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Man With Down Syndrome Wins Fight Against Bullies Who Made Hateful Meme

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One man with Down syndrome took a stand against online bullying. And won.

Adam Holland, from Nashville, Tennessee, had a photo taken of him in an art class in 2004, when he was 17. About eight years later, the photo surfaced online, only people had altered it and turned it into an offensive meme, the Tennessean reported.

Internet bullies edited the paper Holland is holding in the photo to read inappropriate messages.

The Holland family filed a lawsuit in 2013 alleging that a man from Minnesota posted the image on photo-sharing site Flickr with the words “I got a boner” in place of their son’s drawing. The suit also claims that a Florida radio station owned by Cox Media Group posted the photo with the words “Retarded News” inserted on the paper and that a website called Sign Generator sold a downloadable version of the image online under the heading “Retarded Handicap Generator,” Disability Scoop reported.

Cox Media Group settled with the Hollands before the case went to trial, but on Wednesday, a federal jury ruled in favor of the Holland family, ordering Gigahertz Inc., the owners of the Sign Generator website, and Russell LaLevee, the Flickr user, to collectively pay $150,000.

This case is precedent setting,” Sara Hart Weir, president of the National Down Syndrome Society, said in a statement. “All people with Down syndrome are valued members of society and deserve to be treated with the upmost dignity and respect. We commend the Holland’s for their courageous advocacy and for standing up for all families by pursuing this case.”

Spread the Word to End the Word! You can head here to pledge to stop using the R-word. It’s a step toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.

Originally published: November 6, 2015
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