New York Times Columnist Sorry For ‘R-Word,’ Pledges $25K
When a mother of a boy with Down syndrome noticed that The New York Times’ “Ethicist” had a history of using the word “retard,” she took him to task. And boy did he respond.
Kari Wagner-Peck sent an email to “Ethicist” Chuck Klosterman asking “what are the ethics of using the r-word?”
The Portland, Maine mom says she was compelled to contact Klosterman after finding multiple examples of him using variations of the word “retard” over the years.
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“Today people with cognitive disabilities and their allies are asking members of society to refrain from using the word ‘retarded,'” Wagner-Peck wrote to the columnist and author in a letter that she posted on her blog.
“I am the mother of a seven-year-old son who has Down syndrome. I believe your response to my question could make all the difference in the world,” she wrote.
Wagner-Peck told WCSH that days later she was overwhelmed when Klosterman not only replied, but owned up.
“I have spent the last two days trying to figure out a way to properly address the issue you have raised on your website. I’ve slowly concluded the best way is to just be as straightforward as possible: I was wrong. You are right,” Klosterman wrote.
He went on to apologize and offered to donate $25,000 to the charity of Wagner-Peck’s choice, saying “I have done something bad, so help me do something good.”
“This is so much greater than anything I could have imagined,” Wagner-Peck told WCSH. “I was a huge fan of Chuck Klosterman before. Now I am a huge fan of a man named Chuck Klosterman who seems to have tremendous character.”