Jerry Lewis All Over Again


We have received the following note from the writer Anne Finger whose memoir “Elegy for a Disease” we admire over here at the Blind Planet. I think her post needs no additional explanation. Here it is:


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that it will award Jerry Lewis the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the upcoming Oscar award ceremony. Please join disabled people and our allies in protesting this.

Jerry Lewis’s MDA Telethon, rather than working for equality and social inclusion of disabled people, portrays us as hopeless, pathetic, eternal children. Lewis has said, “My kids cannot go into the workplace. There’s nothing they can do.” He has said that a disabled individual is “half a person,” and [If] you don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair, stay in your house!” His telethon reinforces the notion that cure and prevention are what disabled people need, not social change. The LBGT community has protested Lewis’s numerous anti-gay slurs–recently, he referred to cricket as “fag baseball.” Lewis has also stated that he doesn’t like women comedians because he thinks of a woman as “a producing machine that bring babies into the world.” These statements are de-humanizing; the one who uttered them should hardly be given a humanitarian award.

Please sign a petition protesting this at:Jerry Lewis Protest and please forward this email to others. It has been less than a week since we put this petition online, and it has already gathered more than 1700 signatures–including that of Princeton University bioethicist Peter Singer!

Thank you!

Anne Finger

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

0 thoughts on “Jerry Lewis All Over Again”

  1. Like you, I love Finger’s Elegy for a Disease. As for Jerry Lewis, he is a pity monger of the worst sort. In spire of the money he has raised, he has managed to more harm than good.


  2. I agree that probably Lewis will still get the award even with all the protesting that people are doing. But like you, I agree that we still need to get ourselves on record. Making this issue visible is one way to alert people to the fact that people with disabilities generally find the idea of pity to be abhorrent.
    Unfortunately, some people haven’t really absorbed that message yet: they seem to think that we are simply reacting to “hurt feelings” rather than the pragmatic consequences of discrimination that pity creates. Or else they think we’re over-reacting and tearing down a man they think richly deserves the award. But I guess we have to keep plugging away and hope a few people “get” it.


  3. Andrea: Keep up the good work! I suspect that owing to the hermetic insularity of Hollywood Jerry Lewis will likely get his undeserved award but at least we can all be on the record about the matter. I also suspect (though I don’t know enough to say so) that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wants to give this award to Lewis because he might not be entirely well–the Academy has this history and I further iagine they don’t feel comfortable giving him an award for his “genius” but heck, this is just my own speculation.


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