Many of us in the United States stutter or may know someone who currently or previously stuttered. You may be surprised to hear that over 3 million Americans stutter and there are 70 million stutterers worldwide. Men are four times as likely to be a stutterer than women. Stuttering is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions li-li-like this… or elongating words lllllike this.
My brother had a major stuttering problem as a young boy and for 15 years he could hardly place his thoughts into words. Today, one must be patient to let him verbalize his thoughts one at a time. If I mention another subject before he is finished speaking, he moves on and stops talking about the first thought, similar to how VP Biden reacted each time he was interrupted.
Vice President Biden has been a stutterer since childhood. To overcome stuttering there is speech therapy, which my brother attended for years. You are taught to control your speech rate by speaking slowly and using short sentences and phrases, while also practicing stretching vowels and consonants. This helps reduce stuttering tremendously.
It is important for the listener to patient and calm. An impatient listener, or even a listener who just seems impatient, may make it harder for a stutterer to speak. Attempting to fill in the gaps (saying the missing words, for instance) is often an attempt to help, but it can be perceived by the stutterer as impatience.
President Trump knew exactly what he was doing when he purposely interrupted VP Biden some 70+ times. He called him “Slow-Joe,” while his spinmeisters online tried portraying Biden as stupid (showing him stuttering), leading up to the first debate.
There is no dirty trick beneath Trump. If he could use VP Biden’s stuttering to his advantage, he knew it could help him “win” the debate – and trying to take advantage of Biden’s stutter is exactly what he did. If you watched and knew what to look for, it was obvious: Before Biden finished a sentence, Trump interrupted again and again and again. Biden would not finish verbalizing his thought and start answering the interruption. It broke my heart to see a bully use stuttering as a weapon.
Being on a debate team in High School I learned that speaking with confidence and staying on topic wins debates. Trump didn’t allow Biden to stay on topic, nor did he let Biden finish one thought during most of the sophomoric 90 minutes.
Trump knew exactly what he was doing. Shame on him!
Shutting Trump’s microphone will NOT help because WE will not hear Trump, but Biden still will. Remember what you read here when you watch the next debates. To stop Trump from interrupting Biden, he can be forced to debate like high school and college students do… with respect… or Trump could be placed in a soundproof box. But frankly, a muzzle would certainly be in order.
The next time you meet a stutterer, be patient and let them finish their thought. You will feel much better about yourself.
BTW: James Earl Jones, Marilyn Monroe, Carly Simon, Winston Churchill, Bill Walton, and King George VI are among history’s most famous stutterers.