I am not a fan of dark humor. This is mainly because, well yeah, it attempts to make jokes of things that most people find hurtful or offensive. Ridiculing illness, poverty, injustice, natural disasters, oppression, and the like, is just not my cup of tea.
So you can probably guess that I am not a regular reader of the Onion. To their credit, they do post some funny stuff that does achieve the goal of good satire by poking fun at politics and other scandalous matters. These articles usually make it to Facebook and I have been known to give them a click.
That is sort of, but not exactly, how I came upon the Onion’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide. In this case, a furious friend and fellow advocate posted it to a FB group I am in because this time they hit too close to home. The gift list includes petrified dead babies from Pompeii, terminally ill dogs, prosthetic legs for dads who have lost theirs, and white babies that *might have Down syndrome.
While I was checking out the offensive post, I noticed that the cover page post was a tasteless piece reporting on how “thousands of Americans will notice the first signs of dementia in their parents this holiday season.” Hardy ha ha ha, that is so funny, not. After poking around the archives for a while, I found lots of similar not so funny posts.
In fact, if you do a search at the Onion on Down syndrome you come up with plenty of insulting and dehumanizing posts. Back in ‘08 they even referred to Sarah Palin’s son Trig as retarded. If you want to bitch about an Onion post, well folks start there.
The Onion’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide is not funny, not even the parts that have nothing to do with Ds or dying dogs. But this isn’t THE post where they went too far. That happened long ago. To read that gift guide post, and only complain about the fact that Ds was mentioned feels wrong to me, like maybe you think the rest of it was perfectly fine. I doubt the children of wounded warriors whose dads are just getting used to their new legs or the people whose dogs really are dying right now agree with you.
My point here is that the Onion is in the business of being offensive. It is dark humor. And listing a white baby who might have Ds for sale is just one of the many offenses on that list and on that site. If you want to cry foul, then maybe you ought to scream it from the top of your lungs for more reasons than just Ds. And maybe you should stop reading the Onion and stop buying from their advertisers. Write an email to the Mormons and tell them that buying ad space there rubs you the wrong way.
I sent an email to the Onion’s CEO Steve Hannah letting him know that I thought the majority of the list was offensive. Then I let him know that people with Ds have it hard enough without “funny” publications like the Onion making their hill even higher. I also informed him that $1275 is a ridiculously dirt-cheap figure for a white baby with Down syndrome. We paid $27,000 for ours. I am sure my note ended up in the trash folder along with thousands of other emails complaining about thousands of other hurts.
If you feel like writing to the Onion to let them know that Ds is not something to make cruel jokes about, please do: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, if you have $1275 you want to spend (or even $5) on giving the gift of a baby with Down syndrome, please check out my friend Nykki’s donation site. She has had a certain little man with Ds on her Christmas list for quite some time now.
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