Spread the Word to End the Word

I went to see “God of Carnage” June 3 at the Guthrie Theater, on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. For wheelers or those who cannot maneuver steps, an usher takes you past the main stage door and down a hall, onto an elevator down one level. There, you enter at the bottom of the stadium-style seats.

Seating for persons with disabilities is rows 4-5, right of stage. There is only a couple spots for wheelchairs, one in front of the other. It looks to be a tricky maneuver. In my spot, I had to move each time someone came to enter the row behind me to get to a seat.

“God of Carnage” is a comedy about two upper-middle-class couples that meet to discuss a playground incident where their two sons got into a scuffle. As the evening progresses the couples argue, learn of each other’s relationship problems and drink until one wife tears up the other couple’s home.

I was dismayed with some of the word choices used by playwright, Yasmina Reza, among them “retard” and “coon” … the former received loud laughter, the latter, a few titters.

“Retard” was slung early on during the play and it set a tone for me. While the audience laughed uproariously all throughout the play, I could only muster a few chuckles. Reza also overused the f-bomb, all of which to me signifies lazy, offensive writing used indifferently for shock value.

This past Christmas, I went to see “Santaland Diaries” by David Sedaris at Hennepin Stages. In that play, no disability was safe from slurs. Again, the R-word garnered uproarious laughter. It was embarrassing and disheartening. I felt self-conscious, wondering if I was the only one who found it offensive. Isn’t it time we stopped using that word?

On a bright note, during its season finale, the television show “Glee” ran an anti-bullying public service announcement. I’m ecstatic. “Glee” is hugely popular with our younger generation; any move “Glee” makes is seen and emulated by many.

The announcement, “Not Acceptable” from the organization Spread the Word to End the Word, shows a black man, a Latina, an Asian woman, a homosexual and a Jewish man saying, “It’s not acceptable to call me a …” (fill in the minority slur). Cut to Glee’s cheerleader coach, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), with one of her cheerleaders, Becky (Lauren Potter, who has Down syndrome). Becky said, “It’s not acceptable to call me a retard or to call yourself or your friends retarded when they do something foolish.” To which Sue responds: “The R-word is the same as every minority slur, treat it that way, and don’t use it.” View the announcement at go to www.r-word.org

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