Disability Advocates In Alabama Join Protests Over Action Comedy Movie

'R' Word Angers Disability Advocates
'R' Word Angers Disability Advocates

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - At a theatre near you, you just may see something like protestors, expressing anger and disappointment over the word 'retard' in the movie 'Tropic Thunder' starring Ben Stiller. Stiller plays a character who is mentally disabled.

From Massachusetts to L. A., not everybody is laughing, especially people like Marc Segerman, a Special Olympic athlete.

"For someone to be putting money into a movie that goes out and defames us and puts us down, you know that teaches society that 'hey, we don't matter,' and that's crap. We do matter," said Segerman.

Another woman sees it differently.

"It's just a movie you know. There are worst movies out there to see."

Much closer to home in Montgomery,  the Alabama Department of Mental Health says it won't get in the business of encouraging protests but officials make it clear the 'R' word is simply unacceptable.

"There's a fine line between what's funny and what's not," said Dr. John Ziegler of the Alabama Department of Mental Health.

Ziegler added 'It's not funny to talk about the Holocaust. Certain things in people's lives aren't funny. It hurts people."

Studio officials with Dreamworks say the movie will not change despite having what they consider 'productive' discussions with disability advocates.

In Tuscaloosa around 15 people with the group 'People First of Alabama' held a silent protest, encouraging people to boycott the movie at at theatre on Wednesday.