My blogging life is interfering with my professional life.
I reviewed David Sedaris' one-man show, Santaland Diaries in 2009. It was a funny irreverent look at a job-less wannabe actor's holiday job as an elf in Macy*s Santaland. The one-act show is purported to be the diary of his month working as Crumpet the Elf. And it is funny. The kind of Christmas show that would make a curmudgeon giggle (and tonight's recreation had portions of the audience almost literally rolling in the aisles).
But there is a problem with me in the intervening years.
You see, I have been following Rob Rummel-Hudson's journal, "Fighting Monsters with a Rubber Sword" (known by several other names in the beginning) since before his daughter, Schuyler was born. I remember his insecurities wondering if he would be a good father, wondering if he loved this little person who was about to come into the world. Then the first year with all those cute baby firsts, and then the concerns. She reached a year without speaking. Then she got to be 2 with no words. Tests ultimately showed that Schuyler was born with a condition known as Bilateral Perisylvian Polymicrogyria, a rare neurological condition that left her unable to speak.
Though I don't know if Rob even knows who I am, I have closely watched as Schuyler has grown, learning to use, first, her "big box of words" that allowed her to speak electronically. I have read her story as she started school and wanted to be like everyone else, but was not, her unsuccessful hunt for a best friend.
Rob wrote a book, "Schuyler's Monster," which eloquently describes Schuyler's journey. Now he is a regular contributor to the web site, Support for Special Needs, where he tackles a lot of issues of import and interest to parents of special needs kids, and those special need kids themselves.
One of the issues he has spoken on several times is "the R Word." After refusing to take a stand on the PCness of using the word, in 2011 Rob wrote the following:
just for kicks, pull out a photo of YOUR kid, or your nephew or your brother or sister. Doesn't even have to be a kid, just someone that you love fiercely and would defend with everything you are. Look into their eyes and say it. "Retard." Imagine it's not you saying it, but someone else, some other person. Maybe a stranger, maybe someone you know and even like and trust.
Now imagine that other person trying to tell you that you're being overly sensitive, you're being "PC", that they have a right to use that word however they want, that it's okay in a certain context such as politics. Imagine they're calling you or someone else a retard, but instead of hearing that as a random insult, you associate it with someone you love, and that association is, by design, intended to be devastating and intentionally using your loved one as a benchmark for extreme stupidity.
Now, repeat this exercise until you want to break something, until you want to burn down the whole world.
That's how it feels to us when you use the word "retard".
The issue of the word has come up several times in his Special Needs articles until I have become very sensitive to the use of that word and think I have a bit of an understanding of how it must feel to hear it tossed about, the way gay people hear "fag" and "queer" tossed about in a derrogatory manner.
So there I was at Santaland Diaries tonight and there is a long section devoted to the day when the special needs kids come to see Santa. And it was R- this and R- that and the audience was laughing heartily, but to me it was as insensitive as if he were using the N-word instead of the R-word.
And now I don't know how to approach the review. I read what I wrote last time and I never even mentioned that part of the show, but a part of me wants to this time and wants to chide the playwright for the use of such an insensitive word.
I just haven't quite figured out how to go about doing it without turning the review into a political statement.Sheesh...Native Americans and Special Needs kids in the same month. It's a hard time to be a socially sensitive critic!