Tropic Thunder Boycott Begins
Here's an excerpt from Mr. Shriver's article:
People with intellectual disabilities are routinely abused, neglected, insulted, institutionalized and even killed around the world. Their parents are told to give up, that their children are worthless. Schools turn them away. Doctors refuse to treat them. Employers won't hire them. None of this is funny.
For centuries, they have been the exception to the most basic spiritual principle: that we are each equal in spirit, capable of reflecting the goodness of the divine, carriers of love. But not people with intellectual disabilities. What's a word commonly applied to them? Hopeless.
Let's consider where we are in 2008. Our politics are about overcoming division, our social movements are about ending intolerance, our great philanthropists promote ending poverty and disease among the world's poor. Are people with intellectual disabilities included in the mainstream of these movements? For the most part, no.
Why? Because they're different. Their joy doesn't fit on magazine covers. Their spirituality doesn't come in self-help television. Their kind of wealth doesn't command political attention. (The best of the spirit never does.)
Sadly, they're such an easy target that many people don't realize whom they are making fun of when they use the word "retard." Most people just think it's funny. "Stupid, idiot, moron, retard." Ha, ha, ha.
I know: I could be too sensitive. But I was taught that mean isn't funny. And I've been to institutions where people with intellectual disabilities are tied to beds or lie on concrete floors, forgotten. I've heard doctors say they won't treat them. I know Gallup found that more than 60 percent of Americans don't want a person with an intellectual disability at their child's school.
I've talked to people with intellectual disabilities who cry over being insulted on a bus. I've received too many e-mails from people who are devastated not by their child's disability but by the terror of being laughed at, excluded and economically devastated.
It wasn't funny when Hollywood humiliated African Americans for a generation. It's never funny when good and decent human beings are humiliated. In fact, it is dangerous and disgusting.
Thank you, Mr. Shriver, for making it clear that hate speech of the sort found in Tropic Thunder has very ugly real-life consequences. It's not just harmless humor.
This PSA entitled "R Word," produced by Christschool for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, shows the impact of such language. Readers, please pass it on by copying or embedding the link into your blog posts.
This is what I have to say to the DreamWorks executives, Ben Stiller, and all the others involved with the production of Tropic Thunder who didn't even notice that there was a problem with their language, apparently because the R-word has been used on occasion in other movies without any consequences. Here's my version of the movie's offensive tagline:
Never go full bigot.