@50Cent has now apologized for the offending tweets that he made regarding autism and special needs children. I think it is our responsibility as those that criticized his comments to work just as diligently to let people know that he has apologized. Too often in these situations, it is the bad that gets spread around like wildfire and the apology gets none of the attention.
So as an advocate/parent that was critical of your actions Mr. Jackson, I wanted to say thank you and apology accepted. I know that your history indicates that you do not tend to offer apologies, so I appreciate that you stepped up and showed that you are human, have emotions and are prone to mistakes.
It always amazes me when something like this happens in the autism community. Those on the outside may not realize how fragmented our group is, but those of us on the inside are all too familiar with the infighting and disagreement. We argue and debate about everything from types of treatment to “autism” vs “autistic” to cures to diet to medication to causes to… well… you get the gist.
However, just like a large family with a bunch of siblings, outsiders quickly learn that while WE may be able to argue with one another and call each other names… insult ONE of us and you might as well be insulting ALL of us.
As I stated in “My 2 Cent” post about the tweets, I do not believe that 50 Cent truly meant to offend anybody other than the guy that was giving him a hard time on Twitter. It was Curtis Jackson’s way of being funny… he was poking fun at somebody. In his world, there is nothing wrong with making comments like “You look autistic!” or “Don’t be a retard!” or “Shut up fag!”… these words have (unfortunately) morphed into synonyms for other words.
As I reflected on this while talking to my wife about the 50 Cent debacle and a recent incident with a teenage girl that made fun of the fact that I had my daughter on a “leash”, I thought about the OLD me. And by “the OLD me” I am actually referring to the young me, the Lou B.A. – Before Autism.
What I concluded was that the reason why comments such as 50 Cent’s and others get taken so personally by me is that maybe, just maybe, it might have as much to do about me as it does my daughter with autism.
When I was a young man, would I have been so sensitive? If autism was never introduced into my life, would that 50 Cent tweet ever have been on my radar? Would I even understand what the fuss was all about? Did I ever take a moment to think about the numerous times I used “retard” before I had my daughter? What about when I would call a friend a “fag” for doing something I considered to be silly or annoying? No... and keep in mind that I have a friend from childhood with Down Syndrome that I ADORE and would never in a million years want to hurt. I even lost a dear, dear gay friend when I was in high school to AIDS. Still, I never thought about the ramifications of my ignorance because my intent was not to offend, it was to be humorous.
But now I am enlightened. Now, as I have said in so many posts before I have been given the gift of PERSPECTIVE. I know why those words hurt. I have felt the pain those words can yield. I just wish I would have been wise enough when I was younger to have been able to see the bigger picture.
So perhaps one of the reasons we get so disturbed when something like the 50 Cent tweet happens is because it is a reminder of our past selves and we so desperately wish we could show the person we were back then what we now know. We are ashamed.
I can tell you this. That shame I have about the way I acted in the past and the naiveté I walked around with… I can honestly say that I have put that feeling to good use. I have harnessed that energy and done all that I can to mold myself into a better person… a more caring person… a more compassionate person.
My parents used to tell me when I was growing up that the only bad mistakes are the ones that you don’t learn from. I have learned from my mistakes. I can only hope that 50 Cent and others like him can learn this lesson as well.
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