Dear Jennifer Aniston,
I wasn't going to write you this letter. Really, I wasn't, even though readers of this blog asked me to publicly and privately. Most wanted me to put into words the anger that they felt towards you and the controversy that your insensitive use of 'R#tard' had sparked. To me your lack of public apology told me everything I needed to know about you. Until yesterday I thought I had said all I had to say.
But then I learned of him.
Of Ernie Hernandez Jr.
You don't know his name do you Ms Aniston? That's no great surprise. Ernie lived his life quietly being distinguished only by his desire for do a good job, his love of his personal independence and his manner of contributing to the lives of those he cared about. But his freedom came at a cost Ms Aniston, do you know why? Well his mother reported that he would come home and tell her about people in the mall teasing him, taunting him and calling him 'r#tard'. He was fearful but his fear didn't stop him. He had the kind of courage that you and I can only dream of. He wanted to live in the community and he would do so even though there were bullies out there who attacked his very existence.
You may wonder Ms Aniston what this has to do with your casual use of a word. Well, here's the thing. You made the word 'cool' to talk about, your defenders loved the opportunity to tell everyone that you had a God Given Right to speak your mind. Here's some of the company you find yourself in, I am not altering or censoring the words written, their impact may hurt other readers, you, of course, may not care:
You people are retards that are spinning this into something offensive and not politically correct
This PC has gone too far. It is friggin retarded. Unbunch your panties you liberal pricks.
i act like a retard so come slam on me now....piss off everyone is human and says and does things in there life thats others might not think are "right" fredom of speech people we are in AMERICA.
You all need to fuck yourselfs and the retards you rode in on.
Does that give you a sense of what Ernie Hernandez Jr. experienced when he was out for a walk or meeting with friends? Does that give you a sense of what happens to people with disabilities? You see no one much takes the word 'r#tard' seriously. No police officer, few teachers, probably no security guards would intervene. It's a word that everyone uses, even America's Best Friend, Jennifer Aniston. You normalized hate speech. You took a hateful word and trivialized it's impact. You brought out the hate hyena's to bay all over the Internet, all over neighbourhoods, all over schools.
Do you know what happened to Ernie Hernandez Jr., Ms Aniston?
Well the police report stated that the murderous attack on him was violent and vicious. He was stabbed multiple times. He died in the community that he had fought to live in. He died after reporting time and again about being called names, being taunted, hearing 'r#tard' echoing on streets and in passageways.
Modesto California has lost a citizen.
We, people who have disabilities, have lost a brother.
Ms Aniston, you and your thoughtless, meanspirited, language made his life a little harder. You have made our battle longer.
I did not know Ernie, but I mourn him. I mourn that he died too young. I mourn that he experienced social and verbal and finally physical violence. I mourn that the world he wanted to live in did not embrace him.
Ernie, brother, rest well.