Thousands Petition Netflix to Remove Tom Segura Comedy Special's Down Syndrome Joke

Netflix viewers are petitioning to remove a joke from comedian Tom Segura's latest comedy special that they argue is offensive to those with Down syndrome.

The petition, which was launched in January, stems from a bit in the 39-year-old comic's latest special, Tom Segura: Disgraceful. In the bit, Segura discusses the censorship of the word "retarded" and how it does not make sense.

"You can't say 'retarded anymore. It was just here. Don't you remember? -'Retarded,'" Segura said. "People get very upset. I don't really support the arguments against it. When people are like, 'You shouldn't say it.' 'Why?' 'What if there's one over there?' And you're like…"

His point lies in the fact that many people did not use the word in a derogatory fashion. They instead used it to describe situations that were not logical.

"We never said it like that. We were never like, 'Look at that guy!'" Segura said. "You didn't say it like that. You said it to describe an idea, or a situation, you know? If your friend was like, 'I'll pick you up at your house, and then we'll come back to my place, and later we can go back to your house. And we can get your bags. And then, we'll come back over here after that.' And your like, 'That's retarded. Why the f— would we do that?'"

He continued, "But now you can't say that. Now you've gotta be like, 'That's not… smart. Your idea has an extra 21st chromosome, if you ask me. It's not the same."

The petition, which was launched by an organization called Takeitdown Netflix, urges for Netflix to remove the bit from the special and its trailer.

"Members of the Down syndrome community were appalled to find Mr. Segura suggesting replacing the words 'that is retarded' or 'that is not smart' with the words 'that idea has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome,'" the organizer writes. "This petition calls for Netflix to: Remove the anti-down syndrome rhetoric from the show, take the anti-disability sketch out of the trailer for the show, (and) issue a public apology for perpetuating hate speech and stereotype to the Down syndrome community."

The organizer, who identifies themselves as a parent of a child with Down syndrome, then goes on to argue that Netflix promoting a special with this kind of material is "morally wrong."

"The words used in this program are wrong, offensive and by definition is hate speech against the Down syndrome community," they write. "As a parent to a child with Down syndrome, I worry daily about the stereotype surrounding Down syndrome and what that will mean in the future for my son as he makes his place in the world."

They continue, "By allowing people like Mr. Segura to make a joke of the daily struggle this community faces for the sake of promoting his brand is morally wrong. For a company like Netflix to promote it and to go so far as to add in anti-disability rhetoric to the trailer for the program shows that the almighty dollar is more important to them than the basic human right of safety, love and belonging."

The petition quickly attracted more than 47,000 signatures in the days after its launch. That number has now snowballed to more than 93,000, with signatures still coming in as of Friday night.

Netflix has not commented on the controversy, but Segura responded to the petition back on Jan. 30.


"What an absurd take on that joke," Segura said. "The joke is that the suggested alternative way of saying it doesn't work."

Photo Credit: Netflix / Troy Conrad