Integrity …

Yesterday I became aware of a Facebook post made by Tom Leykis. I found the post extremely distasteful.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, I will have to ask that you “google”. I do not want to give him anymore publicity than he already gets, because honestly, he gets enough and in ways I don’t always agree with. He’s kind of like a toddler looking for any attention whatsoever. Good. Bad. Or ugly. The problem is, he isn’t three. He’s a fully grown adult. But because of Reese I will give him some negative attention here.

Mr. Leykis shared a link about Jamie Brewer, the first model with Down Syndrome to walk during New York’s Fashion Week. Ms. Brewer’s accomplishment is huge for the Down Syndrome community. HUGE. On so many levels. Awareness. Acceptance. Tolerance. You name it, it’s POSITIVE.

Mr. Leykis, however, wrote a comment to go along with the link he shared about Ms. Brewer. And it was this:

“This will go DOWN in retard history!”

Just typing it, makes me sick. I do not use the R-word. It is offensive. Wrong. And hurtful. And this certainly isn’t the first time he has used the term either. Last year on World Down Syndrome Day Mr. Leykis posted the “Dear Future Mom” video to his website with these words:

“Don’t have an abortion! Have a retard!”

There is a movement that I am not sure Mr. Leykis is aware of. It’s called “Spread the Word to End the Word”, and I couldn’t agree with it more. The R-word has been used as derogatory slang for far too long. And it’s time to stop. Someone with Mr. Leykis’s influence should know better than to keep using such a foul term.

I have no idea why Mr. Leykis did what he did. Publicity, I am guessing. And I speculate he will claim “free speech” as his defense. Sure, free speech allows him to say (post) what he did. But why on earth would he want to?

Why would a man with his following chose to influence the masses with such negativity? Why wouldn’t he use his powerful voice to promote good? Was the shock value of his statement what he was banking on? Is fame at the expense of the innocent now an acceptable norm of our society?

I am going to tell you right now, NO IT’S NOT AN ACCEPTABLE NORM. It never has been, nor will it EVER BE! And I want Mr. Leykis to be made aware that.

Do I believe in free speech? Um … yep. Writers usually do. But I also believe in being a good human.

Mr. Leykis’s post has since been removed from his Facebook page but it’s still available for viewing on other Facebook pages like Saving Down Syndrome. I am hoping he removed it on his own and that Facebook wasn’t the responsible party.

Although I am glad that his post has removed, I also wrote him a request asking for him to explain himself and to apologize. Immediately upon posting it to his Facebook page, it appeared to have been deleted. I can’t find it, nor can I find any other post addressing his comment accompanying the link about Ms. Brewer. Can I possibly be the only one who complained?!?!

With the removal of his post I am hoping that Mr. Leykis realized that what he did was hurtful and unnecessary. Ignorant. And bad enough that he felt that he had to try to hide what he had done.

But. I don’t think that’s good enough. Reese deserves more. A lot more. I want that explanation and apology for her. For me. For Ms. Brewer and for the entire Down Syndrome community. I want him to say he shouldn’t have posted what he did and I want him to tell the public why he chose to be so callous. Was it all for self-serving purposes and personal gain? Was it for publicity so he could market himself, albeit negatively? Perhaps he was unaware of how offensive he would be perceived. Or maybe he is just cluelessly insensitive. What was his intent? What were his motives? And is he sorry?

And if he is sorry, I want him to publicly admit it. VERY publicly. Why? Because his voice will carry. His influence can change many views. He can make a difference … for the better.

We all make mistakes. Tom Leykis is no different. But it’s how we deal with the fallout from our mistakes that shows our true character. We have a choice. We can choose to gain insight. We can develop empathy for others through the humility that is found in acknowledging that we have done something wrong. Or … we can remain prideful. We can continue to lack compassion for others and dismiss the feelings of the ones we have hurt with our actions. I don’t know about everyone else, but for me, the decision seems pretty simple.

Here is to hoping that Mr. Leykis shows us that deep down he has a decent character.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you show some integrity!!!

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