Table turned in prosthetics patent battle | April 6
Choice of words causes offense
I'm writing regarding the sub-headline to the prosthetics story in the Sunday Business section that read, "A company locked in decade-old battle goes on the offensive and gains the upper hand."
This particular headline hit too close to home for me to not respond. You see, I was born with my right arm missing below my elbow. Over my entire lifetime I have endured stares, gasps of horror, and even requests from parents to please leave or turn away as to not upset or frighten their sensitive children.
I have had strangers, young to old, approach me to ask: What happened? Where did your arm go? Why?
I have been discriminated against on every level even though it is now against the law. I have been the subject of jokes, jeers, laughter and violence because I was born different.
This headline offended me. Perhaps more, though, it disappointed me. I had always believed the Tampa Bay Times above this type of sensationalist journalism. It hurt to know that a respected society of writers and editors felt it okay to print this "pun." I do not believe it was malicious, but it was very distasteful.
The Tampa Bay Times would not print a headline offensive to people of color or race, gender or even sexual orientation but somehow it is all right to poke a little fun at physically disabled people. This attitude is pervasive throughout our society. In the future I hope your paper will take a more progressive leadership role against this behavior.
MaryAnn Riggs, Zephyrhills