My intention with my open letter to Chuck Klosterman, the Ethicist at The New York Times was only to elicit an answer. I was not looking for banning, burning, boycotting or firing. I wanted to know what he thought of the R-word. I got my answer. His response is beyond anything I could have imagined. I am quite grateful for that. (And that $25,000 will be put to good use.) – kwp
Dear Ms. Wagner-Peck:
I have spent the last two days trying to figure out a way to properly address the issue you have raised on your web site. I’ve slowly concluded the best way is to just be as straightforward as possible: I was wrong. You are right.
I should not have used “retard” pejoratively. It was immature, hurtful, and thoughtless. I have no justification for my actions. I realize the books that contain those sentiments were published over 10 years ago, but that is no excuse; I was an adult when I wrote them and I knew what I was doing. I feel terrible about this and deeply embarrassed. I take full responsibility for my actions and understand why this matters so much to you. I’m truly sorry.
Feel free to re-post this message on your web site. I deserve the criticism I am receiving, and I want other people to know that I realize I was wrong. I would also like to donate $25,000 to whatever charity you feel is most critical in improving the lives of people with cognitive disabilities — …, …,* or any other organization you recommend. I have done something bad, so help me do something good.
Again, I apologize — and not just to you and your son, but to anyone else who was hurt by this.
— Chuck Klosterman
* With apologies to Mr. Klosterman I have omitted the names of organizations he has suggested for obvious reasons.
Wow, what an awesome conclusion! I spent a good hour online researching Mr. Klosterman and his works after you first posted about this. I too recognized he had written those things a while back, and that he is quite likely coming from a very different place now than he was then. Aren’t we all? I think its totally awesome he is putting his money where his mouth is! Pretty much brings tears to my eyes. Good on him and good on you for calling him out.
We need a few more guys like this to come out on the side of our kids. We need change.
I believe the word we’re all looking for is Mensch. So many times the instinct is to dig in or offer the “sorry that you feel that way.” Thank you CK for owning this and thank you, notatypicalmom, for being so damn awesome.
Wow….just…wow. What a great response from him! We definitely need more of this. Thanks for writing to him and I’m so happy you got this response, for all of us. I didn’t get to tweet/post/blog as much about this as I wanted (my son caught the crud) but I know a lot of people were standing with you. I agree, we need change. This is a step.
A big step!
I am so impressed with his response.
As am I.
How an apology should be. And, thank you for your advocacy. It shows that we all can make a difference for the better. Well done.
Thank you! I am impressed by Klosterman’s response. Beyond expectations.
Wow! I am stunned! Heading to Twiiter to thank him!
yea! Thanks for the help!
Wow… yep we all have changed!!!!!
Wow! You mean to tell me that there are people in this world who can admit they are wrong?! I thought that fad died out years ago! That’s one hell of an individual to do what he has done, here! Thank you for taking a stand for the rest of us out here. And thank you Chuck Klosterman for being a man with humility and grace.
astonishing result! What else can I say?
Wow! You mean to tell me that there are people out there who can admit they are wrong?! I thought that fad died out years ago! Thank you for taking a stand for the rest of us out here! And a big thank you to Chuck Klosterman. That takes a hell of an individual to do what he has done in this day in age. He certainly presents himself here as a man with humilty and grace.
What’s scary is that the outright mea culpa comes as a big a surprise to me as the $25,000. Excellent all around, puts a smile on my face.
Sorry for the delay in posting this! Total surprise! Very happy here still. Thank you for your help, by the way!
What an eloquent and heartfelt apology, so different for the watered down “sorry you feel that way”, “if I offended you” excuses we see from other people who have made mistakes. Seems he is an ethicist, after all.
WOW!! it is so refreshing to find someone to admit they were wrong. Well done Mr. Klosterman.
Now that is honorable. I am spreading this as well.
We did it! The world is better today.
A perfect apology. Owned it, apologized & tried to make amends. I like him more than if he never fucked up in the first place. Is he the Breaking Bad guy? Going to salute him on twitters if so.
A wonderful response — congratulations, and thank you, again, for the effort you put forth in bringing this to his attention — and that of many others. A number of people were very vocal in their complaints about his use of the word … may I suggest we all be as vocal in our praise? Positive reinforcement goes a long way!
It does, right? His response is beyond any expectation. He is a role model.
Finally, a real apology! Not one of those “sorry if i offended you” apologies. Thank you for pursuing this. And thanks to the ethicist for being, well, ethical.
Finally, a real apology. Not one of those “I’m sorry if I offended you” non-apologies. Thank you for bringing this to light and thank you to the ethicist for standing up and being, well, ethical.
This is a beautiful story. I am so glad it has a happy ending!
Fantastic apology. It doesn’t really get better than this It will go a long way toward eliminating the use of the word. Having a writer own, admit and try to rectify the mistake is powerful.
It doesn’t get better. You are right:)
So awesome to see his apology!!
And I meant to also agree with what was said above too…what an honorable way to make it right…
Wow. Chuck, that was really well done. So used to having people respond so badly (and making it worse) to this issue. You listened, you thought about it… Thank you. I hope your donation is put to good use…
Holy fucking shit! You did good and he did good! I want a world where people can regularly make apologies like this. Way to be a man, Mr. Klosterman!
It is wonderful to see someone take full responsibility for one’s actions and make it right. No excuses.
Why can’t the rest of the world work this way?
Great ending or beginning. He has impressed me. Now hopefully more people will follow the example.
Role model classy.
What about Stepping Stones for the contribution?
Well done, both of you! Where is the money going, and what are the “obvious reasons” for hiding his suggestions? I don’t get it!
He listed possible orgs I might like. It would have been a shit show to have them in the letter posted.
I had to read it twice to believe that someone, anyone, would actually just say, I’m sorry, I was wrong! I have spent the last 35 years working with adults with ID and reading this was one of those rare, special moments of witnessing someone’s discovery of what is really alright in this world!
Exactly! The world shifted for me today.
Thank you for making a stand, notatypical mom. Your voice was heard. And thank you to Mr. Klosterman. Your efforts are recognized and appreciated.
I am more than grateful. He did not only the right thing but the best thing ever.
A man of honour and integrity, just when I thought they were an endangered species. Mr. Klosterman, your fortitude is admirable.
Unthinkable until that moment.
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Hey! Good spreading the word! Awesomeness, right?
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Yea! Classy, classy guy.
Mr. Klosterman, you could give our President lessons on how to give a genuine apology. Thank you for completely owning up to your mistake. You are forgiven completely
This is social change at a grass roots level that indeed restores faith in humanity. Thank you Kari for having the heart and mind of a true activist. Proud to know you!
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Wow wow wow!! Way to go Kari! Well done!xxoo Nancy
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Wow. This is awesome. Rock on, Mr. Klosterman. And way to go notatypicalmom for bringing his words to his attention. I feel happy all around on this one.
So happy to read this! Thank you for speaking out Kari, and thank you Chuck Klosterman !
Chuck Klosterman has made a real difference. I still get happy reading it.
I never, ever post on blogs, etc. because I am always frustrated with people. Complaints that are overboard followed by dumb reactions by the accused. This was a case of a well-written, personal letter, not calling for firing, etc, as you said.. and a response from someone who really manned-up, so to speak, and I don’t think it was for publicity given the forums (no offense). Real nice to see.
Yay! Thanks! I am honored.
Wow! It is awesome that he admits he made a mistake for all the world to see. I applaud you, Mr Klosterman!
Hip Hip Hooray!
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I use the word “retard” not to disparage anyone witha disability but to disparage people without disabilities who are incredibly stupid or who do incredibly stupid things. However, I will stop doing that now. Thank you.
Wow. Thank you. I appreciate this and the fact you would comment so I would know. Thank you, Kwp