Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Where Will Political Correctness End

2 Nov 2011British funny man, Ricky Gervais has recently been caught up in some controversy over various ‘tweets’ that he’s posted via his Twitter account.

The 50 year old star and creator of the hit television show, The Office, has come under fire when he ‘Tweeted’ some posts that offended people from the Down syndrome community.

Mother of two disabled daughters, Nicky Clark, who is also a disabled activist, was outraged and became quite emotional on a morning radio program after reading Ricky’s ‘tweets’ and watching him try to defend his actions.

After chucking Twitter in last year, saying that it was ‘undignified for grown-ups’, Ricky decided to rejoin his fellow ‘twits’ this October, but not without stirring the pot upon his arrival.

Ricky posted a few tweets using the word ‘mong’, and different variations of the word. Mong was a term that was used many moons ago, referring to someone with Down syndrome. Ricky’s tweets included; ‘Night night monglets Putting the cat on recharge then off to bed’, ‘Two mongs don’t make a right’ and ‘Good Monging everyone’.

Adopting the use of some outrageously shocking vocabulary in an attempt at humour is nothing new for Ricky, who has publicly insulted many people before, including celebrities and whole races while hosting The Golden Globe Awards.

After receiving some flak from his non-fans about what he said on Twitter, he replied saying that what he wrote was done so, with no intention of insulting people with Down syndrome.

Lots of words in the English language these days have taken on new meanings, what with abbreviations and the use of slang becoming so common in this day and age of texting, Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

For example, the word ‘gay’ doesn’t have anywhere near the same meaning that it originally did. Back in the day, gay used to mean happy, but these days, the word gay refers more commonly to homosexuals, and among younger generations, the word gay is now used as a term stating that something or someone is being silly or an is an idiot. So if I say ‘that shirt is so gay!’ doesn’t mean that I’m saying the shirt you are wearing is happy or homosexual, but that it looks stupid or silly on you.

The same goes for the word ‘mong’, it is casually used amongst some crowds as a word to describe that someone is acting a fool or as the urban dictionary states, it can be used to describe someone who is intoxicated from alcohol or experiencing the effects of drug use, ‘he is totally monged out’. Urban dictionary also taught me that it can mean a ‘man thong’, a g-string worn by a man.

My opinion is that words can be hurtful, but they are also just words, and the way you interpret those words is up to you. Whether you choose to take a word or a term in a derogatory manner or in a humorous way is your choice. For the record, Ricky did end up apologizing for unintentionally upsetting the disabled community once he had a private chat with Nicky Clark about her thoughts on the matter, and some of the tormenting that her daughters endure on a daily basis.

If some people weren’t aware that the word ‘mong’ related to people with Down syndrome, they certainly will now. It’s amazing how PWD want to be treated as equal and experience inclusion, but as soon as a simple possibly but not necessarily disability-related word is used in a non-disability-related sentence, and is misinterpreted, people from the disabled community jump up and down and make a big fuss, which ultimately makes them stand out as being different even more.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just not being sensitive enough to my fellow disabled peeps, but personally, this sort of thing doesn’t bother me. I feel like if the whole world became so PC, then no one would ever burp or giggle in public ever again, and we would all go crazy trying to self edit before saying something out loud. And the universe would be a very dry, boring place to live in. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

To read the original article where Ricky finally apologizes, click here: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/entertainment/8363943/gervais-apologises-for-mong-twitter-jokes


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Previous Comments

Keith from London posted on 2 Nov 2011
Perhaps you should get to know some victims of bullying because of their race or impairment.

Rissa from New York City posted on 2 Nov 2011
When words are hurled at me specifically, intentionally, hurtfully then yes, they have the power to sting and even leave a scar. I bear more than my fair share of those for growing up as I did. That said, I personally feel that we are PCing ourselves to death. I have a hard time feeling bad when an entire group of folks jumps on a word uttered that wasn't directed specifically at them. There are still quite a few reasons a mean-spirited or unintelligent person might choose to poke at me even today. I live my life through the lens of "what you think of me is none of my business" and "those that mind don't matter and those that matter don't mind".I absolutely don't go around slurring people or even individuals but I DO speak my mind and heart. I can't be worried about each and every word I utter... my intent is never to offend but hey, shtuff happens. I am most certainly not cold but I do feel that people need to develop a bit of a thicker skin. Wasting energy on a perceived dig that wasn't intentional at all is counterproductive and detracts from a quality of life that can be worse than most "disabilities". I also feel that if people focused only on those remarks from people that were meant to sting, they'd be taken more seriously. Just mho.

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