Mocking Joe Biden’s Stutter isn’t Funny, it’s Ableist
By Serena Tartaglia
A new election cycle, a new nickname. This year, Donald Trump’s opponent is not “Crooked Hillary” Clinton, but “Sleepy Joe” Biden.
“The unemployment rate in the great state of Ohio…” No, no. You’re in South Carolina. Joe!,” said Trump in February at a South Carolina Rally. “Okay. Then he goes, “All right, Iowa. Did you say Iowa?” No. No. They did that seven times. If I did that once, it would be the end of the road, right?”
I have seen a multitude of compilations on Youtube making fun of Biden’s gaffes, some going so far as to create fake videos where Biden is shown as “asleep” during interviews.
On Oct 13, the President tweeted an image of Biden photoshopped into a wheelchair surrounded by elderly people, implying that he is weak and disabled.
The caption for the image read “Biden for Resident,” as in nursing home resident. It must be noted that Biden is only three years older than the president.
Biden has suffered with a stutter his whole life.
To call him “Sleepy Joe” or to make fun of his disability because you disagree on his policies is wrong and ableist.
Of course, Trump and his supporters are no strangers to ableism.
At a 2016 rally, while criticizing an article written by the Washington Post, Trump mocked a disabled reporter, saying, “Oh I don’t know what I said! I don’t remember!,” While waving and flapping his arms in front of his chest.
The reporter, Serge Kovaleski, has arthrogryposis, which visibly limits the functioning of his joints. Biden is just the latest victim.
“People who stutter, we subconsciously or even consciously substitute a word,” said Gerald A Maguire, an expert on stuttering who was interviewed by Politifact. “If you think you are going to stutter on the ‘th’ sound — thousands — our brains are hardwired since age 3, 4 to think of something else,” Maguire said.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “The speech difficulties of stuttering may be accompanied by rapid eye blinks, tremors of the lips or jaw, facial tics, head jerks, or clenching fists. Stuttering may be worse when the person is excited, tired or under stress, or when feeling self-conscious, hurried or pressured. Situations such as speaking in front of a group or talking on the phone can be particularly difficult for people who stutter.”
Biden relied on help from his parents and from nuns at his Catholic school to help him overcome his more severe symptoms, but stuttering is a lifelong condition.
Biden relied on reading and reciting poetry to establish a cadence to his voice.
He revealed that his nickname in Latin class was “Joe Impedimenta.”
“You get so desperate, you’re so embarrassed,” he said.
“Time and time again,” Biden said, “my parents taught me that being different is no barrier to success,” Biden said. “And the measure of a man isn’t how often he is knocked down but how quickly he gets up.”
Trump is not the only one to poke fun at Biden for his stutter. The Daily Beast reported that former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted in December, ““I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I hhhave absolutely no idea what Biden is talking about. #DemDebate.” She later apologized.
I contacted the FGCU College Conservatives, the Lee County Republicans, the Charlotte County Republicans, The Collier County Republican’s Club, The Collier County Men’s Club, the Collier County Republican Club for comment about Biden’s supposed unfitness for president due to his frequent speaking mistakes.