Friday, October 10, 2008

Let's Go Idaho

Yesterday in Boise, Idaho, I gave a keynote speech at a conference. There were 500 people sitting in their chairs as I was being introduced. I had that momentary 'flight' thought GET ME OUTTA HERE. But I knew from experience that it would pass. My topic was 'The 'R' word: Helping people with disabilities deal with teasing and bullying.' They were a warm audience and went with me from the get go.

I could see something happening, from my perch on the stage, as I spoke about the word 'Retard' and how it is the social equivilent of other hateful words. I talked about how it was I came to make the simple decision 'enough' ... really, enough. As I drew to a close, I knew that the talk had gone better than I could have anticipated. I could almost hear people all around the room decide, 'enough'. I looked up to see 500 people standing and applauding. That is a very nice compliment and I'm always moved by it - it happens rarely so it's always a bit of a surprise.

But as I sat at the book table and talked to Boise, I heard story after story. People telling me about being out with someone with a disability and being told, in one woman's situation, that 'he shouldn't be allowed out, he's unpleasant to look at'. She told me that she stood up to the bigot and that she ensured that from thence forward, he was prepared for what might come his way.

However, what got me the most, was the sheer honesty of those who spoke with me. Telling me that they use that word, that even though they work with people with disabilities, then never thought about what the word meant. Several were in tears as they said, pledged almost, to never say it again, to assure that people around them are made aware as well.

Each committment brings hope for a kinder world. Because if I stop it around me, and you stop it around you, and he stops it around him and she stops it around her. Then, one day, it will stop.

Look out Idaho, maybe you'll be the first state to let go of that hateful word, because there's 500 people ready to take on the space around them.

This is what it is to be in a movement.

This is what it takes to fight dispobia.

This is why I get on planes and fly to Boise.


Cynthia said...

A very hopeful post! You definitely left Idaho better than you found it.

Susan said...

Hey, Dave, I just HAVE to stop and celebrate this moment with you.


What a great legacy to leave in Idaho. (Understatement!!!)

gracie1956 said...

I have goose bumps all over me, you know, like when you hear something wonderful and your whole body reacts. I also have tears in my eyes and a runny nose! Wow Dave, I feel like jumping up on a soap box, or leading a cheer, or marching in a parade. Way to go Dave! You scored a touchdown for our team, and the winning touchdown at that!!! That is the stuff a hero is made of.

PuzzleLover said...

I am ever so grateful to have been able to attend this conference and not only hear your keynotes speech but the classes you taught both days! You have truely brought a lot of insight into my daily life not only in my job working with people with disabilities but also with my own children. I have 7 children 6 of them have disabilities. I wish I knew then what I know now, I could have been such a greater help to them. the important thing is that I can apply what I have learned to them still and to those I serve on a daily basis. Thank you so much for coming to Idaho and look foward to a conference with you again.

John R. said...

I haven't written in a while but am back.

Great to learn of the progressive hearts in Idaho.

Last month I had to visit a team of my staff who "mistakenly" brought several people we support to see Tropic Thunder. The staff saw the movie, felt NO PROBLEM with what they saw and the folks we support apparently felt that there was no issue with language or portrayal. Yikes.....

After a very intense and anger-filled meeting, and after I showed them the volumes of critical material and protest about the movie and issue, they had the epiphany. The epiphany was this: "Wow...bigotry is subtle and the road to being a bigot ends with educating oneself and admitting to ignorance."

This was a painful meeting but in the end was a bit of a confessional and an encounter group about the concept of bigotry. The "r" word has stopped with this team. I know they will spread the word and help end disphobia.

Tara Marie said...

Thank you Dave...that is what it is going to take, and sadly it will sometimes be a hard battle, as my oldest duaghter just recently found out from a college room-mate. She has respectfully discussed the usage of the 'R' word around her with her room-mates, on many occassions. The other week, one of her room-mates was using it and she 'called' him on it......he got sarcastic and then used the word 'Mongoloid' instead, on purpose to try and hurt her.

I had to explain to her that that type of ignorance is even more hurtful than when people use it carelessly, absent mindedly and from poor habit....this crossed over into hatred.

I personally don't understand when others use words to cut.

Thank you for flying to Boise....any chance you can fly to St. Augustine, FL?

Anonymous said...

I heard you were foul-mouthed and crude at the cpi conference. what a shame.

maryanne in pgh said...

To "anonymous", re your "foul mouthed and crude" comment -

Point #1: If you weren't there you have no business commenting in such a destructive way. I wasn't there, you weren't there, who the hell do you think _you_ are submitting an editorial comment about it? (and oh - pardon my foul mouth and crudeness)

Point #2: "Foul . . . and crude" are better descriptors of the physical and social conditions that some people with disabilities have had to live with over the years, than they are descriptors of the language Dave and other advocates use to name what _is_.

In other words - don't shoot the messenger.

Dave - as always, thanks for your candor.

gracie1956 said...

To Anonymous...

What kind of coward writes such a comment without at least using their name?

Oh...I bet you know the answer to that question.

To Dave and other readers of this blog...

I know I shouldn't dignify that comment with my response but it just pissed me off to read such slander!

Having said that, my name is Rita Grace Tupin.

Jackson said...

I was there at the conference and I want to say two things. Dave got a standing ovation from 500 people and in each class, each day, there were more people there at the end of the day than at the beginning. I've enver seen that before.

Lexi said...

I have been to many presentations throughout our country. I have to say that attending this conference actually changed me as a person and a professional. What a moving experience. Thank you for blessing us with your presence in Idaho Dave!

Anonymous said...

To those of you who cheer and enjoy foul language and crude behavior- you are one wheel short of a full trailer court.

The Flatulator

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with "flatulator". Too many people are too ready and willing to celebrate those who use foul language and lift them up as if they are somehow something special. As proof of this, just watch the comments following this one. People will jump on this and tear what I've said apart (and attack me personally).

Hairston P. Jasper

Dave Hingsburger said...

I prefer not to get into these things, but in this case, I will. Before I do any lecture where I will use 'colourful' language, I speak to organizers and ask them if the audience will be offended by the remarks. If they ask me to remove any such language, I do. In Boise, as in other places, I met with organizers the night before and asked them, they assured me that they wished me to present my workshops in the way that I intended. Too, in my day long workshops if I am going to use any language that wouldn't be heard on television (for example the 'f' word)I warn the audience before the story so that they can step out if they'd like. I did this in Boise, I don't recall but I don't think anyone left.

People have choices, as do I. As I tell stories that arise from real life, sometimes the real way the people speak sifts into the stories. To change the language of someone with a disability for the sensitibilities of another seems wrong to me. To alter the truth in an effort to non-offend - then the stories seem made up and unreal. It is the problem with doing a lecture that uses stories to illustrate points.

Too, I have to say that I get offended when people, who could come and talk to me at a conference, I don't hide. Wait and then publish this kind of thing on my blog or elsewhere. If you had the courage of your convictions - I do - then you would come and speak to me personally.

This is all I wish to say on this topic.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you I was at this conference and thank you for your honesty and your stories I would not have had you change a single word I found it to be refreshing that the stories were not altered and reflected the individuals whom you were talking about to change their words is an injustice to them if people were to busy hanging on what they perceive as foul language then they obviously missed the point and did not hear the message I heard you loud and clear and the people that I care for will benefit from this Thank you I am a refreshed human service worker

Anonymous said...

I think the language used is just a further coarsening of our society. We are to accept offensive language and then are expected to not use language that offends the offender(the "R" word. A little hypocrisy? Perhaps.

Frank N. Stein

Anonymous said...

Frank, you can't tell the difference between name calling, bigotted assaults and the use of a curse word like 'shit'? I think you have some growing up to do.


R Wood said...

I attended the conference in Boise. I thought that Dave really hit it on the nose about bulling and and teasing. I work with indivisuals with disabilities and also have a child with a disability. I have seen what people do and say to the people I work with and until today I never realized what my child was going through until she came home and told me that kids at school were calling her stupid and saying that they hated her. She cried when they said this to her. Someone at school told her to just ignore it.I don't want her to be the girl that he talked about. I will use the things he told us in the conference to help her out. We will not just ignore it.

Anonymous said...

Usually when someone uses foul language it's because of the shock value. I don't get shocked, instead I usually just think- what an idiot, must be a liberal. I think they are looking for acceptance and so are the ones who defend such language. They have a low self-esteem and are willing to seek acceptance from anyone. We live in a day and age where right is reviled and wrong is called right (abortion, homosexuality, etc..) people know in their hearts it is wrong but they still rebel by celebrating it.

Buell Schmidt

Anonymous said...

I think bigtry is bad and diversity is god. Thank to all who did that thing.

Hugh Pharrted