Thursday, March 26, 2009


I need to climb up onto my soapbox for a moment. When I started this blog a few months ago it was my intent to stay away from hot-button topics. Politics. Religion. Even steroids. But I feel I need to bring a topic to light.

Reading the sports card blogs has opened my eyes to many things. Some wonderful, some, well, not so much. I have seen bloggers and those that comment use the word retard or retarded. I find this type of language hurtful and painful. I'm sure that those that say or write those words probably don't give it a second thought. It may just be part of their normal vocabulary.

My daughter, Caroline, has Down syndrome (Ds). She has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. Clinically she has mental retardation. I know that, but seeing the r-word used with such casualness is disturbing to me.

I would ask that the readers of this blog to take a moment to think before they speak (or write). Words are powerful tools. Please stop using this demeaning word. It isn't fair to those with intellectual disabilities.

There is a campaign underway to address this issue...
Some resources about Ds and those with special needs can be found here:
* National Down Syndrome Society
* Special Olympics

The other night, Caroline had a fever. She couldn't sleep very well, so into daddy's chair we went. The World Baseball Classic was still in full swing. Japan was beating Cuba. Yoennis Cespedes had just dropped a fly ball and they were playing that clip over and over again. Caroline started to giggle and laugh. She thought that it was the greatest thing. Then she said, "C is for Caroline. Also for cat. And also for cookie." She saw the C on the hats of the Cuban players. She got it.

She likes to watch gymnastics on TV. We call it flip. When watching NASCAR she'll pump her fist in the air and say (to my wife's delight), "Go Jeff Burton. Go Junior." She loves to watch her older brother play middle school football. She can identify the letters on my Rockies T-shirt and will point to them and spell it out.

The other day I mentioned that Carl Erskine and I shared something. It is that we both have a child with Ds. Albert Pujols has a step-daughter with Ds. It isn't that uncommon.

This is Caroline...

So, as you speak or write and are tempted to use the r-word, think of Caroline. Think of me. Think of the 7 million people in America that have intellectual disabilities. Think about using a different word. I thank you. And they will, too.

I'm stepping off of my soapbox now.


  1. Your daughter sounds incredibly sweet, and while I am not one to use the offending word, I too have noticed its prevalence on the blogs. Keep on stepping on that soapbox when you've got things like this to talk about.

  2. Nice post. When you mentioned earlier that you and Carl Erskine had something in common, I actually did think about his son and wondered if that was it.

    It's amazing how often that word was used on the playgrounds when I was a kid. I don't hear it quite as much, but it's still around too often. I had thought a lot of people had quit using it, but I guess not.

  3. Mark, I don't know what to say. That post was fantastic, and I hope that - since I have been guilty of using that slur in the past (it's common in Boston to hear "wicked retahded") - I won't be able to use it again without hating myself a little for it. Here's hoping you don't need to step on that soapbox very often.

  4. For a while, perhaps around 10 years ago, I thought the word had been close to eradicated though unfortunately it appears to be coming back.

    Thanks for the perspective.

  5. In the education world, in the 60's, MR, MMR, etc. were regularly used for labeling, reporting and discussion. How times have pleasantly and beneficially changed.

    Good post!

  6. A soapbox worthy of stepping tall on ! Casual use of damaging words is something every generation must learn to avoid. Caroline is a gift ! "C" is for Caroline !

  7. Guilty as charged and appreciative of your post. Sensitivity can be taken to the extreme but you do not and I will watch more carefully the words I use. Thank you.