Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The sting of words

Last night Michael and I turned on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for a few minutes before we called it a day. I usually find this show pretty funny - irreverent, to be sure, but funny. Last night, however, I found myself cringing at a sketch that was done about how "stupid" voters will decide the election (did anyone else see this?). And then they went on to categorize the "stupid" voters using a pie chart, with each wedge classifying a certain type of "stupid" person. They used terms like "Paste Eaters," "F$%&tards," (seriously) . . . and I can't even remember all the others. They went on to describe how these "stupid" voters will have trouble finding their way out of their own houses to go vote, and how they might enter the voting booth, urinate, and then leave, etc.

Now, I totally get that this was meant to be funny, I really do. And in all honesty, a few months ago, I actually might have chuckled. But these things sting now, they really do. I doubt anyone on the show was singling out people with Down syndrome, or really anyone with a true disability - in my opinion, "stupid" and "idiot" (which I freely use to describe all other drivers on the road because I am the only person who really knows how to drive ;) are really terms that describe people with average to above average intelligence but who are lacking in common sense - but I can't help taking this stuff to heart these days. I don't want to lose my sense of humor, but suddenly words that never meant much to me mean everything to me.

A list of words that I currently find offensive:

~Stupid (I don't find it offensive when I use it, because I know what I mean, but when other people use it, I can't be sure of their motives; hence my finding it offensive. How's that for hypocrisy?)
~Idiot (see above. Also, do you know that this actually used to be an accepted medical term? As in, assylum for idiots??)
~Lame (feels demeaning to anyone who is handicapped)
~Smart (feels like it devalues anyone who might be intellectually impaired/challenged).

Crazy, I know. I hope that over time I can get over this and not always be on high alert for things to be offended by on behalf of Finn.


datri said...

I know exactly what you mean. We watch Bill Maher from time to time and I just cringed when they had a photo of the Olympic athletes biting their gold medals as "Dentally R*tarded" (you know, since the medals are made in China, they are probably full of lead)

Laurie said...

Not crazy to me, Lisa. I feel exactly the same way : (

Amy said...

Why get over it? We never use the word stupid in our household and although I had to stop myself at first, now I am glad that it is not acceptable in our home.

Tricia said...

I totally understand and wrote about not being able to ever relax at a stand-up show (not that I ever actually, ya' know GO to stand-up shows) for fear of them using the R-word soon after Georgia was born.

Maya said...

Hi Lisa,
I just wanted to say hi. I found your blog through Tricia's. I read a lot of it yesterday and could so identify with so much of what you said/are saying. Especially the parts about feeling cheated when all the people around you are having "perfect" babies. I have to say you are doing great considering how recent all of this is. I know it's a lot to digest! My son Leo who has DS is 4 and he's doing great. I wish I could have seen into the future for just a moment, right after those dark days following his birth, to know what a great guy he would turn out to be. I have a blog too, if you want to check it out. Just wanted to say keep writing. I love your honesty.

Anonymous said...

You wrote "stupid and idiot, are really terms that describe people with average to above average intelligence but who are lacking in common sense". Sort of like Jerks, a better term actually to decribe the concept the show presented..Yes, I took it that way, as jerks, from the other night's Daily Show as I watched. I was wondering who might be hurt, tho. What annoys me more is that Tropic Thunder has 3 or more stars in some reviews.

Cleo said...

I used to find them very offensive few months ago but now I understand that the words -retard, stupid, idiot, and lame- do not define individuals with Ds. I’m trying not to use any of them, I bite my tongue, take a deep breath, pause before saying it and then change the subject altogether, I’m working on it.