I had also known of the Spurlock speech last friday. I had a different reaction than what I read here, and I wanted to share my point of view regarding the whole retard reference - more specifically, the fact that the "special needs" teachers led their classes out of the gym at the helmet and retarded references. That was the thing that really got me-leading the disabled out of the audience at the reference: WTF???
I don't really care about the speech itself. It was the response by the special ed teachers that really pissed me off. Removing the spec ed kids from the audience? Since when is THAT not discriminatory? Why don't we have a speaker who makes jokes about African-Americans and just remove all the black students from the audience? See, it sounds awful when translated to race. It's the same thing, though.
FROM SOMEONE WHO IS A HANDICAPPED AMERICAN I am personally offended that, during
Martin Spurlock's speech last friday, the teachers led their special needs
classes out of the auditorium at Mr. Spurlock's humorous usage of the word
"retarded", or any other joke about special needs/handicapped students.
This is not a letter addressing whether Mr. Spurlock was right or wrong in
choosing his words the way he did. The school is not responsible for his
surprises. This is addressing the actions of your teachers, specifically the
special education teachers, and how they reacted to the speech.
Are we second-class citzens, that we are not allowed to be part of the fun?
It's okay to make jokes about politicians, celebrities, male/female
relationships; these are all "normal" people so it's OK to include them. But
creating some barrier about joking with the handicapped only serves to alienate
us further from mainstream society. I don't want to be treated with kid gloves,
and I've already had to go through being picked last for kickball; don't let the
well-intended authorities make us disabled people picked last in humour, too.
What a conceited notion that you "norms" should get offended for us! And lead
us out so we aren't even allowed to hear a humorous mention of our own
existence! THAT, my friend, is true discrimination. By leading them out, you
are still singling them out.
If you ask me, taking yourself so seriously to force others around you to live
in a colorless, humorless world, is an indicator the self-righteous "norms" are
more "retarded" than someone with, for example, down's syndrome or with behavior
or developmental challenges.
You are teachers, not representatives, of the disabled. And, just because you
are in a career you consider to be a "noble" thing to do, does not make you
handicapped, and it definitley doesn't make you automatically knowlegeable of
what we really go through on a day-to-day basis. How dare you "normal" people
think you're the spokespersons for us! You don't speak for me, nor do you
speak for anyone else I know with a disability, be it mental, emotional, or
physical, or a combination of all three.
The act of removing those with special needs from the auditorium so they can't
enjoy a speech that actually includes them in a joke shows your ignorance of
what it really means to be disabled. It also sets a bad example for the rest of
the school. Mr. Spurlock went on for an hour after that, so it must mean it's OK
to joke about the retarded so long as they're not present. Let's make it easier
for the "norms" to laugh by removing the ones being made fun of.
If you had a public speaker who made a joke about African-Americans, would the
teachers lead out all of the black students from the room? What do you think
would happen if the teachers tried this? Don't you think you'd get serious
attitude from the black students? Of course you would. So why is it OK to
treat the disabled like this?
I think those teachers in question owe me and the rest of the handicapped an
apology. I won't name names right now, however I am sending a copy of this to
the ADAC and ACA. I am also posting this on several blogs for the handicapped.
We will all wait for your apology on behalf of the special education department
in the school.
A Former "Special Needs" student