Involving Journalist George Will (Day 7 of “8 Days for Ethan”). 14

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Day 7 of “8 Days for Ethan”.

TODAY’S GOAL:  To engage George Will, a nationally syndicated columnist with a major audience – and a son with Down Syndrome – in the Justice for Ethan Campaign.


George Will is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist; in 1986, the Wall Street Journal called him “perhaps the most powerful journalist in America.”

[AUTHOR NOTE: His writing is particularly influential for me, as his book “Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball” has been on my bedside nightstand for years, and I read it once a year and learn something new each time].

He has a son named Jon, who has Down Syndrome.  You can read one of George’s short op-ed pieces about Jon – “Jon Will’s Gift“.

Now, I don’t know if George Will is particularly active in the Down Syndrome community, and I don’t know if he is likely to lend his voice and his reputation to our cause for Justice for Ethan, but we are going to spend our 15 minutes today trying.

A national voice, or a celebrity that supports our cause visibly, could take the Justice for Ethan campaign to a whole new level, and manifest the very “community tension” that the DOJ seems to want.

Step 1: Draft an Email to George Will (Time Spent: 12 minutes)

Unfortunately, there is no form email today.

I know that they make it so much easier for you to act, but since we are trying to request the support of a specific private sector individual, templates and form letters are not advisable, and will likely go right to a spam folder.

Take 12 minutes and compose your own email – it will be far more effective than a form or template in this situation.  Here are 3 tips and pointers.

1) Keep it short.  My email introduces myself (2 sentences), tells Mr. Will about Ethan’s situation (3 sentences), and asks him to help lend a national voice to our efforts for Justice for Ethan (1 sentence).

2) Be specific in your request. Have a specific action you are requesting Mr. Will to take. Mr. Will is not an investigative reporter, so he’s unlikely to invest his time investigating the incident as say, Bob Woodward might.  So, I  asked him to tell the public about Ethan’s death through an Op-Ed piece, or in his next appearance on ABC’s “This Week”.

3) Check your grammar.  Mr. Will is a notorious perfectionist when it comes to words and grammar.  You don’t have to be perfect, but taking an extra 3 minutes to proofread your email might be the difference between it being read or not.

Step 2: Send the email to Mr. Will (Time Spent: 1 minute)

Mr. Will’s email address is [email protected]

(If you want, you can also BLIND copy, or BCC, the email you send to me at dad at littlebirdsdad dot com.

I will post some of your emails in future posts, anonymously if you’d like (just let me know).


Step 3: Add a quick comment below, indicating you sent an email. (Time Spent: 1 minute)

Post a short comment letting us know that you sent an email.

Step 4: Share the link to this post on your blog or facebook page. (Time Spent: 1 minute).

Here, the idea is to get others to take this action as well.

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14 thoughts on “Involving Journalist George Will (Day 7 of “8 Days for Ethan”).

    • Little Bird's Dad

      Stephanie, you are a warrior. That photo you attached brought me to tears, thinking that beautiful little man is no longer with us.

      Thank you for all you do for #JusticeForEthan

      Little Bird’s Dad

  • Little Bird's Dad

    Here’s a letter to George Will that the sender “BCC’d” me on…stay tuned, I’ve got a lot of these to post!! 🙂



    Dear Mr. Will:

    For many years I have read and enjoyed your columns. Even when I do not agree, I always am challenged to think beyond my own beliefs and experiences. For that I thank you.

    I have especially enjoyed the few times you have mentioned your son, Jon, and his enjoyment of baseball. I appreciated the fact that you were open about his Down syndrome, a condition that too often relegated people to instituions and a narrow existence. Recently, a young man named Robert Ethan Saylor, was killed by three policeman because he would not leave a movie theatre. Although I am sure the police did not intentionally set out to kill Mr. Saylor, their use of unnecessary force caused his death. Mr. Saylor had Down syndrome and had been told by his attendant to stay there until the attendant returned. Mr. Saylor was apparently unable to comprehend the situation fully and resisted the police efforts to make him leave. Apparently, in spite of guidelines against forcing people down on their stomachs, that is exactly what they did. As a result he died.

    If the victim had been of any other protected class such as for race, creed, or gender, there would have been an immediate outcry for a full investigation. Instead, the local DA took the case to the grand jury and they basically said that Mr. Saylor died, not because of the force used by the police, but because of his Down syndrome. This is not acceptable. He apparently died because they did not follow their own restraint guidelines. The police cannot treat one class of people differently than another and expect to be absolved.

    Parents and friends of many individuals with Down syndrome are asking for the Justice Department to fully investigate this event. National Down Syndrome Advocacy organizations are being asked over and over to actually advocate for this young man. They are starting to listen to their own community, but they are still reluctant. Over the years, they have been very successful in attracting funding from corporations after discriminatory incidents. The corporations are absolved by their donations, the organizations get funding and the unequal treatment continues. We, the family and friends of people with Down syndrome, are asking that you use your “bully pulpit” to ask for justice for Robert Ethan Saylor.

    I am asking that you publicly urge the National Down Syndrome Society, the Special Olympics, the National Down Syndrome Congress, the International Down Syndrome Coalition, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and all other groups to advocate for Mr. Saylor and continue to fight for full citizenship for people with Down syndrome through your column or if possible on your routine appearances on television. It is not enough to just make society aware, it is time to demand equal rights. Your support in this effort would bring national attention to this issue. Please join us.

    Sincerely yours,


  • kathy ratkiewicz

    it is surprising to me that he hasn’t written about this yet-especially since his wife, Madeline Will, is the VP of Public Policy at NDSS. Great idea to contact him.

  • Little Bird's Dad

    Another letter to George Will, this time, from a father in Colorado that wishes to remain anonymous.

    Thank you, sir, for your time and hard work in support of #JusticeForEthan.


    Mr. Will,

    Certainly by this time you have received a number of similar e-mails imploring you to use your influential column to address the incident which led to the death of young mand with Down Syndrome earlier this year. I add my name to that list of people who believe you have an opportunity, if not obligation, to further this important public discussion.

    I am the father of an 18-year old young man with DS. One of my greatest fears is maltreatment at the hands of not just strangers, but also people in whom he is supposed to be able place his trust.

    Please make use of your unique combination of first-hand experience as a parent and an influencer of public discourse. I am not even sure what you might feel or say about this particular incident, but I will suggest it is worth addressing that fact the technical crisis-management and safe take-down training information for law enforcement personnel to use to prevent “positional-asphyxiation” incidents precisely like this was promulgated by DOJ in the mid-1990s.

    >>> See the National Law Enforcement Technology Center bulletin at

    My son was an infant back then, and yet it seems he remains at risk of harm by ignorance and lowered human regard. The death of Robert Ethan Saylor — ruled a homicide — was an entirely preventable outcome. Individuals and institutions are culpable, and programs and public perception and tolerance must change. That begins with a full, independent and impartial investigation.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    With best regards,
    A Father in Colorado

  • Little Bird's Dad

    Hey, everyone, here’s another email to George Will. The author mentions the article “The Killing Will Not Stop”. Here is a link to that article:


    Dear Mr. Will-

    I am old enough to remember Infant Doe. Although his short life was over before my son with Ds was even born, I remember how appalled I was by Infant Doe’s death and how touched I was by your article,”The Killing Will Not Stop” in which you said that Infant Doe was ‘fully human’, and not deserving of his fate at the hands of the law:

    “When a commentator has a direct personal interest in an issue, it behooves him to say so. Some of my best friends are Down’s syndrome citizens. (Citizens are what Down’s syndrome children are if they avoid being homicide victims in hospitals.)

    Jonathan Will, 10, fourth-grader and Orioles fan (and the best Wiffle-ball hitter in southern Maryland), has Down’s syndrome. He does not “suffer from” (as newspapers are wont to say) Down’s syndrome. He suffers from nothing, except anxiety about the Orioles’ lousy start. He is doing nicely, thank you. But he is bound to have quite enough problems dealing with society—receiving rights, let alone empathy. He can do without people like Infant Doe’s parents, and courts like Indiana’s asserting by their actions the principle that people like him are less than fully human. On the evidence, Down’s syndrome citizens have little to learn about being human from people responsible for the death of Infant Doe.” end quote.

    Now, 31 years after Infant Doe’s death, another individual with Down syndrome has died as a direct result of people “asserting by their actions the principle that people like him are less than fully human.” I am sure that you are aware that the circumstances surrounding the death of Robert Ethan Saylor, and that his death has been attributed to Down syndrome. But he did not die in his theater seat while watching a movie.He died as a direct result of being forcibly restrained -face down- by three law enforcement officers. And the people who were responsible for his death are not being charged. I can only assume the reason is because Ethan was not considered a valuable enough person for it to even matter whether he lived or died.
    I am writing to ask you to use your influence to advocate for the civil rights of people with disabilities. Please help readers see that Ethan did not die from Down syndrome, but that his death is being allowed to go unpunished because he had Down syndrome. How can our society endure if we look away when our most vulnerable citizens are killed by the very people that are supposed to protect them? How can it endure when those people are not held accountable for their actions?