You, Me, We and Thems With Special Needs

Over the weekend a friend RT’d about a letter that’s making the rounds on Facebook and also hit the news: a Canadian woman left a thoroughly nasty letter for her neighbor who has a child with autism (see below).  This isn’t the first time something like this has occurred, and if true, just continues to show how far we have to go.  Don’t even know where to start with this one.  The language and tone used are just plain disturbing and uncalled for.  Certainly hope this lady’s proud of herself; least she could do is stand out on her lawn and hold a press conference so we could all get to know her better.  I’m sure she’s a wonderful person who bakes cookies for her local church and a proud soccer/hockey mom to all the neighborhood kids.  Except one.  We all just need to hear her side of the story… ’cause she’s just a soul whose intentions are good; oh Lord- please don’t let her be misunderstood.

And in other news…
Last month the word came out about a scheduled MMA match between two men with disabilities: one with Downs Syndrome and the other with Cerebral Palsy.  Granted, there’s a certain freak show level of attraction to this- which is no doubt one of the reasons it was scheduled- but beyond that is the fact that these two were about to live out a dream of theirs.  Something that everyone always hears infinite catch-phrased platitudes about, yet was ultimately denied them.  The Florida DBPR (Dept. of Business & Professional Regulation) stepped in literally five minutes before the scheduled start to serve a cease & desist notice, claiming the fight was unsanctioned.  Regardless of the fact that both fighters were medically cleared for the match and had spent endless hours training for it, out of nowhere they’re suddenly unfit.  Odd how that works: they can get tattoos, hold jobs, do drugs, raise kids… even marry each other if they wanted to.  But they can’t compete professionally, despite one of the men already having participated in the Special Olympics. That would be bad.

What kind of message does this send?  What are you telling people when you do things like this?  Simple: that anyone not like you is a second-class citizen.  Anyone with the slightest handicap or defect is not allowed to fully participate in society because it makes all the “normal people” uncomfortable.  Which leads me to a likely unpopular segue.

The groundswell to stop the use of the word ‘retard’ as an adjective or insult is utterly ridiculous.  Not just because I’m a curmudgeon about using it, but because it’s simply untenable.  I completely understand the sensitivity of families struggling with children who are limited and disabled, but that’s got nothing to do with it.  You sling insults at someone because their behavior brings to mind certain words and terms, especially if they’re acting/performing below their capabilities- which is the entire point.  If we eliminate the use of retard this also means we’d have to consider the feelings of those classified as idiots (already Amazon will zap any comment you make using it), morons, dunces, dolts, dullards and cretins- all of which are derived from the same root cause as retard: genetic mental deficiency.  And let’s not forget the granddaddy of ’em all: stupid.  But no one gives a shit about any of that at all.  And that’s what’s retarded about it.

One thought on “You, Me, We and Thems With Special Needs

  1. Hi John! I read a news article about this horrible letter. Simply ridiculous but sadly not entirely unbelievable. Yes, I've worked with children with various behavior handicaps. Yes, it does get nerve wracking and loud and tiring and even physically demanding at times. But that doesn't mean we should just euthanize all those kids or stick them in some trailer in some distant woods so they're no bother to any one. Here is one family working together to help each other help their child and some nasty minded person has the gall to call them selfish. The real selfish person is the letter writer. What bravery, what self-less community spirit to write a foul letter calling for child killing and to slide the letter under someone's door. Makes me breathless.

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