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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Family Guy" Not Kind To One Family - The Palins

One of the nice things about blogging is being able to join together with like-minded folks with a common mission. Today the bloggers came out in force in support of Sarah Palin and her son Trig, and against the show "Family Guy" and it's intolerance. Below are links to various writer's articles on the subject:

Leave Governor Palin’s Children Alone! (UPDATED with Gov. Palin’s Facebook Note)

Family Guy mocks Palin and special needs community

Family Guy: Equal Opportunity Jerks (Update of previous “Leave Gov. Palin’s Children Alone!”)

Gov Palin & O’Reilly Discuss Tea Party & Special Needs

These posts articulate, much better than I could, many of the facts and feelings surrounding this. I can't speak for others but I can speak about my own experiences.

When my youngest son was born with special needs, it was found that he could benefit from an early intervention program. I met so many wonderful families with beautiful children, many with Down syndrome, and have kept some of those friendships nearly 20 years. These children are gifts from God, a reminder of what beauty is. They have the purest of hearts and don't get caught up in all the drama and pettiness that consumes the rest of us. My other son, who is autistic, is much like this. He is trusting, sometimes to a fault. He feels no ill will toward people and thankfully, was oblivious to much of the ridicule when he was smaller.

I remember one incident in particular when he was about 12. He was always a big kid for his age, and was once described as being "perpetual motion in the flesh." He never sat down, was always on the move, had volume control issues and a great deal of difficulty with body language and personal space. He still, at the age of 22, gravitates toward things that people much younger than 22 are interested in. One thing he loved was going to the park. So, one day when he was 12, we went to the park.

Here we were during the day (because I homeschooled) and the park was filled with young mothers with their very young children. He would get so excited and bolt for the wooden fort with ladders and tunnels he barely fit in, but I would let him play there because he loved it so much. On this particular day, he bolted toward a group of small children as they played on this fort. I saw the mother of one girl who had to be about 2. She stared at my son and as he came closer, she pulled her child from the piece of equipment she was playing on and whisked her away, sheltering her from my son. All she could see was this big kid, who appeared to be a young adult, bolting toward her child. They just didn't understand. I'm grateful my son was not aware of what had happened. I, however, was painfully aware.

I wrote a poem about another experience with my youngest son, in which an after school director forced him to sit on a mat and not interact with other children for fear he would be "hurt" (at least that's what she said). It is titled "A Friend Like Me" and has been adopted my by many Down Syndrome organizations:

Please don't be afraid of me
I want to be your friend.
And if you get to know me
Your rigid thoughts might bend.

Thoughts that I am different
From others that you know,
I really am no different
And this I'd like to show.

I live and breathe and laugh and cry
I love to play and learn,
I sometimes do things differently
Which can cause some concern.

You see, some say I'm special
I guess this much is true,
But if you were to ask me
I'd say you're special too.

We're all a little different
No two are just the same,
It's really something wonderful
that way there is no blame.

When things don't go just perfectly
And others get confused,
And say things like "poor child"
and other terms they use.

It's okay if you look at me
And might not understand,
It's okay if you touch me
And even hold my hand.

My life has many obstacles
Much more than you could know,
But that's not what I dwell on
I'm me, that's all, and so...

Please don't be afraid of me
I want you just to see,
How truly great and wonderful
A friend like me can be.

I have also faced the stares, the pointing, the whispers under the breath about how the kids looked or behaved, and of course the ever-present criticism from people who just don't understand.

I never, however, had to face the depth and breadth of ridicule that Sarah Palin has had to face. Today I told one of my friends, a mother of a child with Down syndrome and disability advocate I've known 15 years, about what happened with the "Family Guy" episode. Her response was very direct, and telling:

"You flatter me if you think I can influence anyone to stop attacking people w/disabilities in the name of 'humor.' It is disturbing to see how 'acceptable' this has become. No other group of people are told to just accept the disrespect heaped on them."

She articulated the situation very well. When will this stop being acceptable for anyone with special needs? When will the attacks stop for Sarah, her kids, and her family?

My friend did rally the troops in her state to make calls to the sponsors of this show. WE ALL should be making those calls. These attacks need to stop and those who produce "Family Guy" need to understand that in no way is this acceptable.

- To see this post and others by Tracey Porreca, please check out Finding Myself In Alaska

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