Monday, January 12, 2009

Petition regarding disabilities and their perceptions ...

SPEC is a place for all to comment, so I am including one that may be controversial without endorsement or opposition, please review if you'd like to participate or ignore.

Some sources online:
-- JD


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that it will give Jerry Lewis its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award on February 22, 2009. Disability rights activists object to this award. During his decades of hosting the Labor Day Telethon, Jerry Lewis has helped to perpetuate negative, stereotypical attitudes toward people with muscular dystrophy and other disabilities. Jerry Lewis and the Telethon actively promote pity as a fundraising strategy. Disabled people want RESPECT and RIGHTS, not pity and charity.

In 1990, Lewis wrote that if he had muscular dystrophy and had to use a wheelchair, he would "just have to learn to try to be good at being a half a person." During the 1992 Telethon, he said that people with MD, whom he always insists on calling "my kids," "cannot go into the workplace. There's nothing they can do." Comments like these have led disability activists and our allies to protest against Jerry Lewis, and against the Telethon. We've argued that the Telethon promotes pity, a counterproductive emotion which undermines our social equality. Here's how Lewis responded to the Telethon protesters during a 2001 television interview: "Pity? You don't want to be pitied because you're a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house!"

Disability rights activists have launched an online petition to protest the Academy's decision and to demand the award be canceled. To sign the petition, go to


Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

Thanks for blogging about this! I've now added you to a running list of blog posts about the petition campaign at

Did you know that there is also a Facebook group dedicated to this effort? At

jd said...

Thanks for the comment, I will check the Facebook group now -- JD