Aniston criticized for use of “(letter)-word”
Amidst debate over Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s use of the “N-word” to make a point, Jennifer Aniston is now under heavy criticism for usage of the “R-Word” on her August 19 appearance on Live! With Regis and Kelly.
The 41-year-old actress joined the host Regis Philbin and his guest co-host, Kristin Cruz, to promote her new film The Switch.
The conversation turned to Aniston’s photo spread in Harper’s Bazaar, where she was photographed to resemble Barbra Streisand, according to UsMagazine.com.
Philbin showed several photographs and remarked, “You’re playing dress up!” Aniston replied, “Yes, I play dress up! I do it for a living…like a retard.” (Watch video clip of appearance.)
Disability community offended
It was not long after the show aired that Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, commented to Us Magazine that Aniston’s comment was “extraordinarily offensive and inappropriate,” and that she “ought to know better.”
Berns continued, “She is using language that is offensive to a large segment of the population in this country. We estimate that there are probably in excess of 5 million people in this country with intellectual disabilities, and when you think about all of them, their family members and friends, you ‘re talking about tens of millions of people who find the use of that term to be really offensive. Every time folks hear that word, it kind of reminds them of all the discrimination and oppression they’ve experienced in their lives. Even if it wasn’t intended to insult them, that is the effect of it.”
The Arc of the United States is a not-for-profit community-based organization, which provides resources and support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families. The Arc has more than 730 state and local chapters across the United States, with more than 140,000 members.
Insensitivity from Capitol Hill
Prominent political figures have also been called on the carpet by leaders of the disability community for their insensitivity toward people with disabilities.
At the beginning of this year President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel attacked conservative Democrats on the health care issue intending to insult them by calling them “F-ing retarded,” according to news and commentary website on disabilities issues, PatriciaEBauer.com.
In March 2009 with Tonight Show host, Jay Leno, President Barack Obama said (about his bowling skills), “I bowled a 129…it was like Special Olympics, or something.”
Advocacy group, R-Word.org is calling for people to visit their website to publicly pledge and support “the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.”
YouTube video–Jennifer Aniston Interview with Regis