There has been much controversy over a movie that recently came out in theaters. This film has poked fun at numerous things but the people it pokes fun at most are those with intellectual disabilities. I haven’t seen the film, nor do I want to. I have however heard very honest reviews from people who have seen the film. These people have children with intellectual disabilities or infants that no doubt will end up on the mild-moderate mental retardation end of an IQ chart. My youngest son, Vinnie, will no doubt be there too. You see, he has Down syndrome.
From what I understand of the movie, it’s not just the word “retard” that is offensive. It’s the whole manner in which this word is used and along with other aspects of the movie it makes for some really great immature jokes. This movie is geared towards young men 15-25, the ripe age for dick and fart jokes, the ripe age of impressionable minds. We all know what happens on in the hallways of American schools or on the playgrounds. I can see it now; the voices of the most popular, the prettiest, the funniest children “Dude you just went full retard”. And what now am I suppose to say to my children, to my cousins, to my nieces and nephews who will undoubtedly hear these words and wonder what it all means? Words hurt, we all know this.
There are people who will argue saying “it’s only a movie, lighten up” or “get a sense of humor”. I’ve already heard it. I agree that it is a movie, it’s a movie that went that extra step, went over the line. But I don’t think that the movie is the big picture here, it’s because of this movie that we, the parents of children with intellectual disabilities and the self advocates, have this opportunity to educate. And with our educating we have only proven how this movie has already hurt us. You can look up just about any argument about this movie and see the responses of people who support this movie, most of them open and honest saying it’s just a movie (we get that part) but then look deeper, find the posts that say “it’s always fun to make fun of retards” “retarded people have less rights than a farm animal”. These are quotes, real quotes! The t-shirts are already out “Never go full retard” “Once upon a time there was a retard” and they will be worn and they will be laughed at. People have already stated that they WILL buy the shirt and wear it everywhere because “it’s a free country”. But I dare those same people to wear a shirt that simply says “nigger” and see how funny that is. Why is it that people who, for the most part, can not or will not defend themselves are the ones being humiliated? Easy targets I guess.
Well, I don’t want to fight. I want to be ignorant about using the word “retard” just as I was before Vinnie came into my life. I didn’t ask for this, I didn’t raise my hand and say “over here, I’m ready for that task”. I wanted a “typical” baby just like every other mother wants. But here he is, a beautiful baby boy. He is perfect in everyway. He has an older brother who adores him. He has won over many hearts in his first 6 months. So here I am raising my hand saying “hey, look at me, here I am embracing this”. Here I am wanting what every parent wants for their children, here I am fighting to make sure he’s safe, here I am trying to educate so my beautiful baby boy will be accepted and not humiliated or ridiculed. Here I am, the voice in the back of your mind that just won’t go away. Here I am once again voicing my “opinion”, I’m not going anywhere.