More Apologies

It’s tough sometimes for those of us who trade words for money. You say things and you say things and you say things without listening or thinking about what they mean. You are going for laughs and you are going for recognition and you are going for everyone’s attention and sometimes your thoughts don’t have a chance to pass through your heart in their speedy journey from your sick head out of your potty mouth and then before you know it, the damage has been done.

I want to apologize (yes again and even more so this time) for the insensitive remarks I made on “Watch What Happens Live”. It was disappointing – in that I really disappointed myself because I have wanted to be on that show since it’s been on the air, and my ever present longing to do well and make a splash and have an impact really backfired. I also did a stellar job in disappointing countless others with my callous, witless tongue. I was thinking about myself solely, no one else, which I hate. I was way out of line.

What I was trying to say – in my own ignorant and muddled fashion –  is that I have fears about having children and whether or not my body – which I have ravaged and ruined myself with a thousand abuses from drugs and drinking to excessive eating followed by systematic starvation – etc etc etc – is capable of bringing a healthy baby into the world.

I think life is hard, and this planet is an especially unforgiving one – spinning thoughtlessly and carelessly on its axis without regard for humanity and all those who suffer daily from the dizzy – and if I want to drag someone else into this mess of a world – an innocent soul, a mere baby bystander – I want to give that kid the best chance possible. I want my child to have everything, and honestly, I am not sure my body can promise anyone that. I have long feared my body, held it at a kind of arm’s length, residing just outside my own lavishly decorated skin since nearly my very first conscious moment. I have shunned my body – blamed it and loathed it and now, years too late, I am finally trying to love it and understand it and treat it for the glorious thing that it is, my soul’s abode.

I lie in bed late at night wondering when my body will exact its revenge, take its deserved due, after so many years of acrimony and anorexia, hangovers and overtime, vicious colds and heartaches I have never allowed myself to recover from. Would it be now, when I have so much love in my life that I greedily seek to create more love, in the form of a child? Will my body fail me finally, as I have eternally failed it from practically the moment of its(my) own conception? It would only be fair, but as my unkindness towards others is but a mere shadow of the unkindness I am capable of against myself. I fear my body will have the last word, and instead of penalizing me only, it would hit me where I really live, in the body of my preciously abstract yet to be conceived child.

These ugly fears swirl in me constantly, and unfortunately, they came out, rude and plain, in an unguarded moment, on live television.

Believe me when I say I never meant to hurt anyone. Know that the children of the world, especially those differently-abled kids and their brave, ever noble parents and families, who have it hard enough to begin with, deserve much better than me and my idiotic need for approval in the form of nervous laughter. At the very least, please understand, I really have always tried to be of service to others, and even though I have hurt some along the way, there are still those who come to me and say I made them feel good when they desperately needed it, and stranger to stranger, actually helped them in their difficult lives. It doesn’t excuse my behavior, but it does mean my heart is in the right place. I try to be good, and at times (like these) I fail, but I will always keep trying.

I have long considered myself a protector of the bullied, champion of their causes and committed to their safe passage. What a rude awakening to realize I am myself a bully – nothing but a bully in dire need of comeuppance and a slap in the face.

Whenever anyone says anything unsavory in the media (see “shut up karl”), I am the first to cast stones, point fingers, howling like a banshee, calling out loud for apologies and retribution and reparation and openly painful regret. Now, I lie bleeding against the shards of my own glass house.

Let my sorrow and guilt pay for my misdeeds and know that I will try each day, every day, always and forever more, to be better.

119 thoughts on “More Apologies

  1. I have a disability and it SUCKS. I am finally, at 33, almost able to live alone, but not provide for myself. It’s called a disability because I’m not able to do things that most people take for granted. My world is more difficult because the world doesn’t care that everything is more difficult for me. The fact that I put more effort into leaving the house than most people put into their day doesn’t make me a better person or noble or worthy of pity. It just means that my life is more difficult and I appreciate a successful trip to the grocery store more than most people and it takes me longer than most people.

    My parents aren’t noble or Jesus-lite because they cared for me long after most parents. They are the first to say that THEY JUST DID THEIR JOB. They know that caring for a child who needs extra help is part of parenting. The reality that they did it when so many wouldn’t does prove that they are good parents, and that good parenting is rare.

    I am the son of a special ed teacher who met my father when they both worked at a camp for the mentally and physically handicapped. They were there, in the 1970s, as part of a new world where people with disabilities could participate in society instead of being locked in institutions. Daily life for the disabled has changed rapidly over 40 years, as has the terminology.

    “Retarded” was still used as a clinical term into the 1990s. The movement to make the word “retard” as offensive as “faggot” or “nigger” or “midget” has only gained traction over the last decade. My Mom still needs to correct me sometimes about saying “retarded” because I forget to use the new terms of “differently abled” or “special needs”. Euphemisms don’t make anyone any less disabled. Most people have no idea that “retard” is now considered so offensive!

    Margaret never said that she was worried she would be punished with a disabled child because of her past, she said she was worried that her past would take revenge on the child she wants to have instead of on herself. Every (good) parent wants to protect their children from heartache, pain, difficulty, discrimination, and struggle. Not wanting your past to negatively affect your children isn’t selfish or cruel.

    I ask myself the same questions when I consider having children. Can I take care of just myself? Will my body fail at the basic biological level required to create life? Will I be able to care for a child or children? Am I selfish to desire biological children who will inherit a significant possibility of having the same disability? What is the likelihood I will live long enough to care for the children into adulthood? Is it even possible that I might live long enough to see my grandchildren? Will my children suffer in any way because I am disabled? These are real questions that I can’t answer for myself, much less anyone else. Punishing Margaret for asking these same questions is simply petty, especially if the issue is using a fairly-newly offensive term.

    So, for EVERYONE: get off your cross, you’re not Jesus. Stop attacking people who genuinely want to right their wrong. If you’re really this angry about what Margaret said, get off your cross and go help someone. Otherwise, you’re lack of action is far more offensive than anything Ms. Margaret Cho has ever said.

  2. Dear Ms. Cho

    I like attention, too, but not at the expense of others. Why don’t you turn your “I try to do good” attitude toward the parents and people you hurt with you callous remarks? Or, how about picking on people who CAN stand up for themselves?

  3. Unfortunately she just said what most people are thinking. A thinking they are sadly busy passing on to their kids if the children in my son’s school are any indication…

  4. I’m not going to read the other comments, because people like to hide behind the anonymity to attack people genuinely trying to do the right thing.

    Thank you for this apology. Everyone makes mistakes. Owning them is something entirely different. Thank you for owning it.

  5. Are you really sorry for what you said or just sorry you got called out on it? Next time pick on someone who can stick up for themselves, not innocent children. Shame.

  6. We all make mistakes…sometimes it is out of pure ignorance. As parents it is our job to point this out when needed. Thank you for listening and hearing our pain. You are a better person for it!

    That being said, I swear to God, if I come to this Mother tour and you even come close to what you said on WWHL…

  7. I was heartbroken when I heard those words fly out of your mouth. I appreciate the apoligy…but just because you are older and have done things to your body does not mean you are more likely to have something wrong with a child born from your womb. I am a young and very healthy person and when my 1 year old was unexpectedely born with Down syndrome my world was rocked. All of the moms I know were healthy and young and never did anything to “make this happen” Having a child with a disabilty in most cases is a random and unexpected. So your thought process of all women do things wrong that have a child with a disability is wrong. Also, my child is VERY healthy. Never been sick etc….so a healthy baby can also be a delayed baby. Just food for thought….

  8. you have no idea HOW BLESSED it is to have a son with Down syndrome. When we found out at 19 weeks we thought it was ruinous. Oh we were so ignorant. And here he is almost 5 years old and the absolute joy of my life. He wakes me up every morning with a kiss and sometimes a lick (cuz he’s a funny little dude). He reminds me everyday of how to be happy, patient and content – which is an amazing blessing in itself. His love and joy far outweigh his low muscle tone and cognitive delays. I thank God everyday for the gift of my son that I so shamelessly thought was one of the worst things that could happen. Oh I was so wrong

  9. I’m a mom of a 7 year old daughter with a developmental disability. Oh, how I hate to hear of people like you, celebrities or not, who throw that awful word around like a punchline.

    But thank you Margaret Cho, sincerely, for an apology that seemed heartfelt. Everyone can be an ass once in a while, but it takes a big person to admit it and CHANGE.

  10. I’m glad that you understand the hurtfulness of the word and you seem to even understand somewhat how the attitudes behind the word are hurtful. Don’t ever let fear of having a child with Downs keep you from pursuing motherhood.

  11. I agree. Having a child with different abilities is not the end of the world it seems it will be when you first find out. For me, it has been the BEST thing that has ever happened to me. With one extra chromosome my life has changed for the better. Sure there are things that are harder for my family than others, but we manage and come out the other side stronger than we went in.

    Ms. Cho, if it is DS that you fear… please don’t… it’s an amazing gift. I am a lucky mom. I learn new reasons why every day.

    My five year old is the joy of my life and for him I want the R word gone because I love him so agonizingly much that I don’t want him ever to have his feelings hurt. To other parents out there, I plead with you… you know how you would never want anything to hurt your child… well we feel the same exact way. Please teach your children that the R word can hurt in a way typically developing people don’t understand. Just strike it from you and your family’s vocabulary as a favor to parents like me.


  12. Your words are hurtful and I have the most beautiful, kind spirited 4 year old son with disabilities. I was a fan of yours and your words brought tears to my eyes. You should be ashamed of yourself. MEAN PEOPLE SUCK!

  13. Margaret, I appreciate the apology. As the parent of one of the developmentally disabled people you insulted, I give you a challenge: make friends with a mentally impaired adult (or two or three adults) of your own age. NOT a child – an adult like yourself, one who is probably often treated as a child. I challenge you to become a real, authentic friend to that person or those people (it can be more than one, depending on the size of your heart and the degree of your sincerity). See them as often as you can. Call them on the phone. Send birthday cards. LOVE them. You won’t have to worry about firing off thoughtless insults after that. You will bring joy to a lives that have possibly had less joy than deserved, and you will rid yourself of the self-loathing that fostered your insult. No amount of legislation can change hearts; only free and loving association will do that. I invite you to join us and make the world better, one person at a time.

  14. I am a mother of an amazing little girl with Down syndrome. I wish your comments had never been made, but I thank you for your heart felt apology.

  15. I’m a former special ed teacher who’s worked with disabled people in many capacities for 25 years (I don’t say this to be prideful). I’m now partly disabled myself (due to severe insulin-dependent diabetes) and work part-time with a great young man disabled by severe muscular dystrophy. I do appreciate the fact that Ms. Cho has apologized. However, I still think her remarks were highly insensitive.I hope , as one mother of a child with Downs Syndrome commented, that she gets to know more people with disabilities, and thinks twice before making more offensive comments. Respectfully, Tim Donovan PA

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