Saturday, July 4, 2009

25. Call to Arms?

A few days ago I was offended by a post on a random blog that I discovered via the Blogwatch section of my other site, downtownds.com. It wasn't anything horrendous, just a callously and poorly written post about strangers on a city bus in Calgary (read it here). For whatever reason, that particular post really irritated me, and I posted a comment to let the author know. After my comment, a few other readers joined in and let him know that they felt the same way. The next day, the author posted an apology. He apologized to some of us individually.

And that tiny little victory got me thinking. In the past year I have made the transition from "regular guy" to "DS dad/blogger/webmaster." And I'm ready to start pushing a bit deeper into "DS advocate" territory. But I need your help.

I'm thinking about forming a watchdog group of active DS bloggers. Down With Oz has helped me meet some brilliant and passionate DS parents. It amazes me how quickly info spreads between all of us, and how willing people are to offer support and advice whenever they can. I would like to find a super easy way to focus and aim that energy with precision. Sort of like a giant DS laser.

So here's my working idea. I would invite you DS bloggers to join an email list. Then, I would ask you all to keep your eyes open as you surf the Intertubes. If you see something really offensive, you would email me and let me know about it. I'll check it out, and if I think everyone needs to know about it, I'll email it to the group. I'll come up with a simple tagline so everyone can always recognize a call to action. And then we start commenting.

I want to be clear that I'm not out to create some bitchy, whiny, hyper-sensitive group of bloggers who are looking to pick a fight with the world. What I'm interested in doing is educating the public, making sure the rest of the world knows that my son is a valuable person, and reminding others that cruel, ignorant and insensitive remarks about mentally handicapped people will not be tolerated. I don't want to waste my time on the really small fish - I won't lock and load every time a 16-year-old blogger in Idaho uses the word "retard." However, if that 16-year-old is the editor of his high school newspaper and uses that expression in a column, I will consider calling him out for it.

I have no interest in using this group to target/support a particular political group. I'm also not interested in pushing any religious agenda. And I won't send you a dozen emails every day. Most days, you probably won't get anything from me. I'm guessing it may be more like once a week, or maybe even once a month. That way, when I do write, you'll read it. Also, don't get mad if you tip me off to something and I don't email it to everyone. I'll be using my own judgment.

Does this seem worthwhile? Reasonable? Interesting? Is everyone already involved in a group like this and I just haven't heard about it yet? Do you already get too many emails? I need some feedback here. I'm really trying to decide whether I should organize this, and obviously I don't want to invest time in it if it wouldn't be useful to anyone. Please pass this post along to all of your friends so I can reach out to as many people as possible.

After you other brilliant bloggers give me some feedback, I'll write a follow-up post. I'll either give you instructions for signing up/participating, or I'll scrap the project.

Also, if not that many people are interested in this, I have a plan B that involves buying a van and a dog and driving around solving mysteries. We could do that with a much smaller group.

UPDATE: If anyone has come directly to this entry on my blog, be sure to read the newer post that followed this entry. Oz Squad is a go. Email me your contact info - don't post it in a comment - and I'll add you to the list.

25 comments:

Ria said...

Count me in! I'm all about advocacy work and educating when needed. I have read several articles in the past that were offensive but seemingly from the point of view of someone unaware of the "proper protocol". Recently, one of my son's therapists told me about a reporter/newscaster(?) who interviewed Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals player who has a daughter with DS) and he used the term "Down Syndrome kids". I can get his name from the therapist and maybe we can email him?? Or maybe drive up to his house in your "Plan B van with dog" and snuff him out. --dooby-doo!

Hector and Jennifer Varanini Sanchez said...

I'm in! I'm also very sensitive these days and would love advice and assistance in how best to handle situations that come up. It's amazing how often disturbing things happen. Even on my facebook page from friendst that know me and know Joaquin and STILL use derogatory remarks. I've been advocating quietly and as gently as possible so as not to alienate anyone but would to have an "armed" team with me :)!

Cheri said...

Dan I am CRACKING UP..Toby too, when I read the plan B about buying a van and a dog and driving around solving mysteries!!! :) Your personality cracks me up. :)

Count me in too....and I whole heartedly agree about wanting this NOT to be a whiny, bitchy, hyper-sensitive blogger group.... that would do nothing to help our children. There will be some issues I will choose to comment on and others I will read about, take in, and not comment on...but love the push this will give me (if you do this) to get out there a little more with my voice.

ds.mama said...

Is the first stop going to be a visit to Erik Sean Nelson from the Huffington Post? Count me in.

DownTownDan said...

Mr. Erik Sean Nelson is a bad, bad man. I'm almost tempted to post the full text of his article on my site where it can live forever as a testament to people's cruelty. His mother must be so proud. If any of you have not yet read it, it's here: http://www.patriciaebauer.com/erik-sean-nelson

Lisa said...

I love this idea, Dan! I'm in :) I'll post a link to your post here on my blog as well, to put the word out.

Karen said...

I am not a ds blogger but a pwd. Its a great idea though. Advocacy of any kind is a good thing.

Hector and Jennifer Varanini Sanchez said...

I had not read the article by Nelson until just now. That is truly unbelievable. I'm totally speechless. It's times like these that we need a "call to arms" in order to find our voice and make it heard because I'm honestly speechless after reading it.

Molly C said...

I'm in. I don't really blog, but I am working on it. and yeah don't get me started on the huffpo. anger. intense anger.

But yes, I love to advocate. and educate.

Loren Stow said...

I'd love to take part too - I am all for educating and shedding light where there was once only ignorance and narrow-mindedness. And, I think that much can be achieved when working in unison - it's no secret why they say 'there's strength in numbers'.
Lets do it!

ds.mama said...

I would like to find a way to address the Sarah Palin/Trig thing. I am not saying I like or dislike her, but I know for sure what she said about wanting more Trigs has been so twisted up and used to hurt people. Just this morning I read an attack on her that had a nasty aside about her being "pro Down syndrome". I couldn't help but comment. Maybe you could visit too...

http://zalandria.wordpress.com/2009/07/05/sarah-palin-writer/

The offensive text was,
[We need more children with Down's Syndrome? Did she really say that?? SHE'S PRO-DOWN'S SYNDROME??]

located about a 1/4 of the way from the end of the post.

Coco said...

Dan that's a great idea. Count us in! Advocacy for our little ones is so important.

Cate said...

I'm in. Sounds like a great idea.

Laurie said...

Hiya Dan! Im on vacation and have been totally out of the loop...BUT I did see this post and would be honored to be included. Anything for Mr. Dylan and all his buddies...: )

Tricia said...

Count me in too. Thanks! Also, I have automatic alerts sent to my email everyday with Google. Every time the words Down syndrome are mentioned online in a place that is picked up by Google I get a synopsis of it. (Although I don't think it it 100% thorough by a long shot.)

Anyway, another thought.

Linda said...

I'm in. I think it's a great idea and I'm glad you're not being hyper-sensitive, just being an advocate. Love it!

Perplexing Situation said...

Count me in! I'm all up for advocating and educating the masses.

rebecca said...

This is an issue that has been a concern for some time now. The problem is that the random posts of truly ignorant people seem to come without any warning and often go unnoticed.

I often use Google blog search to locate families of individuals with Ds. About 3-5% of the time those results are of the variety that offends. Sometimes I let it go understanding that the person who wrote them is truly mindless and not like to make a real impact on the world, other times I leave anonymous comments, or report images and such to the web company hosting them.

Most of the online groups quickly spread the word when a comfort level has been breached and from there the word spreads like wildfire. I'm not sure a watch dog group would really be any more successful than the people already reaching out to others as they are now.

Are you a part of any online group, yahoo email group, or other board that may provide you with some additional ideas or sources for such a potential group?

rebecca said...

p.s. one great source of information is Pat Bauer's blog: http://www.patriciaebauer.com/

jonashpdx said...

I'm in. but only if there are scooby snacks. i'm working on a post now that may touch on the sarah palin/erik sean nelson thing as well as a couple other things that caught my eye this week.

DownTownDan said...

Rebecca - I am aware of Patricia Bauer's site. It's excellent. I am not affiliated with anyone, and I'm not claiming to have any real connection to any major group in the Down syndrome community. I'm starting this group as a way to connect to others in the community, and as a way to stay informed about the latest news. I'm sure others have done this more elegantly, but I'm doing the best I can and I hope we can turn this into something really worthwhile. Also, jonashpdx - I'm not sure who you are. Please email me directly with your info so I can add you to the list.

Jocelyn said...

I'm for the most part a silent reader of blogs, but would love to be a part of this. What a great idea to pool our efforts to make that much more of an impact!

rebecca said...

So, sort a small group then that would communicate with one another about concerning reads? I will read your post today to learn more.

Chanda said...

I'd love to be a part of this as well.

DownTownDan said...

Hi Chanda - please email your info to me and I'll add you to the list. Please don't leave it here as a comment.