That's the title of this post on Facebook by disability activist/advocate, writer and poet Laura Hershey in response to the news that Jerry Lewis will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscar Award Ceremony on February 22, 2009. She writes:
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. Disability rights activists object to this award. During his decades of hosting the Labor Day Telethon, Jerry Lewis has helped to perpetuate negative, stereotypical attitudes toward people with muscular dystrophy and other disabilities. Jerry Lewis and the Telethon actively promote pity as a fundraising strategy.
Disabled people want RESPECT and RIGHTS, not pity and charity.
In 1990, Lewis wrote that if he had muscular dystrophy and had to use a wheelchair, he would "just have to learn to try to be good at being a half a person." During the 1992 Telethon, he said that people with MD, whom he always insists on calling "my kids," "cannot go into the workplace. There's nothing they can do."
Comments like these have led disability activists and our allies to protest against Jerry Lewis, and against the Telethon. We've argued that the Telethon promotes pity, a counterproductive emotion which undermines our social equality. Here's how Lewis responded to the Telethon protesters during a 2001 television interview: "Pity? You don't want to be pitied because you're a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house!"
On February 22, 2009, we won't be staying in our houses watching the Academy Awards. We'll be publicly objecting to this award. We'll be defending our own humanity against this so-called "humanitarian."
For more information about the history of the Telethon protest, go to http://www.cripcommentary.com/LewisVsDisabilityRights.html