Since Ozzie's birth, I have become an activist for children who have Down syndrome. Specifically, my goal is to stamp out online hate speech that is directed at the mentally disabled. But the recent national debate about the word "retarded" has shown me that this is a fool's errand. A retard's errand. Because in the past week I have come to understand the true value of retards. They are worth their weight in gold.
For example, they can be used as a classic visual joke. Just check out this clip from the Colbert Report. Stephen Colbert is one of my favorites, and this is Stephen at his finest:
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Formidable Opponent - Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's Trial|
You might think that a visual joke would be enough. But retards have so very much more to give. See how they offer themselves up for a punishment in this article about football, brought to us by Brian Allen Carr at Dark Sky Magazine:
Those retards are just so cool about it, always stepping up to be the butt of the joke. Who knew retards even cared about sports?
So, surely that's it, right? That's all they're good for? Not even close. Those retards just keep giving. Need a snappy comeback? Turn to the retard. Check out this comment I read on my favorite movie news site last night. I just casually stumbled upon this:
Good one, madCanada. Deft use of the "R" bomb. Totally appropriate as a metaphor when you disagree with someone's taste in film. I mean, ricaleite2 is totally a retard. Am I right?
See? Society needs retards. The words "retard" and "retarded" are fundamental building blocks of the English language. Removing them would be like striking the letter "E" from the alphabet. Parents like me, who have been inexplicably offended by hearing those slurs tossed around, are selfishly trying to steal what we don't even rightfully own when we speak up for our children. And if you don't agree - if you just can't get this through your thick, retarded skulls - here's a brilliant commentary by comedian Lewis Black from last night's Daily Show. He really hammers that point home:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Back in Black - The R-Word|
Hear that laughter in the audience? Those people agree! They love retards! They love all things retarded! That faceless laughter is what finally made me see the error of my ways. I finally understand that I'm just being an asshole.
When Ozzie was born, I was sad. I was sad for awhile. But now I realize what a retard I was for feeling that way. Because the day Ozzie was born, fate handed me a living punchline. A little wriggling, squirming joke. A lifetime of laughter. And slowly but steadily, I'm learning that it's okay to love him a little less than I love my daughter. Society is constantly reminding me that it's okay to laugh AT him, not WITH him. That's his true value, the gift of the retard, and it just warms my heart.
Last night I gave Ozzie his breathing treatment. I placed a little purple breathing mask, which is adorably made to resemble a dinosaur's face, over his nose and mouth and turned on the machine that billows medicated fog into his lungs. I do this because Down syndrome has affected the anatomical structure of his airways and has weakened the muscles of his tongue and throat. He doesn't breath well, especially when he has a cold, and he has a cold right now. I thought about that as I held him. I thought about how unfair it is that he has to fight to breathe. And I'll admit, I started to get a little bit sad. But then I looked down at him, and instead of seeing my loving child, I saw him for what he really was - a wheezing retard in a dinosaur mask. Comedy gold. Can I get a rim shot?
So please, world, accept my apology. I didn't mean to be a buzzkill. I just didn't realize how much you treasured retards.