I received the below in my Email today, and I hope you will consider signing.
If you don’t normally receive emails from me, don’t worry, you’re not “on my list” now; this is an exception.
In fact, I haven’t really been doing activism for quite a while because of how sick I’ve been and other things I’m dealing with; however, this feels important to me, it’s easy for you to do, and numbers will count, so I’m making the effort to get the word out.
Please join me in asking the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences not to give Jerry Lewis its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscar Awards ceremony on February 22, 2009.
Please do these two simple things:
1. Go to http://www.petitiononline.com/jlno2009/petition.html and sign the petition, and then,
2. Send copies of this email to your friends, family, and colleagues.
Why? Because Lewis is an anti-humanitarian. He has c onsistently made remarks that are offensive, demeaning, and dehumanizing to and about disabled people and gay people as well as promoting sexist and antifeminist attitudes about women.
You might think that his efforts on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) which promote the idea of people with disabilities as pitiful are simply misguided, but well-intentioned, but this is not the case. For decades, disability rights advocates — including former MDA poster children who appeared in his telethons — have tried every conceivable tactic to engage Lewis in dialogue about a more empowering and respectful way to help people with disabilities, one that focuses on rights, not pity. Lewis, with his considerable international fame, fortune, and clout, has responded with personal attacks and slurs.
A few examples:
– 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.”
– During a 2001 television interview, Lewis responded to telethon protesters: “Pity? You don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house!”
Jerry Lewis has also made derogatory comments about women and gay men. His outdated attitudes and crude remarks are dehumanizing, not humanitarian. If you want more details, see below. Otherwise, please sign the petition.
P.S. In addition to what’s below, if you read the comments some posted with their signatures, you’ll see that some former “poster children” who had personal experiences of Lewis’s telethons were hurt by his actions.
More on Lewis’s Lack of Humanity. . . .
– During the September 2007 MDA telethon, Lewis called a member of the TV crew an “illiterate faggot.” In October 2008, during a Sydney press conference, according to the Aussie newspaper Sx: “‘Oh, cricket? It’s a fag game. What are you, nuts?’ Lewis replied before camply brandishing an imaginary cricket bat.”
– I happened to catch Lewis on a TV entertainment news program talking about the candidates during Democratic primaries. Lewis said Hillary Clinton should not be considered a viable candidate because it was not a woman’s place to run the country, that the US “isn’t ready for a woman President.” He defended this statement by pointing to the (frivolous, “cute”) ac tivities of his young daughter as the more appropriate interests for women.
From Barb Bechdol of Chicago Disability Pride: He said publicly that people with disabilities live half-lives, and if people in wheelchairs don’t want pity, they should stay home. Whether or not you have disabilities, please join the protest of a person who used his considerable influence in a most inhumane way!
From Valerie Brew-Parrish:
– I urge all of you to watch Mike Ervin’s DVD, “The Kids Are All Right,” a documentary about Mike & his sister Cris being former poster kids. Mr. Lewis has done grave harm to our rights. He has maliciously attacked Mike Ervin in the press and tried to sue Mike & his sister for questioning MDA.
– Mr. Lewis also attacked Evan Kemp for questioning where the MDA monies went & actually requested the first President Bush to fire Kemp from his position as chairperson of EEOC.
– Lewis also got Diane Piastro, a wonderful syndicated disability columnist thrown out of many newspapers when she questioned MDA tactics.
– One more tirade: For a long time MDA refused to purchase vents for people & their camps discriminated against two former campers with MD. See past issues of the Ragged Edge. Anyway, this is our opportunity to say we don’t approve of Jerry Lewis!
From Lawrence Carter-Long:
This petition has been launched to object to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ announcement that it will give Jerry Lewis its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscar Awards ceremony on February 2 2, 2009.
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. We’ve argued that he uses the Telethon to promote 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!”
Jerry Lewis has also made derogatory comments about women and gay men. His outdated attitudes and crude remarks are dehumanizing, not humanitarian.
Therefore, we the undersigned support the actions and arguments of the coalition group The Trouble with Jerry. We protest the Academy’s characterization of Jerry Lewis as a “humanitarian.” And we ask that the Academy cancel its plans to give Lewis the Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
Director of Advocacy Disabilities Network of NYC
548 Broadway, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10012