Saturday, August 15, 2009

NY mother who fought against R-word in "Tropic Thunder" wants apology from county lawmaker who said it at government meeting

From WHEC-TV in Rochester, N.Y.:

More anger August 10 over a story News 10NBC broke about a county lawmaker caught on tape using the "R-word." Some parents say they want an apology. News 10NBC talked with a mother who has fought for 15 years to stop people from using the R-word.

"How many people in the room have been hurt by words that people have said in your life?" Teri Abrams (pictured) asked. She is the mother of a 15 year old girl with Down Syndrome. Abrams lead a public fight last year when the R-word appeared in the blockbuster movie -- Tropic Thunder.

"You went full retard man. Never go full retard," the character of Robert Downey Jr. said.

"A year later it turns out that same R-word slur has made it to the halls of our legislature," Abrams said. This is what she is talking about.

Clerk: Mr. Eckel?
Steve Eckel, (D) County Legislator: Yes, for whistle blower protection.
Clerk: Mr. Esposito?
Quatro: Jesus... retard.

County democrats say it was Majority Leader Dan Quatro who said it at a meeting four weeks ago. You can hear that Quatro's microphone is definitely on and the comment was whispered into a live mic. Another video angle shows Quatro moves the microphone away from his mouth immediately after it was said.

Now Teri Abrams and the Center for Disability Rights say they still don't have the apology they want.

"If our leaders will no find out who said the word and hold them accountable, we will," CDR Executive Director Bruce Darling said.

Majority Leader Quatro wrote a letter to the Center for Disability Rights. In his letter, Quatro called the R-word offensive and inappropriate. But what's not in that letter is an apology.

Quatro told us he doesn't recollect saying the word and doesn't believe it was him.

Berkeley Brean, reporter: So why don't you apologize dan either on behalf of yourself or anybody?

Quatro, (R) Majority Leader: I don't know how much more I can express regret. I regret that that word was used. I think looking for a personal apology from somebody or casting blame on a specific person really isn't the direction we need to be moving.

"When a 5th grader says it, they need to be taught," Abrams said. "When a community leader says it, they have deeper responsibilities."

CDR and its members are going to attend at the county legislature meeting Tuesday night.

The CDR has written to Maggie Brooks about this. She's trying to stay out of this fight. She did write CDR a letter saying the word is offensive and when it was said in the meeting it was inappropriate, but she's not really commenting on it much.