Can I call you Tony? The likelihood that you’ll even read this is slim to none, so I’m going to go ahead. Let me start off with the sycophantic “I’m a big fan” because I am. I eat and travel through you and have for years. For someone like me, middle class, two kids, job in a steel mill in the Midwest, reading and watching you is as close as I’m going to get to my dream vacation in Vietnam. I’ve always liked that you say and do what you want and make a living at it. Right now I’m reading your book Medium Raw, and while I don’t find your language offensive- I can throw around the F-word word like a sailor myself (I work in a steel mill, remember)- I’m having trouble getting past your flippant and rampant use of the word “retard” (and other –ards).
See, I’m a food loving foul mouthed fan, but I’m also the parent of a child with Down syndrome. One who was born that way, before he ever had a bite of the wretched “food” you’re talking about when you say we should tell our children that eating McDonald’s could turn you into a retard. I’m bothered that this is the worst thing you can think of to scare your little girl, that she might one day end up like my son, and I’m bothered that you’re teaching her to view children that will soon be her peers as though they are something to be feared and discarded.
I’m not sure what to do, because certainly I can no longer let my kids watch your programs, the travel shows we love and The Taste which is one show that we can all watch as a family on the rare occasions we are all in the mood to watch TV at the same time. I’m bummed that the most accessible escape to places far off and infrequently traveled is marred by what I’ll always think of when I think of you now. Unless…
I know what I’d do if you were someone I knew in real life. If you were someone I knew, I’d privately tell you how much it hurts to hear things like that, how hard we are fighting to abolish that kind of hurtful language that goes against everything we hope for our children. I’d appeal to you as a parent, and as a human. I might point out that you sound like Ann Coulter when you talk like that, as surely that should snap you out of it.
I don’t want you to censor yourself, I guess I’d hope to change something in you, the way you think about people with intellectual disabilities. I’d like you to know they are people, maybe even fans, who think and love, and travel, and eat. I just want you to think about your audience, as I hope to raise both my kids to be food and travel lovers, and Anthony Bourdain fans.
Drea (Mom to Cop and Hen, foul mouthed metallurgist, fan)