Blog Against The Telethon.
My attention was recently drawn to an online campaign against a Muscular Dystrophy Telethon in the USA that is taking place on Labor Day. Miss Crip Chick is running the campaign over at her blog. The telethon is being hosted by comedy actor Jerry Lewis and unfortunately the event is so steeped in the Charity Model of Disability is nothing less than deeply offensive.
Mr Lewis seems to believe that disabled people are poor helpless creatures who not only need pity and charity he also believes, from comments he has made, that disabled people should not attempt to take part fully in society unless they are 'cured' of there terrible affliction. Disabled campaigners have been quick to step up to the plate and protest against the telethon because it of its overt use of the Charity Model. It promotes pity as a way of raising money for cures. When disabled activists complained Lewis said:
"Pity? [If] you don't want to be pitied because you're a cripple in a wheelchair, stay in ya house
The lovely caring Mr Lewis also said the following:
"I'm telling people about a child in trouble! If it's pity, we'll get some money. I'm just giving you facts!"
It doesn't stop there. It actually gets worse. The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) who run the telethon with Lewis published the following in Parade magazine under a Jerry Lewis byline:
"What if the twist of fate that we hear so much about really happened? What if, when the gifts and the pains were being handed out, I was in the wrong line?" Lewis began . "What if I had Muscular Dystrophy?" was its title.
"I decided after 41 years of battling this curse that attacks children of all ages, I would put myself in that chair, that steel imprisonment that long has been deemed the dystrophic child's plight," he continued.
"I know the courage it takes to get on the court with other cripples and play wheelchair basketball, but I'm not as fortunate as they are," Lewis wrote, halfway into the piece. He had so far managed to include nearly every term or concept offensive to disability rights advocates, and his next sentences would work in the others: "I'd like to play basketball like normal, healthy, vital and energetic people. I really don't want the substitute. I just can't half-do anything. When I sit back and think a little more rationally," he continued, "I realize my life is half, so I must learn to do things halfway. I just have to learn to try to be good at being half a person."
Can you believe the guy? For years disabled people have been seen as second class citizens and have fought an uphill battle just to get access to buildings, jobs and education. It seems that some people don't thing that we are worthy of this as we are "half a person" as Lewis puts it. And this comes from a man who actually believes he is doing some good.
Lewis' attitude stinks. It reinforces every negative attitude there has every been able us (those living with MD and those of us with other impairments and conditions). I would urge you to visit Miss Crip Chicks website and join in the campaign against this Telethon.
Labels: Jerry Lewis Telethon