January 4, 2011
I am writing to you on behalf of the National Down Syndrome Society to express our concern with the nature and content of the greeting cards sold by the shop YouStupidBitch. This is the second time our organization has contacted you regarding the card that reads "Congratulations, your kid has Down syndrome," which was once removed and has now been made available again. While the greeting cards in this shop are generally offensive, this one in particular is demeaning and hurtful to people with Down syndrome and their families. Self-advocates constantly work hard to highlight their abilities, rather than their disabilities that are heartlessly mocked in this card. Creating a second card in response to the parents of people who Down syndrome who reacted in defense of their children is equally offensive.
The language and sentiment in the initial card are exactly what we strive to combat on a daily basis, and the nature of this card is indicative of the inaccurate and ignorant stereotypes that are all too common in our culture. People with Down syndrome are capable of intelligent thought, understanding and behavior and should not be mocked based on their perceived appearance or disability, in either a humorous or serious manner.
At the National Down Syndrome Society, we understand that this display of behavior is often the result of a lack of information and/or a lack of exposure to people with cognitive disabilities. We hope that you take this opportunity to educate yourself about cognitive disabilities and gain a better understanding, so that you might realize the extent to which this kind of content affects those it targets.
More than 400,000 people in the United States have Down syndrome, which is caused by a third copy of chromosome 21. Individuals with Down syndrome work very hard – harder than most people – to learn how to read, write, play musical instruments, participate in sports, live independently, and become valuable members of their communities. They deserve to be respected and celebrated for their success and achievements, and not to have their clinical diagnosis used as a punch-line. More often than not, these individuals are underestimated their whole lives by people who focus on their disability, rather than their abilities.
When people with Down syndrome are inappropriately referenced or forced to be the target of this type of 'humor,' it sustains and perpetuates these low expectations and negative stereotypes and further impedes the acceptance of people with disabilities in schools, the workplace and the community. Negative and inaccurate public perceptions are the greatest barriers the National Down Syndrome Society faces in achieving acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.
We request that you not only remove the card but ban the user and future users from posting items that are inappropriate and hurtful towards people with Down syndrome and other disabilities, and that you stop perpetuating these inaccuracies and unfair stereotypes. We thank you for your anticipated cooperation in the matter.
National Down Syndrome Society
New York, NY 10012