Monday, January 26, 2009

Card The Stars

I remember, quite awhile back, reading Rick Mercer's blog where he used the word 'Torontarded' and feeling devastated. I thought Mr. Mercer was so much cooler than that. From watching him over the years, I had come to believe that he was someone who just got it, whatever 'it' was. That he chose to use 'retarded' as part of a compound word really let me down. But I didn't know what to do, didn't know how to let him know how much he had disappointed me, hurt me. All I did was drop him from my radar - but he'll never know that I no longer watch him and I mute his commercials. I'm sorry, many will say I'm over reacting but I don't care. The issue is important to me. I hate that word.

Then watching a YouTube clip of Bill Maher talking about George Bush, Dubya, I was astonished to hear him refer to President Bush as a 'retard'. Again, I didn't know what to do. I was a huge fan of Bill Maher and watched Politically Correct with Bill Maher whenever I could. I stopped watching. I'm guessing that Mr. Maher, when viewing his ratings, didn't say, 'Hey the demographics for aging, chubby, gay, wheelchair users has taken a hit - what happened?' No, I'm guessing he didn't even notice my absence. I noticed, but that's not what matters.

A few days ago I posted three questions for my readers (I'll have a surprise for all of you as a result of your information - but not for a few weeks) and in it I mentioned the Words Hit cards and the campaign that Vita is undertaking against 'that' word. In the comments Cynthia F asked to be kept up to date about the campaign and mentioned the fact that Dan Savage, a sex columnist in the United States, used the word recently. She said that she believed that he would respond well to education. Well, I'm not sure that I believe that 'education' does all we think it does, but I do believe in confrontation. And from reading Cynthia's comment I got an idea.

So I wrote an email to Manuela, Vita's Executive Director, and asked her what she thougt of us adding 'Card The Stars' to the campaign. What we would do is ask readers of this blog to get the word out about the campaign and anytime you hear a celebrity use the word 'Ret@rd' or 'Ret@rded', indeed any version of 'that' word - email us the context of their remarks along with a snail mail contact address and we'll send a letter and a card to the celeb. Manuela felt that even if it never reaches the 'star' it will get to their people. Maybe someone will notice and maybe someone will care. It's worth a shot. It's a heck of a lot better than the silent protest of simply turning away.

So, should you see any of these kinds of situations please send me an email at work dhingsburger@vitacls.org and I'll make sure that a response goes out quickly. I thank Cynthia for the idea.

CARD THE STARS HAS BEGUN.

14 comments:

Mary said...

How about sending them to television shows as well? I know that the episode of Friday Night Lights that was shown in the US this past Friday had the word used in a derogatory fashion. Yet another show banned in our house.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Mary, sure, send us the date, the name of the character who spoke, and an address for the show, it will go out.

Belinda said...

It is a great idea. This is something that will gain momentum, and the tide WILL turn.

I heard a great quote on a TVO program last night about the brain. A brilliant man who is disabled in some aspects of functioning in the world, a savant on whom the character in the movie Rain Man was modeled, said to the equally brilliant subject of the documentary, "You don't have to be disabled to be different. Everyone is different."

He also said to the man, as they parted,"One day you will be as great as me," and the brilliant man, from Britain, took it as a great compliment.

lisa said...

Dave,
I think that is a great idea. I absolutely hate it when I hear someone on TV or radio use that word. And I wish all those comedians would get a clue as well. Rest assured I will be sending names the next time I hear it.
Lisa

Anonymous said...

I would definately participate, I like you simply turn away and don't view any content from the celebs that misuse the word but often feel how do they know that I have turned away. Excellent Idea=)

Anonymous said...

i think the show was "politically incorrect"

FridaWrites said...

Great idea!

Dave Hingsburger said...

update:

We have found the column referred to by Cynthia and the letter and card are being prepared for Mr. Savage.

Abby said...

It's also worth remembering that a lot of the programmes they appear on and the channels who book them are commercially sponsored. For particularly stubborn cases, it might be worth considering sending your card to the commercial sponsor, explaining why you are now choosing to boycott their product after they chose to associate it with someone who uses derogatory terms such as ret@rd.

Likewise, a person being paid to market a product has a certain amount of responsibility to ensure that they behave in a way which doesn't cause people to associate negative behaviour with that product. Copying someone's agent in on a letter to their sponsoring company indicating that their behaviour is costing that sponsor revenue can be extremely effective.

Anonymous said...

I love this idea!!!

Betsy said...

Dave, Bill Maher has been even more appalling in his use of the word "retard" - read this transcript - he compares "retarded children" to dogs - hundreds of people from the "disability world" bombarded him after this...as we should have.

http://www.wsf.org/family/news/mahercomments.htm

Lorraine Hershon said...

Thankfully the R word is rarely if never used in the UK. Infact'disablist' language as a whole is rarely heard either. Such abusive terms have been so stapmed upon by schools, the media and sociaty that people are generally shocked and outraged at such phrases. The same progress is also being made with homophobic remarks as well.

Cynthia F said...

Wow, this is really exciting! Thanks Dave, and I'll definitely be sending in r-word "sightings" for the campaign.

amazonmidwife said...

Since it's a lot easier to get people to do something, rather than stop doing something, I suggest filling the vacuum by creating a blog entry/ad campaign/contest etc. to find a replacement word that describes ignorant behavior. It could even be a slightly tongue in cheek vocabulary lesson.

But then I'm the mother of a kid who uses the word 'bleep' as an obscenity right now as in "I don't want to do my bleeping schoolwork now." while I shake my head and refuse to cop to the fact that he gets his irreverence genetically.