carolecummings: (Not a happy face)
Dear Horrible Woman with Clipboard:

Something I didn't get to tell you yesterday, when you were looming importantly over my daughter and trying to bully her into removing her dog and herself from the soccer complex: that clipboard? Doesn't mean you're omnipotent. No, seriously. I know it's hard to believe. I mean, someone gave you a clipboard, right? That makes you Important. It makes you In Charge. It makes you Right.

Except, you know, it really doesn't.

I've seen so many like you over the years. I know the Power of the Clipboard sometimes goes to one's head. I know it's difficult to understand that people without clipboards have rights and might know what they're talking about better than you do. So let me just go over the course of the conversation point by point so that I can tell you all the ways your Mighty Clipboard led you astray.

You: You need to leave.
Daughter: Um. What?
You: You need to leave. No dogs. There are signs. *waves clipboard*
Daughter: He's a service dog.
You: For what? You don't look disabled.

Okay, so stop right there. Not so I can say things like Did you really just say that? or Somehow I can tell already you vote Tea Party More just so I can pause and rein myself back in so I don't mangle my laptop in a fit of resurgent rage. Also, so I can make sure you see how very awful you were, right from the start. Go read that last line again. Are you starting to get it yet?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

*deep breath*

All right, moving on.

Me: Is there a problem here?
You: I'm taking care of it. Please mind your own business.
Me: Wow. Okay, before you say another word, you should know that this is my daughter. My minor daughter. Anything you'd like to discuss should be discussed with me.
You: If she's your daughter you shouldn't have allowed her to bring the dog to the field. There are signs.
Me: And as I heard her tell you, he's a service dog. He's exempt.
You: If he's a service dog, where is his vest?

And pause, because no, he wasn't wearing his vest. This was our first outing in a public place with the dog, and my daughter was reluctant to use the vest for two reasons: 1) Because she didn't necessarily want to advertise "Hey! Look! I have a disability!" and 2) Because she knew there would be a lot of kids at the fields and she wanted them to be able to pet the dog if they wanted to. (When he's got his vest on, he's On Duty and no petting.)

So. Deciding to err on the side of Don't punch the ignorant, I answered:

Me: We decided against the vest today. But you can see his tag on his collar, stating that he's a service dog.
You: Anyone can buy one of those.
Me: *blinks* ...Yes, I suppose anyone could. Anyone could buy a service vest, too. But why anyone would want to, if their dog isn't a service dog, I'm sure I don't know.
You: Maybe so they could bring it to places it doesn't belong and think they can get away with it.
Me: (Um. I didn't say anything at this point. I was too busy gaping.)
Daughter: The vest is in the car. I'll go--
Me: No, you won't.
You: Do you have papers to prove he's a service dog?
Me: ...I'm sorry, are you kidding me?

At this point, I kind of stared around at the other soccer spectators who'd gathered. They all stared back.

See, right about here is when I seriously started wondering if this was some kind of punk or something. Because I was having a genuinely hard time believing I was having this conversation with you at all, let alone the tone and the length of it, and I started to wonder if the surreal feeling I was getting meant I had fallen asleep in my soccer chair and was dreaming all this.

But, alas, no.

You: No, I'm not kidding. There are signs! *waves clipboard* No dogs. And unless you have proof he's a service dog, I'm going to have to ask you to leave.
Me: You can ask all you like, but my daughter's rights, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, say she doesn't have to. What's more, they say you're not even allowed to ask any of these questions or make any of these demands. Now, if you'd really like to turn this into the shit-storm you're asking for, I suggest you call the police to make us leave, and then they can educate you properly on why you're an unbelievably reprehensible human being.
Daughter: Mom, why don't we just--
Me: No, hang on, I know this whole thing is embarrassing you and I'm sorry, but we can't let this one slide.
You: He has no vest! *waves clipboard*
Me: Because my daughter is not used to having to proclaim her disability to the public in general, and because a vest is not a requirement she is obliged to meet in order to utilize her rights or to compensate for your ignorance.

You see, Horrible Woman with Clipboard, a vest is nothing more than a signal to other people to leave her alone so she doesn't have to be subjected to this kind of ignorance--the kind of ignorance, I have to say, I didn't think we'd encounter at a kids' Sunday afternoon soccer game.

You: Well....

And right about here is where I could see your inner flailing begin. I could see you trying to decide if you should back down and (maybe, though doubtfully) apologize, or if you should keep trying to make what we both knew by now was a ludicrous point.

You, unfortunately, Horrible Woman with Clipboard, chose unwisely.

You: Well, you know, some kids are allergic to dogs. Some are afraid of them.
Me: I'm sure that's true. In which case, I'm also sure those kids will stay away from the dog. As you can see, he doesn't stray from my daughter's side, so none of those things are a problem unless a child who's afraid or has allergies approaches the dog, and in that case, I'd say it was the child's or the parent's problem and no fault of the dog.
You: There are rules! *waves clipboard again, with emphasis*
Me: Yes, there are. And no matter how much you wish it were otherwise, those rules do no apply to this dog.
You: You can't have the dog at the soccer field. If you won't leave, I'm going to have to call someone to have you escorted out of the complex.
Me: *turns to daughter* Sweetie, why don't you take the dog over and sit with Dad? I think Mommy's about to get ugly.

And, you know, I did. I thought maybe, in retrospect, I'd be a little ashamed of myself, because I wasn't just angry--I was incandescent. And I had stopped worrying about making a scene right around "anyone can buy one of those". I did not want to prolong or deepen my daughter's embarrassment--already worse than what she had been trying to avoid in the first place--and I did not want to continue to give those who'd gathered more of a "show". But I felt this was too important. There were examples to be set here, Horrible Woman with Clipboard; there were those kids you were so concerned about, watching you trying to bully a 5' 2" 95lb disabled teenager, and there were the parents of those kids, who would later either tell their kids that you were right to accuse my daughter of trying to pull one over on you, or that you were wrong for letting your clipboard go to your head. And I knew which example I wanted those people to walk away with. So, while I do regret that I was forced into handing you your ass in public, I do not regret educating anyone who was listening about the kind of person you are, nor do I regret showing my daughter that some things should not be borne.

Because, you see, Horrible Woman with Clipboard, my daughter has been in the hospital this year more than she's been out of it. It's why we even have a service dog. She's shy and prone to being too easily bullied. And she has very few Good Days right now. She was well on her way to having two Good Days in a row when you decided to wield the Power of the Clipboard, during which you took a Good Day and turned into a Bad Day, and it has now morphed into a Worse Day, and I can see the week ahead and it's not looking good.

So thank you, Horrible Woman with Clipboard. Thank you for teaching my daughter the valuable life lesson that people are awful everywhere, that they'll take something that's private to you and fling it out in front of all and sundry so they can make their uninformed point, that they'll hang on tightly to that uninformed point and continue to harass, accuse and malign, simply because they don't want to be proven wrong in front of the crowd they've gathered to witness what they thought was their authority but turned out to be their own awfulness.

Thank you for teaching my daughter that, if she doesn't want to have to deal with someone like you again, she'll be obliged to forfeit her privacy and put the dog's damned vest on. Not that it's any guarantee.

So, fuck you very much, Horrible Woman with Clipboard, and congratulations. I have no doubt this is a lesson my daughter will never forget.




Honestly, I've been trying all morning to come up with a calm and less-snarky way of wording a letter to the soccer league's administrators, if for nothing else than to see that their people are better educated, but I think I'm still too pissed off. So I did this. I'd hoped it would give me an outlet and lance some of the rage, but... er. Not really, no.

God, people are such assholes. I can't even.
carolecummings: (Not a happy face)
Katy Butler knows how it feels to be bullied. When she was 12, four boys came up behind her. They called her names and shoved her into a wall -- then they slammed a locker on her hand and broke her finger. “I held back tears while I watched them run away laughing,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do so I stood there, alone and afraid.”

So Katy, now in high school, was thrilled when she heard about a new documentary, Bully, that sheds light on America’s bullying epidemic. The film’s distributor, The Weinstein Company, even had plans to screen the film in middle and high schools across America.

But it was just announced that the Motion Picture Association of America has decided to give Bully an “R” rating, meaning no one under the age of 17 can see the movie -- and it can’t be screened in middle and high schools.

Katy thinks it’s ridiculous that the MPAA would prevent teens from seeing a movie that was made specifically to help them fight back against bullying.

So Katy started a petition on asking the MPAA to give Bully a PG-13 rating. Click here to sign Katy’s petition -- and watch a two-minute preview of this compelling film.

The Weinstein Company appealed the MPAA’s initial decision to give Bully an R rating (unsurprisingly, language used in the film -- especially by bullies -- is coarse). But news broke on Friday that they lost the appeal. According to news sources, a two-thirds vote was needed to change the rating to PG-13 -- but Bully came up one vote shy. Katy thinks it’s time for the MPAA to make an understandable exception for a film that could impact the lives of countless American teens.

Katy knows about the power of online petitions. Last year, when the Michigan legislature was considering a problematic bill to address bullying, Katy and another Michigan teen started a petition asking the legislators to improve the bill -- and it worked.

Now Katy needs your help again. Click here to sign Katy’s petition asking the MPAA to give Bully a PG-13 rating so the kids who most need to see it -- bullying victims and bullies themselves -- can do so.

I think this is hugely important. This is not about making money for the Weinstein brothers—their intention was to host viewings of this movie in middle and high schools at no cost, as a public service, as well as release it in theaters. Bullying is becoming our national sport, and I think it’s an incredible shame that any effort at all at stopping it would be thwarted.

The MPAA has been a bully in the movie industry for years. I’m hoping they’ve picked on someone who can bring backup this time.

Please sign and share. Thanks, guys,


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