Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Disability Advocates Call ‘Glee’ Gun Portrayal ‘Poor Choice’. What do you think?

- By Keith Hosey -

Ok, so I missed this episode (it's on DVR), but apparently it was a controversial one. At first glance, I thought the title was about 'Artie' not actually being paralyzed. Poor choice in my book, nothing about us without us. I'm sure there were actors with paraplegia who would have liked that role. But apparently the article is about the character Becky Jackson, played by Actress Lauren Potter, bringing a gun to school. Lauren and her character both have Down Syndrome.
Potter’s mother, Robin Sinkhorn, told The Huffington Post that she took no issue with a character with Down syndrome being the one to bring a gun to school.
“If Becky’s going to be fully included on the show... then why not Becky?” Sinkhorn said. “Whether she has Down syndrome or not, it doesn’t matter … She’s a teenager. She makes stupid decisions just like other teenagers do. 
But not everyone feels the same way. Officials from the National Down Syndrome Society called it a “poor choice” to depict Becky bringing a gun to school.

Excerpt taken from: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2013/04/12/disability-glee-poor-choice/17703/

I have to agree with Potter's mother. The disability community has been fighting, since before I was even born, for equality. We (and I use "we" with the utmost respect for those who came before me) have carefully crafted our messages, strategically chosen our fights and proudly claimed our own words of choice. We have fought societal prejudices that people with disabilities are broken, helpless, burdens, subhuman and outdated beliefs that people with disabilities are supposed to be grateful for charity and pity. We’ve made tremendous strides toward changing these perceptions through advocacy, education and legislation; public awareness campaigns and day-to-day interactions with the public. Justin Dart, Ed Roberts and others have shown the world that people with disabilities are able, capable, strong, independent, equal. They didn't want charity or pity, they demanded rights.

So when we reach a point where a hit TV show portrays a character with a disability doing something that any other character might be doing, good or bad, that is equality. This person isn't being portrayed poorly because of her disability. She's being portrayed poorly as any other kid in school, regardless of having a disability. Part of equality also means not putting people with disabilities on a pedestal. We're all human. You take the good, you take the bad and there you have... the facts of life.

If the disability community has a problem with 'Glee' maybe it should be about a non-disabled actor playing a character with a disability, instead of a character with a disability being portrayed as human.

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