Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Help Stop the Negative and Hurtful Portrayal of People with Disabilities!

Special Olympics North Carolina, The Arc of North Carolina and its affiliates across the state have joined together to speak out against DreamWorks' new film, "Tropic Thunder." The film features the prominent use of the R-word (retard) and portrays people with intellectual disabilities in a disparaging way.

The way a society refers to people with disabilities shapes its beliefs about and responses to them. The R-word has long been a harsh reminder of the ridicule and negative stigma directed toward people with intellectual disabilities, yet the word is becoming increasingly popular in today's culture. Although it is often not directed at a person with intellectual disability, it is used in a negative fashion, to demean or highlight someone's lack of ability - a direct reflection on what people view as the capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities.

"This is not a matter of promoting political correctness," said The Arc of NC Executive Director Dave Richard. "This film's depiction of people with intellectual disabilities is derogatory and demeaning. It does incredible damage to people with intellectual disability."

"Labeling and humiliating others is unacceptable in this day and age," said Keith L. Fishburne, Special Olympics North Carolina president/CEO. " I am calling on the people of North Carolina to be a fan of dignity -- stop using the R-word and do not support this extremely offensive film."

"This film also furthers the negative stereotypes that our state leadership has worked hard against through numerous legislative initiatives," said Richard.
"The leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly worked diligently this session to pass a budget and laws that positively affect people with intellectual and other disabilities."

To counter the film, The Arc of North Carolina is initiating a campaign to educate people about the negative consequences of inappropriate language about and towards people with disabilities. Chapters throughout the state will join the state office's efforts to promote people-first language that affirms the dignity of people with disabilities, fosters positive attitudes and paves the way for more inclusive communities.

Please visit The Arc of North Carolina's website for more information about this hurtful film. Make sure you watch the short video about RESPECT and read the materials about people-first language and Hate Speech.

Thank you for helping us promote respect for people with disabilities and their families.

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