An open letter to Howard Stern:
Hey now, Howard!
I'm a fan. I love almost everything about you. I love how much you love Beth. I love the unwavering loyalty you have towards Robin and Fred. I love and laugh every time you call Gary "Baba Booey" or "Fafa Fooey." I love that you love Artie so much that you knew having him leave the show to battle his demons was the right thing, even though it was a painful personal loss. I love that you can get any celebrity on the planet to open up and share personal, intimate details about his or her life. I love when you sing on-the-fly opera and make me laugh so that I almost drive off the road. I love all you and Beth do to promote the North Shore Animal League. I love that you mourned the loss of your much-loved English bulldog Bianca as if she were a human being. I love that you are the only man on this earth who repeatedly broadcasts that you have a small penis. I love every bit, skit, tit and shit joke you deliver.
There is only one thing I don't love about you. I don't love that you use the r-word/s (retard/retarded). The r-word is a slur against people with intellectual disabilities. It's hurtful to these people and to the people who love them. It's hurtful because it's exclusive, it's offensive and it's derogatory. In using the r-word you are bullying a group of people who cannot defend themselves. You are bullying a group of people who are true underdogs in society. You are bullying people who radiate endless happiness and have nothing but pure hearts.
Howard, you evolved from using the word "faggot" because you realized it was a slur towards gays and promoted bullying. You would never use the n-word because it's a racial slur and offensive to black people. I believe in my heart-of-hearts, that you have no idea the r-word is considered highly offensive and is viewed as a derogatory slur towards people with intellectual disabilities. Moreover, when people without disabilities -- like you and vile beings like Ann Coulter -- use the r-word as a synonym for "stupid," it reinforces the hurtful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities. The word bullies these individuals into being less valued members of society. Anyone who knows you -- even if it's only through your show -- knows you have one of the biggest, most compassionate hearts in all of humanity. Seriously, I believe that. Your use of the r-word is a huge blind spot for you.
In 2010 President Barack Obama officially signed the bill Rosa's Law which removes the terms "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" from federal health, education and labor policy and replaces them with people first language "individual with an intellectual disability" and "intellectual disability." In March 2013 Glamour magazine published the "10 Times You're Just Right, Damn It," and third on their list was, "When you get on your soapbox anytime someone says, 'That's retarded.'" It's just not cool or kind to use the r-word and you are way too cool and way too kind to be using it.
March 6 is the annual day of awareness for the r-word campaign: Spread The Word To End The Word. Howard, will you please take the pledge to support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities?
Thanks to all those years in therapy, you are an incredibly self-aware, reflective and evolved person who is not afraid to admit when he is wrong. You are the champion of the underdog. Your voice matters. Your fans and your staff will follow your lead. Lead them to a better place, Howard. You can probably do more for this campaign through your pledge to stop using the r-word than the entire campaign has achieved to date. Your pledge will be the catalyst to help establish dignity, inclusion and respect for all people with intellectual disabilities.
Will you take the pledge today, Howard?