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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Protest Jerry Lewis

Piss on Pity is a great line I wish I came up with. It is somewhat startling, certainly subversive, and makes people think. For those familiar with disability rights, it has instant recognition. I smile every time I read those three words and have confidence in whoever utters them or dares to wear a T-shirt with the words boldly printed on the front. One of the people I think of when I see Piss on Pity or see a particularly effective disability rights protest is Laura Hershey. Hershey is an effective disability rights activist, speaker, and writer. I have never met her but have always been impressed with her writing. Hershey is my age and was a poster child for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. This fact has come back to haunt Jerry Lewis and the MDA that continue to raise money based on the basest form of pity. As reported by BA Haller, Hershey has a new Facebook group: Tell Oscar--NO Humanitarian Award for Jerry Lewis! Hershey words strike a cord with every person that supports disability rights. She is not a woman who minces words. Here are two great quotes from Facebook:

"Disabled people want RESPECT and RIGHTS, not pity and charity".

"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.

I wish I could attend this protest. From the East Coast I will support Hershey and all those those that are willing to assert their civil rights and oppose the counterproductive MDA telethon. Jerry Lewis may raise a lot of money but it is all tainted--it is dirty money. Pity as utilized by Jerry Lewis and the MDA undermine four decades of legislation designed to protect the civil rights of disabled people. Social equality is what disability activists such as Hershey have strove for. It is what I fight for every time I do not want to leave my home because I fear being discriminated against. No amount of money Jerry Lewis raises is worth the damage he causes. Hershey and thousands of others are not "Jerry's kids", objects of pity. These men and women are human beings, born with and entitled to the same civil rights as any other American. Jerry Lewis does not merit a humanitarian award but rather a swift kick in the ass.


Becs said...

Too bad there can't be an east coast anti-Oscar party. Sounds like a good thing to me.

william Peace said...

Becs, I agree. Maybe something will transpire in NY. This is something I will look into.

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

Did you know that there is now an on-line petition protesting this award? You can read the petition, and sign it, at:

There is also a Facebook Group dedicated to the campaign:

I've also blogged about the petition, along with a discussion on the difference between "pity" and "empathy,"; why Jerry's brand of pity destroys; and why real empathy is more likely to lead to human rights:

I hope you will blog the petition campaign, and incorporate these three links!


william Peace said...

Andrea, Thanks. Yes, I signed the petition. I will make a prominent post about this today.

Anonymous said...

Visit our protest page: for information about California actions, as well as how you can help at home. Please add us to your blogroll so that we can get the word out better.