August 8, 2012

Just a Word: From the Mouths of our Public Servants Edition

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.

Or yours.


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.  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


mindy m. said...

What an asshole. I don't know what else to call him.

sleepy_mama said...

Thanks for calling our attention to this. I called and left a message expressing my disapproval. I wish I could have said something as powerful as you wrote -- but hopefully he'll get the message.

Glenda Watson Hyatt said...

That is disgusting! Why is so much air time wasted on insignificant points, yet other things are glossed over and "we" are told to suck it up, it was meant in jest? Shameful!

Anonymous said...

What an idiot and giant meanie. For all the good it will do, I just sent an email.

Unknown said...

I dare say you would never hear President Obama say something like this - not only because I believe him to be a decent man, but he is also a consummate politician - extremely bad form for a human being, and even worse form for a politician. What is there to gain by making such an offensive joke? The fact that the "joke" was premeditated tips us all to the fact that this guy doesn't have a clue.

Robert Hudson said...

To be fair, President Obama did make his stupid Special Olympics remark on Leno shortly after he took office. But he went on to fully fund IDEA after that, so I think people cut him a little slack.

(His truly unforgivable act was going on Leno.)

Elizabeth said...

Between this and the recent execution in Texas -- it's enough to make you want to curl up and die.

Thanks for your anger and stalwart advocacy.

sleepy_mama said...

Thanks for alerting us to this situation. I called and left a message at the GOP office. Separate from policy issues, a comment like this supports my perception that Republican leaders are a bunch of angry, mean men.

ParkerMama said...

Robert, I posted a link to this article on my FB page today and wrote about it as well. I linked to you and your contact info to Mr. Roddey. I hope that is okay.

No, this is not about politics. It's about character, something Mr. Roddey is totally lacking in.

Tammy and Parker

psysim said...

'Oh I'm so sorry, I saw that Obama sticker and I thought you were mentally retarded."

I've gotta use that!

Jim Roddey for President!

Robert Hudson said...

Stay classy.

Tyger said...

I have to wonder when I hear comments like this: When the heck did society get so *mean*?

Why do we need to denigrate each other for cheap laughter? What's wrong with people that they cheered in response to the joke?

I don't much care who made the initial comment; it just belies the character of most politicians.

Erin said...

In doing so, he saved my job. Literally. If he hadn't funded it fully, I would have been out of work.

Jo Ashline said...

It's so hard not to get discouraged. It's so hard not to wonder if our words and our pleas are having any significant impact on society. It's hard not to want to lock the doors and just give the bleep up. But then I look at my child, who is so very much a whole, beautiful, perfect human being, and I think, "One at a time, Jo. Not overnight, and not all at once. But one at a time. That's how you do it." And then I pick myself back up, brush off the sadness, roll up my sleeves, and get back to work. And this guy just reminds me how much wiser, more loving, and more accepting my son is. Andrew is closer to the meaning of life than this guy will ever be and that makes my son the lucky one. This shmuck could use a few days in the presence of our children and adult children. He may even learn a thing or two. Like how to be a decent human being. Great post.

Wantapeanut said...

This apology is just flabbergasting. It's not even that he forgot he cared - it's just he forgot his record of caring. UGH. And someone voted for him. And probably will again.

Anonymous said...

Well, that response is less crappy than some (no "sorry if you were offended" weaseling) but that's not saying much. Clearly taking cheap potshots at his political opponent was more important to him than the dignity of those he claims to care about.

Robert Hudson said...


Because I can. And did.

Carol Askew said...

Disgusting. I'm disappointed in every person in that room that didn't walk out. That they laughed?? I'm appalled.