When a Facebook Meme Mocked People Who Ride the 'Short Bus'
Today started out as a pretty good day. Things were going well, the weather was great and we had scout meetings later in the day. Scouting days are always good days. At some point I popped into Facebook to see what was happening in the world.
Then, I saw it — it showed up in my news feed. A meme that basically called someone “stupid.” You know, “stupid enough” to be on the “short bus.” Because we all know what kind of people ride the short bus, ha ha.
It hit me hard like a knife in the heart. I was shocked, saddened, depressed. My son has a diagnosis, fragile X, and there are challenges that come with it. This was a blatant reminder that there are people in this world who find humor in using the term “short bus,” use the R-word and mock people with intellectual disabilities. I am reminded that people might use my son and his friends as a point of reference to ridicule something or someone.
Am I being too sensitive? Possibly. Am I being “too PC”? No. And here’s why:
You see, I don’t really know the person who posted the meme. I’m not going to ask that person to remove their picture. I’m not going to call them out by name, nor am I going to report the graphic. I believe in the right of free speech, no matter how much that speech hurts me and my son. The person posting the image clearly had no care about how offensive it could be. They don’t know me, my son or the pain that joke can bring. Rewind 20 to 25 years and that person could very well have been me.
But since I am such a proponent of free speech, I will now exercise my own rights. I believe jokes about the “short bus” aren’t funny. I think the R-word should be removed from everyday vernacular. I feel humor at a person’s expense is horrible and has no place in my children’s world. I can share my thoughts and opinions just as much as someone else can share a hurtful joke.
I can’t change the way anyone thinks, nor can I change their actions. But I can speak up, advocate for my nonverbal son and educate the public. I can engage people so they will know my son, my family and the pain these jokes cause. I can spread an awareness to people who are otherwise lacking. And maybe then I can make the world a better place for my son.
The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with negativity or adversity related to your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.