The Down Syndrome community is asking Netflix to remove Tom Segura’s comedy special for alleged “hate speech” against people with the syndrome.
In the comedy routine, called “Disgraceful” and released earlier this month, Segura complains about not being allowed to use the word “retarded.”
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He argued that since he wasn’t using the word to refer to a specific person, he should be allowed to say the word in regards to a situation.
“We were never like, ‘Look at that guy!’” he said.
“You said it to describe an idea, or a situation, you know? […] But now you can’t say that. Now you’ve gotta be like, “That’s not… smart. Your idea has an extra 21st chromosome, if you ask me.”
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People with Down Syndrome have developmental challenges because they were born with three 21st chromosomes, instead of two.
At time of publication, Over 65,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org trying to convice Netflix to remove the special.
“The words used in this program are wrong, offensive and by definition is hate speech against the Down Syndrome Community,” the petition, which was started by a parent of a child with the condition, reads.
“By allowing people like Mr. Segura to make a joke of the daily struggle this community faces for the sake of promoting his brand is morally wrong.”
People with Down Syndrome are also speaking out against the Netflix show.
““You should say it is never okay to use the R-word. By using that word on TV you are setting a terrible example,” Alana Gersky said in a release from the Canadian Down Syndrome Society.
“I really want Mr. Segura to know that you cannot say the R-word,” Paul Sawka, awareness leader at CDSS, said in the release.
“It hurts not only my feelings, but also my family and friends. Words like this it makes me feel very mad that you don’t think I have a great life. I do have a great life.”
Devin Newton, president of the Manitoba Down Syndrome Society, has a three-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome and he says he’s more disappointed with the audience who laughed at what he called a “cheap joke.”
Newton agrees that Netflix should take the show down.
“What they have done is essentially taken a large portion of our population and said ‘you don’t matter to us and we’re just going to use you guys to get ratings.’”
He said people who have the reach and position that Segura has should recognize the effect their words have on the community.
“They have access to millions of people,” Newton explained. “They’re essentially in some way their leader and in this case this is sort of, from a social standpoint, and they’re setting the tone for what is and what is not acceptable in society.”
Seeing someone like Segura cracking jokes on the condition makes it seem like it’s acceptable, he explained.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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