I didn't want to write about this today. I didn't want to write about it at all, actually, but certainly not today. I've got another post coming up tomorrow that I most certainly do not want parked next to this delightful topic. And honestly, I'm tired of talking about it, this thing that doesn't seem to ever change, or ever get better.
But then, I'm not the person who thought it would be funny to use kids like mine as the punchline to a horrible joke, all in service of scoring political points and mocking the President of the United States.
Allegheny, PA County GOP chair Jim Roddey, at the election night party for state Rep. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler:
"There was a disappointment tonight. I was very embarrassed. I was in this parking lot and there was a man looking for a space to park, and I found a space for him. And I felt badly -- he looked like he was sort of in distress. And I said, 'Sir, here's a place.' And he said, 'That's a handicapped space.' I said, 'Oh I'm so sorry, I saw that Obama sticker and I thought you were mentally retarded."
Well. There you go.
(I'll no doubt be able to add an update later, with a weaselly statement from Mr. Roddey's spokesperson expressing regret or possibly outrage that his words were taken out of context by the liberal media, and how he does love the little retards of the world so very much. I'll be sure to share it when it comes.)
This isn't about politics; it's just as reprehensible when the sentiment comes out of the mouths of people whose politics align more closely with my own. And this time, it isn't about a slip of the tongue, a casual careless remark, or a moment of poor judgment.
This was a joke. A premeditated joke, one that Jim Roddey planned to make. For all I know, it was written down on a little blue notecard for him. It's even possible that it was written for him, by one of his staff. Jim Roddey stood up, he took the microphone, and he very deliberately and unhesitatingly made a joke, one that I like to think that just about any decent human being would find repulsive.
But that's perhaps the worst part.
From the article: "The crowd hollered and clapped, and then Roddey went into the the usual thanks at political events for grassroots supporters of the winning candidate."
Not one person stood up and called him out on it. Not one person felt compelled to be a voice for basic humanity, for a bare minimal level of human decency. Gathered in a mob, the crowd roared its approval. It cheered and it laughed, and it demonstrated once again that those of us who love and advocate for friends and family with developmental disabilities have a lot of work to do.
And all our work? It might just be for nothing.
I wonder if Jim Roddey and his audience would have laughed if my child had been standing there in front of them. Or Sarah Palin's.
INEVITABLE UPDATE, 8/8: Jim Roddey has apologized for his joke.
"I have a long record of supporting people with disabilities and should have remembered that before I spoke. My remarks were inappropriate and I apologize."See? It's not that he doesn't care about people with developmental disabilities. It's simply that he forgot that he cares. Silly!
Apparently the members of the Allegheny County GOP forgot not to laugh, too.
|Jim Roddey, Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County GOP Chair and swell guy.|
firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 412-458-0068
(Mr. Roddey's phone: 412-512-6747)
The Republican Committee of Allegheny County
100 Fleet Street, Suite 205
Pittsburgh, PA 15220