The End of the Jerry Lewis Telethon—It's About Time
by Jon Wiener
This Labor Day, for the first time in forty-five years, there won’t be a Jerry Lewis telethon on TV. It will be a great day for people with disabilities.Please read the whole post. Again, it is Here.
The problem with the Jerry Lewis telethon was not that he tried to help people with muscular dystrophy. The problem was the way Jerry Lewis did it. Yes the telethon raised a lot of money. But it also perpetuated destructive stereotypes. Jerry’s message was simple: “crippled children deserve pity.” His critics offered an alternative: “people with disabilities deserve respect.”
What people with the disability need is help with their symptoms and with mobility. Their quality of life can be improved, their symptoms can be reduced. They also need “accessible public transportation and housing, employment opportunities and other civil rights that a democratic society should ensure for all its citizens.” That’s what Mike Ervin says—he calls himself “a renegade Jerry’s Kid” who was an official telethon poster child in the 1960s.