August 19, 2008

Why, why, why....

Do people feel the need to make fun of handicapped people? When I hear people call someone a "retard" or say that something is "retarded" it just makes me sick to my stomach. I have 2 daughters now that are mentally retarded. They would never do the stupid things that people call "retarded".
There's a new movie out that is an absolutely terrible excuse for humor and it's going to lead to lots of kids using the word retard in a horrible way that's going to hurt the feelings of some of the most loving and sweet people. Can a person's life not be hard enough without being made fun of? So please read the letter below and if you hear someone using these terrible words as a joke, please correct them and remind them to be thankful that they are not having to deal with everything that a handicapped person does because it could just as easily been them. My girlies didn't choose to be the way they are and they would love to be able to have the lives that the rest of us do, so if you don't do it for yourself, do it for them. Do it for my other kids too because those words will probably hurt them even more because they love their sisters so much.

Here is a letter to Ben Stiller:

This is in regards to the movie Tropic Thunder.

From blog: Chewing the Fat...

R Rated

An Open Letter to Mr. Stiller,

Dear Mr. Stiller,

You hurt me today. Personally. I am writing to protest your action against me, I am writing to hold you accountable. Not that I imagine you care, but I wish to explain myself to you.

This afternoon I stopped at a local mall to do some shopping, I wanted to pick up a birthday gift or two for a friend. After shopping I went to the food court to have lunch. Food courts are wonderful places. One can dine on Mexican whilst one's partner dines on Thai - they are places of such diversity. Around me were representatives from many nations, colours and creeds. Around me were those with varying faces, varying languages and varying abilities. I sat in my wheelchair, across the way from me was a young mother with a child with Down Syndrome, over there was a college kid dripping big words from the corner of his mouth. We were an ecclectic bunch, we were.

A skinny girl and a chunky boy with long hair arrived alongside a geeky friend. They were clearly in a playful mood, suddenly one said to the other, "There you go, you went full retard." My heart stopped. It was the first time I'd heard the phrase spoken in common parlance. The first time, the phrase you wrote, you created, you crafted, was spoken in my presence. I cannot tell you how much that phrase hurt me. I cannot describe to you the look of pain on the face of the woman who's child sat with her. A child, thankfully, not yet old enough to understand the meanness of that statement. A child simple by age who will grow complex with disability.

You hurt me a second time today, Mr. Stiller. I am writing to tell you, to hold you responsible. I arrived home and saw on a website that it is now possible to buy tee shirts with the phrase 'full retard' on it. You are responsible for this Mr. Stiller, you wrote those words, you chose those words, you went public with those words. It is you, and only you, who must bear the consequences for your actions.

There are parents, Mr. Stiller, who have to send their children into schools in only a few weeks. Hallways have never been welcoming places to those with differences - even so, those hallways are now even more dangerous than they were when they were abandoned for summer play. A new phrase will tickle the fancy of the privileged and scar the selves of the different. 'Full retard,' this is your creation. One you are no doubt proud of.

But I read interviews with you on the web. Interviews that explain that I 'don't get it' that the humour is about shallow, self absorbed actors, not about people with disabilities. Mr. Stiller, I submit to you that your reaction, your denial, in the face of reasonable protest, reasonable requests and reasonable explaination could only be the reaction of a shallow, self absorbed actor. A person that cannot see beyond his need to express to the need of others to be safe. A person that cannot understand protest as anything other than hysterics.

I tried to find a way to contact you, to write you personally, to tell you of the pain I felt today, of the pain I fear tomorrow, and of the concerns of millions of parents, millions of people with intellectual disabilities. I wanted to tell you that you may make a few people laugh for a few hours but you will undoubtably cause many more hours of pain and many more tears to be shed. But as I could find no way to contact you, I resort to this, my blog. I hope that if there are truly only six degrees of separation - that those six between you and I - will get this to you.

Years ago, Mr. Stiller, I met a man with Down Syndrome who was in his late 30's. I met with him because he would no longer leave his house. He abandoned his work (yes, he held a job), he abandoned his friends (yes, he had friends), he abandoned everything he loved and enjoyed in the community. Why? Because he had decided that the world was a cruel place. That he no longer wanted to walk the mean streets. That he never wanted to be called a 'tard again. He had had enough. He would stay in and stay safe.

That was the world before you came into it. It was already bad. But now it is worse. Much worse.

Tropic Thunder will make a lot of money, I'm sure. Box office and momentary popularity is the goal, is it not? It is to shallow, self absorbed actors, so I assume it is to you as well.


Dave Hingsburger


  1. Amen.
    I'm crying.

    That's what I was trying to say to you yesterday at the park. I apparently have very strong feelings about this that I didn't even know I had!

    Stupid Ben Stiller. Poor schmuck doesn't even realize that he's the one with the atrophy.

  2. Hi Jen,

    I have been enjoying your blog and want to comment a bit. I know nothing about the Ben Stiller movie so can't comment on that. It does hurt so when you hear people make casual remarks and not take in consideration the true implication of what they're saying, usually adolesencents. When it is an adult it is even harder.

    Humor is a strange thing though. My family has kind of a warped sense of humor but some jokes we would never say in public because we don't mean it. As Hawkeye on M#A#S#H once said, sometimes laughing is the only way to open your mouth without screaming. Sometimes things strike me as funny not because i agree with what is said but because of the outrages absurd nature of it. I think many people react like that and but would NEVER seriously think someones elses pain and suffering is a funny thing. Guess that's my answer to why. It's more of a defensive mechanism to the pain in life then any maliscious intent in my family. Which in private is fine, but within ear shot of those that can be hurt is unacceptable. For those that this is not the case, and they really see someone in a wheelchair or handicapped as nothing more then an object of their jokes...well people like that are truely the mentally handicapped, and emotionally crippled people of the world.

    Hope to see you at the planning meeting..
    Lisa C.