Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lewis: An Op/Ed Response

photo from The Trouble with Jerry protest group.

Mr. Presley, please don't let your disdain for Jerry Lewis the actor/comedian spoil the good work of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. At the very least, I would hope you could find it in your heart to give credit to Jerry Lewis the volunteer for going on television year after year despite his own health concerns. In my opinion, the Academy's recognition of this entertainer and humanitarian is more than warranted.

... so ends an opinion piece written by Joy Robertson, a local television anchor and MDA telethon host, in response to my piece about Lewis last week. The opinion piece appears in today's Springfield (MO) News-Leader, as did mine.

The reader comments Roberts received were generally supportive, but once again, the point is missed, both by her and by her supporters.

I have no "disdain" for Lewis, albeit there are some hard feelings among people with disabilities.

I simply regret he has not changed with the times. If Lewis had listened to the words of Ed Roberts, Justin Dart, Wade Blank, and most of all Harriet McBryde Johnson and incorporated their efforts to integrate people with disabilities into society, he would be a great man and a national hero.

I do not expect perfection from Lewis, or anyone else. What I would like to see from him is a willingness to listen, to understand that people with disabilities and those without are equal in their humanity and in their rights to respect and dignity.

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