Letters To The Editor


April 05, 2009

Carelessness can feed discrimination

Even the best intentioned people make slips of the tongue that they regret. We assume that was the case with President Barack Obama, who recently joked on the Jay Leno show that his bowling "was like the Special Olympics."

President Obama apologized quickly for his comment, and there is no reason to doubt his sincerity.

We shouldn't let this opportunity pass, however, because our children are listening. And we ourselves need to be reminded that casual remarks can hurt people's feelings and, more insidiously, contribute to an environment where some people are treated less equitably than others.

The Arc of Howard County spends every day supporting individuals with intellectual and development disabilities in their efforts to enjoy full community life. These individuals are our family members, our neighbors and other members of our hometown. They do not deserve to be the subject of jokes, no matter how benign.

Supporting individual rights, liberties and opportunities means respecting the dignity of all people. And that means avoiding the carelessness of language that reinforces the prejudice and discrimination that people with disabilities have been fighting for generations.

Carol A. Beatty

Joseph V. Murray Sr.

Beatty is executive director of the Arc of Howard County and Murray is president of its board of directors.

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