An open letter to Howard Stern:
Hey, now, Howard, please don't be a Rob Portman!
It's been a year since my last post asking you to stop using the r-word/s (retard/retarded). As I stated previously, the r-word is a slur against people with intellectual disabilities. It's hurtful to these people and to the people who love them. It's hurtful because it's exclusive, it's offensive and it's derogatory. In using the r-word you are bullying a group of people who cannot defend themselves. You are bullying a group of people who are true underdogs in society. You are bullying people who radiate endless happiness and have nothing but pure hearts.
Don't end up being a Rob Portman, Howard. As you know, about a year ago, Senator Rob Portman ended up changing his stance on gay marriage when his son came out as gay. I remember listening to your show that day and you were out of your freaking mind that Portman completely lacked empathy for a cause until it directly affected his family. You were irate over his ignorance level and thought he was a complete douchebag by his sudden son-induced epiphany that maybe gays should have the right to marry too.
Howard, if one of your daughters had a special needs child and she asked you to stop using the r-word, you would stop using it in a nanosecond. If you heard that your grandson/granddaughter -- an innocent, pure-hearted child -- was being called a retard and was being bullied at school because they were intellectually challenged, your heart would break and you would do everything within your power to stop it. Don't wait until that moment, Howard. Don't wait until it directly affects your family. Don't be a Rob Portman. Do something now. Draw on the empathy and compassion that prompted you to stop using the word "faggot" because you realized it was a slur toward gay people and promoted bullying. Draw on the compassion and empathy that guides you from using the n-word because you know it's a racial slur and offensive to black people. Howard, using the r-word as a synonym for "stupid," reinforces the hurtful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities. The word bullies these individuals into being less valued members of society. Your use of the r-word continues to be a huge blind spot for you. It's not okay. You are promoting bullying. Please stop.
This is the year for you, Howard. You talked about my post on your show last year. And while you tried to shrug it off, I know you thought about it. Please Howard, take the pledge and be a champion of respect and anti-bullying. Don't be the bully. You are better than that. You are the champion of the underdog. Your voice matters. Your fans and your staff will follow your lead. Lead them to a more respectful place, Howard. You will do more for this campaign through your pledge to stop using the r-word than the entire campaign has achieved to date. Your pledge will be the catalyst to help establish dignity, inclusion and respect for all people with intellectual disabilities.
March 5 is the annual day of awareness for the r-word campaign: Spread The Word To End The Word. Howard, will you please take the pledge to support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities?