More than two weeks ago, I kicked off the public conversation about the use of the word “retard” in “Tropic Thunder” and its marketing materials with this post: ‘Tropic Thunder’: Once upon a time … there was a retard.
Since then I’ve been bringing you up-to-date coverage of the controversy, and have provided a forum in which people have been able to express their views. I’ve frankly lost count, but I think the number of comments here currently stands at something around 700. It has been a lively discussion, with many differing and often emotional opinions expressed.
Now I’ve weighed in with some opinions of my own. They can be seen in the Sunday Opinion section of the Washington Post: A movie, a word and my family’s battle. My point: The thoughtless and widespread use of the word “retard” as an insult sets back progress that has been made toward including and accepting people with disabilities, and hurts us all. Here’s how the piece starts:
Margaret and I were lingering in front of the multiplex one evening last summer, a mom and her adult daughter laughing about the movie we’d just seen, when a gaggle of cute pre-teen girls sauntered past.
The one in the lead jerked a thumb in our direction and made a goofy face to her friend. “Look. Retard,” we heard her say, and Margaret wilted. Her chin trembled. One by one, the other girls turned to look, nudging one another and whispering. The last girl spun all the way around as she slowly walked by, eyes fixed on my daughter.
The piece is accompanied by an edited version of the “full retard” scene from the movie.
You can also see me expressing my views on “The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet,” a national Fox talk show. Appearing with me were David Tolleson, executive director of the National Down Syndrome Congress; Eddie Barbanell, a star of “The Ringer,” and Gitesh Pandya of boxofficeguru.com.
[And in case anyone wonders if I've seen the movie: Yes, indeed, I have. Check my post on it here.]