“Donald Trump mocks Joe Biden’s stutter,” the headlines blare, and I’m confronted (once more) with (extra) proof that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee hates folks like me.

I don’t keep in mind once they informed me I stuttered, however I do keep in mind the banana chips I acquired as “rewards” within the speech room in my Ohio grade college. I realized tips that labored effectively and tips that didn’t, tips that I nonetheless use to at the present time, and tips I’ve lengthy forgotten. I don’t keep in mind if I acquired picked on for it, however it wouldn’t shock me. Fifth grade was my Nerd 12 months, in spite of everything, affected by incessant bullying and the kid-violence that comes with it. 

However I do keep in mind when the previous vice chairman “got here out” as a stutterer in a sprawling profile in The Atlantic, written by John Hendrickson, a stutterer himself.

I already knew Biden stuttered, as a result of I’m a stutterer and Extraordinarily On-line, however the huge reveal rippled by means of the media and endeared him to the general public. Individuals appeared to be looking forward to the previous vice chairman to get caught on phrases, simply so they may loudly forgive him for it. He even invited a younger stutterer to be a part of the digital Democratic Nationwide Conference that summer time, and I cried as I watched the video. 

Some 4 years later, my response to video of Trump mocking Biden elicited a far totally different response. 

The Washington Publish, Aug. 21, 2020:  

Twenty seconds into his speech to the Democratic Nationwide Conference on Thursday, Brayden Harrington began to stutter.

He knew he would — it was the explanation the 13-year-old was addressing hundreds of thousands of viewers from his bed room. As he had defined to kick off his speech, his life had modified after assembly former vice chairman Joe Biden in February.

“He informed me that we had been members of the identical membership. We … ” Brayden mentioned, shutting his eyes as he drew out an “s” sound, prepared the phrase to emerge: “… stutter.”

After which, he stored going — smiling, poised, and delivering a robust message about how Biden, who has spoken overtly of his battle with a speech obstacle, had impressed him to succeed in larger.

“He stored going.” I’ve two phrases, in my very own handwriting, inked the place my proper wrist meets my palm: Preserve going.


They’re phrases that apply to many conditions—how I acquired by means of a tough childhood, a difficult younger maturity, a couple of breakup, and a spinal harm in 2018. However these phrases whisper encouragement after I cowl my mouth to “reset” throughout these moments when my mouth stops listening to my mind.

It’s a trick I realized in that small speech room in elementary college. It requires me to cease making an attempt to talk and concentrate on simply being current.

Biden has different tips.

The Atlantic, January/February 2020:

At first, Biden sounded robust, assured, presidential: “My plan makes a restrict of co-pay to be One. Thousand. {Dollars}. As a result of we—”

He stopped. He pinched his eyes closed. He lifted his fingers and thrust them ahead, as if making an attempt to tug the lacking sound from his mouth. “We f-f-f-f-further help—” He opened his eyes. “The uh-uh-uh-uh—” His chin dipped towards his chest. “The-uh, the flexibility to purchase into the Obamacare plan.” Biden additionally stumbled when making an attempt to say immune system.

Fox Information edited these moments right into a mini montage. Stifling laughter, the host Steve Hilton narrated: “As the correct phrases struggled to make that perilous journey from Joe Biden’s mind to Joe Biden’s mouth, half the time he simply appeared to surrender with this considerably tragic and limp admission of defeat.”

I do not forget that montage. It sickened us right here within the Every day Kos newsroom, as a result of it was so unapologetically infantile and merciless. I took it significantly onerous, as a result of I’ve misplaced so many phrases to “that perilous journey.” 

Stress exacerbates my stutter. It’s a power multiplier. So when, for just a few years in my life, I discovered myself talking earlier than crowds and earlier than cameras, I wasn’t shocked when no quantity of preparation assured my rigorously chosen phrases would make it out of my mouth with out encountering obstacles. I’d fret for weeks, questioning if I’d handle to keep away from getting caught up, and if I did, if I’d be capable to preserve going.

Then buddy suggested me to personal it. “When you’ve reset, simply smile, say ‘sorry, I stutter, so that may occur once more,’ and simply preserve going. And keep in mind these folks need to hear what you must say. They’ll wait.”

And that’s what I did. That’s what I nonetheless do. And I do not forget that of us need to hearken to me, and ready just a few seconds for me to squeak out a phrase isn’t the large deal I feel it’s.

And so it’s for Biden. When the president speaks, folks hear. Even when they’ve to attend just a few seconds.

As Hendrickson wrote for The Atlantic on March 10, 2024, after Trump mocked Biden for his stuttering incidents throughout an undeniably efficiently State of the Union speech:

Stuttering is one in all many disabilities to have entered Trump’s crosshairs. In 2015, he infamously made enjoyable of a New York Occasions reporter’s disabled upper-body actions. Three years later, as president, when planning a White Home occasion for army veterans, he requested his employees to not embrace amputees wounded in fight, saying, “No person desires to see that.” Stuttering is a neurological dysfunction that impacts roughly 3 million People.


For a time, Trump exercised a modicum of restraint round this subject. As I as soon as wrote, Trump was in all probability smart sufficient to comprehend that, to paraphrase Michael Jordan, Republicans stutter too.


Trump could also be among the many most well-known and highly effective folks in trendy historical past, however he stays a small-minded bully. He mocks Biden’s incapacity as a result of he believes the voters will reward him for it—that there’s extra to be gained than misplaced by dehumanizing his rival and the hundreds of thousands of different People who stutter, or who undergo life managing different problems and disabilities.

The rights and dignity of the disabled have at all times mattered to me, however after my harm, I’m extra conscious of how merciless the world might be to these with totally different or fewer talents. Watching the opposition social gathering develop into the “fuck your emotions” social gathering of wannabe fascists these final 9 years ought to embarrass and enrage us all. 

Alliteration is very powerful for me, and after I realize it’s coming, I sluggish my phrases and enunciate them with virtually comical depth. However I don’t stutter after I sort. And so I can simply say that I’m able to spend the subsequent seven-plus months beating bullies, constructing benches, saving statehouses and the Senate, and righting wrongs.

I’ll by no means say “fuck your emotions” to anybody, even a MAGA zealot, as a result of that’s simply not me. However I’ll say this—just a few occasions, quick, even:

Fuck fascism. 

Now if you happen to’ll excuse me, I feel I’ve earned some banana chips.

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