Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Debate goes on: Is there anything funny about disability?

February 20th, 2010

Rehashing the drama involving Sarah Palin and “Family Guy”, Dave Itzkoff writes on the front page of the New York Times that the show is “probably the last program that anyone expected to serve as a catalyst for a continuing fight about the depiction of disabled people on television, and whether they are fair game to participate in and be the subjects of satire.” An excerpt:

Gail Williamson, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles, which, among other services, assists films and television series in casting actors with the disability, and helped [Andrea] Friedman get hired by “Family Guy,” said it did not matter whether she thought the episode was funny.

“Within ‘Family Guy,’ the character was fully included, well-rounded, dynamic, not dealing with stereotypical Down syndrome issues,” Ms. Williamson said. She added: “Am I a fan of that kind of humor? Eh. It’s beside the point.”

“If we’re asking for full inclusion in the schools and full inclusion in the world,” she said, ” we should appreciate full inclusion with other genres. Even if those genres are not what we appreciate.”

From Entertainment Weekly: “Family Guy” producer Seth MacFarlane tells Bill Maher that Sarah Palin wanted to “inspire phony pity” for people with Down syndrome.

Video update: Interview with Andrea Fay Friedman ‘The Insider” is here. From the Washington Post account:

“Sarah, I know you’re watching this. … A lot of people have teased me because I have Down syndrome. … [It's] a challenge, not a disability.”

Citing Trig’s having Down syndrome, Friedman appeals to Palin: “Don’t take advantage of that. He has a normal life. I have a normal life.” She goes on to say she’s angry because she believes Palin is using Trig to gain votes.

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More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

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