What makes a leader?
There’s passion and determination and the ability to inspire similar passion in others. A belief in doing what's right and the willingness to do that, even though it isn't popular - the recent healthcare debate in the US is one example. I saw another example somewhere within the past week about same-sex marriage and how a certain percentage of Americans is against it. And then, in the very next sentence, the piece I was reading mentioned that at the time interracial marriages were made legal in the
Another thing a leader should do is to be thoughtful, in word and deed and this is where I start to get to today's point.
In the next municipal election in
Subtle, he ain't. Wise, he also ain’t. Offensive, he most certainly is. On a couple of levels, one being the level of idiocy with regard to public safety, but it's the other one that leaves me breathless. You all know how I feel about that word and its current prolific status in our culture. Everybody uses it, not just teenagers and it makes me wince, every single time. Dave Hingsburger works for a community agency called Vita Community Living Services, serving people with intellectual disabilities. This brilliant agency has launched a campaign called Words Hit and they distribute information about just that word (more information here). Because that word hits and anything remotely similar applied to any other minority group would be considered hate speech. Yet, outside the disability community, it isn't. To such a point that one of our mayoral candidate thinks nothing of proudly including it in his campaign material.
And so, Dave asked for our help. To blog about it and that, I gladly do, because I think it is appalling that someone who considers themselves a serious candidate for public office would use this word. And Dave also asks that we e-mail, both Mr. Ford and another of the candidates, George Smitherman, who is using that quote as part of his campaign material, but because of the stupidity of it, not because it defames people with disabilities. And one more, to e-mail our local TV news station that didn't cover this from a disability perspective.
And seldom have I felt more invisible, because in this one, all of us who have disabilities, regardless of which kind it is, are together. I can't help but wonder what would've happened if Mr. Ford had used the N-word. Bet it would have been all over the news.
Leaders lead by example and if our leaders think nothing of tossing out derogatory terms for various minority groups, I don't want to think about the kind of government or city they'll be building.
Therefore, I'm asking you to help us by writing the candidates expressing your feelings about this (contact information available over at Dave’s blog). Even if you don't live in
It’s too bad we have to pressure them to become the leaders we deserve.