Mad As Hell *Updated*

You know what? I’m pissed.

I’m not usually one to go there. Frankly, life is full, I’m busy, and pretty much nobody wants to hear it. I get that. But this is my blog and today I’m venting.

There’s a local afternoon radio program in New Orleans. It is, at best, mediocre. It also comes on the radio station with all the Top 40 music that Charlie loves so much. So, despite not loving the program, when we’re driving an hour each way to Feldenkrais therapy, I will occasionally have it on.

Imagine my dismay today when I heard one of the DJ’s call the other “retarded” on the air. There I am, riding in my car with my disabled child and THAT comes on the radio. I immediately changed the station, but the damage was done in my mind. A black mark on the already stressful adventure of taking four small children into the city.

At the first available red light I tweeted my dismay.

As I expected, the radio station didn’t respond to my tweet. Why should they? Who am I? Nobody. About three people responded and two retweeted me. I wrote a tweet about my cat throwing up on my dining room table once that garnered more attention.

And that was fine with me. I made my complaint. It was my fault for listening to the show with the kids in the car–I shouldn’t have expected anything different.

But you know what frosts my freakin’ cookies? When people defend stupid choices. When people say things that are hurtful and then get all bent out of shape when they get called on it. I mean, really? No part of me thinks that DJ was completely unaware when she uttered that word. She knew exactly what she said, but rather than apologize, the station posted this:

And then this:

I get that it’s a free country. I get that we all have freedom of speech, but freedom of speech is not the same as being a jerk and never getting called on it. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that people have to listen and not say anything.

So I’m saying something. Here, in my space, and if you don’t want to read it, then don’t. And if you don’t agree, that’s fine too. I’m tired of being quiet about this:

It’s not cool to use the word retarded as an insult. Not cool at all. Defending the usage in a public forum? Ridiculous. Inexcusable.

This is a city where earlier this year we heard how just one person uttering that word can ruin a child’s entire experience at Mardi Gras. No one who lives here can say they have no idea that those words can be hurtful. They know.

I don’t expect that DJ will apologize and the station she works for probably won’t either. If anything, probably a couple of people unfollowed me on Twitter for making a big deal out it.

I’m fine with that. People being ugly is one thing–institutions defending the practice is another.

It’s not right.

**The DJ at B97 post an apology on both Twitter and Facebook. I’ve been told there was an on-air apology as well, but I didn’t hear it.  I’m posting the Twitter apology below–it appeared exactly the same way on Facebook. Some people don’t love the apology, but I’m happy one was issued. I think we always hope that a better understanding of the issue will be a result of talking about these issues, but a step in the right direct is still a step in the right direction. **

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  1. I agree. Use your grown up words, people. Don’t have to be crass just for ratings. One wonders if that person has no experience with people with other abilities..? Food for thought?

  2. I cringe every time I hear that word used. I also despise the word “Stupid”. And I REALLY REALLY hate it when people use the word “Gay” for something wrong.

    We just need to keep voicing our opinions! People only lash out like this because they were called out. They’ll learn to be more sensitive. Eventually. For the whole human race, I hope so anyway.

  3. I’m embarrassed to admit that in my younger days, the word “retarded” was part of the slang I used. It wasn’t until a friend pointed out how hurtful it was and really put me in my place that I stopped. I wasn’t purposely trying to hurt anyone by saying it – I just really didn’t know better at my age. I stopped saying it immediately and gained a whole new consciousness how my words could be hurtful without my even realizing it.

    It’s scary that the station can get away with being so offensive to its listeners, going so far as to post defensive tweets about it. I’d be making a call to the station. Your anger is justified.

  4. Let me guess what radio show that was, the same one that spent 30 minutes putting down homeschoolers last year and thought nothing of it. I don’t listen to them anymore if I can help it.

  5. There is a fitness class instructor at my gym here that uses that word on occasion to reference looking “funny” while doing Zumba moves and I wince HARD every time she does it. I’ve thought of going to the front desk and saying something on my way out. I probably will next time I hear it…

    I’m so sorry you and Charlie had to hear it on the radio AND that they are so nonchalant about it. Boo to them.

  6. The funny thing is I stopped listening 6 months ago when her husband used the r-word on air and she had to lecture him on why it was inappropriate.

  7. Okay, I expect there to be stupid people in this world… But for a STATION to represent themselves that way? That is awful, and I would be wanting to somehow give them heat for it. I hope you find a way to make them sorry.

  8. I posted your blog on there facebook page. Maybe everyone who reads your blog should do the same

  9. I hate to be a stick in the mud, but B97 plays utter garbage and their DJs are shallow airheads. The kids love the beats in the music, but the lyrics are so sleazy. I let them listen to it while we’re going to/from school (like 15 minutes), but that’s it. At home they get WWOZ and Putumayo CDs (they really do prefer Harry Belafonte over Nicki Minaj). The trash-pop DJs aim to appeal to that superficial celebrity-chaser crowd and the “like, oooooomg did you see what she was wearing” thing is more than I can bear. I’d like to lock “Stevie and Teapot” in a room and make them watch Schindler’s List or The Killing Fields over and over so they can find their humanity.

    I wouldn’t defend the use of words like ‘retarded’, ‘gay’, ‘spaz’ and many other terms like them, however it’s important to understand that the literal meanings of these words are not intended when most average people use them. They usually use them for lack of a better term (they’re ignorant). That said, there are thousands of adjectives in English so I’m sure we can encourage less creative minds (like B97 DJs) to use equally powerful but less derogatory language.

    Anyway, I agree with you. While I think no one has the *right* to not be offended, they DO have the right to speak up and change hearts and minds one at a time.

  10. My husband and I had a similar experience where a local sports radio show guy used the term “short bus” multiple times to describe players he thought were having off nights. My husband called in and complained and instead of apologizing the radio guy tried to claim that the term “short bus” does not mean what we all know it means. I guess people get embarrassed to be corrected or something, but really just owning up and saying you didn’t realize and you’re sorry makes it so much better than trying to defend your mistake.

  11. Pistolette I disagree with you. The average person knows exactly what they are saying when they use those words. The problem is that no one has called them to the carpet for using them. When people used to use the n word..they knew exactly what they were saying. To try to feign ignorance in this day and age is laughable at best.

  12. good coment

  13. YES….THANK YOU for speaking up!!!!!! I get Mad As Hell too & I’m not afraid anymore to let it show! I stick up for my daughter & all of the wonderful children and adults we have met over the past several years that have disabilities. I HATE that word!!!!The people in my life that care about my family….they are standing next to us hating the word too. One person at a time.

  14. Thanks! The use of this word in inexcusable! They say that we go off on the use of this one word but what if I decided to use the “N” word to describe someone? They would be all over me as they should be and I will be all over them for using the “R” word as I should! WTG for standing up for all of us. I am behind you 100% I always try to educate people when I hear them use this word as well. We can stop it if we keep speaking up!

  15. Get em girl. Sounds like the people that manage the station are just as rude and crude as the people they put on air.

  16. Special Needs Mom says:

    It is too bad that it is used as a negative as much as it is. But I think people should remember what it really means, “slow”. That is all. My son is a special needs kid and his actual diagnosis from one institution was “mental retardation”. I wasn’t offended because I understand the meaning. I just wish people would get a clue. Let’s not use words as negative when they don’t mean anything negative.

  17. Nope…retardation or retarded mean “slow”. “Retard” is a derogatory word used to degrade a person. There is a difference and I have a clue. Lots of them. Yes I am pissed as hell too.

    • along with “slow”….slowness or limitation in intellectual understanding and awareness, emotional development, academic progress, etc. As far as I’m concerned….any form of the R-Word is using it as a derogatory word to degrade a person & it pisses me off too!

      • Thanks Heather! I am AMAZED that someone with a special needs child would (I hope) inadvertently excuse someone using that word or any other that would degrade another human being. I am VERY angry about this and I will not remain silent as not to offend someone who got called on it! Tough toodles. you have free speech, so do I. But guess child doesn’t have a have voice. I AM HER VOICE. I will not remain silent.

        • I’m with you Tammy!! I am my child’s voice & advocate….I will continue to be as long as I breathe!!!!!!! We can all stand together & keep speaking up. Hopefully we will see the day that ends the R-Word.

  18. I don’t live anywhere near you, but I’m still pissed that your family had to endure hearing this. I tweeted the following to that station: @b97 I heard about your use of the word “retard” on air. Unacceptable. It’s just as bad as saying the n-word or “that’s gay”. #erasetherword

  19. There is an apology on their FB page now…suppose that’s a start. Like I said before…one person at a time 😉

  20. Email sent to Entercom. NOT acceptable. Shameful and ignorant. The on-air remark was enough – the online response was absolute ignorance at it’s finest.

  21. Karen Driver says:

    Screaming, “AMEN!” So many times it is about an apology . . . just knowing that the wrong is acknowledged . . . some sense of justice! But, oh, NO! Businesses, be it radio shows or even service providers whose “Mission” is to serve people with disabilities, NEVER want to admit “fault” . . . what “might” happen as a result is ALWAYS more important to them than what they have done wrong! My brother was just discharged from a residential program because, even with an intellectual disability, he was a great self-advocate about not even being able to choose the food he eats and the lack of so many times! Any apology? NO WAY! They just got rid of the “complainer” and his family! Justice? Not so far! Can’t address his Board of Directors – they refused to meet with us. Department of Mental Health Advocates advocated FOR the program! Our Protection and Advocacy attorney has done a GREAT job advocating with us, but since no “laws” were broken . . . advocacy is IT! EVERYONE, but the program, sees the wrong . . . but NOTHING can be done because all the “Rights” belong to the program to run it any way they see fit . . . even though my brother’s Rights from program, Case Management agency and Department of Mental Health ALL say they are to protect him from emotional and psychological abuse . . . and . . if discharging a man with an intellectual disability from his home of 3 years and neighborhood of 13 years with NO EXCUSE is not emotional/psychological abuse . . . PLEASE! Hope others join you in expressing “ethical” WRONGS as well as legal! It’s about Justice to the most vulnerable population and calling peoples’ hand when they do wrong!

  22. The R word is a SLUR. There is no defending it. There is no being a stick in the mud about it…you wouldn’t use the F word for an LGBT person or the N word for an African American… you don’t use the R word. Period. This station should be issuing apologies AND donating it’s butt off to every special needs education organization in town.

  23. I just wrote the station. It is unacceptable to use such language in our day and age. People should know better by now. I chose to take a certain tact when I wrote them….

    I mentioned that the CDC says that 1 in 88 children are diagnoised with autism and I asked if they could afford to upset those people and their family and friends. If it boils down to numbers for them, they should notice that that is a significant portion of their listeners that are affected by such disorders and disabilities. Perhaps the numbers will make them take notice. Only time will tell if they have a brain or not.

    In the meantime, keep on, sister!

  24. You are right to do/say everything you have. I have a son, who is in his twenties now, who was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when he was four. He head a hard time moving around and was called all kinds of things. It made me angry, but, I learned people are just insensitive when they have no exposure to a situation.

  25. I listen to Kidd Kraddick on the way to work and he is incredible, brings sick kids to Disney every year. Love him. Then, after work it’s them. Exact opposite. Insensitive and ignorant. Can’t switch to NPR fast enough! I still catch my self starting to use that word. It’s part of my 80’s vernacular, I think. Long before I had a special needs kiddo. Working on it. And it’s people like you who speak up that continue to remind me. Thanks!

  26. This is detestable! We had a somewhat similar situation in St. Louis recently, with a similar reaction. Why is it that disability is the one minority group that people feel that these bullies feel that it is their constitutional right to discriminate against. Our kids deserve better, because they give out so much better.

  27. Yes its an apology but a crappy one! Those terms are all offensive when used in a degrogatory way and sadly thats the majority of the time.
    I cringe if I hear these words and have no issue whatsover in educating the person who has said it.
    Find a Cd for you and the kids to listen to , to brighten your car rides xxxx

  28. I have a great love for children but these disabilities – have me very confused as growing. Up I experienced similar difficulties. Though the learning process found, others who helped me understand why they used that word (to claim back their children?)We live in a very diverse culture especially here in Africa. I look over the years and see where things changed and for the better -I see Charlie and I know he is a wonderful boy keep persevering and the right things will appear.ToL…..

  29. The “aPology” is better than. Oohing…but not much.

  30. I wish I could type… The apology is better than nothing…but not much.

  31. Ugh. I hate that word. I grew up with an aunt with Down Syndrome. That word was NOT allowed in our house. Ever. And I’m so thankful it wasn’t because it isn’t even in my vocabulary now.

    I started my masters in occupational therapy 3 weeks ago. It bothers me how many classmates I’ve had to correct in those 3 weeks for using the ‘r’ word, and the word ‘gay’ in inappropriate contexts. COME ON PEOPLE! You’re going to be professionals! So completely unacceptable.

  32. That apology is not what it seems. Maybe I’m seeing it too literal, but to me that reads as “I offended people with the use of the word, I don’t get why they’re offended, and well, sorry they saw it as offensive” No where in that “apology” is “I’m sorry I used a word that is offensive, I shouldn’t have done that, and I won’t do it again”…it’s “I’m sorry *you* were offended”, like *you* were wrong for being offended.
    To me, it reads like an apology on the face of it, but when I break it down, I don’t see an apology,. I see an obnoxious attempt at placating someone, which is too bad, but, unfortunately, also the cultural norm nowadays.

    • No, I got the same thing and I’ve seen it before. It’s not an admission that they were wrong, it’s “I’m sorry you were offended.”

  33. Katy,

    Kudos to you for not overlooking the ignorance of that station! You have every right to vent about that! I would have pulled the car over and called the radio station! lol People in the public eye or ear should not say derogatory statements like that! As for the “apology,” they weren’t truly apologetic. They were just concerned with how it made them look. They knew they were wrong for what happened. They were just trying to avoid negative attention for their business.