Gavin McInnes compares Al Sharpton to someone with Down syndrome on Hannity

Gavin McInnes compares Al Sharpton to someone with Down syndrome on Hannity

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I still remember when I first found out that my son had Down syndrome. It’s not really something you forget. The week before, my husband and I had to decide whether or not to get the amniocentesis. We did, because I just had to know. I didn’t want to have an abortion, but I had to know. I couldn’t go the rest of my pregnancy worrying and stressing about whether he had Down syndrome or not. The next Sunday, which was January 1st, 2012, my husband deployed to Afghanistan. I was about 4 months pregnant. My amnio was scheduled for two days later, on a Tuesday. I received the results over the phone the next Friday at about 6:00pm. They were male, positive for Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome.

It was like my world shattered. I cried for days, and that isn’t an exaggeration. I literally cried, and sobbed, for days. I continued to cry for several weeks, although I guess you could call it an improvement that it wasn’t nonstop anymore. I was so scared. I felt so lost. And one thing I kept thinking over and over again was how he would be treated by the rest of the world. Would he be mocked and ridiculed? Would he be insulted and bullied? Would he ever have friends? Would people see him as a real person?

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Most of the time, I look back and think about how silly it was to be so upset, to have so many fears. I love my son. He’s the sweetest little boy, and everyone who meets him loves him. There’s never a moment that I regret having him or wish he was different. It takes him longer to do things, yes. But other than that, he’s a normal child. He’s incredibly stubborn — no surprise, considering who his mother is — and really, really loves playing with his brother. His favorite show is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and his favorite movie is Frozen. He especially loves music. Normal kid, right? What did I have to be so scared of?

Unfortunately, something comes along occasionally to remind me that I wasn’t entirely wrong. People are still ignorant about Down syndrome. People are still hateful and cruel and thoughtless. A perfect example was a recent appearance by Gavin McInnes on the Hannity show. Check out the video:

Let’s be clear about something here: the use of the word “retarded” isn’t the issue. I don’t like that he said it, but that’s not the truly inappropriate comment. What Gavin McInnes said, and has been trying desperately to ignore ever since, is this:

McInnes: So when someone is as retarded as Al Sharpton is —

Hannity: You’re not allowed to say that word. It’s politically incorrect.

McInnes: Sorry. As seemingly similar to someone with Down syndrome as Al Sharpton is… uh… (laughter)

Get it, guys? Al Sharpton is so dumb, he’s just like someone with Down syndrome? Isn’t that funny? Isn’t it hilarious?

McInnes commented on the Youtube video, acting as if his insulting people with Down syndrome is somehow a noble act of taking the stigma away. Because using Down syndrome as an insult is totally a great way to make Down syndrome seem less negative, right?

OK I’ll bite. This is what I said to another mom with a Down’s child…

I get what you’re saying. You hear me say “Al Sharpton’s a retard” and that translates as “retards are garbage.” You’re going through a lot and when people dismiss your child as worthless, it’s painful.
My point was that Al Sharpton is not qualified to be a reporter or any kind of political figure. He has a low IQ. I’m guessing it’s around 90. The average IQ for someone with Down’s is just above 80.
Look, I swear a lot. I see “nigger” and “cunt” as the same as “fuck” and “shit.” I wasn’t trying to say retards are garbage. I was trying to say retards aren’t qualified to have their own news show.
I would recommend getting over that word soon because you’re going to face it a lot over the years and so is your kid. You can make it into a big bad monster or you can laugh it off. It means “slow” or “hindered.” Don’t let it mean more than that.

BTW as someone who is pro-life, I feel I am more pro-retard than any pro-choice liberal. While they worry about offensive terms, they are simultaneously wiping these people from existence.

And finally, as Ann Coulter pointed out, we would never, ever use this term to describe someone with actual Down’s.

My opinion is being too sacred about the word makes these kids some kind of untouchable pariah. When I was young, there were kids with Down’s everywhere. Now they’re gone.
Also, I saw a post where they had a Down’s kid and the words “This is who you hurt when you use that word.” Not if you don’t tell him. When Tropic Thunder came out with the term “full retard,” people decided it was offensive (even though they were making fun of actors who do those roles to get a cheap Oscar) and told kids to go demonstrate. By handing those kids those signs, they took a benign joke (that was in their favor) and made it into hate speech. I can’t pretend to know what you’re going through. I can only tell you my motive behind this stuff and it’s not creating stigma. It’s about taking it away.

He also decided to open his mouth on Twitter, only this time he went after the parents of children with Down syndrome, for having the gall to be offended by what he said.

The National Down Syndrome Society has already issued a statement condemning McInnes for his remarks. I personally messaged McInnes telling him that his comments were hurtful and that he should apologize, and this is the response that I received:

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Here’s what Gavin McInnes, who loves to throw the word retarded around and thinks that Down syndrome is an insult, is apparently too stupid to understand. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is acceptable about using Down syndrome as a way to insult someone. And comparing someone like Al Sharpton, a truly evil, hate-filled, racist, despicable human being, to people with Down syndrome is even more insulting. Excuse me, but I believe that insult goes the other way around. Comparing Al Sharpton to people with Down syndrome is wrong on so many levels, because Al Sharpton is one of the worst kinds of human beings to walk the planet.

What is truly mind-boggling is that, in his comment on the video itself, he complains about how kids with Down syndrome are disappearing — but for some reason, he can’t connect the dots between people dehumanizing people with Down syndrome this way, and high abortion rates of babies with Down syndrome. There are legitimate, crippling fears that come into your mind when you receive a diagnosis, and the stigma that surrounds Down syndrome is a large part of it. There are so many people who belittle and insult people with Down syndrome, without even thinking twice about it. They’re people like Gavin McInnes, who sees Down syndrome as a handy insult to use on Fox News, people who will talk about how dumb people with Down syndrome are (because they’re all the same, right?). They treat people with Down syndrome like they’re less than human, and then get angry when they’re called out on it. Then you have the people like Sean Hannity, who sees it happen right in front of him, and does nothing but chuckle a little, who hears someone use the word “retarded” and sneeringly say not to use that word because it’s “politically incorrect”. Not many people will actually stand up for people with Down syndrome, because they’re inferior to the rest of us, right? So what does it matter? It clearly isn’t a problem for Sean Hannity.

And yet, they wonder why so many mothers choose to have an abortion after receiving a prenatal diagnosis. Gee, I don’t know — could the fact that people like Gavin McInnes still find it acceptable to use Down syndrome as an insult have anything to do with that? Could our societal view of Down syndrome possibly play a role?

I’ve said it time and time again. People often blame advancements in prenatal testing for the high abortion rate, but it’s not true. It’s people like Gavin McInnes and Sean Hannity, who either actively further the negative view of people with Down syndrome in our culture or passively do, by sitting there and doing nothing when a person uses Down syndrome as a political insult. It’s situations like this one that proves our fears right. And when the person having those fears proved right is a pregnant mom with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, what do you think she’s a little bit more likely to do?

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11 Comments
  • Marya says:

    Holy crap. That’s all I can think of to say. I am so sorry that you got that horrendous response from Gavin McInnes in addition to the display on the Hannity show.

    Rock on, brave warrior Mom. There are many more of us out there and good will prevail over evil. We’ve got to stand up and keep advocating for our kids.

  • Looking Up says:

    You & I are on exactly the same page. I actually messaged Gavin on FB a few days ago & said, almost, verbatim, what you shared about negative images/comments helping to influence expectant mothers to terminate their pregnancies after they receive a DS diagnosis. I, too, told him that it wasn’t so much about the “retarded” comment, so much as comparing Al Sharpton, a colossal waste of space, to my 5yr old son who has far more common sense, kindness, & work ethic than he. The “mom” that Gavin was referring to when he posted those comments on YouTube, was me. To be honest, I’ve been surprised by his aggressive responses on Twitter & YouTube because, although I didn’t agree with much of what he had to say, I was thankful that he agreed to hear me out, & thought that, perhaps, some of what I was saying was getting through. I really hope,that he thinks better of it all & just apologizes. An “I’m sorry” goes a long way. As for Hannity & Fox, I’ve yet to hear from them. Very disappointing.

  • Piroko says:

    Get over yourself and grow thicker skin.

    • Xavier says:

      McInnes’s responses are much more telling than his original insults. A simple apology would have been well received and gained him respect with the special needs community; now he’s doubled down on being a first class a-hole.

      Cassy, in my experience the vast majority of society doesn’t share McInnes’s prejudices – he is an embarrassment to the rest of us who see the pride and joy of our friends who are raising special needs kids. Unfortunately there will always be people like him. Ignore their comments and realize they’re the ones who are stupid. Best wishes.

  • VALman says:

    “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Albert Schweitzer

    The last that I knew such encounters were not IQ-based. Indeed, at times IQ can be a damper to the flame. While it is true that the inner fire can be influenced in any number of ways. Yet, it is the presence of the other which helps to define human life. It’s mystifying that some people who want to be so “liberal” concerning various aspects of life are so strict and narrow about the possibility of a Creator who just might see us in ways in which we only have glimpses. Maybe, Sara Palin ought to invite him to visit with her family for a time.

  • Chris says:

    I’ve lurked on the blog before and agree mostly with what I see on here, and feel compelled to comment now. I think, as someone who leans conservative, that condemning someone for using language means you’re entering “progressive” territory.

    I understand the emotional reaction to this. And however crude Gavin McInnes is, I agree with him overall.

    I was just talking about this the other day to someone how I and some friends used the word “retard” – it’s never used for someone who is actually developmentally disabled. They had no choice – they were born that way, and many of them can do lead nice lives, with family, friends, fulfillment. That’s neither criminal, condemnable, or something to mock.

    However, a retard is someone who is born with full cognitive faculties yet CHOOSES to act like a fool. Or idiot. Or moron.

    Oh, and idiot and moron? Those were once used to describe people with mental handicaps. Dumb was used to describe mutes.

    The muting of language, especially when that language is satirical or sardonic, is something the Progressives do – they want to censor speech, thoughts, and actions to fit their agenda.

    • Cassy Fiano says:

      Did you actually read the column? Or listen to the audio? He didn’t just use the word “retarded”. I wouldn’t have written a column about that. He specifically used *Down syndrome* as a way to insult Al Sharpton. Should it be against the law? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean that anyone should be using Down syndrome as an insult. It doesn’t mean that because it’s legal to say something, we should all collectively shrug our shoulders and say whatever, dude. What he said was offensive and wrong. Not to mention, comparing Al Sharpton, one of the most despicable people on the planet, to my son is seriously insulting to my son, and everyone else with Down syndrome.

      As for the word retarded — again, that wasn’t the issue here, which I thought I had made pretty clear in the column. The issue was specifically when he said “like someone with Down syndrome”. Are you saying that’s acceptable? That it’s no big deal for people to throw Down syndrome around as an insult or a taunt? Because it’s not, and if you want to believe it doesn’t further the already-negative view people have of Down syndrome, you’re 100% wrong.

  • Tim Luberger says:

    the unfortunate reality is that Gavin McInnes, Sean Hannity and Fox got exactly what they wanted – impressions. They want a paycheck earned by calling attention to themselves and it worked beautifully. The only mass method of calling negative attention to this is for Fox’s competitors to call them out. Haven’t seen it happen yet.

    For the people that don’t have a problem with the “R” word, you would think differently if you had a child with Downs Syndrome, Autism, or any developmental disability.

  • I’m still in shock that Hannity laughed this off. I also didn’t know that the NDSS issued a statement, glad to hear that. I wonder if Fox News or Hannity every addressed this issue, I haven’t heard. Btw, I’m the one who posted that youtube video and I also have a little boy with Down Syndrome… and I’m thinking my little guy is the same age as yours. I also got my amnio in Jan. 2012. My son was born in June (4 wks early). Your son is adorable in that photo above!

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