Saturday, December 21, 2013

An Open Letter to Justine Sacco

I will not open this letter with 'Dear' because that would imply some courtesy. And I don't care to address you by your first name because that would be too familiar. Quite honestly, I have no desire to be courteous or familiar with you. Even addressing you by Ms. Sacco seems to offer you a respect you are not worthy of.

I'm not the public relations expert you are but when I read your tweet, my jaw dropped. How does someone in public relations insult an entire continent and race of people? The very country you're flying to, no less! I mean, I'm not PR expert but I'm thinking that's a big no no. Because aside from it being incredibly racist and  ignorant - it was simply reckless.

And I may have believed the talk that your twitter account being hacked. 

But then I read about some of your other tweets.

Not only have you tweeted racist insults, you've also used the r-word as a slur. And your tweet about the sex dream…is disgusting. 

Last October I wrote an open letter to Ann Coulter about her use of tweeting the r-word: 

You have hurt millions of children and adults living with any kind of disability. In 140 characters or less, you have sabotaged and diminished every single thing a special needs parent advocates for. You are perpetuating this stereotype that individuals with special needs are stupid, ugly, worthless and less than.
You have done the same. 

I am tired of tweeps like you hiding behind freedom of speech. Yes, our country allows us that right but we also have a responsibility to use that freedom responsibly. 

You are absolutely everything that is wrong in social media. You're the kind of person I have nightmares about. You're the person, I'd never want my special needs son to meet. And you are also the reason why I write, the reason I am his advocate. 

I read that you are a mother. And as a mother, you should be ashamed. Because is this what you are teaching your child? To hate, to ridicule? Are you the example you want your child to follow?  

You've since deleted your twitter account.  But it's too late. Your tweet has been retweeted more than a thousand times, favorited and replied to. The screen shots are out there. Your hate is out there. You have left your digital footprint. And it is ugly.

I don't expect an apology. I think apologies are pointless. There are too many celebrities tweeting and speaking without thinking and apologizing later. And you are not a public figure, you have no fans to beg for forgiveness. 

What I would like you to do - what I would like more people to do - is to think. Think before you speak. Think before your tweet. And if you're going to use social media - use it for social good. Use your 140 characters to tweet a positive message worthy of retweeting.  
Twitter is a powerful tool, it can either make you or break you - use it responsibly.

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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.