Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I went to a movie this weekend and as I'd gone to see all the blockbusters we were there to see a much smaller quieter movie. A movie where the only special effect was acting and where the story was carried along by dialogue. It took a while to get used to it. The movie, "Evening" was received differently by the three of us. Two over 50 thought it wonderful, one barely thirty, didn't get it.This was a 'big question' movie. Prompting viewers to ask 'Why was I here?" and "What did I accomplish?" We all left the movie subdued.

As I rolled out into the theatre itself I was evaluating a bit of my career and a few of my accomplishments. Then I saw him, a guy with Down Syndrome came out of another theatre his eyes full of the wonder of special effects. He stopped, looked around blinking in the light. He spotted his support staff and started to walk towards him. A group of teens came out of the movie theatre and they were all talking all at once. One of them, talking and looking backwards while walking forward, tripped. The others were on him, "Jason, you are such a retard." Then 'that word' flew out of all their mouths.

And struck him.

That innocent guy with Down Syndrome, stopped, looked at the group with terror, tears filled his eyes. He was frightened. Frightened of just being him, there.

The group passed him, not even noticing him and left the theatre. His staff, not understanding why he froze in time and space, kept urging him along.

All the drive home I thought about the movie. Then him. Is it possible to stop the causal use of hateful words? Is it possible? What about MY purpose, my accomplishments ... how come after a lifetime of work, its no where near being done, dealt with? Did it matter, what I did, what we did? It didn't seem to matter much to that guy in the movie theatre.

Then this morning, I came on and checked my email to find that there was an auto-note from Chewing The Fat written by Stephen. The ARRSE thread called Mentally Handicapped Kids is gone. It's history. That hateful bile has been taken off their website. The images of violence have been deleted. I didn't think we'd win. But we did.

Let me stop for a minute, there's something I need to do.


It's an ugly thing seeing a grossly obese guy doing a little jig. Let me get my breath back.


Does this matter, what we've accomplished here? I know from following this discussion from Chewing the Fat to other discussion boards and networks, that once Stephen brought this discussion here - it went worldwide, so when I say 'we' I really mean a collective worldly 'we'. Does it matter?

In a word.


So this kind of stuff appears elsewhere on the web and elsewhere in the real world. Yeah, I know. So this might appear again on ARRSE in another thread, in another way. Yeah, I know. That kid with Down Syndrome in the movie theatre still gets called names. Yeah, I know. While all that matters, it doesn't matter right now, right this instant.

What matters is that a group of people, unknown to each other, united only in their care for people with disabilities, came together and said "Enough!" We discovered backbone and stared down someone who was perpetuating harm.

Surely that's cause for joy.

One of our problems, I believe, is that we are always too much intimidated by what's yet to be done, what's got to be done, what'd on the agenda to be done - that we are so crushed by future battles that we don't celebrate present victorys.

So, I'm celebrating.

And I'm dedicating my celebration to that guy with Down Syndrome in the movie theatre. That shot was fired for you. And if we have the power to do what we just did, we just may make it entirely safe for you to live in this world without being assaulted by hate.

Just maybe. Just maybe that's why I'm here. Just maybe that's one of my shared accomplishments. Just maybe when it's at the end for me, I'll remember this day.

Oh, my, the urge to jig is back ...


Dave Hingsburger said...

Hi, I know I shouldn't be the first to comment on my own blog, but I really wanted to say 'thanks' to Stehpen for bringing the arrse thread to us here on Fat. I have seen horrible sites before but the images on arrse were so over the top. Thankyou for caring, thankyou for getting angry about it, and thankyou for letting us join you in your fight to eliminate this from their website. Rah, Steven.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Guess, that would have been better if I'd spelled your name right, hey STEPHEN?

Anonymous said...

Just a question to everyone?

The "retard" word is becoming very prevalant once again in people's language. We seemed to have got rid of it for awhile!!!

How does everyone respond to people that use it?

I have had the discussion with my boys the second it came out of their mouths but what about others?

The teenagers, not thinking that a word called to a friend(who is not really retarded) can hurt anyone?

To the adults who grew up knowing that it was not a word to use but now use it all the time?

I still get tongue tied from the shock of hearing this word come out of the mouths of my friends, and sadly family......who obviously I have not educated enough even after my whole career in the field!!!!

Any thoughts???

I would also like to say a big thank you to Stephen and all the others that took on the website link!!! HURAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

Anonymous said...

Kudos to all on a fight well fought.
Kimberly, I'm with you. I'm hearing that word everywhere suddenly. When it is thrown about by someone i don't know, I have absolutely no trouble telling them how hurtful their words are...but when it is a friend, or a casual acquaintance, I just really am at a loss for how to respond in a way that can make a difference...I'd so much rather be calm and graceful, rather than annoying and shrieky, which is how my gut tells me to react!!! Dave? Anyone?

Dave Hingsburger said...

I'm fairly strict on 'that' word, to the point that when we go to a movie and the word is used in dialogue my friends gasp in horror, knowing my reaction. No one says it around me more than once. I just don't allow it, the same with other words that are disrespectful to minorities. Sometimes people say that I don't have a sense of humour, I say I have a sense of humour I just don't have a toleration for meanness.

Unknown said...

I had a close girlfriend send a joke thru email one day, copied several people on it too (only one I knew personally), in which a line in the joke was to the affect of being at a disadvantage and riding the short bus. I politely "Replied All" and said You may forward this if you choose, however just so you know, my son rides the short bus and thank god for that bus because he gets to school and his friends and teachers etc safely and loves every minute of it" If you find this email funny, you're more at a disadvantage than he ever will be" The point was made and taken. She was aghast. She knew my son, knew of our struggles, struggles herself with prejudice (she's white, her husband is black) yet she sent it out! I would never let my friends get away with it. I don't let co-workers get away with it. Some strangers get away with it, mainly because you never know what that person might do. I've been called a "militant downy mom" but I got the offensive post removed. I've had a co-worker avoid me from that point on, once I threatened to take him to HR and told him I'd win no matter what his excuse for his poor behavior....

I guess it goes with the territory. Sometimes we change the world one person at a time. My suggestion at the very least is to tell your friends your shocked and hurt that they would use that word and how that affects your child. You don't have to be in their face or anything....

Good luck and hang tough!

StillStanding said...

I'm thinking about the NAACP's symbolic burial of the "N" word - it might be interesting to monitor the effects & impact of that - I'm not big on copycatting, but if the NAACPs actions prove effective, maybe a ceremonial "R" word cremation is in order. Hmmm, what organization would best take that initiative? CACL? Thoughts, anyone?
Dave - I'm glad you got your jig back! Your blogs often do that for me. :-)

Anonymous said...

I don't stand for people using "that" word around me either. My kids are well aware of my position and I know they at least discourage their friends from using it when around me....hopefully it is more than just at those times.
My son is particularly sensitve to hearing it when we are out, and if someone says it, he says "I was worried what you were going to do when he/she dropped the "R" bomb".

Also, I want to thank Stephen for the awareness. I sent emails to the site as well and just saw that I received a reply letting me know the thread was removed as well.

All 4 My Gals said...

I think a lot of it is ignorance. Honestly I think very rarely is it said with viciousness to the people it's actually hurting.

I stop and explain why it hurts every time I hear it. I speak at my children's school every year to try to get the kids to understand and to start rethinking it's use.

You're right Dave, who knows how much change our single efforts create, but I agree together we can be a force! :) And at the end of the day if my daughter's corner of the world is a bit safer for her that's a great change.

wendy said...

First let me say, Dance on Dave. I may join you! Many insults come in and out of fashion and I agree with those who say they are used out of ignorance. The cure for ignorance is education. It can be hard, but most important things are! I can't say I am always perfect at this but I try. One way I've done with with adults is to ask them if they would use specific other words that literally mean "this specific group of people" to describe negative traits or behaviours...you know the ones I mean...the ones that relate to race or religion or sexual orientation. Most are horrified that I would ask such thing and are also shocked to see how this is the same thing.

Unknown said...

here in the states, when i was security at a 'borderline' apartment complex, i know if it reallyyyyyyyyy hit the fan with an airman...i would call his CO, and get quicker results, than if i called the cops...

So I emailed their CO! Since their websight mirrored the British Armys Website...i thought that it may prove useful to let the army know about the thread....and that WE wouldnt tolerate THAT KIND OF BUNK in this country....they should be ASHAMED!!

Dance on dave! there are, im sure, THOUSANDS that get to peek at your blog...and will respond.


e wilson
mom to molly kate, 7

Anonymous said...


Just got back from a few days away doing some training with a team about values and the rights of people with learning disabilities.

I missed chewing the fat while I was away, can you imagine how delighted I was to catch up on this news? It was a real lesson to me, as I had emailed the site to complain and had got a wishy washy response (which I posted here a few days ago). I admit that I had been nervous about the impact my voice would have and had decided to be brave and speak up anyway. I am glad I did, as not only did it play a part in making a bit of a difference it taught me something strong about talking steps to make a difference. In this case one persons voice may have made a point and the fact that all the one person's out there who made a point resulted in "'together WE made a difference!"

I am doing a jig too.

Sally said...

Good news is good to hear. Well done; now for the next battle in fighting the good fight.