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Jokes

People are always trying to be funny and sometimes they end up being rude… or just stupid. I’m not referring to bad jokes, I am referring to jokes about special needs/ disabilities. It used to happen a lot when I was in school, which is expected because ya know, dumb teens. But it always hits me hard when it happens now, as an adult coming from other adults.

I don’t know what’s worse… Seeing someone catch themselves making that joke in front of me, them making the joke at all, or seeing them not care about making the joke. It’s all a frustrating experience for me.  I’ll share two sort of recent experiences, both from people I love dearly:

Church:

So this one happened after a Sunday service and a group of us were sitting together at a table talking.  I’ll refer to the person who made the disability joke as  Professor X. I do not remember exactly what was said but someone at the table said something and either mixed up their words or was teasing someone who did. Professor X then rolled his/her eyes, waved his/her arm back and forth by his/her chest and babbled. Then Professor X looked at me with wide eyes and said, “Oh no, I’m sorry I didn’t mean it like it that.”

What I should have said: Then how did you mean it? So, suddenly, it’s not funny because of my brother? Was it funny to you before? Why make the joke? Look, it’s okay. Just please don’t make those jokes regardless if I’m around or not. — Any of that might have been acceptable.

What I said instead: Nothing. I smiled at Professor X and walked away.

Tutti Frutti:

So this one took place at a frozen yogurt shop called Tutti Frutti. I’ll refer this person as Magneto. It was a group of us that had taken several cars. One of the people I was with parked in handicap spot. Actually they parked sideways taking two handicap spots. Now my brother can walk, my issue was not directly related to my brother, my issue was that it was a rude thing to do. So when Magneto got inside I said ask why he/she did that and that it was not cool. Magneto’s response still boils my blood. Magneto said, “But I am handicapped.” With a big ol’ smile like he’she just said the funniest thing and then did the exact same thing that Professor X did in my previous scenario. ^^

I was bolder this time, I didn’t smile. I told Magento to stop laughing, it’s not funny. Magento said, “Oh.” That’s it. Magneto didn’t apologize and that’s okay, but at least I said something.

There have been countless other times. Some that have nothing to do with Joel or his disability; like a whole group of people making fun of sign language, pretending to limp, or pretending to have any disability. It all makes me cringe and makes me what to slap them give them a lesson on decency. They should know better. Education is important people. Don’t be ignorant, don’t make these jokes.

P.S: Same goes for using the word retarded. Just don’t.

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3 Comments on “Jokes

  1. Until we learn to appreciate the power of language and the importance of using it responsibly, we will continue to produce negative social consequences for t​hose victimized by dangerous language habits.
    J. Dan Rothwell, Telling It Like It Isn’t:

  2. I completely understand your feelings. Can I offer advice? Speak up and speak often. If your passion for injustices moved you to make this blog, it should also aid you in being the advocate on the streets. I commend you for wanting to tell others your life as a sibling of one whom has DS. As a mother of a special need child, I know the hurdles one face …but I’m happy to see a different perspective.

    I know the jokes that you speak of. My son, who is disabled himself, one day threw me for a loop. Here, he stood, in front of some neighborhood kids acting as if he had no arms. I know he didn’t mean to condemn those who have no arms, but it was appalling non the less. I called him out. I asked, “do you have two arms? Did God bless you with some?” Of course, he answered yes. I then posed another thought provoking question, “why would you want to act as if you have none?” His reply, “I don’t know, it seems fun to be something I’m not.” I was stunned. In a way, I was glad he would want to put himself in another’s shoes, but in the same breath….who would think “fun” would come from having no arms? Of course, my Autistic son.

    I didn’t yell nor belittle him when I spoke next. I asked him if he would go get a cookie for everyone. Without using his arms. Needless to say, he couldn’t. He was agitated and frustrated that I wouldn’t let him use his hands/arms. It was then I posed the final question, “So, is it fun anymore..not to have arms/hands?” He lowered his head and looked as if he was going to cry.

    I told him, he is different and has apparent signs/symptoms that others ask about/talk/even make fun of. A different type of disability, like having no arms, is to be treated no less than his. That he should be humbled and grateful that God blessed him with working limbs. Ever since then, he only asks what something is like…as opposed to finding it “fun”.

    Keep up the advocacy and speaking out. The more people understand the more this world can improve.
    RBD

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