joey, but for you and I.

Have you stood up for anyone lately?  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Let's Make a Deal Wayne Brady - Stop Making Fun of People with Down Syndrome

This is a cross-post from Cowgirl Up!  While the r-word was not used, this was an equally disgusting mockery of individuals who have Down syndrome.

Who is going to stand up and take a stand and declare that it is morally repugnant to mock and make fun of people who have Down syndrome?  Does the National Down Syndrome Society whose mission statement is "To be the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome" have a plan? 

What does CBS think of its game show host Wayne Brady's comments mocking Trig Palin?

As reported on NewsBusters.org, during Sunday night's airing on Comedy Central (notorious for horrible jokes about individuals with Down syndrome) of the Roseanne Barr Roast, Brady mocked fellow roaster Jeffrey Ross by saying, "Now the thing is Jeff, these are all jokes, and I really like you.  I really, really like you.  But a lot of people hate you, especially Sarah Palin because you remind her of what Trig is going to look like when he's 40."  

As you can hear in the video, there was a mixture of laughs and boos from the crowd to which Brady responded, "Oh, now you boo me?  F--k y'all.  I don't want to hear that.  These people say all of this s--t about me, and you boo me because of Trig."

Here is a clip of the video-- there are curse words, so please do not watch around young children.  While some argue that showing the video and talking about it just helps give it notoriety, I argue that we must shed light where there is darkness.

Yes, Mr. Brady.  I am grateful to the individuals who had the good sense to know that your comments were deplorable and hateful.

By participating in such a "roast" on Comedy Central, you accepted that you would be made fun.  However, Trig Palin and his family never were given that choice.  You mocked an innocent child because he was born with an extra chromosome.  

What makes me even more sick is that this show was taped well before it was aired and Comedy Central left this piece in.  And why?  To spread hatred?  To spread intolerance?  While Sarah Palin is a public figure who has put herself in the public eye, is it ever acceptable to mock a person's child.  A person's child who has a developmental disability?  

How are individuals who have Down syndrome ever going to be given at least the minimum level of human respect if comments like these are shown on television and promoted?  

I beg of the NDSS to take a stand and start addressing these insults and mockeries in a swift and powerful PR campaign like GLAAD does.  

I urge CBS to consider sanctioning and putting Mr. Brady on an administrative leave.

I plead with the rest of the world to please consider looking beyond our children's extra chromosome and looking at them as an individual who has limitless potential when given the opportunity.  

What can you do?  Leave a comment on the facebook page for Let's Make a Deal.

Take a stand.

Believe in something bigger than yourself.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Jim Roddy Makes Joke Describing Obama Supporter as "Mentally Retarded"

It is examples such as this one that emphasize just how much work there is left to be done.

As reported on the Huffington Post:

Photo from here.

A long-time Pennsylvania GOP official reportedly earned a warm reception Tuesday for comparing a supporter of President Obama to someone who is "mentally retarded."
At an election night party for state Rep. Randy Vulakovich (R-Shaler), Allegheny County GOP chair and former county executive Jim Roddey fired up a couple hundred local Republicans by noting that Vulakovich had defeated his Democratic opponent by a nearly 50-point margin.
Roddey then segued to a less positive note.
"There was a disappointment tonight. I was very embarrassed," Roddey told the crowd, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I was in this parking lot and there was a man looking for a space to park, and I found a space for him. And I felt badly -- he looked like he was sort of in distress. And I said, 'Sir, here's a place.' And he said, 'That's a handicapped space.' I said, 'Oh, I'm so sorry, I saw that Obama sticker and I thought you were mentally retarded.'"
Post-Gazette reporter Tim McNulty observed that the crowd "hollered and clapped" in response to the insensitive joke.
Roddey has long supported presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the presidential race, as well as the Pennsylvania voter ID law that another Republicansbragged will boost the former Massachusetts governor's prospects in the battleground state.
According to the Post-Gazette.com, earlier today he emailed his apologized saying his remarks were "regrettable" and that he has "a long record of supporting people with disabilities and should have remembered that before I spoke.  My remarks were inappropriate and I apologize."
To make a joke about the "mentally retarded" and about a handicap space is beyond poor taste, beyond ignorance and beyond cruelty.  This was an asinine and pointless thing to say.  I would also argue that it falls under the category of bullying.  I hope that Mr. Roddy will consider his words much more carefully in the future and to the attendees in the audience who cheered for his tasteless joke-- shame on you as well.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

'I don't want a retard' ---Margaret Cho

I apologize in advance for the cruelty and ignorance of these words spoken by Margaret Cho, "My period comes like twice a month.  My eggs are jumping ship.  Seriously, they're like, 'the last one out's a retard.'"

As reported by Fox news, Cho made the insulting comments while appearing on Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" talk show hosted by Andy Cohen on May 30, 2012.

About six months ago I was watching "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" and Kim Zolciak used the R-word multiple times.  I emailed Andy Cohen (he produces the show along with many other Bravo reality shows) and asked him if he could please bleep the R-word out and reasoned that as a gay individual, he would probably be offended watching a show that used the F-word (f*g) to describe homosexuals and that many people are just as offended by the R-word.

I didn't get a response to my email or request, but when watching "The Real Housewives of New Jersey", Joe Gorga used the R-word in a text and his sister-in-law and brother-in-law had a discussion about how people shouldn't use that word. Since then, I have not heard the R-word used on Bravo.  Possibly thanks to Andy Cohen's intervention?  Maybe. I hope so and if it was because of him, I thank him sincerely.  

This latest use of the R-word on Bravo was during a live telecast and you can watch what happens (no pun intended) here on Breibert.com.  The live audience laughs, but Andy Cohen does look rather uncomfortable and Rosie Pope looks at Cho with shock.  

Cho then says, "I get worried about that, as an older woman, I don't necessarily want to have a retard."  

Cohen shakes his head back and forth and eventually says, "You can't say that.  You can't say that."  

Cho was on the show to promote her new comedy tour ironically titled "Mother."  

As of June 1, 2012, Cho had posted two apologies on her blog.  The first apology is short and seems forced.  The second apology seems somewhat more sincere, however, I will not be purchasing any tickets to see her comedy tour.