Dear Special Ed's Brewery: You Don't Get It

Dear Special Ed’s Brewery,

You don’t get it. Even with your apology and subsequent interviews. You perpetuated stigmas by making intellectual disability something to laugh at. My son is no laughing matter. He was beautiful and smart and loved life. He lived a life without limits, breaking through the limits others put on him and stereotypes like the ones you have decided are funny.

Every year over 3 million individuals with disabilities are victims of crimes, including 1.3 million violent crimes. That’s three times the rate for persons without disabilities. They are bullied. Laughed at. Seen as less than. And it is people like you who tell people it’s OK to do that. There is nothing funny about riding the bus for children with disabilities (it’s not the “short bus.”) It’s a bus designed to help those that need it. By making fun of it, you cause so many children who are aware they ride that bus to be self-conscious and have anxiety. Places like yours and people like you are the reason so many aren’t proud to be who they are.
Are you proud to make fun of a group of people who have to work so much harder than you do to show the world what they can accomplish? Are you proud to shut down their voices by making a mockery of their lives? Is this the legacy you want your company to have?

I don’t know about you, but I would rather be a company that provided jobs to people with disabilities. To stand tall with people seen as different, give them a voice and stand against those who seek to bully and humiliate. Instead, one night you thought it would be hilarious to make fun of them. You perpetuated a stigma that doesn’t need to be there.

We lost our son last month, and though he’s no longer with us, I will still do everything in my power to change the view and outlook of those whose abilities are different, not less.

In the end, the name of your place and items on your menu told us way more about you than your food. I hope this whole situation gives you new awareness. I hope one day your humanity will show through, and you can become someone others see as kind and compassionate, someone who will lift other people up instead of tearing them down.

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