Couple Sues After Photo of Their Son With Down Syndrome Is Altered


Grin stretching across his face, Adam Holland proudly holds a sketch he made while in art class in Nashville.

It’s a sweet photo, taken in 2004 when Adam was 17, that has been distorted to hurt not only Adam but his family and other children with Down syndrome.

The photo was taken by an instructor and ended up on the art center’s website. And then, as you can imagine when it comes to photos on the Wild West that is the Internet, it was lifted off the site and used in completely inappropriate ways.

As the New York Daily News reports, last year a member of watchdog group Spread the Word to End the Word (a group looking to end the use of the word “retard”) put a spotlight on Florida station WHPT-FM, which posted the picture on its web page for “The Cowhead Show.” The show had photoshopped the sign Adam is holding to read “Retarded News.”

Yup. On the website of a radio station. It was being used, according to the stations manager, “to highlight odd stories that are seemingly always in the news. Stories such as botched bank robberies and failed crimes. These stories are NOT about disabled individuals.”

Oh, thank goodness. Here I was worried you were making fun of and demeaning children with Down syndrome.


Adam’s parents, Pamela and Bernhard Holland, are suing Cox Media claiming the commercial use of the image was defamatory. And, according to ABC, the Florida radio station isn’t the only company using Adam’s photo in a malicious way. The lawsuit claims a web sign-generating company, Sign Generator, also used his image under the heading “Retarded Handicap Generator.” In place of Adam’s sketch, he is seen holding a sign that read, “I Love Making Custom Signs.”

Not only that, but the Hollands are suing a Minnesota Flickr user who posted a photo of Adam holding a sign that reads, “I got a boner.”

The Hollands are claiming invasion of privacy, emotional distress and defamation, among other things, and are seeking a total of $18 million in compensatory and punitive damages from the three defendants. I hope they get every penny, if only to set a standard for the world that this kind of juvenile crap (from adults, companies, even) won’t be tolerated.

CanĀ  you imagine seeing one of the altered images of your sweet child proudly holding up his art work? Every single company would be dealing with me personally and it would not be pleasant. If this was my son I would open a can of whup ass so big folks wouldn’t ever be able to sit down again.

As their lawyer tells The Daily News, the Hollands are striking back against such “mean-spirited attacks” in order to protect “some of our society’s most innocent and helpless victims.”

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