Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Boycott The Movie Tropic Thunder

The following disability groups (and nearly a dozen more) are calling for a boycott of the new movie Tropic Thunder which negatively portraits a man with cognitive disabilities, including orginally using the line, "once upon a time there was a 'retard'".
The following websites can help you teach about ableism and stopping mistreatment and bullying of those with cognitive and other disabilities:
I happen to think that if we stop the R-word another word will just replace it unless we, as a community of people with disabilities and their allies, find a way to radically change how society perceives intellectual and other challenges. Just look at the history of the words we have used to label people with various cognitive disabilities - "feeble minded", "idiot", "moron", etc. If we start using the words, "developmentally delayed" how long will it be until the kids on the playground start calling each other "D.D.s."? My God daughter has Asperger's syndrome and in her middle school the big insult was to be called a "SPED". It isn't the R-word, but it needs to stop. Getting rid of the R-word isn't going to stop the "short bus" joke either. I wouldn't be surprised if "on the spectrum" becomes a school yard slam in time.

That's because when we just change the word we haven't changed the perception. (Otherwise we wouldn't need to keep changing the word.) We need to think about bigger change than just vocabulary. We need to change the stigma of disability. We need to get rid of the stigma of disability. We need to change the idea of "normal". We need to expand "normal" to include every person of every kind of ability.

We need a movement. We need a revolution. It is time to expect society to do the right thing and stop the R-word and every former version of the R-word and every future version of the R-word, not because it is the R-word, but because people are people and the perception of disability as a negative has stopped being an insult.


  1. The cure for ignorance and prejudice is information. People can educate themselves about autism by listening to the free Midnight In Chicago audio podcasts at By understanding what autism is and how it works, they will be less likely to call people with autism "retards" and be more likely to respect them.

  2. I am totally agree with you, in Denmark, even the doctor call my daughter R--word!


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