Thursday, August 19, 2010

Open Letter to Ms. Aniston

Dear Ms. Aniston,

I understand you live in an alternate universe. I understand that inside that universe, there are only repercussions for things such as: using the N word, using the 3 letter F word to describe homosexuals, and being conservative. But I don't live in that bubble of yours. And outside of Hollywood? Here in the real world where we commoners live? Many of us don't appreciate your flippant use of the word retard. I was struck by how effortlessly it flowed from your mouth as you playfully bantered with your buddy Regis.

You may feel I'm being overly sensitive. Do you feel African-Americans are overly sensitive when they object to the N word? Do you feel homosexuals are overly sensitive when they object to derogatory terms used to describe them? I venture to say you would never consider letting n***** or f** slip from your botoxed lips. I'm guessing those words horrify you (as they should!). How about spic, jap, or chink? Again, horrifying! I'm guessing you would stand in line with all of your do-gooding, Hollywood pals to rip apart anyone who uses such language. But retard? Well, who really cares about the retards, right? Because you didn't mean anything by it, right? You were just joking around during an interview, right? I should lighten up, right? My deceased daughter, Victoria, would have been what you consider "a retard". So, no thank you Ms. Aniston, I will not lighten up. What I hope for is free speech coupled with common sense and compassion.

I value the freedom of speech we are afforded in this country. Do I want all of our words monitored, picked apart, placed under a microscope? Of course I don't! And that's not what I'm doing to your words. No picking apart, and I wasn't monitoring you. Simply had the tv on and heard you very clearly throw out "retard". I'm not sure why you would use such a term. Maybe because you are insensitive, callous, maybe you just haven't ever cared enough to consider that using the term "retard" could cause others pain? Possibly the word flowed freely because you don't think there will be repercussions. No powerful groups like the NAACP, GLAAD, or La Raza are going to come after you. This won't be splashed all over the news. Or, maybe it will be? If it is, you know you can simply issue an apology through your publicist. You'll visit a few special education classrooms. You'll flash that smile of yours and once again, all will be well in your alternate universe. I'm not buying it.

Before too long, you and your Hollywood people will decide you can make a "cause" out of this, you and your celebrity cronies will somehow find a way to make the free speech/compassion combo beneficial to you. Maybe you'll all come together for a prime-time special on tv, you'll take turns answering phones and prancing around on stage. You can share your stories of how you once used hurtful words, but now see the error of your ways. Maybe you could invite Mel Gibson and John Mayer. Maybe even the President...he did have that little slip up when referring to his bowling skills as being on the level of the Special Olympics. Fans will send in money for your cause. Some may even fall at the feet of Hollywood, praising you for saving the world from the ills of hurtful language. But there are thousands of us who have never, will never, fall at the feet of Hollywood. Shocking, isn't it? The fact that not everyone is enamored and awed by celebrities. The fact that there are people out here who already reject derogatory, ignorant speech...and we didn't even need a celebrity to enlighten us.

There are countless numbers here in the real world who already understand words can hurt. We know it isn't all that difficult to think before speaking, to rid our mouths and even minds of derogatory words. Words that pack punches so hard they can knock grown adults to their knees. We are capable of enjoying free speech, and adding compassion to that freedom. When you and those living in your alternate universe decide to preach on this topic, just know we won't be listening. We're way ahead of you on this one. We're way ahead of you on most things.

In the mean time, Ms. Aniston, you might want to check this out:
You could probably learn a lot.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Alone...Not Always a Bad Place to Be

Cheryl, thank you for sharing this.