Please read this statement from ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ on the insensitive joke made by Jim Roddey:
“We were disappointed to learn of Allegheny County’s GOP chair Jim Roddey’s poor choice to target people with intellectual disabilities in the punch line of a joke. We were even more disappointed to learn that as reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a room full of 300 people ‘hollered and clapped’ in approval of the joke. While we acknowledge Mr. Roddey has since apologized, it does not take away the sting of a room full of people laughing when he chose to put political discourse ahead of the value of human dignity. The fact that 300 people ‘hollered and clapped’ their approval of his insensitive joke only magnifies the impact that leaders in the public eye have on the general public. Instead of denigrating people with intellectual disabilities as the punch line of a joke, imagine if someone in Mr. Roddey’s position used his platform to share even one story of achievement or inclusion with regard to this population in front of hundreds of people. Maybe some of those people would leave the room inspired with a changed attitude toward people with intellectual disabilities, thinking about the value each of us can offer society. That would be an impact worth making.”
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