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Parents and Netflix viewers are outraged by a below the belt dig at Down Syndrome made by the self-professed “asshole” comedian Tom Segura.

 

While comedian Tom Segura is the first to admit that he is an asshole, and will guarantee to offend you with his comedy routine, many viewers of his new Netflix program Disgraceful believe that recently he went too far.

Mother of a Downs child, Sarah Valiquette-Thompson contacted the media when she learned of his usage of the controversial word “retarded,” also referred to as the “r-word,” when he related it to a comment about a “21st chromosome.” Moreover, she became further upset by his callous response to an open letter made by another mother of a Downs Syndrome child.

 

Valiquette-Thompson’s letter reads as follows:

Tom Segura’s Disgraceful @Netflix Show – It was brought to my attention that the “comedian” Tom Segura, makes a joke about the usage of the word, “retard” and how it is no longer politically correct and questions if one should say ‘a person with the extra 21’st chromosome’?

Understanding some may view Mr. Segura’s comments as art, it is certainly not my taste of art nor do I find him humorous. Aside from my personal feelings, I don’t find poking fun at members from a community that might not be in a position to defend themselves, retort, or leave their own comments or honest reviews as comical. I have the right and option to not watch his show, and am thankful for that right. As an artist, you do however subject yourself to criticisms and this is where I take major exception.

A fellow mom from the Down Syndrome community commented on Mr. Segura’s social media page, conveying her distasteful reaction to his “art” and in response, Mr. Segura commented, “Netflix, please don’t take my special down. That’d be so retarded.”

 

Mr. Segura commented, “Netflix, please don’t take my special down. That’d be so retarded.” 

A man who is a public figure, a man who his fans adore, a man with hundreds of thousands of social media followers has stepped off his stage and continued on with his show.  This has opened the floodgates and made his fans feel it is acceptable, justifiable or comical to use the word “retarded” on social media, in their reviews, in their comments, lashing out at parents in the Down Syndrome community blaming them for having “retarded” children.   

On Mr. Segura’s Instagram page thousands of fans have commented applauding his comedy and using the word retard. One fan says, “it’s tough growing up with a retarded mother”, A mom from the Down Syndrome community attempts to educate one of his fans and the fan responded, “I don’t care about some retarded website about retards”.

 

Another fan blames the mom for not “getting a prenatal test and giving birth to a retard”. 

Another fan blames the mom for not “getting a prenatal test and giving birth to a retard”. This is a real conversation happening on Mr. Segura’s Instagram page propelled by his original comment off stage. This is deplorable, disgusting, discriminatory, and I am shaking my head in disbelief that he has allowed these comments on his Instagram page to continue on.  

So much hate, ridicule, judgment and ignorance happening right now as you allow an open forum for hatred on your Instagram page. Please, I urge you to share this letter, Mr. Segura, at the very least, remove the post on your Instagram, it is not art or comical to allow all this hatred. Please be part of the solution, not the problem.

Please be part of the solution, not the problem. 

The comments about members of the Down Syndrome community are revolting and today is a day I question my faith in humanity. Regardless, I will use my voice, stand with my friends from the Down Syndrome Community and use all my resources to ensure that this letter reaches as many people as possible and know that goodness will prevail, love is strong, and only hope the hatred forum you have created will disappear forever.

#takeitdown #nomorehate #tomseguraremovethepost #standtogether””

 

Another mother, Michelle Borrelli posted this clip of the controversial skit. Most of these offended parents claim that using the r-word is bad enough. However, when Segura implied that this word was interchangeable with Down Syndrome, the parents were immediately up in arms.

Current campaigns to restrict the use of the r-word remain debatable. Historically, speech policing has notoriously been a slippery slope into a dystopia. Nevertheless, it is clearly naively erroneous of Segura, and as these parents believe, offensive, to associate it with Down Syndrome.

 

It isn’t the first-time viewers have called to task a comedian for crossing an offensive line

Just over a year ago, courts fined comedian Mark Ward around $42,000 for having a joke within his regular routine that mocked a person born with a disability. However, the fining of Ward opened an arena for debate about free speech. Indeed, many argued, that if by leaving out segments of the population from being satirized, could it serve to further cement the stigmas that should instead be dismantled?

Comedy has a long history of exposing dark corners of our culture and society. From ancient times, the court jester, or the wise fool, served to bring to light controversial issues to those in power, through a proverbial back door. Indeed, they were the only ones permitted to tell the truth without fear of repercussions. Historically, a court jester could mock the monarch in front of his face under the guise of entertainment.

 

Offensiveness and comedy have gone hand in hand since the dawn of time

Offensiveness and comedy have gone hand in hand since the dawn of time. In more recent decades, many comedians have claimed that there is not a single topic that cannot be construed as offensive by someone, somewhere. A joke about a banana could outrage a minority, for example.

Consequently, many comedians reasoned that they might as well just offend everyone, no holds barred. Nothing was sacred. Because, if one thing is, all things are, and societies could potentially outlaw laughter. Next, this then leads to a climate that is prime for tyranny. Additionally, before a joke reveals a minority through contrived mockery, who is capable of recognizing that their own inner bigotry was dormant, and waiting to leap viciously?

 

The silver lining of Segura’s statement was that it exposed a multi-layer wound within society

Not only did his naive connection between the r-word and Down Syndrome exposes a severe lack of education on these things, but they also brought to daylight the naivety of much of his audience. Whether he did this intentionally or not, one cannot know. Especially as the fool must always remain disguised as a fool to perpetuate the smoke and mirrors.

Christopher Lee is a prime example of a comedian utilizing offensiveness as a tool. He purposely decided to draw attention to minority issues in his musical The Passion of the Musical. Lee stated, “I decided to, as my exiting psychology project, to make a show that was so offensive to everyone, they would have to speak about issues that were important to them.” Lee warned the community before the release of the show of his intentions behind the production. Nevertheless, Washington State ultimately banned the production after student protests.

 

Offensiveness appears to be a crucial tool of commentary for the comedian

And it is not like they are tricking people to be subjected to their confronting material. Indeed, Segura sternly warns his potential audiences that he is highly offensive. His twitter page, for example, provides a warning about the content he shares before one dares click to view it. Additionally, after the Ward saga, one of the many comedians defending Ward’s offensive actions. And amongst those supporting the free speech of comedians, was Brad Williams, who was born with dwarfism.

In fact, Williams claimed that the catalyst that led him to enter comedy was a comedian that had mocked him at a live show. He alleges that, rather than becoming offended by the joke, he laughed along. Consequently, the comedian invited Williams on stage and hilarious banter ensued between the pair. Now, Williams strongly destigmatizes dwarfism through his highly successful stand-up career.

 

YOUTUBE(Fiction Studios):

 

 

Napoleon famously said “don’t interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake

Napoleon famously said, “don’t interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” In other words, let people dig their own graves out in the open. Why stop them? Furthermore, is there an alternative way to respond to the Segura incident? An alternative course of action that the Down Syndrome community could take to use it to their advantage? Could the community turn the joke against Segura? Rather than interrupting Segura while he makes a mistake, could this incident become a catalyst for awareness of the Down Syndrome community?

Leave your thoughts below.

References: Sara Valiquette-Thompson, Fox 59, The Mighty, Huffington Post

Image credit: Youtube