iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
John Robinson

John Robinson

GET UPDATES FROM John Robinson

The R Word: Thank You Jane

Posted: 05/25/11 06:37 PM ET

I had the chance to speak with intellectually-challenged students from all around northern New York state this week. It was an absolutely wonderful experience! We spent the better part of four hours sharing stories about overcoming obstacles. I can't tell you how much inspiration I receive from developmentally disabled individuals -- always with a smile on their face as they achieve their dreams.

One young woman asked me how I dealt with bullying when I was in school. Did students pick on me due to my disability? I answered that I always tried to stay with people who looked beyond my disability. I suggested that she should stay away from those that hurt her and stay close to the people who care. She said it makes her very sad when people hurt her because of her differences and many of the other students nodded their heads, sharing her pain. This is a big problem -- it does hurt people and it continues to happen.

I spend my days speaking to businesses, as well as students, and the same advice can go out to the business world. A majority of businesses that I've met with over the past two years are very interested in promoting good corporate citizenship across the spectrum of good causes.

There is so much goodwill that stems from sponsorship of local charities, having a diverse workforce, and successful business culture. We are at a great time in the business community. But, there are still some "bullies" out there in the real world that do not realize how much their words hurt.

Jane Lynch and Lauren Potter of Glee are doing something. They just posted a PSA on www.r-word.org about hurtful language. Though this is wonderful, not everyone in the media realizes the negative impact of hurtful language. There are many celebrities that appear on the WHPT "The Cowhead Show" in Tampa to promote themselves. I wonder if they realize the bigotry.

I'm a big Boston Bruins fan -- a really big fan. Because of my passion for the Bruins, I have been following their tweets and press releases. This playoff season, the Bruins had billboards around Boston making fun of the Tampa Bay Lightning fans. They poked fun at the age of the citizens of Florida which is not appropriate. Through Twitter I found out that these billboards were taken down. It seems that Tampa Bay radio personality Mike Calta asked the listeners of "The Cowhead Show" to call the Bruins to take down the signs. With the power of the station, the listeners had enough calls to make the Bruins take down the signs. No harm, right?

Wrong. The Cowhead Show should not throw stones living in a big bigoted glass house!

It seems that Mr. Calta has a segment of his radio program called "Retarded News." This is Unbelievable, disgusting, and dismissive. This is the kind of behavior that needs to stop. Mr Calta is a bully in the real world. The words he uses hurt young people like the young women in Northern New York just trying to live without being picked on.

It does not help when a radio personality decides to use the "R word" for his comedic and monetary gain. Advertisers flock to radio programs because of the listeners. The radio station is supporting the promotion of negative stereotypes of people with developmental disabilities. I wonder if the advertisers realize how hurtful their dollars are to people with developmental disabilities. Those companies must have family members that are touched by disability. They have family members that served in the Armed Forces and came back with a combat related injury, or a child with autism or another developmental disability -- I know they do.

It is too bad we all can't listen to that young woman share her pain of being bullied because of her disability. Society would be better off. The use of the "R word" for comedy or profit would stop.

 
 
 

Follow John Robinson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/getoffyourknees