A few days ago Andrea, a regular fat reader and commentor, brought to my attention a protest on facebook against the use of the word 'retard'. Facebook has a policy against hate speech for all but disabilities it seems. This protest was to get Facebook to consider hate as hate and people with disabilities as equals. I am not a Facebook person but I brought it to my boss Manuela Dalla Nora. It shocked me to learn that Manuela had a Facebook account (thought it is a bit ... um ... dusty). We agreed that Vita has a lot of young staff and that many of them would have a face book account. Shortly thereafter Manuela sent this out to all Vita staff.
FaceBook, Bigotry and Fighting Back
It may surprise all of you to know that I have a facebook account, I know that some of you see any of us who are over 40 (or 50) as dinosaurs when it comes to technology. (Okay, I’ll admit there is almost nothing on my site and I rarely use it – logged on only to see what my son was up to!). However, I have recently become aware of the sheer volume of facebook pages that exist for the sole purpose of mocking and ridiculing people with intellectual disabilities. You will remember a few weeks ago we sent you some cards to use when you heard people use words like ‘Retard’ or expressions like ‘That’s so Retarded!’. We don’t set little goals here at Vita, we set great big ones. We want to end the use of this kind of language. We want to make people realize that their words have the power to hurt.
Facebook has a policy of banning hate speech. The problem is they don’t classify the word ‘Retard’ in the same way as they do other words that put down other people. We want to change that. There is a way to protest … if you, too, would like to have facebook respect people with disabilities join the protest at …
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=63516216741 or by simply pressing here
Here’s what they say …
Currently there are over 1000 groups on Facebook whose goal is to mock and demean people with special needs. These groups include names like RETARD HATERZ, RETARDED CLUB, I'M RETARDED, TEAM RETARD and RETARD NATION. These groups post pictures of children with Down Syndrome and Intellectual Disabilities for a laugh.
Facebook's terms of service clearly go against what they are allowing on their site "groups that attack a specific person or group of people (e.g. racist, sexist, or other hate groups) will not be tolerated. Creating such a group will result in the immediate termination of your Facebook account."
Let's see if Facebook is really willing to live up to their terms of service and stop mocking children and adults who have special needs.
Slurs and stereotypes hurt any way you look at it.
Please help us stop these hateful groups on Facebook by joining our group.
We have a mission! Help us spread the word and invite your friends to join our group.
I believe that we have collective power here at Vita and I encourage those of you who are facebook members to join. We’d like a record of Vita’s involvement, so if you choose to join in on the protest just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and say, ‘I’m in’.
On the same day Manuela sent out an email to ED's of similar organizations in Toronto, informing them of the protest, of Vita's participation by asking staff support and encouraging them to send out information to all their staff as well.
Within 2 minutes of Manuela's email to Vita staff, I began receiving 'I'm in' notes from staff around the agency. They are still coming in now.
If you join in as a result of Manuela's note on this blog please comment here on the blog or email me at my work address simply stating 'I'm in' and where you are from. We'd like to see what power networking has ...