This week we saw two very different attitudes to comments that are offensive and the response by the media. Sharron Davies had her routine on Dancing on Ice referred to as being like “faecal matter that won’t flush”. A public apology follows from judge Jason Gardiner and lots of reports in the press with Sharron Davies questioning Jason Gardiner’s fitness to foster children.
On Big Brother’s Big Mouth, Vinnie Jones describes Davina McCalls’ walk as being like a “retard” then gets up and demonstrates what he means. Awful. Complaints will follow.Jones will be forced to publicly apologise for his vile behaviour using the same word and gestures that were used against Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter which drove them to their deaths. Davina will lose her contracts and probably be removed from Comic Relief which sponsors projects for disabled people for her blatant disablism.
The audience laughed as did Davina who then repeated the word.
No action was taken.
No apology made.
The programme makers have actually posted the programme complete with the offensive comments on 4 On Demand. You can view it now.
My own press release calling for a public apology from Jones supported by MENCAP includes a quote from their spokesman who is disabled. I sent it to many media outlets including most of the National Press. It has been ignored.
I expected the response to be exactly the same as to the racist comments of a few years ago on Celebrity Big Brother.
It appears that making comments that are disablist in nature is OK. It is condoned. Raising objections are simply ignored.
Fiona Pilkington and her daughter died because they were hounded exactly this type of abuse. Fiona Pilkington felt hopeless, helpless and that no-one cared.
The inquiry led to press and public horror that they had suffered for so long without protection. Yet casually, routinely, disability abuse happens everyday. When a national broadcaster allows this behaviour to go unchallenged they are saying that it’s ok. Young people will watch Vinnie Jones and Davina McCall and copy what they do.
Fiona Pilkington and Francecca deserve to be remembered. If we forget them and condone this behaviour they have died in vain.
I promise, I won’t forget you.