Sunday, November 15, 2009

43. Savage Love, indeed

So, five days ago I declared war on a nationally syndicated columnist because he used a very hurtful headline on his own blog. The columnist is Dan Savage, the headline was "The Tard Supper." I'm not going to go into all of the details about this situation – anyone who isn't familiar with it can read all about it on my advocacy blog, Oz Squad.

Anyway, to sum up what happened, I was offended, along with scores of other parents of children who have Down syndrome. We posted dozens of comments on Dan's blog asking that the headline be removed and demanding an apology. I actually made direct contact with Dan via email. He didn't apologize, but he did read my emails and he did write me back a few times (too bad he had nothing to say). He very likely even visited this blog. But it looks like that's all I'll ever get from Dan Savage.

Days later, I'm left to ask myself why, exactly, this particular episode struck so deep a chord with me. Why did I care so much about this headline? Aside from the fact that the headline was hate speech (wildly inappropriate, especially when used by a syndicated columnist), the answer, I think, is that my idols are falling before my eyes. I was a fan of Dan's column, just like I was a fan of the comedian/radio host I mentioned a few posts back. It's really shocking when a person you like says something so hurtful for such a cheap, disposable laugh. I feel betrayed.

I don't want this to be so personal. I want to just brush it aside and forge ahead, just forgive and forget. But something about this particular brand of senseless mocking is just unforgettable for me. It leaves a stain that never really washes away. I can read Dan's column again, I guess, but I'll never really enjoy it the same way. Not ever again. No matter how hard I try.

I have this uneasy feeling that this sort of thing will continue to happen, and I'll gradually have no more idols. No place to turn for entertainment. Jon Stewart? Colbert? Conan? Please, please no. Please guys, don't say anything stupid. Just let me believe that you are decent men, even if you are all jackasses.

Like everyone, at the end of the day I enjoy a good laugh. But I would appreciate it if people did not make jokes at the expense of my child.

Also, I would appreciate it if Saturday Night Live was funny again - last night's episode was terrible. But I digress.


Hector and Jennifer Varanini Sanchez said...

I agree Dan. It's like I'm on pins and needles when I listen to people I admire speaking publicly and when I watch my favorite comedic sit coms.

I also felt the same way about President Obama when he so casually and easily put down people in Special Olympics. I'll never look at him the same way.

Yes, we're human and we make mistakes but I think what would help us all feel better is that these people did fumble and took notice of our hurt and then honestly apologized, it would make a world of difference. Right?

Keep on keeping on Dan! We hear you!

Hector and Jennifer Varanini Sanchez said...

A few typos but I hope I made my point :)

Molly said...

Somehow the R word has become a go-to word. It irks me to no end. It is a sign that the person using it is too lazy to think of a more APPROPRIATE and less offensive word, that they don't give a sh*t about the people it targets.

People use it at my school. I say to them "you go to an Ivy League university and THAT is the word you choose to use? When you KNOW the kids I work with? Please use a different word. You are too smart to fall back on a word that not only offends me and the children I work with, but it doesn't even mean what you are trying to say. So pick another word!"

Like I have said before, I am not impressed with Dan Savage. But I am impressed our Dan and the Oz Squad!

heather said...

I agree that SNL was awful last night!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you have said and with the mission you gave to Oz Squad members. I am so hurt and appalled I simply cannot respond to his headline. It will take a while for me.

For a grown man to be so hateful, well, it is just unacceptable in every way I can express. We have to work every day to protect our beloved children from all the meaness in this ungodly world.


Windmills and Tulips said...

Dan, I understand what you mean about admiring people and then having them drop a bomb on you. It is very hurtful, but we're so proud of your stance.

Blessings my friend.

Cate said...

I think part of the hurt with Savage is that I think he should have a better sense of what it's like to be the underdog. Instead, it feels like he's happy to have found a group he can kick around.

Nick McGivney said...

Retard does not have the super-charged connotations on this side of the Atlantic. I have no idea why these things are so. As a consequence, what you've described here happens rarely, and hackles don't go up so much when the word is used. I think - not in the guy's defence: I don't know him from a hole in the ground - that sometimes people speak in harmless ignorance. Inappropriate for sure, but not deliberately hurtful, just idiotic. But when they're called out on it the defences go up and that's the less forgivable part. Retreating into some position of righteous anger when they're clearly wrong. And so it goes. We end up in a situation where there are very few heroes, and those you admire will often make you reevaluate them and downgrade. But if you ask me that is just fine. I don't want my heroes ten a penny. They should be few and far between. That then makes them special, and not in some demeaning or diminishing way, but in a real way. In a way that makes them awe-inspiring and different. Kind of... kind of like our children.

my family said...

what you said is so very true. Hi, I just found your blog and have been reading some of your entries, you are such a wonderful writer and your children are so blessed to have you as a father,Your little man is precious too and I would love to follow your blog

jonashpdx said...

well, it's possible that stewart is listening, at least:

Yo! said...

Had the exact same kick in the gut....liked Savage a lot and assumed he had empathy for other underdogs.... Literally dogs.....Savage has it out for pit bulls ....doesn't care, doesn't want to hear it, no nothing, get rid of them all....and now I read about his dismissal of your concern with the word "tard" can someone who knows first hand what it's like to live a misunderstood life be so hypocritical and mean to others fighting the same intolerance.....considering Bill Maher is such a big animal rights advocate I can't believe he still has him on the show, or doesn't confront him about it....,it's the hypocrisy that's so galling