October 30, 2012

Another Shout-Out to Republican Barbie

Republican Barbie -- you know, the woman known for being caustic and abrasive while speaking in support of Republican candidates and viewpoints -- caused a stir recently when she referred to the President of the United States as "a retard."

Many people have responded to Republican Barbie. I will not pretend that my own words will come close to their eloquence.  (Here is my favorite.)  And, without a doubt, I believe Republican Barbie planned the "retard" reference days in advance -- what was disguised as an off-the-cuff attempt at humor was really one of many scripted remarks guaranteed to bring attention to a woman who must worry a bit more about her continued appeal, even to the most hateful members of her political party, with each shot of Botox.  So perhaps I only add to her smug self-satisfaction  by mentioning her at all...

But here I go ...

Republican Barbie, Ms. Let's-Convert-the-World-to-Christianity, my question for you, if God-forbid, I ever found myself in the same room with you, would be this:

Where in the Bible do you find God making jokes about persons with disabilities?

Oh, so you weren't poking fun at the disabled, you say -- just the president?

Well, where in the Bible do you find God using a term that describes a type of disability to insult/degrade/belittle ANYONE?  

After He laid hands on the sick, the lame, the blind, did He turn to his disciples and say,"Hey, guys, don't you approve of me being kind to this retard?" 

Because if He did, I somehow missed it.

I know that Republican Barbie is not worth the effort it takes to write a sentence.  She doesn't care what I, or anyone, has to say, any more than she cares about, well, anyone other than herself.  But what bothers me most about her comment -- and the ones that followed -- is that it arguably reflects the last area of broad social acceptance for hateful, discriminatory speech.

Don't get me wrong.  I was raised in Northeast Texas.  I know racial and ethnic slurs are far from a thing of the past.  People still throw derogatory words around about women, and gays and lesbians are obviously a long way from acceptance when so many people celebrate a chicken sandwich in the name of "traditional marriage."

But, geez, y'all, something is not right.

There are people -- lots of people -- who would never insult a person based on the color of their skin, their gender, or their sexual orientation, but they let the word "retard" or "retarded" fly from their lips in a hurtful manner without a second thought.

All you have to do is look at Facebook ....

How many of you have seen "the joke" shared God-only-knows-how-many-times on Facebook.  You know the one I am talking about. It has been recycled numerous times and with numerous targets.   People have used it to make fun of people with different political views, annoying habits, opposing team loyalties. And they make fun of these targets by comparing them to -- you-guessed-it -- people with mental retardation.

They start off something like this:

Voting for (that party) is like running in the Special Olympics ...


Arguing with people on Facebook is like running in the Special Olympics ...


Cheering for (some football team) is like running in the Special Olympics ...

And, well, surely you know the rest of the "joke."

These shared posters tick me off, and they are so much more hurtful than the garbage coming from Republican Barbie -- because they come from people who don't live their every-day by promoting hate.

So let me say something to anyone who has ever chuckled at a "retard joke", or referred to someone who was getting on their nerves as a "retard," or even referred to a differing point of view as "retarded."

It is NOT OK.

My son has autism.  He is gorgeous and energetic and loves the people in his life with the might of the angels.

His autism is, by many measures, severe.
He struggles to communicate.
He doesn't understand a lot of things about societal rules.

He also would never understand why somebody would want to make fun of another person.  He wouldn't understand why anyone would ridicule, would insult, would degrade another human being.

He simply likes people who are nice.

What a concept.

And when he likes you, he really, really likes you.

No exceptions.  No judgments.  No what-have-you-done-for-me-lately scales.

When you seek to ridicule people by calling them "retarded," you do, indeed, insult my son, and so many people like him --

people who have to work harder to accomplish things the rest of us take for granted,

people whose feelings are every bit as strong as your own,

people who would never return the insult -- because they do not see any value in seeking to hurt another person.

Where in YOUR Bible do you find God making jokes about the disabled?

And if you still believe, after taking some time to think about it, that it is OK to make jokes at the expense of persons with disabilities, then it is not my son who has the more profound problem.

(NOTE:  My reference to "Republican Barbie" is not intended as an insult to women, skinny blondes or otherwise, but is merely a nod to the notion that there must be a big blob of synthetic vinyl right where that witch's heart should be.)