Protesting Jerry Lewis’ Humanitarian Award

Posted on 17 January 2009. Filed under: Advocacy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that it will award Jerry Lewis the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the upcoming Oscar award ceremony. Please join disabled people and our allies in protesting this.

Jerry Lewis’s MDA Telethon, rather than working for equality and social inclusion of disabled people, portrays us as hopeless, pathetic, eternal children. Lewis has said, “My kids cannot go into the workplace. There’s nothing they can do.” He has said that a disabled individual is “half a person,” and [If] you don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair, stay in your house!” His telethon reinforces the notion that cure and prevention are what disabled people need, not social change. The LBGT community has protested Lewis’s numerous anti-gay slurs–recently, he referred to cricket as “fag baseball.” Lewis has also stated that he doesn’t like women comedians because he thinks of a woman as “a producing machine that bring babies into the world.” These statements are de-humanizing; the one who uttered them should hardly be given a humanitarian award.

Please sign a petition protesting this at:Jerry Lewis Protest and please forward this email to others. It has been less than a week since we put this petition online, and it has already gathered more than 1900 signatures–including that of Princeton University bioethicist Peter Singer!

Thank you!

Anne Finger

You can also join a Facebook group devoted to protests against Jerry’s award. Also read what is being said by other Bloggers Protesting Pity. Or write a letter directly to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

I first found this email from Anne Finger at Planet of the Blind.

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Jerry Lewis, Hersholt Award, and Gay Slurs

Posted on 15 January 2009. Filed under: Advocacy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

People with disabilities are not the only people who are offended at Jerry Lewis receiving a humanitarian award. GLBT people object to the idea because Jerry has made homophobic slurs. Read more at http://www.altfg.com/blog/actors/jerry-lewis-gay-slur-controversy/

Bev at Asperger Square 8 has once again lent her visual talents by combining pictures of Jerry with some of his more insidious quotes about people with disabilities. At http://aspergersquare8.blogspot.com/2009/01/protest-pity.html

Learn more about Jerry Lewis’ humanitarian award and the petition campaign protesting against it at https://reunifygally.wordpress.com/2009/01/10/protest-pity-sign-the-petition/ or by following the links at https://reunifygally.wordpress.com/bloggers-protesting-pity/

Consider signing the petition protesting the award at
http://www.petitiononline.com/jlno2009/petition.html You can significantly strengthen the impact of your petition signature by using the comments line to explain IN YOUR OWN WORDS why you object to the award. (Don’t let the tiny comments space in the petition fool you. You can actually fit in several full sentences, if you wish.)

And consider joining the Facebook group so you can learn about other ways to get involved: http://www.facebook.com/groups.php#/group.php?gid=40538392681

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Time for Oscars to Support, Not Undermine, Deaf and Disability Rights

Posted on 14 January 2009. Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements | Tags: , , , , , , |

People in the Deaf, Autistic, Muscular Dystrophy, and Disability communities will be gathering in Los Angeles, California, USA, near February 22, 2009, to tell the Oscar awards organizers that human rights is more helpful to people with disabilities than pity or charity.

If you didn’t already know, 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. This award primarily recognizes his years of work raising money through his annual telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Disability activists, including many who have muscular dystrophy, object to this award because Jerry has perpetuated negative stereotypes of people with disabilities. Yes, he also raised money for research–research that some among the protesters may support. But their message is that the end does not justify the means. Jerry could have, and should have, chosen fund raising tactics that would not do so much destruction to the efforts of disability rights advocates to gain recognition for the fundamental dignity and value of people with disabilities. By projecting us as pathetic, helpless creatures, Jerry’s tactics has made it harder for usto be judged on our actual merits for the jobs we apply for–rather than on other people’s mistaken assumptions about what people with disabilities can and cannot do.

Read more in the announcement below that was recently circulated among members of the Facebook Group organizing these protests against Jerry’s award. If you haven’t already, you may also wish to sign the on-line petition protesting Jerry’s award.

Subject: UPDATE: Oscar Protests Being Planned

Put it on your calendar! Actions are currently being planned to take place before and during the Academy Awards ceremony. Can you come to Los Angeles to participate in two BIG actions on Oscar weekend, February 20 and 21? Can you organize a local action in your community on or around February 22?

If you want to be part of the protest at the Oscars in LA, now is the time to make airline reservations and other travel arrangements. Plan to be in LA at least 2/20 and 2/21, and 2/22 if possible. We’ll send out information soon about a nearby accessible hotel, and about the specifics of the protest actions.

If you want to organize an action at a local Oscar party or other appropriate target, get the ball roling now! Find local Oscar events — perhaps sponsored by your local film society, charity, or media outlet. (Try a Google search with the terms “2009 Oscar party [your city name].”) Talk to local disability, LGBT, and feminist activist/advocacy groups. Even if you can only get a dozen or so people involved, you may be able to pull off a great action, and get some press coverage to raise public awareness. Stay tuned for more tips on organizing a local protest…

Jerry Lewis advised his critics to “stay in your house!” Whether you come to LA, or do a local action, you’ll be letting Lewis — and everyone else — know that you’re not going to let prejudice, ignorance, and shame keep you inside your house, OR keep you quiet!




Learn about protest planning and other activities through the Facebook group organizing action against Jerry’s humanitarian award: http://www.facebook.com/groups.php#/group.php?gid=40538392681

Sign the on-line petition protesting Jerry’s award. You are encouraged to use the comment line in the petition to explain why you have chosen to sign the petition: this will strengthen the value of your signature: http://www.petitiononline.com/jlno2009/petition.html

See what bloggers have been saying about Jerry’s award:
https://reunifygally.wordpress.com/bloggers-protesting-pity/

Learn more about why people with disabilities object to the tactics Jerry uses to raise money via his annual telethon: http://www.cripcommentary.com/LewisVsDisabilityRights.html
And also see many excellent blog posts from last year at: http://karasheridan.com/?p=164

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Joining the Anti-Pity Movement

Posted on 12 January 2009. Filed under: Advocacy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

An increasing number of bloggers are encouraging their readers to sign the petition protesting Jerry Lewis’ humanitarian award, and also to join the Facebook group coordinating protests against a man who has helped entrench negative stereotypes of all people with disabilities–and Deaf people.  Here are a few of the most recent examples below.  Or, read the full list of links by clicking on the page Bloggers Protesting Pity in the top navigation bar.

Confused what this is all about?  Jerry Lewis, the man who runs the annual telethon raising money for research into Muscular Dystrophy is about to receive a humanitarian award.  Many Deaf people, Autistic people, people with Muscular Dystrophy, and people with all disabilities strongly object to this decision.  Has Jerry raised money for charity?  Yes, lots of it.  But these funds come with a heavy price tag: the manner in which Jerry raises these funds generate pity for people with disabilities in ways that reinforce outdated stereotypes.  These stereotypes make it harder, among other things, for job applicants to be judged on their genuine qualifications for the job instead of on mistaken beliefs about what people with disabilities can and cannot do.  Read on to learn more …

Petition regarding disabilities and their perceptions…
http://specialparents-exceptionalchildren.blogspot.com/2009/01/petition-regarding-disabilities-and.html
Has a few links to web pages and blog posts that explain why some people with disabilities dislike Jerry’s annual telethon and quotes some of the negative things Jerry has said (such as referring to wheelchair users as “half a person,” etc.)

Jerry Lewis the Humanitarian?
http://www.philosophercrip.com/2009/01/12/jerry-lewis-the-humanitarian/
Includes the full text of the petition (and a link to it). The introductory blurb, among other things, says: “How many of us cringe when someone feels “terrible” that we are LPs/deaf/chair users/learning disabled/autistic/etc? That cringe is what this petition is giving voice to.”

Jerry Lewis to be Presented with Humanitarian Award
http://thecurvature.com/2009/01/12/jerry-lewis-to-be-presented-with-humanitarian-award/
Encourages people to sign the petition, saying “… [I]t seems kind of strange and wildly offensive that someone might receive a humanitarian award after having referred to the people he “helps” as not fully human ….”

Petition to cancel humanitarian award for Jerry Lewis
http://whatsortsofpeople.wordpress.com/2009/01/12/petition-to-cancel-humanitarian-award-for-jerry-lewis/
In addition to presenting the text of the petition, this author also recommends a book to read analyzing how telethons promote discrimination and negative images of people with disabilities.

Please do remember to  sign the petition protesting Jerry Lewis’ humanitarian award.  And please also join the Facebook group coordinating the protests against this “humanitarian” award.  Also, check the full list of links about the protests by clicking on the page Bloggers Protesting Pity in the top navigation bar.

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People with Muscular Dystrophy Protesting Jerry Lewis

Posted on 11 January 2009. Filed under: Advocacy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

People from outside the disability community, and even some people with disabilities, often wonder what people with muscular dystrophy themselves think of all the protests against Jerry Lewis’ annual telethon and Jerry’s upcoming humanitarian award. After all, Jerry’s fund raising efforts are meant to help them–aren’t they?

Some people with muscular dystrophy, and their families, do in fact support the telethon. But it may surprise some people to realize that people with muscular dystrophy are consistently among the most out-spoken leaders in the protest movement against Jerry’s annual telethon. And they are once again in the forefront of protesting the choice to give Jerry a humanitarian award this February 22, 2009. The person who founded the Facebook group coordinating the current protests, Laura Hershey, used to be a poster child in Jerry’s telethon. Some of the people signing the petition protesting Jerry’s award have identified themselves as people with muscular dystrophy, or as people who know someone close to them with MD.

Follow the links below to various blog posts and newspaper articles to hear the voices of people with muscular dystrophy themselves explaining why they feel that Jerry’s telethon–and the pity that it generates–does more harm than good. At the bottom, I have also collected some quotes from people signing the petition protesting Jerry’s humanitarian award.

From Poster Child to Protester
http://www.cripcommentary.com/frompost.html
Once, Laura Hershey was a little girl with muscular dystrophy and one of many “poster children” in Jerry’s annual telethon. Now she is one of a growing number of former poster children who has worked tirelessly for years protesting the manner in which Jerry promotes pity. Read her story, which she wrote in 1993. And, no, her involvement with the protests didn’t stop there: Laura Hershey happens to be the woman who established the Facebook Group coordinating protests against Jerry’s award in December 2008.

The Kids are Alright
http://www.thekidsareallright.org/
Mike Ervin was a “Jerry’s Kids” poster child in the 1960s. Today, he protests the way that the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Jerry’s telethon, have portrayed people with muscular dystrophy in the quest for charitable donations. Read about a half-hour documentary analyzing how pity makes it harder to advance true social equality.

Disability Activists Demand an End to Jerry’s Labor Day Pity Party
http://www.niagarafallsreporter.com/croisdale294.html
This article shares more about the story of Mike Ervin and his sister–both of whom were used as Jerry’s “poster children” in the 1960s, and both of whom are now active in protesting the telethon.

No Longer One of Jerry’s Kids
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/31/AR2007083101273.html?hpid=opinionsbox1
A former poster child, Ben Mattlin, explains why he now protests against the same telethon he had appeared in when he was six years old.

Telethon’s Cost is in Dignity
http://www.thestar.com/article/489291
Harriet McBride, who had a muscle-wasting condition, was one of the key leaders of protests against Jerry’s Telethon until she died last year age age 50. This article tells the story.

Jerry Lewis’ Unforgivable Harm to Young People
http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/2007/09/jerry-lewis-unforgivable-harm-to-young.html
Diane Coleman, a woman with a neuromuscular condition who is the founder and President of Not Dead Yet, writes about how Jerry Lewis has promoted the idea that people with disabilities are simply better off dead.

From a place of love
http://crip-power.com/2007/09/02/72/
A young woman with muscular dystrophy writes about the evolution of her identity as a person with disabilities and why she opposes a telethon “drenched in pity.”

Guest blogger at “If the World Had Wheels”
http://karasheridan.com/?p=165
A young competitive swimmer with muscular dystrophy shares her thoughts on Jerry’s telethon in this guest blog spot.

Tom and Jerry and other Telethon Stories
http://davehingsburger.blogspot.com/2007/09/tom-and-jerry-and-other-telethon.html
Dave at “Chewing the Fat” shares several stories related to Jerry’s annual telethon; among them are comments he once heard about the telethon from a young boy with muscular dystrophy.

Signatures in the Petition Protesting Jerry’s Award
A number of people signing the petition against Jerry’s humanitarian award have indicated that they themselves have muscular dystrophy, or were once one of “Jerry’s kids,” or are close to someone with muscular dystrophy. Here are a few examples I’ve noticed:

The comment with signature #1060 says: “As a person with muscular dystrohpy, i strongly object to the presentation of any humanitarian award to Jerry Lewis. Jerry Lewis and the MDA have actively fought against the progress of the disability rights movement and have acted only in self interest to appear as “humanitarians”. He is protested against by people with muscular dystrophy themselves every year. Could we be any more clear?”

The comment with signature #911 says: “I personally know people with MD. They are hardworking and intelligent people who deserve to be viewed as contributing members of their communities. If the telethon producers want to be supportive they need to show how the money can be used to purchase equipment or services which will enhance independence. Adults with disabilities are sick and tired of being viewed and treated as “kids”. Stars like Jerry Lewis have a strong influence on public perception and opinion. They need to use that influence to help reverse stereotypical thinking. It is this type thicking which promotes fear and subsequently, discrimination”

The comment with signature #656 says: “My son was considered for National Poster child – he knew Jerry Lewis, Bob Ross, Jerry Weinurg – when he passed away there was nothing from them- no acknowledgemnt at at.”

The comment with signature #626 says: “I have muscular dystrophy and I am offended at the way jerry lewis has characterized and caricatured those of us who have this disease. Jerry is a bigot. Raising money, in the manner he does, and using it for a humanitarian cause DOES NOT make him a humanitarian!”

The comment with signature #586 says: “I have a form of muscular dystrophy and I am gay therefore iI cannot possibly support this award going to someone who perpetuates pity and inequality to people like myself.”

The comment with signature #544 says: “As a person with MD I abhor Jerry Lewis’s negative stereotyping of my people and his belief that we are useless”

The comment with signature #344 says this: “As a former “Jerry’s Kid” I know first-hand the harm that Mr. Lewis has done to people with disabilities! He deserves no reward for humanitarian efforts and instead should be more scrutinized for his de-huminizing attitudes towards people with disabililties (and other groups.)” (The emphasis is added.)

The comment with signature #292 says this: “I am a 64-year-old woman with muscular dystrophy, and I have found the telethons humiliating since I was a young woman. They give false hope to parents and turn individuals with disabilities into childlike, charity figures. I’m retired, but managed to work all my life.”

The comment with signature #267 says: “If Mr. Lewis thinks tyhat people with MD cannot work, then he needs to meet my friend with MD who is an electronic enginerr for the Air Force designing radar and weapons systems. She is far from stupid.”

The comment with signature #236 says: “My boss of two years has MD. Attitudes and comments like Jerry Lewis’s diminish the the capabilty and accomplishments of people with MD in the eyes of the public. His work is NOT humanitarian.”

The comment with signature #190 says: “I personally know several people with Muscular Dystrophy who are gainfully employed. Jerry Lewis is wrong and paternalistic.”

The comment with signature #126 says: “As someone with a neuromuscular disability, I am among the many Jerry Lewis has labeled “half a person.” Someone who denies the full personhood of others does not deserve to be recognized as a humanitarian.”

The comment with signature #88 says: “Jerry Lewis treated me like crap while I was an MDA ‘poster girl’ in 1977. He never stopped smoking around his ‘kids’ and refused to talk to us or give an autograph. He treated us like prop objects to make his image look good instead of kids who adored him. It was a crushing momment for a seven year old.”

The comment with signature #82 says: “As a disability advocate (for the past 35 years) and a person with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (a form of Muscular Dystrophy) I find the tactics and rhetoric used by Jerry Lewis personally offensive and degrading.”




Read “Cancel Humanitarian Award for Jerry Lewis Petition” at http://www.petitiononline.com/jlno2009/petition.html

Sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/jlno2009/petition-sign.html

Join the Facebook Group, “Tell Oscar — NO humanitarian award for Jerry Lewis!” at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=40538392681

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