A Large Lack Of Respect

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: August 13, 2008

CALIFORNIA — This week, “Tropic Thunder,” a DreamWorks production starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and several other Hollywood actors, will open in movie theaters nationwide.

“Tropic Thunder” has been marketed as a satire about Hollywood actors and the movie industry in general. It is intended to be an adult comedy with crass jokes and scenes to make moviegoers laugh.

The United State Special Olympic Committee is not laughing and neither should the rest of America. This is a serious issue and need to be addressed by all Americans.

These young athletes play for love of the game so we (Americans) should love and respect these less fortune Americans who compete, not to win the game but to just play the game.

As we watch the Summer Games in Beijing, China we need to send a message to Hollywood. The Mentally Disabled or Challenged cannot be cannon fodder for other Americans just as African Americans are no longer cannon fodder for the movie industry.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s the German (Nazi) Government started using the term Mentally Retarded. This term has stayed with us for many years and it may take many more years to change the use of this term.

Junior High and High School students still use this term to degrade their classmates when they make a mistake or do something wrong.

In “Tropic Thunder,” there is a movie-within-the movie called “Simple Jack…Once upon a time there was a “retard” (a term no longer used in the disabled communities)

Ben Stiller plays a simple man with intellectual disability. Both “Tropic Thunder” and “Simple Jack” contain extremely offensive material promoting the idea that a “retard” is funny.

This theme runs throughout the film and occurs on numerous occasions.

This movie contains hurtful material to the Mentally Disabled; the release of “Tropic Thunder” is a rare opportunity to address the much needed abuse of the “R-word” in society.

Special Olympics have decided to lead an effort to publicly address this language and the negative attitudes and behaviors associated with the use of the pejorative “retard.”

The R-word is dehumanizing and demeaning to the 200 million people around the world who have intellectual disabilities. Hollywood and “Tropic Thunder” use and abuse the R-word, encouraging behavior that continues to demean a portion of our population who already face many challenges.

This writer has been called this disgusting word many times by many Americans who do not know me. The R-Word was used because of my speech disabilities.

Many Americans with Cerebral Palsy attains this label because of their spastic (involuntary body motions and lack of control of their motor skills) movements and their slurred speech or awkward gate.

This writer and the American Special Olympic Committee encouraging a national boycott of “Tropic Thunder”, asking people to be fans of dignity by not seeing this film.

Also if you have the time please write DreamWorks Movie Productions and express your dismay.

This will hurt the ticket sales, and will make a statement to Hollywood that we will not stand for this brand of malicious content.

For full details on this issue, daily updates on the boycott efforts, and 12 things do to support this boycott and bring an end to the use of the “R-word,” visit http://www.r-word.org/.

Thank you for being a fan of dignity.

Thank you for being a fan of acceptance.

Thank you for being a fan of the human race.

Thank you for being a fan of Special Olympics University of California- Berkeley and throughout America.