Recently I became aware of the following video. I'm sorry, neither this video nor the one following come close captioned that I could find. I have provided a very brief synopsis of the content below each screen.
(In brief: Rick Mercer rants about teen suicide and the bullying of gay teens. He states that it's not good enough to say 'it gets better', he says that things must change now. He states, among other things, that well known gay people have to be visible role models for teens.)
I applaud Rick Mercer for his courage in addressing the issue of gay teens committing suicide, particularly as caused by bullying and teasing. Those of you who are faithful readers of this blog know I've written often about the horrors of 'social violence' that is perpetrated on those who are different. That Rick Mercer spoke out about it is, indeed, responsible. He is using his celebrity and his voice in a powerful manner - he also gets it right, kids shouldn't have to wait until adulthood to experience safety. Is it possible, I wonder, ever to feel safe in a world that tolerated your constant victimization and brutalization as a child? It seems to me, in systems run by adults, that adults should take more action than simply saying - hold on, toughen up, wait for a few years, it will get better. Then they say something horrible, 'that which does not kill you, makes you stronger'. Oh, OK. But doesn't that ignore the problem that it DOES kill kids?
I wrote Mr. Mercer to thank him for using his voice this way.
I also wrote to challenge him. Take a look at the next video and we'll talk on the other side:
(In brief: Rick Mercer rants about how weather is dramatized on television. He cites how a winter flurry is over reported as a blizzard in Toronto. He proudly states that he coined the word 'Torontarded' to describe this over reaction in the city of Toronto to winter weather.)
When I became aware of this, and aware of the fact that Mr. Mercer uses the 'r word' in his blog and in books that he has written. I asked him to consider his words and the power of those words. He never responded. In any way. I wrote, as I mentioned above, again a few days ago and suggested that he needs to go further than what he suggests in the first video. That celebrities would do well to 'come out' as tolerant, which these days is more difficult than one might imagine. To take a stand that words hurt, words like the 'r word' which is as ubiquitous as the use of the word 'gay' as used by teens as a slur against anything or anyone considered to be substandard. It's not popular to take a stand against words used to vilify others. (Trust me, I know.)
Mr. Mercer, again, did not reply. Now, I need to be fair. I wrote to firstname.lastname@example.org, which is a generic email found on his website. Did the email ever get to him? I don't know. I wanted to bring this issue here, to this forum. I wanted to demonstrate, again, how the victimization and brutalization of people with disabilities just isn't taken as seriously as when it is done to other, more valued, minorities.
Here a guy, clearly as socially conscious as Mr. Mercer, feels free to use a word that hurts people with intellectual disabilities, hurts the families and friends of those with disabilities. Not only that, Mr. Mercer proudly says that he invented the word 'Torontarded' ... and indeed he did. The word has made it into the urban dictionary and appears on nearly 3000 web pages as found in a google search. The word, a quick scan showed me, appeared on a web page as recently as September of this year. A lovely legacy of intolerance left by a man who decries the bulling of kids ... well, I guess, the bullying of the kids he values - the one's he doesn't, I guess are fair game. This is why, though it may 'get better' as gay teens beconme adults, the same isn't true for people with intellectual disabilities - it doesn't get better, in fact, it may get worse.
All means all.
We keep hearing that.
But it seems never to be true. It seems that the human heart simply does not have the capacity to exist without at least one target group to hate and vilify. It seems that we need to off load loathing somewhere. It most often seems to be us. Because, we know, that people with intellectual disabilities are the most often victimized and brutalized, they are the most often teased and bullied, they, most of them, live in fear of social violence every day.
I call here and now, publicly, to Mr. Rick Mercer.
Come out again, Mr. Mercer, and stand with us against the bullying of all kids. Dare to rant about the behaviour of celebrities like Ricky Gervais, Ben Stiller and, yes, yourself. You all know what you are doing and what the word means, but don't care. It's time to decry the legitimization of hurtful language.
Mr. Mercer, I love your rants.
Rant, one more time, this time for all kids, for all differences, for all of us.
And then I'll love you, again, too.