Monday, February 12, 2007

Random Thinking

Tom from Random Thinking posted an item recently that I read with great sympathy. I kept thinking about his post and wondering if it was appropriate for me to comment. After much gnashing of teeth I've come to the conclusion that it is wrong to discreetly avoid uncomfortable issues.

Tom is a member of a minority group that is struggling to be heard. He is the parent of a child with Down Syndrome and his job is just that much more difficult than the average parent's. Downs children are purely sweet and loveable, there's no question about that, and it's a 'given' that their parents adore them and want them to be treated decently.

The item Tom posted refers to casual, unthinking insults that you and I probably wouldn't even notice. The rest of us - decent enough people, but not sensitized to the issue - barely notice the 'jokes' which are made at the expense of handicapped people.

Tom and other parents of Downs children are angry and they've discussed boycotting the sponsors of television programs which have offended. I think perhaps they're wrong there. I suspect that most of the insults are unintentional. But certainly people need to be educated.

I don't suppose my comments are worth much, but I've learned something from Tom and perhaps you'll go to his blog too and consider what he's up against. Is there anything that we can do to help?


At 8:12 AM, Blogger Tom P. said...

I'm not actually calling for a boycott. I'm calling for networks and advertisers to be more aware. The extra chromosome joke was done by Al Gore during his campaign for president and it was noted at the time in all the papers as being offensive so this isn't anything new. Trisomies are not funny. T18 causes Edwards syndrome which is almost always fatal in the first year of life. T13 causes Patau syndrome which is almost always fatal within a month of birth. Is that funny? Is watching your child die a big joke? Apparently it is to the Cartoon Network.

At 12:08 AM, Blogger Jan said...

The British writer Nick Hornby has a child who I think is autistic; he has written movingly about how it has affected him and his family. I am not sure how to get hold of this but Tom may find it of interest.


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