Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sarah Palin...

...You have an incredible opportunity to change things for the better, to tell the world that people with Down syndrome are worth fighting for, and that the "R" word is completely unacceptable for use by anyone, anymore.

Calling out Rahm Emanuel, for his use of the word, was expected. But the pitbull's lipstick prints on Rush Limbaugh's buns were unmistakably yours. A maverick would not have let him get away with using the "R" word, even if setting him straight caused some political discomfort.

If it is tough to answer questions from reporters about Trig, parenting a child with special needs, or about Down syndrome in general, get a mantra. Have a "statement" in your back pocket--hopefully one you have thought about carefully and believe with all your heart--to pull out when the topic is discussed. "All people with Down syndrome have worth and potential, just like everyone else" is one (completely non-partisan) possibility.

You are in the national spotlight. When the chance presents itself again, use that spotlight to help others understand the worth and potential of Trig, and of others with Ds. There are a whole lot of us out here advocating for people and families living with special needs, but we don't have millions waiting to hear what we have to say. You, though, have a unique opportunity to bring awareness to the masses. Use your voice for good.


To retard, historically, means "to slow, hold back, prevent or delay".

Mentally Retarded is a medical term which means "cognitively or intellectually delayed".

Retarded, in the medical world, has traditionally meant: "Occurring or developing later than desired or expected; delayed" or "slow in mental or emotional or physical development". But even the medical community is becoming much more sensitive to the derogatory usage of the term and is shifting to use cognitively delayed instead of mentally retarded because of the term's negative and hurtful connotations.

Today, the slang use of the words retarded and retard, are inappropriate and offensive--in any context. They are words used to demean, hurt and diminish, and are meant to suggest that something--or someone--is backwards, stupid, ridiculous, annoying, or worthless.

The Oz Squad is a group of active bloggers dedicated to Down syndrome education and advocacy. Please visit the Oz Squad blog/Open Letter to Sarah Palin post, which asks her to take a stand against the use of the "R"word, even in satire. Please read and leave a comment to stand with us in support of all people with Down syndrome.


  1. 2nd paragraph, 2nd line... OMG, love it!!!

  2. Well said, thanks for putting my thoughts into words!

  3. Nice try, but I doubt that Sarah is listening. She is too busy using her children to further her goals - what ever they are. It is just sad that so many families of children with Down syndrome are treating her like a rock star. We all have wonderful stories to tell.


  4. Barb, I think we all hoped (when SP was chosen to run with McCain) that Ds awareness would increase, and that our community would have a larger "voice" because of her visibility and advocacy. Most people are disappointed, rather than impressed, that she seems to be tossing away the opportunity to be a true advocate for Trig and for others with Ds.

    It doesn't matter what our political affiliations are when it comes to making the world a better place for our loved ones with Ds. She has a platform and opportunity to advance our cause...and so far that isn't really happening.

    I don't know her and I am not judging her as a person. Politics is a weird world. I will say that I wish it was separate from her role as a parent of a child with Ds--and that what I have seen and heard hasn't met my high hopes for what a person like SP could do to promote understanding and acceptance of Down syndrome itself.

    We should all keep trying to counter-balance the mixed and confusing messages others are getting from SP in quantity. We should keep telling our stories.

  5. I confess that I have not watched the entire episode of Family Guy and do not know how the story of a young woman with Down syndrome going out with a boy who does not have it was set up or even if the words Down syndrome were used in the episode. All that I have seen is the famous line about the governor of Alaska and I must admit I wondered what the problem was around Down syndrome from that clip. I kept searching to find more about that and less about Sarah Palin. I did love this quote from the actress who voiced the character, Andrea Fay Friedman, who does have Down syndrome. "My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life. My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes."