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News Release

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society Concerned With Targeting Persons With Developmental Disabilities
in Tropic Thunder “Mockumentary”

CALGARY (August 14, 2008) - The new Hollywood movie release Tropic Thunder, (starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr., opening August 13) has engaged a possible national boycott of the film by a large coalition of disability advocacy groups. A particular sore point has been the film’s repeated use of the term “retard”. Representatives of the National Down Syndrome Congress saw the movie on Friday and immediately advised CDSS and other advocacy groups to come together to fight this damaging, hurtful film.

“I came out feeling like I had been assaulted,” said David C. Tolleson, Executive Director of the National Down Syndrome Congress.

Mr. Tolleson and Peter V. Berns, Executive Director of the Arc of the United States, reported on Sunday that they could not recall a similar coalition of disabilities groups forming against a film. Mr. Berns noted that some people had objected to the use of the word “retarded” in other popular movies. “But there’s really been nothing near this magnitude”.

Michael Shaw, Board Chair of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society says “as a national organization CDSS is concerned about the power the entertainment industry has over their audience when portraying person with disabilities. Underestimating this influence reiterates public stereotypes and devalues the importance of people with developmental disabilities.”

“If I could say anything to Ben Stiller I would say, I am a person with Down syndrome and there is nothing funny about the word “retard”. Movies can be funny without discriminating a person’s ability” says Board member and VATTA advocacy Committee member Adam Johnston.

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) is a vital resource linking individuals, parents and professionals through advocacy, education and providing information. The mission of the CDSS is to ensure equitable opportunities for all Canadians with Down syndrome. This means, to make sure all Canadians with Down syndrome have the right supports to give them the same opportunities that everyone else has. Our vision is a proud Canada where ALL are welcome, we embrace diversity and we value everyone’s genes equally.


For further information:

Christy Thompson
Public Relations Manager, Canadian Down Syndrome Society
(403) 669-2832

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