Eric D. Snider

A Formal Apology

Snide Remarks #535

"A Formal Apology"

by Eric D. Snider

Published on March 26, 2007

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Thank you all for coming. I've never thrown a press conference before, so I'm not sure how it works. I'm just a comedian who managed to get his own TV show. But I understand I've caused some controversy, and I want to apologize for that.

As you know, my name is Artie Stein, and I'm the star of the Fox sitcom "Who Arted?," which airs Thursdays at 8 (7 Central). And as you're aware -- in fact, it's why we're here today -- last week I got into an argument with my friend and co-star, David Schwartz, on the set of our show, and in the heat of the moment, I called Dave something that has caused a huge uproar. I called him a "retard."

I now deeply regret this. When I called Dave a retard, I was angry. We'd had an argument about some of the dialogue on the show, and I lost my temper. But I didn't ACTUALLY mean that I thought Dave was retarded. Far from it! Dave is one of the least retarded people I know! He's very smart, he doesn't poop his pants, and I have never once seen him fall down a flight of stairs, apart from instances where it was in the script and he was doing it for comedic purposes.

I was using a metaphor. I didn't mean that I REALLY thought Dave was retarded. It's like when you call your buddy a "fag." You don't actually mean that you think your buddy is sexually attracted to other men. If that's what you thought, you would say "queer," not "fag." You just mean that he's acting all fag-like. And in my case, I thought Dave was behaving like a retard -- not that he actually WAS one. I mean, it's not like he had ridden a short yellow bus to work and had sat in the back licking the windows the whole way. He was just being stupid, that's all.

Now, I understand the retard community has been very upset by my words, and I apologize for that. But to be honest, I'm perplexed. Why would retards be insulted to have David Schwartz called a retard? I would think you'd be honored to have such a talented, funny actor as one of your own! Were the retards upset because it turned out Dave isn't actually retarded, so I got their hopes up for nothing? I guess I can see that. You retards don't have any real big names to support your cause, and then you find out TV star David Schwartz is retarded, and you're like, "Man, that's gold! We're lucky to have him on our side!" And then when you find out he's not actually retarded, and he's actually really smart and normal and everything, you're probably let down and angry. I can appreciate that. And for causing that emotional turmoil among you retards, I apologize.

* * *

Thanks for coming. I'll admit, it's been a hectic week for me since my last press conference. Some of you were at that one, too, and you'll recall that the point of it was to apologize for an unfortunate thing I'd said on the set to my co-star, David Schwartz. Well, apparently my apology has caused further distress, and I'm here to set the record straight again.

I got a lot of e-mails this week. Let me share one of them with you. It says,

Dear Artie:

You're not supposed to call them "retards." "Retard" is an offensive word to people with mental handicaps. You should be more careful.

Always a fan,

Pamela R.
Omaha, Neb.

I appreciate Pamela R. from Omaha, Nebraska, taking the time to write. Thousands of other letters I got expressed the same idea: that calling someone "retarded" is offensive. And ladies and gentlemen, that makes me sad. Why should anyone be insulted to be termed a retard, whether they are one or not? Retards are hard-working, honest members of society. Many of them are Olympic medalists! How many Olympic medals have YOU won? I know I haven't won any! Honestly, I would be flattered if you called me a retard! (Although I'm not one.)

This is the kind of bigotry and prejudice that we need to overcome in this country. It's really sad, when you think about it. Negroes have had equal rights for decades now, and racism is pretty much gone. Queers are able to get married in some places, and hardly anyone ever beats them to death on back roads anymore. That leaves retards as the last minority group that it's still "acceptable" to persecute. And friends, that's deplorable. I was raised not to discriminate against anyone, be they Negro, queer, or retard. "Retard" should not be considered a "slur," and the world's retards shouldn't have to feel insulted or embarrassed to have that word used. Be proud, retards! Let your retard flag fly!

* * *

Wow. It's been a pretty interesting week for me. Since my last press conference, I've had a lot of intense conversations with my publicist, my agent, and various community leaders and concerned fans. Here's one of the e-mails I got:

Hey stupid,

Do you not get it? The word "retard" is offensive because people who are mentally challenged prefer to be called "mentally challenged," not "retarded." That's why everyone got so upset.

Sincerely,
Richard M.
Fresno, Calif.

Thank you, Richard M. Your sentiments were echoed in countless other e-mails, letters, phone calls, faxes, notes tied to bricks, class-action lawsuits, and graffiti that I received over the last week. I feel safe in saying that I now "get it." I understand why it was wrong to call my co-star what I called him, and I apologize for that. I also apologize for any offense I have caused people who are mentally challenged.

It was childish of me to call David Schwartz a "retard." I understand that now. I should have said, "Dave, you're acting like a mentally challenged person!" If he was still unclear, I could have elaborated. "Dave," I could have said, "you exhibit signs of Down syndrome, and my inclination right now is to smile tightly at you, get uncomfortable, and then pretend I don't see you anymore." I think then he would have understood where I was coming from.

A few days ago, I met with leaders in the mentally challenged community. They wanted to help me understand them better. To blend in, I wore an ill-fitting suit that I got at a thrift store, and I didn't brush my hair that day. I had a fine afternoon with the mentally challenged leaders. We drank punch and ate doughnuts, which one of my new friends said he invented! We all had a good laugh about that. Imagine, the inventor of doughnuts being mentally challenged!

But what I learned is that mentally challenged people can do anything. Maybe they can even invent doughnuts. I left the meeting with a newfound respect for mentally challenged people and all the good work they do in the community, from sweeping the floors at Burger King to sweeping the floors at Wal-Mart.

Unfortunately, I came away from the meeting still a little confused, too. The mentally challenged people at the meeting said I shouldn't use the word "retard" -- but I noticed they often used it with each other. One of them greeted another one by saying, "What's up, retard?" And the other one said, "You know you my retard." When I then said, "How are all you retards doin'?" the room grew quiet and awkward. Obviously I still have a lot to learn.

Another letter I got this week was from a very "special" person, and please note that I used quotation marks when I said "special," indicating that this person is mentally challenged, or possibly even retarded. Here's his letter:

Dear Artie,

My name is Chris Burke. I played Corky on the ABC series "Life Goes On" from 1989 to 1993. On our show we taught some very important lessons about how to treat one another. We tried to show that when you get past the outward differences, we're all pretty much the same underneath -- except for us retards, because we're actually very different. We don't just look different and act different and dress different; our DNA is different, too. There's a whole genetic thing that's out of whack. We're different from other people on a deep, fundamental level.

So what's the point? The point is that I haven't worked since 1993. I would love to be a guest star on your show sometime. If you do not think that would be funny, then could I just have $50?

Sincerely,
Chris Burke
Famous Retard
Los Angeles, Calif.

It was a thrill for me to get Chris Burke's letter, as I have always thought "Life Goes On" was a great show with important values, and Corky is my favorite "mentally challenged" or "retarded" character of all time. Number two is Blair's cousin on "Facts of Life," and number three is Paula Abdul. I feel like after meeting with the mentally-challenged-community leaders, and now after getting Chris' letter, I'm helping to bridge the gap between mentally challenged people and normal, regular, smart people.

* * *

I'm sorry I can't be here with you today. My publicist is reading you this statement, which I prepared myself.

After further meetings with community leaders, I have come to accept that I have a problem. For that reason, I have checked myself into a rehab facility, where I hope to overcome the anti-retard feelings that have taken control of me in recent weeks. I ask for your thoughts and prayers during this time, and I hope to come out of the process with a greater understanding and acceptance of our less-normal neighbors. The rehab facility is expensive, but I have every confidence that it will be worth it, that I will come out of it a better, more sensitive person. Plus, I was able to jew them down on the price a little bit.

Stumble It!

Notes:

The background (this will be necessary when this column is read five years from now) is the recent scandals involving Mel Gibson and the Jews, "Gray's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington and the gays, and Michael Richards and the African Americans. It became trendy to publicly apologize and then go to rehab, and I started thinking about other possible victims of a celebrity's insensitivity.

In an early version, I went with a totally ridiculous group, like "night owls" versus "morning people." Then I decided this route would be funnier and allow for more possible layers.

Interesting trivia: Chris Burke and I have the same birthday! It is Aug. 26. He's nine years older, though.

And yes, I know I'm going to hell.

This item has 60 comments

  1. pizzocalabro says:

    This is one of the funniest Snide Remarks ever. And hopefully it will make more people angry than ever before! Please please please let this resurrect the angry letter. Please.

    Also, I had never thought that the reason I was mad at Isaiah Washington was because he gave me the false hope that Patrick Dempsey might be gay. It's certainly plausible.

  2. Shumway says:

    What a bizarre column. I guess if you are aiming to get people upset, two thumbs up.

  3. Markk says:

    That column was retarded.

    (Sorry.)

    (No, really.)

  4. Jeff says:

    I don't get it. Is Artie the guy from the Howard Stern show? When did he get a TV show?

  5. DavidW says:

    You forgot about the uproar over Tiger Woods using "spaz". The spaz community got very upset at him. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/golf/pga/2006-04-12-woods-apology_x.htm

  6. Lowdogg says:

    This IS one of the best Snide Remarks ever. I was laughing so hard I almost spit out my mid-morning cottage cheese and triscuits. Hilarious.

  7. Lowdogg says:

    Sorry. Had to comment again. Hee-lair-ee-ous.

  8. The Ayatollah says:

    Being well versed in Snide Remarks, I feel that I have the proper authority to declare this the greatest one yet. I also echo the cry for the resurrection of Angry Letters.

  9. Ben C. says:

    The last sentence is the best. Pulls the whole column together! It was worth waiting 3 weeks for a new Snide Remarks!

  10. Carrie says:

    OMG! I don't know if this is the funniest Snide Remarks ever, but it is definitely the funniest that there has been in years. I was laughing so hard throughout the whole column. It's so wrong, and yet it's so right. I'm glad you went with retards because going to an extreme makes the whole satirical part way funnier. I loved it. I will read it again after I finish this test I'm about to take.

  11. Nate C. says:

    retard, please...

  12. Chuckwagon Omlette says:

    Meh, not as funny as it should have been, I guess I wasn't in the mood.

  13. lisa spice says:

    Hysterical! You are a genius. I love when people don't get it...their comments are almost better than the Snide Remark.

  14. card says:

    I look forward to the angry letters because then I get to read what the angry repliers write who defend Eric's column by the use of name calling and their own "right" opinions. Hilarity.

  15. shumway says:

    I don't know that too many people who have commented "don't get it" so much as just didn't think it was that funny. Not agreeing with someone else's sense of humor doesn't mean you don't get it.

  16. K-Man says:

    Definitely the best Snide Remarks I have ever read. I would pay good money to know what would have happened had this been published in the Daily Herald back here in Provo.

  17. David Manning says:

    Meh, it was funny, but I definitely wouldn't call it the "best in..." anything.


    I loved the "...notes tied to bricks..." part.

  18. Mark in Portland says:

    Crazy... I had never heard of the Tiger Woods/spaz thing. I had no idea that was offensive or that it referred to an actual disability.

    Personally, I think the world would be a better place if 1) people in general said less offensive things, and 2) people were less easily offended. But, yeah, not likely to happen.

  19. Dan says:

    I would echo the comments of #12. I got it, but it wasn't that funny to me. Not offended at all, just not laughing. Given Eric's productivity, it is bound to happen.

    I'm waiting now to be told how dumb I am for not getting it.

  20. David says:

    Everyone quit getting defensive about being told you didn't "get it." The only person so far who didn't get it, or who was even accused of not getting it, was #4. And that person obviously didn't get it. The people who just didn't think it was funny: Relax. No one has accused you of not getting it.

  21. Jacob says:

    I agree with Ben of #9. While I didn't find the essay utterly hilarious, that last line kicked. It brought forth a big ol' guffaw from my innermost recesses. Thank you, Eric, for being awesome.

  22. Queen of Everything says:

    uuuuummmmmm.....ok. i get the satire, and I get the point. honestly, retards? course this comng from me; "mentally challenged" brother and i call dumb-acting people that terrible "slur"

    i think picking on gay people would have been funnier. being from an extensive background w/ "mentally challenged" people puts me on the defensive. hwoever, so would anyone from an extensive gay background. dontch love them stigmas? let's all hug, guys!

    lol, good point on the DNA thing...never really thought of that one! unless braindamage did it, then you have no DNA argument. that's my quote for the day. go eat some cake.

  23. Matt says:

    This column was retarded AND gay. (in a good way)

  24. Lane says:

    As I was reading this, I couldn't help but wonder if it would have been funnier if you were still writing for a paper. Obviously you couldn't have done exactly the same article, but in a way, being limited to a smaller range of ways you can deal with an idea- as well as having to use fewer words to do it- forced you to stretch yourself even further. Your limits made you stronger. It also made whatever DID make into the paper just a little bit funnier knowing that people who hate you would be reading it just to hate you. You won't get angry letters from your fans.

    Anyway, fun article. And you left out midgets, pigeon-toe.

  25. Carrie says:

    Sunday night, I was watching Sarah Silverman's "Jesus Is Magic" because I thought a movie about Jesus would be a good Sunday night activity. Warning: that "movie" is NOT about Jesus. Anyway, parts of this column complemented her routine that had me belly laughing, and so I just continued my belly workout for another day.

  26. Lowdogg says:

    My wife doesn't follow the celebrity stuff very much, so she was not cognizant of the Grey's Anatomy thing or the rehab solution in the Richard's case. Therefore she was pretty horrified by the column, until we explained the context. She then pronounced it very good.

    I read it to a friend and did some more crying. This one really does lend itself to a reading, more than other Snide Remarks.

  27. Hayesinho says:

    1. Worth the wait

    2. Worth more than its weight in gold [serioulsy, can you weigh electronic text?]

    3. I'll save you a room next ot mine in the rehab.

  28. Momma Snider says:

    Thoughtful critique, Lane. And yeah, midgets!

    I thought this one was funny, but the humor for me is diminished when I know someone is going to get mad. Eric likes to outrage his readers (the ones who don't know him well) but I don't like people to be mad at him. I haven't paid much attention to any of the celebrities who have said offensive things, and I'm sure this parody was way over the top, but I agree with Mark in Portland that people should be more careful what they say, and people shouldn't be so easily offended.

  29. Mozzie says:

    OMH, the comment about riding the short bus and licking the windows had me spitting m&ms and dr. pepper all over the screen. My son, bless his heart, has "issues". Not retarded, but definite issues. Anyway, when he is having some of his "issue episodes", he licks things. Mirrors, carpet, people, whatever. I mean, come on people, I'm a mom with a special child, and I freaking laughed hysterically. Don't be so easily offended people. It's not worth the time or effort. This was funny. Laugh, you will feel better!

  30. Weezy says:

    Hey Queen #22,

    I admire you - you have a good attitude about it considering your perspective (with your brother and all). I have a friend with an autistic child, and I have to be careful what I say around her. On the other hand, at work I have a friend that is gay and if I slip and say "oh that's so gay instead of that's so retarded" she will look at me quizzically and say "do you mean gay-retarded or gay-homo?" which I think is the better perspective, because then we can have a good laugh instead of an awkward silence. (I don't know why I can't just stick with stupid, it's just not as descriptive I guess).

  31. Cory says:

    One the greatest t-shirt slogans ever: "Your retarded"

    (For those of you scratching your heads, the misspelling is intentional.)

  32. Cory says:

    Oh, this article had me laughing out loud more many of Eric's has lately. I love the subtle wordplays! Great stuff.

  33. Romy says:

    I just found these a couple of nights ago, and I have "special" relatives, but I still laughed. I don't know why people would get all worked up, whether they've read Eric's stuff for a long time or not....

  34. Lowdogg says:

    I laugh hard everytime I read it. He just keeps going and going.

  35. Tom says:

    Meh. Didn't enjoy it as much as usual. I agree with #17 about "notes tied to bricks," though. Maybe it's just that I'm sleep deprived. More so than usual, anyway.

  36. corned_beef says:

    Best.Snide.Ever.

  37. Turkey says:

    In college I used to say things were retarded; my roommate, who had a mentally challenged brother, would then throw a hissyfit over my use of the word and how inappropriate it is. She would say, "Exactly, HOW, can an article of clothing be 'retarded'?!" Then one day she declared that some FHE game was retarded and I asked her how it is possible for a game to be retarded. "Touche." She shut up after that, thank goodness.

    Very, very funny article. I guess it takes a while to come up with something that good.

  38. Binky says:

    In reference to the song played at the end of the [url=http://www.ericdsnider.com/downloads/Snide%20Remarks-534-2007-03-26.mp3]podcast of this article[/url], I had NO IDEA that the lyrics were originally "Let's get retarded in here!" (Instead of what it's been changed to: "Let's get it started in here!") Ha-freaking-ha ha ha!

    I found a [url=http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110005723]good article from the Wall Street Journal here.[/url]

    The internet is the bestest teacher ever.

  39. TheDarci says:

    I could have said, "you exhibit signs of Down syndrome, and my inclination right now is to smile tightly at you, get uncomfortable, and then pretend I don't see you anymore."

    My youngest sister has both Down Syndrome and Autism. (In other words, she's REALLY retarded.) This line is hilarious because its so true! That's the way just about everyone responds.

  40. Ben C. says:

    To Cory #31: I have that shirt! It makes me laugh every time I wear it. It makes other people laugh too, but I'm always unsure whether or not they understand that the wrong "Your" is used.

  41. adam P says:

    hell yeah! awesome. i hate stupid people.

  42. Jeff Denison says:

    Genius!!

  43. postelwait says:

    I am thoroughly offended by this article, not because i'm retarded or have relatives or friends that are retards (i once dated a home schooled chick, does that count?) but because i have a problem with pooping my pants. Just recently i got into a car accident because i was in desperate search of a restroom because i have IBS. IBS is a disease that effects millions world wide, and it is NOT a joking matter. We are not considered retarded yet, except in france where everything is centered around food and stupid cheese. Please, Eric, try to be a little more sensitive to us with bowel irregularities. you can keep making fun of retards though. btw, i really did get in a car accident like that.

  44. yagodi says:

    "It's a bad movie because it makes fun of retarded people, then tries to tell us that making fun of retarded people is bad." The Ringer review, 12/23/2005. And now you've proven that unadulterated cheap shots at retards (those silly window lickers in ill-fitting suits) always make for a good laugh. Well done!

  45. depechegirl says:

    Well done. I literally, almost fell off my chair laughing.

  46. Matt says:

    Ok, here it comes: I'm officially putting an end to the word "meh" in all internet forums.

    Please paste this all over the internet. Notice that I didn't say "interwebs." I'm also putting an end to that.

    You are now free to go on with your day.

  47. Greg says:

    Meh, whatever #46 :D

    #37, you should have said that they were "flame retarded" and see whether she got it or not.

  48. Kathi says:

    My son said that I would love this column and sent me the link. As a past fan, all I can say is: you still rock! Absolutely hilarious handling of the current trend! And now --- Don Imus! It seems to be never-ending!

  49. Braden Ellis says:

    perfect.

  50. FHL says:

    And of course the bit on "you are my retard" is mirrored in Rush Hour when Jackie Chan attempts to imitate his buddy in the bar.

  51. Clumpy says:

    This column was somehow made funnier by my associations with the mentally-challenged. That's strange - cathartic humor DOES work!

    I'd rather others make fun of my disabilities (my disabilities fall squarely into the "social" category) - it helps them seem easier to deal with.

    That column was funnier than the entirety of "The Ringer".

  52. Victoria Lynn says:

    Heyyyy! You, Chris and I all have the same birthday. 'Cept I'm in '92. ;) Haha.

  53. Savvy Veteran says:

    "from sweeping the floors at Burger King to sweeping the floors at Wal-Mart"

    I just realized how hilarious that line is.

  54. Wee Todd says:

    Not funny, Eric. How could you make fun of people with "special needs."
    People who find this column funny probably laugh when they hear an unsuspecting person read the following three lines:
    I am Wee Todd.
    I am Wee Todd Did.
    I am Sofa King Wee Todd Did.

    That kind of humor has NEVER made me laugh my [butt] off! It's like poop jokes and guys getting hit in the jewels. Just sophomoric, is what it is. That kind of humor is sooooooooo retarded.

    P.S. — Keep up the good work

  55. Nephele says:

    As a person who has little respect or patience for the "politically correct" epidemic, I loved this. It's nice to know I'm not the only one.

    Oh, and the last line: priceless.

  56. Genevieve says:

    AWESOME!!!!!!

    Savvy Veteran, that line was hilarious!!!!!

  57. Liz says:

    You're a jerk, dude...The point is that the word retard is used to connote stupidity, which just reinforces the way people like you see individuals with disabilities...as stupid and not worthy of respect. It's not the same as fag...It's worse. If you had a brother (like me), with a disability, who throughout his life, was called "retard" by ignorant, unkind people, and you watched him cry, I HOPE you'd want to kick anyone's as* who used the word...even in jest. If you ever took the time to get to know someone with a mental disability, even became friends w/ him/her, and heard someone use that word in an ignorant way, you'd have a different perspective...if not, you have no heart.

    All of you people who have no patience for political correctness, etc...that just translates to you having little empathy for things that don't affect you...You can't be bothered to think at a higher level. It doesn't take that much extra brain power...perhaps you just don't have it. Maybe you don't care. Either way, you need to grow a heart and take the blinders off. There are other humans out there, who aren't as lucky as you...who are born with challenges. Who are doing the best they can to be great people. They don't deserve the ridicule. And it doesn't take much for you to NOT use a word that has hurt many people. Just shut your mouth for a second and think. That's all it takes. Of course it's a free country. You can sound like an ignorant person if you damn well please...Go ahead. I challenge you to speak consciously and with empathy. I really hope you try it.

  58. shauna says:

    I feel for people that can't just relax and enjoy something or let things go if they don't care for them.

    I laughed my butt off, and am so tired of all the PC crap that surrounds us.. this is priceless.

  59. John D says:

    Hey, #57: having no patience for political correctness doesn't mean we don't have empathy for other people. It means we're tired of being told what we can and can't say because what we say might offend somebody out there. Just wanted to clear that up.

    I will agree with your first paragraph; the people who picked on your brother are insensitive and rude. But your second paragraph ruins your argument. Let me see if I can sum it up: First you say that we should not call mentally challenged people names such as "retard", because it is offensive and impolite. You then proceed to call everyone who says they are tired of political correctness "ignorant" and "heartless", which is a generalization that is not only offensive and impolite, but condescending as well. Hooray for double standards!

    For the record, I have several close friends with various disabilities, all of whom I love dearly, and I thought this column was funny.

  60. Larry says:

    Came across this reading during a lunch break, 5 years later, as your comments mentioned. While the explanation was unnecessary, it brought home the relevance a bit more. So prophetic of you sir!

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