Friday, February 19, 2010

A retard will do anything for a sticker.



many years ago, there was a big hubbub on the net when a young man named Tucker Max hosted a blog he called "The Tard Blog". It was supposedly written by a special education teacher named Riti Sped. It chronicled her daily adventures with a classroom full of children with special needs. You have probably guessed that "The Tard Blog" wasn't especially kind to kids like mine. A group of us parents angrily challenged Tucker Max to shut it down. It took his using of the Special Olympics logo to finally make headway. He was forced to take the logo down, and in the meantime, apprently, "found God", or something close. The blog went on hiatus, Riti Sped stopped writing, and several of us spent months trying to find out just who she was, what district she taught in, and how worried ourselves sick over the abuse and degradation she showed daily on her blog. Pictures of children, intimate details of their lives. When it finally stopped, we sighed a sigh of relief. That was probably 8 or 9 years ago now. Back then, hearing the word "Retard" online was pretty common. we fought it where we saw it, where it was too blatant to ignore and too offensive to leave alone.
One of the things I remember most about the blog was the way Tucker and his friends mocked kids with Down syndrome. One of his favorite sayings was "a retard will do anything for a sticker." They laughed and joked about how they could humiliate and demean the children, as long as they patted them on the head and called them "buddy".

I feel a little like that this week. Fox's Family Guy did a show that involved the teen son going on a date with a young lady named Ellen, who happened to have Down syndrome. While it didn't seem to be of any concern to Chris, his baby brother Stewie was a bit taken aback. When Chris introduced them, he asked Stewie "Isnt she special?" To which Stewie replied "That's the way the state of Rhode Island would put it." After a few comments about her being "off", Stewie gave his blessing.

And all is well in the world.



Here's your sticker.

Yes, Family Guy actually showed a young teen with DS dating. In fact, it worked hard to dispel the myth that all people with Ds are loving and sweet. (Incidentally, have you met my daughter?) In fact, Ellen was portrayed as bossy, harsh, demanding, and rather rude. Cool. Parents across America grinned from ear to ear, "How great is that?!" they asked. "They didn't mock her, they didn't even portray her as special!"



No, but like the bully in high school who thumps you on the back and says "HEY, Buddy!!" as he slaps a "kick me" sign to your back, Family Guy pulled a fast one. Hidden beneath the feelgood are some not-so-subtle messages. As Stewie helps prepare Chris for his big night, he launches into song. Catchy, fast, and darkly amusing, it also is rife with hidden innuendo and blatant cruelty.

(Family Guy, Season 8, Episode 12: “Extra-Large Medium”)

You’ve got to look your best tonight, you tubby little parasite...
‘Cause there’s a lovely lady and she’s waiting for you.
And though her pretty face may seem
A special person’s wettest dream
Before you get to see it there are things you must do.

We’ll try a tie, and boutonniere of yellow.
A rose that shows that you’re a classy fellow.
With a posh panache of Jefferson at Monticello,
Busting out a mile with style.

I know you just can’t wait to stare
At all that luscious orange hair
But boy before you touch a single curl
You must impress that ultra boomin’,
All-consumin’, poorly groomin’
Down syndrome girl.

On any normal day you reek
As if you’re on a farting streak,
Your fingers up your nose and you are dripping with drool.
But if you want a lady’s love,
You’re better off by smelling of
A gentleman’s cologne instead of sneakers and stool.

A squirt, a spurt of something just for Ellen
And you’ll see that she will find you so compellin’.
And she does because the only smell that she’ll be smellin’
Won’t be comin’ from your bum.

You want to take that little whore
And spin her on the dancing floor
But boy, before you do a single twirl –
You must impress that effervescing,
Self-possessing, no-BS-ing
Down syndrome girl.

Her eyes are emerald portals to a secret land of love
And her smile is like the sweetest summer flower.
Her kiss is so inviting, and her hugs are so delighting.
And what makes them really nice is that they’ve got a little spice
Because they’re tighter than a vice and they go on for an hour.

My boy, between the two of us we’ll get you on that shorty bus.
And then you’re going to take it for a whirl.
Now go impress that super-thrilling,
Wish-fulfilling, Yoo-Hoo-spilling,
Ultra-swinging, boner-bringing,
Daily singing, ding-a-linging
Stupefying, fortifying,
As-of-Monday-shoelace-tying,
Stimulating, titillating,
Kitty-cat impersonating,
Mega-rocking, pillow talking,
Just a little crooked walking,
Poorly pouting, boobies sprouting,
For some reason always shouting,
Fascinating, captivating,
Happiness and joy creating

Down syndrome girl!


There it is. Here's your sticker, kid, now go away. I'm your friend, no really. You are really too dumb, after all, to get the joke. Besides, I told it fast, and I made it sound nice. And there was the fact that Chris dated you in the first place. After all, Down syndrome girls, despite their funny walks and too-tight hugs, and that...shouting...thing...are really quite nice.

Why, I even mentioned that you finally learned to tie your shoes. In High school. Sure, you got a date. But like the jock who invites you out and then doesnt show up while you are standing in your pretty dress looking out the window (and he and his buddies are all laughing it up over pizza), you are the joke. Because society is slowly learning not to laugh outwardly and point fingers, but being the mean little jerks they are, they have learned the art of subtlty. And you, my fellow parents, are simply too grateful for the opportunity to be seen as normal that you fail to see the hatred and vitriol and denigration aimed directly at you. Sadly, you are not the target, your child is. While you are celebrating this great foray into television wowness, stop to think about this for a second.


‘Cause there’s a lovely lady (insert your child's name here) and she’s waiting for you.

And though her pretty face may seem
A special person’s wettest dream
(insert your child's name here)
Before you get to see it there are things you must do.

But boy before you touch a single curl
You must impress that ultra boomin’,
All-consumin’, poorly groomin’(insert your child's name here. The one people sometimes stare at. The one whose lips are often split and sore, the one who sometimes acts funny, but you love her anyway)
Down syndrome girl. (And while you are at it, remember, the syndrome defines her. she isnt a "child with" anymore. she is little more than the title of the song. a Down syndrome girl. Nothing more.)

You want to take that little whore(insert your child's name here, the one you hope will one day find love. The one you wonder "will she marry?" The one for whom you would give the world to have children and a family and know true love)
And spin her on the dancing floor

(insert your child's name here) hugs are so delighting.
Because they’re tighter than a vice and they go on for an hour.

My boy, between the two of us we’ll get you on that shorty bus.
Just like (insert your child's name here. Doesn't your child ride the SHORT BUS?)
And then you’re going to take it for a whirl.
Now go impress that super-thrilling,
Wish-fulfilling, Yoo-Hoo-spilling,
Ultra-swinging, boner-bringing,
Daily singing, ding-a-linging
Stupefying, fortifying,
As-of-Monday-shoelace-tying,(you know the routine, insert your child's name here)
Stimulating, titillating,
Kitty-cat impersonating,
Mega-rocking, (Cause, you know, retards rock)pillow talking,
Just a little crooked walking,(insert your child's name here, you know, the one for whom walking was a goal worth waiting for. Who took her first wobbly steps while tears ran down your cheeks. Who struggles in PT and strains to run "normally")
Poorly pouting, boobies sprouting,
For some reason always shouting,(insert your child's name here)
Fascinating, captivating,
Happiness and joy creating (Oh, hell, go ahead. Insert your child's name here. We all know they really are all sweet and innocent.)

Down syndrome girl!


Stop to think about all the nasty little jokes you have heard.

Kids with DS are so strong, superhuman, even. (Do Retards Really Have Super Strength? it asks)

They drool. (This one features a post called "I hate…. retards and autistic children") It even features a nice photo. And hey, bonus, theres that super strength thing again! Do make sure you check out the last paragraph in this lovely post.



They spill their food.

They walk funny.

talk funny.

They cant tie their shoes.

They are loud, obnoxious, and if they get ahold of you, they might just hug you so hard they hurt you, because, well...they're stupid.

If someone said this about your child would you think it was funny? Regardless of politics, and who is trying to score points, is it even remotely funny? Not to me, it isnt. It is also not harmless. Read the comments section on one of the endless stories about this. People are not being touched and inspired by it. They are laughing at it, singing the catchy little jingle, which by the way has gone viral, and getting a big kick out of our willingness to see this as a positive. It is not a positive. That is my opinion. You are welcome to yours.



10 comments:

Cindy said...

BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My sentiments EXACTLY!!!!

Tara said...

Finally, someone gets it! Exactly!

Shelley said...

Amen,sister!

kiwiaussie said...

I couldn't agree more. 16 months into our journey with DS, I still find a lot of this stuff too raw to deal with openly. So I tend to sit back and not say anything. But the truth is.....It does hurt. And I am dreading the day that Samara is old enough to understand that she is not always loved and appreciated for who she is.

kate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
blcmec1 said...

Very well said, Michelle! What was amusing to me was how many people defended the show by saying "there is no group left out" they make fun of religious groups, gays, blacks, women, etc. Isn't that wonderful???!!! UGGGH.

Ian said...

Is it all that bad? How else to overcome any sort of disability, obstacle, tragedy, or anything unpleasant than with comedy? Rather than constantly reinforce the seriousness of the handicap there should be room for fun. It is understandable that parents have an innate desire to protect their children from any harm, physical or mental, but are jokes like these; the jokes of Tucker Max and his associates, or the true accounts of the loving and caring special education instructor known as Riti Sped attacks aimed at children? In all fairness, no, they are not. Jokes like these are not malicious, they are not meant to damage children of any kind of mental state nor their parents, they are humorous observations, imaginative scenarios, and just simple jokes. Would a child want their parent to get upset over a cartoon that could very easily be seen as humorous?

Missy said...

Thank you for opening my eyes.

jesusmang said...

Yeah, I'm glad someone is finally taking the initiative with this matter! It's starting to get out of hand, what's worse than a blog? An entire web game based around crippled called CrippleWars (http://cripplewars.com)!

James Carr said...

Seriously? You're gonna get butt hurt over TV show and a dead blog? The teacher didnt hate her students, she loved them, she stated that multiple times! Haven't you gotten stressed at your job and gone home and made jokes about it? Or the events that happened? It's the exact same. Sure, the job involves challenged children, so what? Yes I understand its a challenge to raise a child who has special needs, but honestly, get the fuck over yourselves. You think you're so entitled because you have to go through the soooo difficult life of raising a special needs kid, is it more difficult? Yes. Should people openly insult your kids? No. Do you need to fucking bitch about it when someone makes light of their job as a SpEd teacher? No, she can do as she pleases, she's an American. It's a free fucking country. Kindly go fuck yourselves.