a man of style

Dr Brian Skotko, his pants and his beautiful sister Kristin
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Yeah, I know. I’m like a dog with a bone. I don’t let go. But this whole GQ thing has really gotten under my skin. The idea that they could simply delete the offensive sentence,
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” … due to so much local in-breeding, Boston suffers from a kind of Style Down Syndrome, where a little extra ends up ruining everything.”
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from their article and then carry on as though it never happened is just so wrong. And I don’t do well with wrong.
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By now, I’d imagine that many of you following the story have become familiar with Dr Brian Skotko. (He’s the guy in the funny pants pictured above.) Dr Skotko is a nationally renowned Down Syndrome specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston. He also happens to have a sister who has Down Syndrome. (She’s the lady with the radiant smile in the picture with the guy in the funny pants.)
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Dr Skotko wrote an utterly fabulous post yesterday called Mock my Pants not my Sister. The post made headlines in the Washington Post, Boston Business Journal and Boston Magazine.
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But the post was just the beginning. Dr Skotko also went on Fox News 25 to talk about GQ’s gaffe and to urge them to use it as an opportunity to teach. (Sound familiar?)
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He also wrote a letter directly to GQ’s editor and sent some wonderfully retweetable tweets to @GQMagazine and @GQStyle.
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Click HERE to read Mock my Pants not my Sister.
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Click HERE to watch him on Fox News.
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Click HERE to read about some of the impact and reach of his post yesterday.
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Follow him on twitter at @BrianSkotko
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Thank you, Dr Skotko, for your voice, your leadership, and your heart. 
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As the parent of a child with special needs, my heart soars watching you in action. A sibling with such fierce determination to make the world a better place for ALL of our children is a gift beyond measure.
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GQ can talk all they want about fashion trends that come and go, but you, sir, are a gentleman with true style. Thank you. 
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Oh, and I love your pants. But what do I know? I’m from Boston. 
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In closing, I will say the following. I desperately hope that GQ makes this right – or at least as right as is now possible. I hope to God they stand up and take responsibility for their egregious behavior and use their gaffe as an opportunity to educate themselves and their readers about respect for human dignity. About why words matter. About how to apologize. It is, after all, the gentlemanly thing to do.
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23 thoughts on “a man of style

  1. So, GQ was trying to insult the city of Boston, but they failed at that and, instead, insulted the Down Syndrome community? In what context would that stupid statement make sense anyway? I love this guy’s pants, my fourteen year old son would love them too! “Local in-breeding” . . . And they wonder why magazines are going the way of the do-do. Buttheads!

  2. Dear Jacquie,
    We received your letter and absolutely understand that we have caused many of our readers and their loved ones pain. Hurting anyone’s feelings or being disrespectful or cruel was certainly never our intent, but your letter helped us understand how poorly chosen our words were. What we initially posted was insensitive and ill-informed, and we’ve removed the offensive language from the website. We deeply regret our error in judgment. There is no excuse. We are both very sorry.
    Sincerely,
    Sean Fennessey, editor, GQ.com
    John B. Thompson, writer, GQ.com

    I think they’re begining to understand…….

    • i’m glad they sent the letter, but i really believe that they have a responsibility to send that message just as widely as they did the article. but yes, it’s good to see that there is some level of understanding. thank you for sharing it.

  3. I read Brian Skotko’s post and immediately fell in love with the young man. …and GQ is getting it (on so many levels). Good job by all of us!

    Love you,
    Mom

    • um, mom, you just referred to the good doctor (and nationally renowned specialist) as ‘young man’. just sayin’. :)

  4. Dr. Skotko – Many of us here in Boston are familiar with your incredible work for the special needs community, but your essay is something that people will be reading for years to come. When I saw the GQ article for the first time, I was angry. Very angry. I took to twitter and shared my anger there. But your essay inspired something different – you wrote about tolerance and understanding and a “walk in our shoes” approach to getting GQ to understand where they went wrong. As a mom of a child with special needs, this is what I write about all the time. The anger gets us nowhere, the awareness and tolerance teaching does. Thank you for reminding me of that and for sharing your story with the world.

    And I may have to get my husband a pair of those pants. :)

    • i know, right? I may have to get Luau to break out the Nantucket reds tonight!

      (And amen to everything else you’ve said here.)

  5. thanks so much for continuing to post about this. i’m glad the issue is branching out into a constructive discussion, we can only hope the magazine gets on board with it. anyway, i’ve been boiling for days, so i’m liking yur posts.

  6. Some comments from Diary’s FB page:

    Marie: LOVE :)

    Katie: What a class act he is – and what an advocate for the Down Syndrome community!

    Denise: Go Dr S!!!!

    Laura: A beautiful response from someone who actually understands what beauty is.

    Sheri: This guy is awesome!!

  7. Dr. Skotko, I’m afraid I may mock your pants, but then, I’m not from Boston. *shrug* What I wouldn’t do is mock you or your sister. Thank you for standing up and speaking loudly and eloquently about the things which matter, for showing the world that words can hurt and appearance is only skin (or clothing) deep. You are a class act.

  8. What they did is outrageous and hurtful. What made them think it was OK to say something like that? You’d think educated adults would know better. Thankfully there are people like Dr. Skotko.

  9. Wow! Dr. Skotko is a truly amazing and wonderful man. His passion and advocacy is inspiring. Both he and DOAM handled this situation with eloquence and grace. I was so mad yesterday reading the article, need to learn to pause, reflect and use each moment as a teachable moment. Will get there! :)

  10. My five-year-old niece is a child with Down Syndrome. My five-year-old son is a child on the autism spectrum. I was absolutely sick about GQ. Dr. Skotko, I really can’t thank you enough for giving an eloquent and intelligent voice to my very raw hurt and outrage. These kids are counting on us to introduce them to a world in which they and their feeling are respected, in which they are not the butt of such cruel jokes. Thank. You.

    • i love when something good comes out of something so dark. There’s always a way to respond with light and restore some balance. Thank you.

  11. Sarah Love him! What an amazing and inspiring man.

    Jessica Is Dr. Skotko married? Because I think that I might have just fallen in love… hehe :) What an awesome guy! I’m so thankful for his courage and willingness to step out and advocate for the special needs community with such grace and tact. We really do have an awesome “team” of advocates in this community, don’t we?!?

  12. Man with style, indeed. And love and compassion and, I’m sure based on his blog article, many more amazing character traits. Thank you Dr. Skotko. And thank you mamas for sharing this piece as yet another reason to bring our community together.

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