Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wayne Brady and Jim Roddey, Shame on you!

Update August 17, 2012: Wayne Brady has issued what I believe to be a sincere apology for his joke on the Roast.  Letter can be found at the bottom of this post.  I do hope that a lesson has been learned and that others in the media will take note and know that making fun of those with disabilities is no acceptable.

Making fun of children.  Using those with disabilities as the butt of your jokes.  Both are unacceptable and are in poor taste.  Yet, comedian Wayne Brady and GOP Chair Jim Roddey both thought it was appropriate and even funny to poke fun of those with disabilities to further their careers.

Back in July, GOP Chair Jim Roddey addressed a large election party in Pittsburgh where he stated:

"There was a disappointment tonight. I was very embarrassed. I was in this parking lot and there was a man looking for a space to park, and I found a space for him. And I felt badly -- he looked like he was sort of in distress. And I said, 'Sir, here's a place.' And he said, 'That's a handicapped space.' I said, 'Oh I'm so sorry, I saw that Obama sticker and I thought you were mentally retarded."

Political views aside, whether you support Obama or loathe Obama, why is it appropriate and even at times encouraged to use those with disabilities, in this case those with intellectual delays, to serve as a punchline?  The crowd was just as ignorant as Roddey in that they roared with laughter!  Is this what my daughter and many others who cannot stand up for themselves have to look forward to?  Being the butt of jokes?  Why are those with disabilities fair game in the arena of comedy?  Shame on your Roddey.

Update: since I started writing this post, Jim Roddey has apologized and has referred to his actions as "regrettable" and "inappropriate".

Sadly, Roddey is not the only one!  This month, comedian Wayne Brady  decided to use Sarah Palin's son Trigg as the punchline of one of his jokes at the Roxanne Roast.  He jokes:

"Now the thing is Jeff [Ross] ... these are all jokes, and I really like you. I really, really like you. But a lot of people hate you, especially Sarah Palin because you remind her of what Trig is going to look like when he’s 40."

Again, I do not care if you are a Republican or Democrat or Independent.  I do not care if you love Sarah Palin or strongly dislike Palin.  This is not about politics.  This is about a child. Not only a little boy, but a child who happens to possess little something extra.  A child with Down syndrome.  That's hilarious, Wayne Brady.  You are a 40 year-old man who should be wearing his big boy pants.  Is your career so far down the tubes that you have to resort to picking on an innocent little boy with developmental disabilities that are not his fault?

I really love how when you were booed you continued your arrogant and ignorant ways and said "Oh, now you boo me? F*ck y’all. I don’t want to hear that. These people say all of this sh*t about me, and you boo me because of Trig?”  Wayne Brady, my daughter Ellie is stunning beyond words and she will be gorgeous even at the age of 40.  Oh and she has Down syndrome.  Clearly you did not learn from the mistakes of your compatriot Margaret Cho, who by the way recognized the error of her ways and apologized. Please take a moment to man up and apologize.  Better yet, take a moment to educated yourself.  Wayne, you can find excellent information on Down syndrome on the NDSS.org, National Down Syndrome Congress, or even on this very blog.

Sadly, this video of Wayne Brady at the Roxanne Roast was recorded well before it aired on Comedy Central. In my eyes, this TV channel is not much better than the comedian.  Why did they leave the clip in the show?  Could they not have edited it out?  Did the editors think the joke was funny or were they looking to torture those with developmental disabilities and the families who care for them?

For those of you who feel as enraged as I do, you may leave comments on:

Wayne Brady's  Facebook Page 

@waynebrady on twitter

Comedy Central Program Feedback

It is my hope that the more people speak out against those in the limelight, then maybe, just maybe, other people will learn that it is not okay to use slurs against those with disabilities.  After all, we saw it with comedian Margaret Cho and with most recently with GOP Chair Jim Roddey.

Wayne Brady's letter of apology on FB page:

This letter has taken me a few days to compose because of the conflicting emotions that I've experienced since the day of the Roast and it's subsequent airing. The environment of the Roast is a comedic (hopefully), tasteless (mostly always), affair that encourages everyone to out-filth each other. Not normally what I'm known for, right? But, when I was invited, I jumped at the chance to play outsi
de of my perceived "norm" and have fun. The Jeff joke was written for me and at the end of the day I take full responsibility for saying it. It wasn't meant as a slam to Trig and at the time I didn't see it that way.

I could defend it as a performer, but I would rather apologize from the bottom of my heart as a father. I understand how a parent, who loves their child, who tries to nurture and shield them when they cannot defend themselves, would take offense.. I have many times experienced this feeling. I've had awful things said about my daughter.. Violent and most times racial stabs. Being in the spotlight I have built a thick skin to these sorts of things. My daughter ( who's now old enough to understand ) is another story. That being said I write this letter with sensitivity and a strong stance of responsibility for my actions.

I thank everyone who's expressed their opinion for reminding me that my voice is heard... It's easy to forget sometimes in front of cameras and lights.

To the Palins, please know that no malice or harm was meant. To the other families who were touched negatively, I hope you'll be able to accept this apology as well.

I've always said that people in the public eye should be held responsible for what you say and I'm no hypocrite. Thanks for reading and letting me express my side.

Take care all,


1 comment:

  1. Great post, Anna. Did you notice that the video is no longer available? I think he is embarrassed now.


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