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US Big Brother in autism criticism

  • Posted by Vaughan
  • 20 Feb 08, 12:15 PM

The subject of differences between acceptable and unacceptable disability language in English-speaking countries has come up a number of times on Ouch's blog, as well as on our messageboard, over the years. Now, according to Digital Spy, a US autism advocacy group called Autism United has asked American TV network CBS to officially apologise for a comment made by one of the contestants in the current run of the Stateside version of Big Brother.

And the biggest irony of this story? The contestant in question claims that he works for an autism foundation.

Adam Jasinski, who is 29 years old and hails from Florida, was talking on the show about how he wanted to win and scoop the big cash prize so that he could build a hair salon where "retards can get it together and get their hair done". Oh, that's nice then - he was only thinking about disabled people's need for a fashionable hair style. Bless!

But Adam didn't stop there. When another contestant challenged him and said he shouldn't use that term, he replied: "Disabled kids. I can call them whatever I want. I work with them all day, OK?" Um, Adam - surely you should know better then, shouldn't you?

Autism United have been trying to contact CBS to make an official complaint, but in the meantime the network has released a statement calling Jasinski's statement "offensive". Yes, and I wonder what the disabled kids he worked with made of it?

Incidentally, Adam might like to know that a few years ago, Ouch readers from far and wide - including America, presumably - voted "retard" as their most offensive disability-related word.

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i have aneice who is autistic a wonderfull child ,but i am afraid a child for ever adam wants to think him selflucky that he is normal ,i think retard , is a very offence like the other name they call retarted people, a mong there for the grace of god go i, thats what i allwaysthink

  • 2.
  • At 07:05 PM on 21 Feb 2008, michael thornton wrote:

Well, all I can say is that people like Adam deserve to be voted out early... but "unfortunately" the houseguests decided to keep him in... what does this really say about our tv in America? That a network like CBS would not bring him into the confession room and tell him that either he apologizes to the American public... or he gets the boot? It really is terrible... Oh, I had started to watch the show... but have quickly lost my interest.

There are often SO many comments on the "reality" shows that are offensive. Even though the network apologizes and agreed it was offensive.....the fact is that they didn't bleep out the comment. They knew it meant ratings when people come back and watch to see what Adam will say next or any other person who is offensive. Sadly it's about money and not respect.

Working with disabled kids (or adults) does NOT come with the right to offend them with such ignorant comments.

  • 4.
  • At 10:07 PM on 22 Feb 2008, Victoria Wright wrote:

If you think that's shocking, last November the BBC screened a new episode of Have I got News For You with Michael Aspel presenting. During a section on Big Brother contestants getting into trouble with ofcom for refering to each other as 'poofs' and 'niggers', Aspel joked 'retard would have been more appropriate!'

I complained to Ofcom and the BBC and received rather pathetic letters stating that retard is a common slang word and they were not going to take my complaint any further.

Victoria Wright:

If I could sit down with those people, I would point out that the so called "n" word ALSO was once considered "a common slang word" that "everyone" (really meaning all white people) used unthinkingly. That didn't make it any less offensive to Black people then than it does now. So where do they get off on saying that the "r" word is okay just because it is "common"?

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