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Trigger Warning for Disablist language

A common “nugget of wisdom” I’ll often hear about fighting on the internet goes something like this:


“Fighting on the internet is like winning the special olympics. You may win, but you are still retarded.”

I heard a recent spin on this folksy piece of bullshit from a commenter on a blog I read:
Nobody wins when stereotypes are being thrown around but sometimes it’s just fun to play games where nobody wins. It’s like the Special Olympics.

I beg your pardon?

It appears the two above ideas contradict each other. One person claims that you are capable of winning, but it is rendered moot by the bad fortune of having an intellectual disability. The other claims you can’t win the special olympics, period. Neither of these are true. The athletes involved in the special olympics work very hard to get where they are at, and lord knows a lazy clod like me admires their dedication. I can’t even muster up the energy to change the channel on TV some days, let alone run track.
For those unfamiliar, the motto of the special olympics is: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
With that in mind, let me be brave in the attempt to explain why it’s bullshit to use the special olympics as your source for comparison on anything lazy, illogical, or futile.
There’s all sorts of answers I can grant that, with pages worth of research on the hard work and dedication of special olympics athletes, their coaches, and all involved. How the special olympics isn’t meant to display the futility of living with a disability, but show just how fulfilling it can make life with the right resources and outlook.
But I don’t have the time for that. The special olympics deserves a greater defense than what I can offer, but since I am not an athlete and have never directly participated in an event, I can’t offer much in personal perspective. But as a disabled person who knows what it’s like to have my disability used as a source of ridicule, I will say this:
The special olympics is an event which brings together people from many walks of life who have many experiences, but all have the common experience of being intellectually disabled folks who worked hard as all hell to get where they are. That is not reflective of a ridiculous flame war, or a goofy moment of losing logic. All these sayings reflect is that the person saying them likely doesn’t have a disabled person in their lives, and likely never will have a disabled person get close enough to them in order to explain why their arrogant similes are bullshit.
Because really, who wants to waste their time with such a loser, when you can be training or working towards fulfilling a dream? A concept that is utterly alien to them, but not to special olympic athletes, that’s for sure.

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