Last week, three Atlanta DJ’s were fired because of the skit they aired making fun of Steve Gleason, a former NFL football player who is battling Lou Gehrig’s disease, commonly known as ALS. From the ESPN story:
790 The Zone hosts Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro and Chris Dimino were fired Monday after a segment Monday morning in which two of the on-air personalities took a call from a third host who pretended to be Gleason by using a voice that sounded automated — mimicking another ALS patient, world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.
My first reaction was; it’s about time. However, I was surprised that in today’s culture of moral decline and an “anything goes” attitude when it comes to “humor”, their bosses had courage to give these DJ’s their walking papers. At the same time, it was a very sad reminder of how my sister Terri was, and continues to be, so cruelly mocked on countless programs with little to no public reaction.
Sadly, I could give many examples of how Terri is constantly the target of ridicule, but one in particular was a March 2010 episode of Fox’s Family Guy where creator of the program, Seth MacFarlane felt it was all in good humor to air “Terri Schiavo, the Musical.”
The show opened with Terri being referred to as having “mashed potatoes brains”, and that she was the “most expensive plant you’ll ever see.” Not to mention how they all got their yucks about “hating vegetables”.
Despite, at the time, our family’s objections and calls to hold MacFarlane accountable for this reprehensible portrayal of my sister, you can probable guess what happened. Nothing. But if you know anything about the Family Guy, you know this program and its producers haven’t found a line they wouldn’t cross. This would include an episode they aired making fun of Governor Palin’s child Trig, who has Down syndrome.
Indeed, this event with Steve Gleason only validates to me our nation’s profound prejudice towards people with disabilities. This is not only a terrible reflection on our population today, but it is potentially deadly. Because the more that our general public accepts this bias, the more we will justify killing these persons under the false rationale of compassion.
Fortunately an apology was issued to Mr. Gleason, and illustrating the type of person he is, he graciously accepted:
Additionally, the DJs have provided genuine apology. Received and accepted. We have all made mistakes in this life. How we learn from our mistakes is the measure of who we are,” he (Gleason) wrote.
“I think everyone can learn from this event. Its clear to me that, on a national & global scale, ALS is not understood, which is part of why its under funded and largely ignored. In the past 36 hours lots of people have been talking. Lets talk about this… There are zero treatments for ALS.
God bless him and hopefully by this, as Mr. Gleason wrote, people will begin to educate themselves about ALS. Perhaps we can do more to understand the brain injured as well, because it is desperately needed.