An update on the “Family Guy”/Palin adventure

As it happens, the voice actor who served in the offending episode as the voice of Chris Griffin’s love interest, Ellen, herself does have Down syndrome. I think this is the money quote from the NY Times article explaining this:

And when I watched on Channel 4, on “Extra,” and I saw Sarah Palin with her son Trig. I’m like, “I’m not Trig. This is my life.” I was making fun of Sarah Palin, but not her son.

There’s a lot in this piece that is humbling, at least to me. It changes the way in which I think of people with trisomy 21.

(Thanks, hopper3011)

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  1. #1 by hopper3011 on February 19, 2010 - 11:48 am

    It is interesting (but not unexpected) that Palin would gloss over the fact that Andrea Fay Friedman is leading the sort of autonomous, independent life that I imagine Palin wants Trig to have.
    Ms. Friedman’s ability to see the humour in her situation is a lesson Palin would do well to learn (but I doubt she will).

  2. #2 by Warren on February 19, 2010 - 6:44 pm

    Waidaminnit.

    The far right is rife with hypocrisy?

    When did this happen?

  3. #3 by Disability on February 19, 2010 - 9:10 pm

    So, because she has the same disability, it’s ok? Sorry, it’s not, at least not automatically.

    I’ve had a serious physical disability, which is also ‘invisible’, for many years. In the same way that women or black people or gay people or take your pick, are all different, so are people with disabilities. We all share a commonality of experience in terms of having a disability, but we also have very, very different experiences depending on the nature of the disability, gender, age, culture… And that’s why someone with Down’s syndrome doesn’t get to speak for other people with Down’s or other people with disabilies in general, and why we shouldn’t be positing directly or indirectly that because she’s ok with it, that makes it ok. These issues have already been long the subject of debate in other ‘minority’ communities but are only starting to reach the forefront in the disability community.

    Whether or not this episode is a good or a bad thing is open to debate. But just because the voice actor was herself Down’s, doesn’t make it automatically ok, which is how some people seem to be approaching this now and it gives them an easy way to force people to accept being comfortable with this. Members of a minority community often work against their own interest and that of the community for a variety of reasons, which is no news to anyone who has ever had a discussion about say, feminism, or civil rights. The point I’m making is the debate is open and it should stay open. I have a knee-jerk reaction to anyone, inside or outside of any community, who accuses people of “not having a sense of humor”. This is a classic way to undermine communities and I think the wrong defense for this episode in general. She’s entitled to think it’s funny, and other people are entitled to feel this hit too close to home for their own personal experience.

    • #4 by Warren on February 20, 2010 - 5:22 am

      I believe your ambivalence is shared by kemibe.

      Or did you not read his earlier posts on the topic?

  4. #5 by kemibe on February 20, 2010 - 9:02 am

    Disability, it seems as if you have simply pasted in a canned reply that you have to any number of similar blog posts. I specifically noted that I don’t think that the episode was “Okay.” I don’t condemn Seth MacFarlane for his choice but were I a writer for the show I would never have included the reference to the Palin kid. As it was I was mildly shocked that the object of Chris’s crush was a girl with Down syndrome. That, I thought, was pushing it even for Family Guy.

    Pointing out the fact that the voice actor playing the part of Emily has Down syndrome herself isn’t an attempt to “justify” anything. But it might speak to the motivations of the producers in some way. Obviously this was a huge dig at Sarah Palin, not at mentally retarded people. There are scores of ways to slam that moron without mentioning her kid and there was no need to do what they did in this case. I never thought I would say that and I love that show to death.

  5. #6 by hopper3011 on February 20, 2010 - 2:14 pm

    “So, because she has the same disability, it’s ok? Sorry, it’s not, at least not automatically.”
    Where did you get that from? You’ll note that the original post (and my comment) refers to Sarah Palin’s reaction to the Family Guy episode (which I have yet to see, by the way), and does not approve of the joke itself.
    If you bothered to critically examine Palin’s Facebook post, you will note that she reproduces her daughter’s post, which states:
    “People with special needs face challenges that many of us will never confront, and yet they are some of the kindest and most loving people you’ll ever meet. Their lives are difficult enough as it is, so why would anyone want to make their lives more difficult by mocking them? As a culture, shouldn’t we be more compassionate to innocent people – especially those who are less fortunate? Shouldn’t we be willing to say that some things just are not funny? Are there any limits to what some people will do or say in regards to my little brother or others in the special needs community?”
    You will note that it is Palin who assumes a commonality of experience among the handicapped, not Kevin (or myself). Not only that, Palin is presuming to speak to the experience of the entire handicapped community based not on personal experience, but on the tenuous authority of being a parent to someone with a disability. The point of noting that the actor who portrays Ellen actually has Down’s Syndrome is to recognise the lack of a commonality of experience which Palin claims, not to gloss over the crassness of the Family Guy joke.
    I’m sorry, but not surprised, that you failed to understand the intent behind the mention of Friedman’s disability.

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