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An Open Letter to Jack Stuef

Dear Jack,

I read your “Happy Birthday to Trig Palin” post, and it seems rather clear to me that you’ve never met a person with Down Syndrome. My brother Mitchell has Down Syndrome and autism, which is a rare but not unheard of combination. I thought I would tell you a bit about him so you can clear up some of the misconceptions you have about Downs people.

You appear to believe that retarded people can’t dream. No, I am not offended by the word “retarded”. First of all, it is accurate. The new politically correct term is “mentally challenged” or “intellectually disabled”, but mentally retarded is a correct way to describe Mitchell. Just like idiot, imbecile, and moron, “retarded” has entered the vernacular as a way to describe people who are stupid. This hasn’t bothered me since I was 13 years of age, and by then I had heard it a thousand or more times. “Retarded” is not offensive any more than you’d be offended when someone calls you an idiotic, imbecilic moron. So that is not the issue. The issue is that you don’t know what retarded people can and can’t do.

 

Truthfully, Mitchell has never told me if he dreams. However, when I was ten and he was six, I went through this pretty intense carrot eating phase. Carrots were my favorite after-school snack, and I would come home, park my backside in front of the TV, and munch a few during Voltron and She-Ra. One day, Mitchell was watching me quite intently with his bag of nacho cheese Doritos (the only kind they had back then). I offered him a carrot and he took it, but he didn’t eat it. He just held it for a little bit in front of his interested face, then shook it back and forth a little to make the green leaves wiggle. I took one and bit into it extra loud to show him that they were a delicious crunchy food. He looked disturbed.

Mitchell then held the carrot like kids normally hold baby dolls. He then started to pet the green “hair” of the carrot. I told him, “No, stupid, you EAT it,” and then took another crunch. He looked at me in horror and ran off with his carrot baby. I yelled out to my mother making dinner in the kitchen, “Muuuuuuum! Mitchell ran off with a carrot!” and, in usual motherly fashion, she yelled back “Oh for Chrissakes, Kellie, I’m making dinner. Let him eat it!” As the commercial had ended, I shrugged and went back to my cartoons.

Mitchell proceeded to love and care for that freakin’ carrot for about a month. Carrots get very dry after a couple of days, and it never rotted. The leaves got a bit crunchy, but were preserved like raffia. He sang to it, he made it dance, and in his funny little Mitchelese accent, called it “Mah cawwot.” I took to eating carrots in secret because it upset him so much. One day, it just wasn’t there any more, and he stole my Rainbow Brite doll. That was his new baby. We had no idea where the carrot went.

Later that week, my mother was changing the sheets on my brother’s bed. He had tucked the carrot between the box spring and the mattress, presumably to hide it from me, and it was preserved and leafy and very, very dry. My mother secretly tossed it.

If a Downs child can pretend that a carrot is a baby or a friend, he can surely dream, can’t he?

You also state that Trig Palin arrived in this world “somewhat alive”. Well, if you’ve ever watched a Downs kid (or adult, for that matter) throw a big fat Downs Tantrum, you know they are very much alive, and their lungs are in fantastic repair (their hearts, not so much). Downs people are very stubborn, and if they want to run after Donald Duck at Disney World, my God, you better have your Pumas on. When they get a Batman cake for their 12th birthday and they make everyone sing the Batman theme song, they are fully alive. When someone even remotely kind of mentions Christmas and nothing will get done until the entire family sings every Christmas song he knows, they are fully alive.

 

My brother obsessed over Depeche Mode with me and worships Hulk Hogan. He loves to do 500+ piece puzzles, utterly lit up when I got him a Chinese dragon puppet last Christmas, and at times has been known to practice psychometry. He cracks up at Pee Wee Herman and he hates when women talk too much. He dumped his beautiful blonde girlfriend because she was too bossy. My brother is totally alive, Jack, in a way some of us will never be. When was the last time you were truly unbelievably excited to go to Wendy’s?

My brother was also not the product of incest, as you appear to believe Trig Palin to be. My father is a doctor from Czechoslovakia and my mother is a surgical concierge from England. They are in no way related. Neither my sister or I are the mother of my brother, as I was four when he was born, and my sister came after him. My sister writes plays and I am admittedly the biggest screw up, since I never finished my psychology degree and was insane enough to become self employed in California. My brother, who has been employed for a long time, has a more stable job outlook than I do.

I do realize that you might be picking on Trig Palin with some cynical political agenda. If so, I hope you have not bullied other mothers out of being in the public eye. You seem to think babies with no capacity to comprehend your ignorant statements to be fair game. This is not hurtful to the baby, but to the mother, ANY mother, and the loved ones of all such babies. You have chosen a target with absolutely no use to you but to display the incomprehensible and adamant cruelty of yourself and your colleagues. The apologies offered were merely vehicles to further your hit piece. On a baby. With Down Syndrome.

I’d like for you to be remembered as the guy who bothered to learn about Down Syndrome and redeemed himself by helping others to do the same. I’m very happy to help you with that, if you sincerely choose to do so.

Thanks in advance,

Mitchell’s “Sassy”.

UPDATE!

At 1:28PM PST today, April 22, 2011, Jack Stuef sent me the following tweet, which I’d like to share with you. I appreciate this response very much. I believe that offering perspective is the best way to reach out, and he responded in kind.

 …

Media Evolution

In the early days of Twitter, some guessed that its evolution would lead to end of the blog. In fact, the opposite has happened. Blogs have exploded with the opportunity to use Twitter and Facebook to distribute information and change the way readers interface with online information.

The great expansion of blogs and issue-oriented websites is a spectacular development. Years ago, information didn’t get widely distributed unless one of the three broadcast networks deemed it worthy. Much of their information came from a limited number of major daily newspapers who were the same determiners of what was newsworthy and what wasn’t. Liberals may dispute the charge that the media had a liberal bias, but they would be wrong. And bias or not, there is something a little troubling about leaving only a few lofty elites in a mostly closed society with the opportunity to largely determine for a nation and the world what information was newsworthy and what was not.

The next most significant development to break that logjam was the growth and development of cable news networks and eventually Fox News. Say what you will about Fox News, they changed the rest of the news more than anyone else. It’s difficult to censor information and color the news inappropriately knowing one of the new kids on the block wasn’t going to let you get away with it.

I’ll be honest. There are parts of Fox News that I think are quite valuable. But when I do tune into to cable news, I also try to watch CNN, CNBC and MSNBC to see how certain stories are being covered. It’s nice to have more choices than only NBC, CBS and ABC news. And it’s nice to have news available in real time. And rather than wait for the next day’s nightly news broadcast each of these outlets is accessible and updated 24/7 online.

The once proud daily newspaper is not what it once was and it never will be. Most newspapers are read online now. And though slow to the game, most have tools available to do a better job of online reporting than a simple website or blog. But all the new websites and blogs play a critical role too. They further erode the idea of traditional media elites controlling what the public is exposed to and attaching judgment to that information.

One of the reasons that net neutrality is not only unnecessary, but counterproductive is because there really is no way to even try to stop that information from flowing freely. Shut down or slow down a website that you find politically objectionable and the story will be instantly broadcast throughout the world and alternative modes of sharing that content will overwhelm any effort to suppress it. The amount of information available 24/7 in real time is staggering. There are few downsides to it.

The only downside that I can even contemplate is that there are a lot of rogue sources spreading information that is of suspect credibility. It’s self-correcting, however. Inaccurate and untrue information is a problem, but the marketplace finds it and challenges it almost immediately. I do think, however, that before one spreads information of very suspect accuracy, it is worthwhile to spend a little time evaluating the source. They should pass the smell test.

I try to be careful about what I tweet and what I share or like on Facebook. Personally, I try to be particularly careful when the material is highly critical or accusatory of the Obama administration or liberals with whom I strongly disagree. It’s important to maintain credibility. There is plenty of good information, great stories and impressive data with which to challenge the administration and other liberal policy efforts. When we use information that’s not credible, we simply provide the left (and the traditional media) with a tool with which they will attempt to undermine the credibility of all conservative critics.

For that reason, I often rely on information shared by think tanks who have passed the test of time. There are a lot of them out there. If you’re looking for information on states, you must take a look at State Policy Network. SPN is network of conservative and free-market, limited government think tanks from all 50 states. They are an incredible resource. If states are your thing, I’d also encourage you to take a close look at The Heartland Institute and the Goldwater Institute. And personally, on all issues and particularly federal and international issues, I regularly rely on my three favorites The Reason Foundation, CATO Institute and Heritage Foundation. And you can never go wrong by checking out National Review, American Spectator and The Weekly Standard.…

Defend Women. Defend Life.

When the gut-wrenching story broke of the Philadelphia abortionist that routinely delivered live, viable babies before jamming scissors into their brains to kill them, I had to write about it.

The part of the story that struck me so deeply was the desperation that those women felt walking into that clinic. I don’t believe that anyone wants an abortion; but that women are pressured by family, friends, and society (mostly well-meaning, I’m sure) to believe that the procedure is no big deal.

How far below rock bottom does a woman have to be to walk into a filthy ‘clinic’ and have the kicking, squirming life sucked out of her? That woman needs love and support, not the legal right to an abortion. In the article I wrote, I mentioned some ways to actually help pregnant women, such as donating money to cover prenatal care for those that can’t afford it, bringing meals to single moms trying to make it, or volunteering with a pregnancy care center or adoption agency.

For that I got called a woman-hater.

It turns out that unless one believes that a mother-to-be has the right to end the life of her unborn child, that person hates women. I vehemently dispute that claim. I do like women. I like men, too for the record. I like all people no matter how big or small, no matter their age, and no matter where they live: In a mansion, on the street, or in a uterus.

I believe that God created humans (and other stuff … like everything), and even though you’re not going to get along with everyone, life is worthy of respect.

It has been the battle cry of the feminist left for decades to defend a woman’s right to choose, no matter what the cost. What are a few miniscule lives cut short when what really matters is college or a career? The right to choose abortion must be defended above all else – for womyn!

Pro-choice advocates say that legal abortion keeps women safe. Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthooddirector turned pro-life activist talks about her former life:

“I thought … I can’t live with myself if I were to turn these women away, and they were to go and have an illegal abortion and then possibly die from it … that’s really how I rationalized it in my mind. I really believed I was following God’s will.

Pro-choicers want so badly to believe that legal abortion is rare and safe, but the facts just aren’t there. Abortion is far from rare, with about a quarter of all pregnancies in the United States ending in abortion. As we’ve seen recently with the Philadelphia abortion house of horrors story, legalized abortion does not equal safe abortions.

But, but, but, the feminists cry, that’s the exception, not the rule! Is it really the exception? What about this clinic in California, is it an exception too? How about this one in Florida? Ohio? Maryland? New Mexico? I could go on, but it’s late and I’m tired, and frankly, googling sketchy baby-killing centers is making me want to cry and vomit and then cry some more.

What about the Planned Parenthood facility in New Jersey whose manager giggled at the idea of fourteen-year-old sex slaves having abortions? Is that an exception too? This manager also gave business advice to the undercover pimp after she revealed that the girls would have to wait at least two weeks after an abortion to have sex.

“I mean they still gotta make money, you know?” the poor pimp worried. The clinic manager responded, “Waist up … or just be that extra action walking by.”

Can we please stop pretending that abortion helps women? Abortion destroys more than a tiny human life; it destroys relationships, breaks hearts, brings unspeakable grief, and is a defenseless practice that brings nothing but suffering and pain to everyone involved.

I defend life. What do you defend?…

Amy Miller

Amy Miller is your basic 20-something conservatarian nightmare. She woke up on Election Day 2008 in a terrible mood, opened an account on RedState.com, and the rest is history. When she’s not locked away in the law school briefing cases and giving her opinion on “what Scalia would do in this case,” she spends her time making comedians laugh, progressives (and Establishment Republicans) scream, and fighting with Keith Olbermann on Twitter. (He always comes back for more.)

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