language & grammarmovies

One of the dumbest things I’ve ever read

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I haven’t seen the movie Tropic Thunder, so can’t say whether it’s any good. I also can’t say whether or not the jokes involving the ‘Simple Jack’ subplot, about which I know nothing, degrade ’intellectually disabled’ people, as Tim Shriver claims, or whether they actually parody Hollywood and actors, who exploit retarded people in order to have a chance at winning awards, as Neil Miller claims. What I think about the term ‘intellectually disabled’ and the prospects of ‘retarded’ disappearing as an insult can be gleaned here.

What I can say is that the following Shriver statement is batshit insane: 

Mockery in any form, or for any purpose or directed at anyone, especially those least able to defend themselves, is neither funny nor acceptable. We must work together to bring it to an end.

Got that, folks? Remove the “especially those least able to defend themselves,” as that is merely the worst kind of mockery (hence the ‘especially’), not the meaning of the sentence. Tim Shriver wrote this column for — this is not an off-the-cuff remark or an out-of-context quote. He had time to consider it and phrase it as he desired. He knew that many thousands would be reading it. So we can take it as Shriver’s considered opinion that “mockery in any form, or for any purpose or directed at anyone, is neither funny nor acceptable.”  

Scott Stein is editor of When Falls the Coliseum and runs the humor site STEINLINES. He is author of the novels Lost and Mean Martin Manning. His short fiction, book reviews, and essays have been published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, The G.W. Review, Liberty, National Review,, and Art Times. He is a professor of English at Drexel University. Scott tweets @sstein.

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5 Responses to “One of the dumbest things I’ve ever read”

  1. The “R-Word”? What the hell? The word is retard! It is in the dictionary.

    A. A mentally retarded person.
    B. A person who is stupid, obtuse, or ineffective in some way: a hopeless social retard.

    I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but there are a lot of people in the world who fit into this category. I have a feeling that if these “Obtuse” people who want to hinder the use of the American vernacular will next want to stop using words like smart or genius because the people who are not will be made to feel bad about themselves. The thing about humor is that for something to be funny there has to be an element of truth to it.

    For all of you PC folks out there, why don’t you just drink your double mochas and read your fuzzy bunny news because it will just a matter of time before you will not be able to speak at all once that all the words in the lexicon are outlawed because someone gets offended by them.


  2. There really is only one appropriate response to Tim Shriver ‘s asinine statement: Mockery. He’s right that there are times when it is inappropriate and should not be tolerated. But this is not one of those times. What a dumbass.

  3. You make an intriguing argument. But do you think it might be retarded to call a CNN guest columnist with obvious intellectual disabilities “batshit insane”? (Opps, I mean, the “b-i words”?) I smell another, less publicized boycott coming ’round the bend!

  4. What I’m finding interesting at this point is that everybody seems to have forgotten about a Ben Stiller movie that got cheap laughs by mocking the mentally retarded a full decade ago (Something About Mary). In fact, that movie was named on of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time” by Premiere.

    Double standard? Or is the use of the word “retard” in this moive supposed to be somehow worse than in “Mary”?

    This kind of humor in a Stiller movie isn’t new or unexpected, so I’m not sure why it’s so scandalous THIS TIME.

  5. Mockery in any form? There goes political discourse, Wilde, Pope, Byron, Aristophanes, and Jon Stewart. Do we need anyone to tell us what’s funny? Are the “sensitive” people, who seem to be sensitive only to their particular problem and certainly not nuance or wit, to be the judges of what is or is not acceptable? Joyce’s paralysis of the insane is turning to rigor mortis under the rule of the thought nazis. I have a mildly autistic daughter and I’ve watched her struggle and empathized with it, but I still have to say it: Tim Shriver’s a retard.

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