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Learn where to draw line

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Colin Keeler’s Nov. 12 Letter to the Editor titled “Learning to Laugh,” he claims that all motion picture comedies can “seem ‘degrading’ if viewed in some manner” but they are actually funny to people with a good sense of humor, and can serve to “highlight” the trials that discriminated groups face. Unfortunately, Keeler’s remarks only address what he believes “degrading” represents. The controversy about Tropic Thunder arises from the film’s repeated use of the r-word. For example, one of the film’s characters, Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) plays an actor who starred as a farm boy with a mental impairment in a movie “Simple Jack … Once upon a time there was a [r-word].”Use of the r-word perpetuates negative stereotypes and dehumanizes people with intellectual disabilities. It is an extremely offensive word for those familiar with the challenges of the intellectually-disabled community. Many people fail to understand that the “r-word” connotes the same level of discrimination as other awful words used to denigrate people, such as members of various racial and ethnic groups. I will not list these words, but I think it is obvious which words I mean. Would it be appropriate for SUB to show movies including any such hateful words? Hate speech is not acceptable, especially at a Catholic university. I applaud Mary Forr, and especially her sister Marita, for their courage and their influence on the Notre Dame community. I also urge everyone to please check out an editorial by Dr. Tim Shriver, head of Special Olympics International, whose cogent words on this issue were published in August in the Washington Post. The Special Olympics is one of over 20 disability advocacy groups to boycott Tropic Thunder.

Meghan Kalerjunior Lewis HallNov. 12