Candidates Point Fingers Over Offensive Flier
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 14, 2004
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE--Nobody seems to know who designed a political flier that managed to insult President George W. Bush and people with developmental disabilities at the same time.
The flier features a picture of an athlete running in a Special Olympics event, with Bush's head pasted on the athlete's body. The caption at the top reads: "Voting for Bush is Like Running in The Special Olympics." At the bottom it reads: "Even If You Win, You're Still Retarded".
Republicans responded with outrage earlier this week when copies of the flier were discovered in the campaign office of Democratic state Representative Craig Fitzhugh. That office is shared with the local presidential campaign for Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry.
Fitzhugh's staff, on the other hand, claimed that the Republicans are "playing dirty tricks", and that they planted copies of the flier in the Democratic campaign office to make Fitzhugh look bad.
"I had nothing to do with it," Fitzhugh said Wednesday.
Republican challenger Dave Dahl said of Fitzhugh, "He needs to say 'they're in my headquarters. I don't know how they got there, but I'm sorry'".
The flier reportedly has been posted on Republican-based Internet websites and circulated widely through email.
Regardless of who produced the flier, they likely were not aware of the response it would bring from disability groups.
"We see this communication as an egregious, gratuitous insult to our almost 2 million athletes in over 150 countries around the world and a stunning affront to the more than 200 million people in the world who have intellectual disabilities," said Timothy P. Shriver, chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, in a press release.
"Sadly, this type of ignorance and bigotry is not uncommon . . . Our commitment in this political season and in every other is to reverse this ignorance and bigotry and to replace them with the stunning realization that many people with intellectual disability are, in fact, among the most gifted within our communities. Their valuable skills for promoting acceptance and understanding are most desperately needed in the political process and in the world today."
"I don't even know what to call it," Matt Nalker, executive director of The Arc of Mississippi, told WLBT-TV. "Garbage."
Cindy Dittus, Arc of Mississippi associate director, pointed out that people with developmental disabilities do vote.
"In a close political race like this, it would tickle me to death to see people with disabilities make the difference," she said.
"Statement in Regards to Derogatory Portrayal of Special Olympics Athletes" (U.S. Newswire)
"Political Flyer Crosses the Line" (WLBT)
"Offensive flier presents case of 'whodunit' in state House race" (Associated Press via Jackson Sun)