This came to my attention on Frday of last week, and I’ve been trying to write something that isn’t using profanities every other word. I’ve had about 60 drafts. [There is a new edit at the bottom of the post]
There’s a YouTube video called Autism Mom FURIOUS is over Steve Harvey’s comments – 3.26.15 – YouTube that brings attention to something despicable, something that she has every reason to be furious over. Something that I’m furious and sickened over.
Steve Harvey used his radio show as a comedy platform (as Sister Odell) to make fun of disabled adults attending Church.
I’m not being overly sensitive or too politically correct. If you were to tell me that, you’re defending his actions and diminishing the lives of disabled individuals everywhere.
I’m not infringing on anyone’s right to free speech to call out a comedian’s, or anyone else’s, behavior and speech. This may be cliche at this point, but if he has the freedom of speech to behave badly and speak in a degrading way about disabled people and laugh like a fool over his own (lack of) cleverness, then he’d better be damned sure to be ready for others to use THEIR right to free speech to call him out.
His words were like acid, caustic and issuing a damaging blow to the disability movement. It tells people in cultures where shaming and being embarrassed about their disabilities and their disabled family members that it’s appropriate and even “funny.”
It tells people that those who can’t always speak against this very same sickening attitude that the world is not even attempting to change to be more sensitive, let alone accommodating, to them.
It tells them that this hatred, being thinly veiled with so-called humor, not only exists in their own homes with family members, but likely at work with employers and co-workers, with neighbors… and out in the world in the media and with other people in the public eye that are looked up to for heaven knows why.
It tells disabled children in school that the bullies who claim they’re just joking, using humor as their mask, will be allowed to get away with it because they’re not really doing any harm. And no one will do anything until someone commits suicide; then everyone blames the child’s parents for not realizing how disturbed s/he was in his disability and why didn’t the parents get him/her the right help or realize how mentally ill they were before s/he committed suicide, when the real issue is that demeaning disabled people and making them Less Than Human is damaging.
Disabilities do not make disabled individuals Less Than Human. They… we.. are fully Human. We’re simply different. And in the words of Temple Grandin, disability (although originally from the point of view of Autism) merely means Different, Not Less.
It’s not unrealistic to expect that some things should be completely off limits as jokes. It’s more than “in poor taste.” We can take poor taste. What Steve Harvey did is cruel, bullying, and calling it comedy somehow gives it free license to say truly hurtful things and it shows exactly how he feels when he sees someone with Autism or similar disabilities that have nonverbal learning disorders and additional conditions.
Calling it comedy means that some people will repeat the so-called jokes because it’s “funny” and of course funny means that people won’t be able to conceive of the idea that it could be hurtful. They’ll repeat it because they’ll have reinforcement that attitudes such as Steve Harvey’s about disabilities and disabled individuals are acceptable and correct. You know, because we’re the ones who are humorless and touchy and overly sensitive.
Those attitudes are not acceptable. Not. Acceptable. But I suppose with Steve Harvey being who he is, I shouldn’t be surprised.
I’m disgusted and sickened. This is the sort of attitude that I feel I’m swimming upstream through chunky peanut butter to end. I’m allergic to peanuts.
No, Mr. Harvey, there’s no way you’re getting out of this with anything less than some very public reconciling to do as well as some reconciliation of the divine sort.
Share. Please. Share that link. Listen to what Steve Harvey thinks about disabled people from his talk show. Then boycott him. If you can’t do that, then write to his producers and tell them exactly what you think about his behavior. Let them know that if you were a fan, you’re not any longer. Let them know that if you hadn’t watched or listened before, there’s no chance in hell now.
More importantly: If you ever have behaved or spoken in a way that’s degrading to any individuals that have any disabilities at all, please stop. Think about the damage you’ve done and are doing if you don’t stop. You don’t know who has an invisible disability that hasn’t come out to you about it, so you don’t know who you’re harming. Be an ally instead of the villain.
#BeAnAllyNotAVillain #FlashBlogBoycottSteveHarvey #BoycottSteveHarvey
[EDIT: I really didn’t want to add what it was he said because I think if you watch that video above, she illustrates what’s wrong with what he said. But I should have included that he joke was made during his morning talk show on March 26th as his character “Sister Odell.” He has since apologized except that his apology wasn’t really an apology. It was a “y’all can’t take a joke” jab.
It started out on Facebook as,
“To everyone, please accept my sincere apologies. It was not my intent to hurt anyone.”
He should have stopped there. That would have been perfect.
He continued with:
“Sister Odell is a made up character, she is not real and my intent was not directed at any other real person. And most certainly was not directed at anyone you know. Again my apologies. The problem with comedy is ALL subjects can offend someone. Please forgive me if you were. DON’T TRIP HE AIN’T THRU WITH ME YET.”
Apology? Do you see what he did there? Exactly what I said he’d do. He excused his behavior. He blamed those offended in the disability community, for being offended that he said offensive things he should have never said. Under the claim that it wasn’t really him but the character he was playing.
When you apologize to anyone you’ve offended, you simply apologize and you don’t qualify the behavior. You don’t excuse the behavior. You don’t turn it around and blame the massive group of people you offended for being rightly offended.
This was a non-apology.
How does one exactly blame the fictitious character that one writes and plays? It’s not MY fault, it’s Sister Odell’s fault for making fun of someone that doesn’t actually exist.
No, it doesn’t work that way. It can’t.
Those “jokes” only barely thinly mask a very real opinion. He wasn’t being sarcastic in the jokes, using them to describe a behavior about disability bigots that he was disgusted with. He was the one making fun of disabled individuals. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t directed at a specific individual… that makes it even worse because now we also know what his stereotype of a disabled person looks like. They’re all intellectually disabled, unable to speak, unable to control themselves and their bodies, unable to control the sounds coming out of their mouths, looking foolish.
This is what such “comedy” perpetuates. That a thin mask of hate of disabled people and their disabilities, and hatred their audacity to be disabled in public, can be called comedy and therefore not be considered hate speech or discrimination. No, if it’s comedy, it couldn’t possibly be a mask of hate and discrimination.
What saddens me is that there are people commenting on his pages that they are or know someone close to them (like a son or daughter) who is disabled, and not only are they not bothered but they found it funny too. They want him to continue, and they support him and believed an apology was not necessary. That anyone offended had no reason to be offended and basically, we’re all party poopers without a sense of humor.
That’s what couching hatred of disabled people in humor perpetuates. Not acceptance, not a desire to learn more, not even tolerance.]