Thursday, May 4, 2017

May The Fourth Be With You

Certainly you've heard folks running around chanting "may the fourth be with you." Some who hear this, distracted by a text message, involuntarily mumble "and also with you." Your employer may somehow think this is an opportunity for "team building" and if that's your company you will probably bump into Wally in the break room.

But there is a serious, dark side to all this--it is very hurtful to a group so often the butt of jokes,  snide remarks and mocking imitations: lispers. Not the AI programmers. The folk with the speech impediment--nay--speech distinction.

Suffering from a condition over which you have no control, one with which you were born, should not be a subject of public ridicule but an opportunity for the broader community to learn, to demonstrate understanding, to empower those with this speech-distinction to fully participate--to achieve their potential. Instead we have a society celebrating a comic's ridicule of Marlee Maitlin as if he is some Lenny Bruce of speech diversity. Far from it. Were he making fun of a Latina's accent the outrage would be palpable and direct action would be taken. Social media would be swift, forceful and complete with not a single YouTube video remaining. That this same indignation is not leveled at the oppressors of those with speech distinction tells us we, Speech Diversity Warriors, have much work ahead of us.

Let us not forget that speech diversity is more than dialect, colloquialisms and accents. Speech diversity is a large tent covering all manner of speech distinction from the eloquence of Tourettes to stammerers, stutterers, and yes, lispers. Embracing diversity does require stepping out of your comfort zone but remember this: you are the guilty party should you fail in taking this small step to break out of your self imposed cocoon.

So next time someone has the audacity to ignorantly say "may the fourth be with you" let the Force be strong in you. Stand up for speech distinction by embracing--celebrating speech diversity.

HASHTAG: LispthLivesMatter