Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A world without laughter

Intellectually and Physically Challenged?
Can we please just say retarded, crippled or disabled!

My name is Paul Miller and I am a cripple! Yes, I said it. Your brilliant blogger is announcing to the world that he is a cripple. I have one arm. My years of guitar lessons turned out to be a waste of money the day a surgical oncologist amputated my right arm. My dreams of playing first base for the White Sox also went to Hell on that same day. So I am now suppose to allow this obvious disability control my life? Hell no! Am I a victim? No chance! Was I dealt a bad hand? Sure, but I asked the dealer to hit me several times and I came up with Black-Jack in life.

Yesterday I was watching one of my all time favorite movies, The Usual Suspects. In the film the words cripple and gimp are used often in reference to a character who has a deformity in his left arm and left leg. Am I offended? No! Why would or should I be. The person was crippled (until the ending) and even though gimp is a negative term, the use of it was necessary to expose personality traits of certain characters. So once again, how can I or anyone with a disability be offended?

Unfortunately there are people who make a living at being offended. Sometimes they are not a member of the group of individuals that was supposedly insulted, but they usually have a list of victims who they can prop up in front of a camera or microphone to make their case.

Recently the movie 'Tropic Thunder' hit the theaters and it's use of the word "retard" is apparently offensive. While the movie uses the term to poke fun at actors who believe they are prima donna's, not at people with mental disabilities, advocacy groups for people suffering from mental retardation are crying foul.

Without a doubt calling a person a "retard" is offensive. However simply saying the word, especially in a fictional situation that does not poke fun at mentally disabled people is harmless.

Intellectual disabilities, intellectually challenged, intellectually disabled, mentally challenged. All of these phrases are politically correct, but even though the word retarded means the same thing, the negative connotations associated with the word now make it off limits to be used by polite society.

What the f**k people! Are we now offended at simply saying a word? What ever happen to context? What about simple common sense?

In a recent interview with Good Morning America, Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver talks about the offensive use of the word in the movie. In the same story by GMA they show the scene that is stirring the controversy. You be the judge.

Mr. Shriver, who represents an organization that does great work and who your brilliant blogger has raised money for, does a terrible disservice for their cause. What is truly offensive is how Special Olympics athlete Loretta Claiborne is used by Shriver as puppet to legitimize his complaint.

One of the funniest scenes in movie history is in Monty Pythons the Holy Grail. We all know the famous sword fight when Arthur (king of the Britons) cuts off the limbs of the Black Knight. As the Knight has his arm sliced off he refuses to concede defeat and calls the amputation a "scratch." King Arthur then cuts off the Knights other arm and he says it's "just a flesh wound."

Maybe I should be offended by this scene? I have no right arm. Isn't it horrible that a movie found humor in a man losing his arm and eventually all his limbs? Maybe my fellow cripples, oh wait, I mean physically challenged brethren should boycott Blockbuster stores and cable stations that provide or show this film.

Of course not. The Monty Python troupe wasn't making fun of the disabled they were laughing at ignorance, denial and so on.

Why can't we laugh anymore in America? Why do we have to look for things to be offensive? Why do we have to look for the hidden message or an alternative meaning or motive?

Can't funny just be funny?



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