My Letter to Netflix & Tom Segura


Hi everyone,

The recent release of a comedy show on Netflix, "Disgraceful," by Tom Segura, has greatly offended and outraged all members of the Down Syndrome community. As someone with a twin brother with Down Syndrome, I cannot simply ignore the hate speech included in the show that was promoted by Netflix. Included below is an excerpt from the show that has insulted many:

                  "You can’t say “retarded” anymore. [audience laughs] It was just here. Don’t you remember? -“Retarded.” That’s how I… -[audience laughs] People get very upset. I don’t really support the arguments against it. When people are like, “You shouldn’t say it.” “Why?” “What if there’s one over there?” And you’re like… [audience laughs] We never said it like that. We were never like, “Look at that guy!” [audience laughs] You didn’t say it like that. You said it to describe an idea, or a situation, you know? If your friend was like, “I’ll pick you up at your house, and then we’ll come back to my place, and later we can go back to your house. And we can get your bags. And then, we’ll come back over here after that.” And your like, “That’s retarded. Why the fuck would we do that?” [audience laughs] But now you can’t say that. Now you’ve gotta be like, “That’s not… smart. Your idea has an extra 21st chromosome, if you ask me.” [audience laughs] It’s not the same."

Dear Tom Segura and Netflix,

I am appalled that this could ever be broadcasted, especially on a popular streaming service like Netflix. I may only be a college student, but I have a sense of humor. And you Tom, haven't just pushed the boundaries of humor, but utterly destroyed it. 

I completely understand that the "r" word slips out unintentionally during a conversation. It's been normalized into our society over the past few decades, but is slowly fading out. Looking at the definition of "retarded" in Merriam-Webster (or any other basic dictionary) reveals a "slow or limited... intellectual or emotional development or academic progress." This has now been altered to replace words like "dumb, stupid, dull, lame, etc" and essentially labels those with intellectual disabilities as having those characteristics.

Clearly, members of the Down Syndrome community (and other members of the special needs community with that) do not fall under such a negative category. While living with Michael my entire life, I have learned more from him than any other intelligent figure could teach me, whether it be a professor, politician, etc. 

But you, Tom, have explicitly targeted the Down Syndrome community, and claim that they are just a dictionary definition. You have justified that its fair to make tasteless, inhumane jokes to belittle others, all in favor of promoting your own image. Your followers have sent hate mail to other members of the Down Syndrome community who are standing up against your public criticism. Rather than accepting that your "extra 21st chromosome" joke was inappropriate and hateful, you continue to spark outrage by attacking those people, like this loving mom to her beautiful daughter.

I cannot simply sit around while this is going about. I need to speak for those without a voice, like my brother Michael. It breaks my heart knowing that there is still a negative prejudice surrounding the Down Syndrome community, due to a lack of education regarding that community. It pains me that you cherish holding your own glory over being a respectful, considerate human being.

What can you do to help?

  • There has been an online petition with over 80,000 signatures to remove this show from netflix. You can find the link here:
  • Message @Netflix about why this show must be taken down, and do so in a respectful manner. 
  • Post your own story with a loved one with Down Syndrome over social media. Make sure to include hashtags like #netflix #tomsegura #downwiththeRword #savedownsyndrome and tag various news stations in your area. Again, be respectful, and let's spread love and support to our Down Syndrome community and #spreadthewordtoendtheword!




Julia Toronczak2 Comments