[nfb-talk] going back to John's original comments

Michael Hingson info at michaelhingson.com
Tue Dec 16 01:15:31 UTC 2008


The fact is that any competent person working in a job which has them
conducting a conference or meeting it is rare that charts are held
upside-down.  It is pretty unusual that people shake hands and miss at least
by much.  It is not common that well trained people miss the mark as to what
they are suppose to do and as to how they should behave.

However, blind people are usually portrayed as incompetent within the comedy
arena.  There are reasons Amis and Andy are not on the air today.  African
Americans objected to the image projected by Gosdin and Corel.  The
educating comes when people realize they have something to learn and when
enough pressure is brought to bear to convince them they need to reevaluate
their behavior.

I think there should be a follow up to the release calling on SNL to work
with the NFB to create a more humorous, but correct image of the blind
governor.  We all can bring pressure by contacting SNL and conveying our

No matter what, without strong action and sometimes even "huffy" behavior,
(your words), nothing gets done.

            Michael Hingson,
The Michael Hingson Group
84 Bahama Reef
Novato, CA 94949
Phone Direct number (415) 827-4084
Fax number (415) 883-6220
Mobile/Pager (888) 965-9191
Email info at michaelhingson.com <
mailto:info at michaelhingson.com>
For information on Michael's speaking topics, his availability, and his
consulting services on Diversity and Access Technology for blind persons
please visit <
For information on Guide Dogs for the Blind please visit <
-----Original Message-----
From: nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of T. Joseph Carter
Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 3:53 PM
To: NFB Talk Mailing List
Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] National Federation of the Blind Comments onSaturday
Night Live Segment

Michael, I totally agree with you about this portrayal of blindness being 
anything but funny.

A sighted person CAN poke fun at a blind person and have the result be 
funny, but this was just mean-spirited and stupid.

For those on the list who refuse to grow up and still watch cartoons 
(that'd be me), check out Avatar: The Last Airbender for a blind character 
whose blindness is often the source of a joke, without being offensive.  It 
has a lot to do with the fact that as a character, Toph is not defined or 
limited by blindness--she just can't see.

And she's perhaps one of the best people in the world at what she does, 
which involves magically hurling rocks at the bad guys and other fun stuff 
using mystical martial arts.  (But then, that's not exactly uncommon on 
this show, since just about everyone of interest on the show can do pretty 
much the same kind of thing.  It IS a cartoon after all.)


On Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 05:22:38PM -0500, Michael Freholm wrote:
>The description of the skit leaves out quite a bit.  I don't know how to
>describe the actor's portrayal of the governor's expression.  It was cruel
>to say the least.  And he persisted with it throughout the skit.  And it
>not end with that portion of the segment.  Two or three times after his
>was over he came back out and blocked the camera with the "newscasters"
>calling out directions that were not followed.  His face, with that stupid,
>confused look on it blocked the shot nearly completely as everyone laughed
>at the blind guy who couldn't figure out where to go.  
>My girlfriend says I shouldn't get offended.  She doesn't understand.  I'm
>not taking this personally.  I'm angry for the blind kids who are being
>raised in a world that has pitifully low expectations for them.  I'm angry
>for blind people who can't get jobs they are more than qualified for
>society believes us to be incompetent.  I'm angry for the blind woman who
>can't get services from a fertility clinic because they say a blind person
>can't be a good parent.  Blindness is not a tragedy but these situations
>indeed tragic.  When a show as popular as SNL so cruelly and heartlessly
>makes fun of us, the world is watching and laughing and the lies are
>perpetuated.  We deserve better.
>Michael K. Freholm
>-----Original Message-----
>From: nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
>Behalf Of John G. Heim
>Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 4:07 PM
>To: NFB Talk Mailing List
>Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] National Federation of the Blind Comments
>Night Live Segment
>My opinion ion this is about the same as my opinion about the reaction to 
>the movie "Blindness". I think it's counter-productive to get huffy.
>of criticizing SNL, the NFB should have seen it as an opportunity to
>the public.  Calling the skit an "attack" is not going to do any good.
>Can you ever make fun of blindness?  Is that ever funny? Here's a link to a

>description of the skit:
>It says the skit started with the actor portraying Gov. Paterson rolling 
>around the set in a chair. It says he attempted to shake ands and missed.
>says he was holding a chart up side down. It says he blocked the camera 
>shot. I have to say, I've done the equivalent of all those things. I kind
>think that is funny.
>On the other hand, you shouldn't make fun of people for something they
>control. It's embarrassing to find out you're blocking the shot when 
>somebody is trying to take a picture. When you make fun of that, you have
>do it in a way that shows that you get that. If not, it's not funny, it's 
>just cruel.
>It would have been way funnier if Governor Paterson had been depicted as 
>competent  in spite of his disability. Well, better than the guy from 
>Illinois anyway. Paterson might not be able to tell which side of a chart
>up but he's not so stupid as to try to sell a Senate seat when he knows
>already being investigated.
>----- Original Message ----- 
>From: "Freeh,Jessica (by way of David Andrews <dandrews at visi.com>)" 
><JFreeh at nfb.org>
>To: <david.andrews at nfbnet.org>
>Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 12:45 PM
>Subject: [nfb-talk] National Federation of the Blind Comments on Saturday 
>Night Live Segment
>Chris Danielsen
>Public Relations Specialist
>National Federation of the Blind
>(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
>(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
><mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org
>National Federation of the Blind
>Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment
>Largest Organization of the Blind Criticizes Attack on Blind Americans
>Baltimore, Maryland (December 15, 2008): Chris
>Danielsen, spokesman for the National Federation
>of the Blind, said: "The biggest problem faced by
>blind people is not blindness itself, but the
>stereotypes held by the general public about
>blindness and blind people.  The idea that blind
>people are incapable of the simplest tasks and
>are perpetually disoriented and befuddled is
>absolutely wrong.  This misconception contributes
>to an unemployment rate among blind people that
>stubbornly remains at 70 percent.  That is why
>the National Federation of the Blind is
>disappointed that Saturday Night Live chose to
>portray Governor Paterson in a comedy routine
>that focused almost exclusively on his
>blindness.  Attacking the Governor because he is
>blind is an attack on all blind Americans-blind
>children, blind adults, blind seniors, and newly
>blinded veterans returning from Iraq and
>Afghanistan.  The National Federation of the
>Blind urges the producers of Saturday Night Live
>to consider the serious negative impact that
>misinformation and stereotypes have on blind
>people before continuing in this unfortunate vein of humor."
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