Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Insincere And Their Tricks

Note: the Smitherman campaign has removed the offensive postcard so hate will no longer be a click away. Ford, however, has not publicly apologized for what he said. It's now 10 to 3 in Smitherman's favour.

Trick Number One:

Have you ever had an argument with someone who said something hurtful and they ended up saying, 'I'm sorry if what I said offended you.' Doesn't that just piss you off? It's kind of like a passive way of accusing you of being oversensitive and then drawing attention to the fact that they are big enough to apologize for bruising your fragile feelings. I overheard someone once call me a 'fat pig' in another language, I knew the expression and when I called them on it they said, 'I'm sorry if that hurt you.' Um, and you expected it wouldn't? So you can be outrageously hurtful and then be surprised that something said to hurt actually did hurt. Hmmmmm. So that's an apology? A lovely trick. Apology without apology and no commitment to change. As it has been said, 'Change is the only apology that means anything.'

Here's what Rob Ford said in his letter to Joe (he's not apologized to me): If you were offended by my comments, I apologize.

Um, Rob, I'd rather you commit to change and pledge to refrain from hurting us further.

Trick Number Two:

The next big trick is to diminish the offense by pretending to be a maverick and passionate and accidentally stumbling into the politically incorrect. I love how you can diminish your act by changing verbal abuse, the use of what many people with disabilities consider hate speech and an act of bullying into something 'politically incorrect'. Don't shine my shoes with shit! Calling names is known by 4 years olds to be wrong. Four year olds don't come running into the house screaming, 'Robby was politically incorrect to me.' No, they say, 'Robby HURT MY FEELINGS.' Being a maverick, being outspoken, is not diminished by refusing to use racist, sexist, homophobic or disphobic language.

Here's what Rob Ford said to Joe: I have always been an outspoken Councillor while doing my best to stand up for the people of Toronto, and occasionally I have said things that weren't politically correct.

Um, Rob, people with disabilities are part of 'people' and yes, they live in Toronto.
Your statement in the letter that you have respect and empathy for people with disabilities is completely lost when you diminish our concerns.

Trick Number 3: Talking? Is someone talking?

As to the Smitherman camp. Not a single email. At least Ford had the gumption to answer Joe's and many of yours, to me he said, 'I read your blog, you do good work' or something such. As I didn't hear from Smitherman's office, I called them. I talked to two women one of which said that she understood my point.

Um, Smitherman, get your people to answer emails. Um, Smitherman people, if you understood my point you might be moved to action.

So here's the score ...

Ford, I'm awarding one point for answering his emails. I'm awarding another point for an attempt at apology. I'm awarding a final point for reading the blog.

Smitherman, I'd like to give a point to the nice woman I talked to but since I had to call to get someone to call me back - and even then they hadn't read the emails or the blog that outlined the issue, I can't in all fairness.

So for handling the issue thus far:

Ford: 3 points

Smitherman: 0 points

Vita Community Living Services has sent out an open letter to the candidates and to the media and I have spoken to some organizations who will be weighing in on this and joining our protest. Again, we want apology and promise from Ford, we want the postcard removed and an apology from Smitherman.

Blog readers, it's not to late to join in. Write a letter, write a blog, if you work for a service organization get them to write something ... the addresses are in yesterday's blog.


Stephanie said...

Dave, - I forgot to come back and post, but I did write letters to both campaigns, and the news. I also copied Tim Shriver, Special Olympics, and all three National Down syndrome organizations in the U.S + bothe the Illinois and National ARC. I also left a succinct (sp?) message on Smithertons ? facebook page, to which the only response was from a person who attacked me because Ford supposedly said something about people with AIDS (?????). and accussed me of using my son to further a polical agenda...um, yeah.

They also said that they weren't aware that Ford had said anything about the Developmentally Disabiled, and unless it attacked my son specifically, I should just shrug it off.....I guess if he was gay and had contracted AIDS I would have something to bitch about. Unbelieveable!!!!

I am not sure who is running either of the campaigns up there, but they are WAY out of touch! I - ahem - might have said something about both of them secretly having a swasticka tattooed on their behinds.....as they both have offended almost every demographic except middle aged, hetro, white, middle to upper class men.....I guess those are the only votes that count, huh?

Stephanie said...

Update on my FB comment - The person who responded to my post has since left another message stating how she went back and looked again at what was being said. I also directed her to your blog. :) There is hope!!!! :)


Lyndsay said...

The worst part about "I'm sorry if I offended you..." is that it's not an apology. Apologies do not get the privilege of qualifiers, and apologies should not only apply to those that someone has angered.

When an apology applies only to the people who have been made angry, it strikes me as a backhanded snicker with the rest of the group about how sensitive and unwilling to take a joke those other people are. When a global apology is made, such as:

It has come to my attention that in my recent campaign literature, I used a word that is recognized as offensive by many in the community. I apologize for using this language.

This apology wasn't made to a subset of listeners, it was made to all listeners. This apology serves as an example of behaviour to all listeners. This apology has the ability to make an impact. The one you were provided with does not. Ew.

Shan said...

You let me know when a politician offers a sincere apology to you or anyone else, and I will go straight to the window to watch the pigs flying. Should be cool.

Kasie said...

I guess I'm not really surprised that I got the same letter in response that Joe did. :-|
I was not amused or appeased, either. Aargh!

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg said...

Last week, I had an...um...discussion(?) with a woman who had only negative things to say about autism. When I called her on it, she said, "I'm sorry if you felt slighted." Slighted? Like she'd hurt my ego? I can't stand that. And you're right: those kinds of apologies are a backhanded insult about how "oversensitive" we are. It's especially fraught for me, being autistic, because hyper-sensitivity to all things earthly is part of my basic wiring, so to be told that I'm being too sensitive is like being told that I'm being too autistic, right after I've asked someone to be respectful about my being autistic. Oy.

Of course, sorry isn't really a word. It's an action. How sorry someone is means very little to me unless it's an impetus to actually change their behavior.

Anonymous said...

The Smitherman response turns my stomach. It started my saying that they understand my upset over this. Yep, one line in and they got it wrong, they'll never understand. I'm supposed to take note of the fact that volunteers working for the campaign even have "unique needs". Sorry, but who the heck doesn't have unique needs? Wow, I should be thrilled, they even let "those people" campaign. I won't be giving a point for even responding. Complete and utter crap, sad part is, I'm still foolish enough to think they would have done better.

Anonymous said...

I'm the jerk that went off on Stephanie on FB.

I am the kind of person that when wrong, will work towards making a positive change. I really don't know how else to say it but, Stephanie, I failed to see your point of view because of my own opinions and that's not cool.

Straight up, I'm sorry and I don't care if that sounds cliche (I'm worried, especially after reading that blog post!) There must be a proper way to apologize when someone acts like a jerk and I hope I got it right. Well, at least that's how I was taught. I put a lot of weight on the words "I'm sorry." Dave is right: positive change of attitude/behaviour = you're sorry.

I just want to show my support for what you're doing and I genuinely feel bad. I fall into one of the demographics in the postcards and I feel pretty angry about them too; not just at the one that hit close to home, but at all of them. And now, because you've brought this to my attention, I fully plan on composing some letters to these 2 candidates as well.

Thank you for opening my eyes! Take care! :)

Dave Hingsburger said...

To the Anonymous Facebook person ... I am in awe of you. I think it's amazing that you could listen, research, evaluate and then make a new and more informed decision. So many people, when challenged, just dig in deeper. I wish I knew your first name so I could personally say ... THANKS. You've made my day here at Rolling Around in My Head.

Dad said...

Heck just waiting for the Old "yes we have made (Insert appropriate word i.e.Omissions, errors,mistakes, accidental or unintentional offences) but let's put them in the past move forward from here."

Which usually means you just simply do not understand.

We really are trying to help and know so much more than you. Tough luck "cripple" get over it and round and round in circles we go again.

Alexandra said...

Hi Dave!

I'm anonymous poster from FB, Alexandra. I didn't see the name option earlier. Whoops!

I tend to get in silly, heated debates and I acted foolishly. But to be honest, it was a learning experience. I believe in taking full responsibility for your actions and that's why I took Stephanie's suggestions and stopped on by.

I certainly don't deserve a thank you for it; it's basic human decency to right your wrongs. If anything, I'd like to thank you for creating such a great blog and for everything you do for the disabled community. You are pretty cool! And I'm very happy to have made your blog day. haha!

I'll be a regular reader for sure. Stay well :)

Kristine said...

Yeah, I hate those kind of apologies too. And haven't we all done them? I'll admit, I've found myself in situations where I'm truly sorry that somebody's feelings were hurt, but I just can't honestly say that I regret what I did or said... So when somebody uses it on me, I know what they're really saying/not saying!

In my emails, I made a point of explaining how I don't allow my middle school students to use these words, and it has nothing to do with a fear of the political correctness police. I gave an explanation of the power of words, and how they both reflect and influence people's thinking, very similar to how I'd explain it to my students.

Then I asked them to, minimally, be more careful with their language in the future, and, preferably, join us in playing an ACTIVE role in fighting for the rights, respect, and dignity of individuals with disabilities.

I haven't had any responses yet. But that was my attempt to put the responsibility fully on them, not just a simple matter of me and my fragile, tender feelings.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Alexandra, welcome! I wanted your name because it's easier to chat with a person. I'm curious if you'd be willing to write a blog about your journey from anger to understanding for me here at Rolling Around, it so seldom happens that people do what you did - I'd like to know more. What say you?

kvanryzin said...

Did anyone else here from the opponent's camp? I did. Wasn't impressed. Of course it might have helped if he started out spelling my name right.
His camp obviously didn't get why it hurt to repeat the word over and over in an attempt to expose the other person's use of it. So it doesn't hurt when used to expose? (I know the answer but they obviously don't).

Alexandra said...


I'd be happy to oblige! I'm just not sure how to go about it...

I know it really should just be from the heart, but is there anything specific you'd like me to touch on? I can probably get it done by the end of the week. My brain's a little fuzzy today and I'm off to get some sleep :(

Dave Hingsburger said...

kvanryzin: I've heard from them a couple of times, they are (purposely I believe) insisting they don't understand our concerns. Even though they did not originate the hateful remark they are perpetuating it. Seems a simple concept. Check back tomorrow for another idea to get them to reconsider.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Alexandra, just send it to me at my hotmail address which is listed in the 'about me' section of the blog. Dave

Andrea S. said...


I'll look forward to whatever you write! I always admire people who have the emotional self honesty to stop and think about what they're being told even if it conflicts with what they originally believed ... instead of becoming more entrenched.

Alexandra said...

I will. Thanks for the opportunity! Look for it via email by Sunday :)