Over the past several years, Special Olympics has worked diligently with other organizations to bring awareness to the offensive use of the word retard or retarded (the R-Word) and how hurtful it is to people with intellectual disabilities.
Unfortunately, there are many instances when television programs and movies work against our efforts by using the R-Word in their scripts. In my point of view, HBO is the most recent offender when they used the R-Word on several occasions in the premiere of Veep, a new comedy series starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
To make matters worse, the show also makes fun of the official who is sent to provide sensitivity training about the use of the R-Word by the character Dreyfus is portraying.
To HBO, the creators of Veep, and Dreyfus, I say you made a huge and offensive mistake. There was nothing funny about your story line and using the R-Word as a comedy theme wasn’t appropriate.
More than 300,000 people have taken the pledge not to use the R-Word at http://www.r-word.org/. To these individuals, we thank you. We also applaud your efforts to educate others about the positive roles people with intellectual disabilities have in our communities regardless of TV and movie portrayals such as the one HBO recently aired.