With social media enabling us to stay connected and engaged with communities around the world, the words of individuals, celebrities, and authors can very quickly be spread and deemed acceptable without question simply because we are on the receiving end of too many messages. And when celebrities and entertainment mediums are the messengers, they often rise to the top of our overloaded brains, even when they disseminate derogatory phrases that offend and belittle members of our society.
Although we have made so much progress in removing the ‘r-word’ from our society, some in Hollywood just don’t seem to get it, as we see in the new Universal Pictures movie “The Change-Up.” The kind of language used is hurtful to so many who sit in the theaters thinking they are in store for entertainment, not insult. Words matter, and the film industry needs to learn that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families find this kind of language to be totally unacceptable.
GQ is another recent offender, with a July 15 article by author John B. Thompson reviewing fashion in the United States titled, “40 Worst-Dressed Cities in America.” The article described Boston, MA as number one saying, “Due to so much local inbreeding, Boston suffers from a kind of Style Down Syndrome, where a little extra ends up ruining everything.” This language has since been removed online, but an explanation from the magazine or apology from the author has not been issued.
The only way to stop offensive language like this is to continue working together to express what these words actually mean. Stand up and be heard! Contact both GQ and Universal Pictures about their offensive comments about individuals with Down syndrome:
- Universal Pictures Thinks Bigotry is Acceptable, and Marketable (How to call and tweet at Universal)
- GQ: Issue Apology for Down Syndrome Discrimination (Sign an online petition to be sent to GQ)
This isn’t a question of free speech; this is about respecting people with I/DD and understanding that words are powerful, especially when they are coming from sources that are viewed by millions of people worldwide.