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Comment: The Ugly Face of Disability Hate Crime

Following the documentary on BBC Three last night about disability “Hate Crime” I feel I must add my comments. Sorry this is a little long.

I hate the term “Hate Crime” Gene Hunt expresses this best.

How are we ever going to move on, live together and integrate as a society if crimes against any group of people are labelled in such an insane way. It’s justifying why someone committed a grievous act against someone else, reporting a “hate crime” produces two groups of people. Those who support the victim, and those who support the perpetrator as they agree with his or her politics. If a murder is reported as a “murder” one person killed another, we can all pull together and agree that that is a bad thing regardless of our backgrounds.

This approach removes the often incorrect assumption that “he only killed him because he was disabled/white/black/green/gay” No he got killed because he was sleeping with his wife/husband/girlfriend/mother/tortoise/guitar.

Last nights show was presented by Adam Pearson who has neurofibromatosis which causes excess growth of the skin. Which gives him a striking and unusual appearance like many disabled people. Now I like to think that when I’m sat down or propping up a bar I look pretty “normal” I don’t of course, the way I hold myself up, my movement that is both ponderous and jagged are both clear giveaways that I am “different”.

As kids we stare at “difference” it’s a survival technique present in most inhabitants of the earth. Don’t believe me? Walk slowly into a field of cows. They will all look at you, “Who are you? Will you feed us? Will you kill us? Where are your trousers?” If no-one batted an eyelid at things out of the ordinary we and the cows would get killed.

Of course we like to think we have evolved, it makes us feel superior and for the most part it helps us fit in and not be different as the environments we inhabit are largely about inclusion and acceptance, on the surface anyway.

A place where our true feelings are often is expressed is here on the internet. This very page has a comments section. Upon which you are free, with varying degrees of anonymity to call me whatever you like. The comments section can bring out the very worst in people and statements or poor attempts at humour can be misinterpreted.

One of Mr Pearsons TV interviews was posted on YouTube and seemed to be a significant part of the programme. One comment was nasty suggesting that he should have been burnt to death at birth. Harsh you have to say, but the comment was sent to YouTube who didn’t do anything about it. Mr Pearson mentioned “genocide” and I turned off.

It’s a comment on YouTube! The person who made it is probably 12 and as he accompanied his comment with “lol” he was hardly suggesting people hunt you down and burn you. So to suggest genocide is giving this comment much more credence than it deserves. Much better to laugh at it or reply back taking it further “Yeah hideous burns might improve my looks” Thus disarming any malice and perhaps leaving the commenter with a “See him there, he looks a bit weird but he’s alright” feeling winning him over and maybe stopping such comments in the future.

There are times in everyones life where we need to pack our thickest skin (no pun intended) regardless of which groups we align ourselves with. There will always be people who prey on easy targets or promote hatred but we should never underestimate the power of our response.

If you are in the UK or use a VPN (shh!) you can watch the program here.

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Dave Allen

BBC 2. Home of Top Gear and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Showed something awesome tonight, very good. If you missed it or have not heard of it’s subject matter. Stop reading this, go seek it out now. BBC 2 showed, Dave Allen: God’s Own Comedian.

Dave Allen is without a doubt my favourite comedian, yes I will talk of Hicks (who even has the honour of adorning this page) I will talk of the genius of Pryor. But Dave Allen, the first TV comic to make a young Sudo laugh. In 1990 I was 10, my Mum (she of Ed McBain influence) would tell me about Dave Allen. I was allowed to sit up late, probably about 10:30pm and watch. The Classic theme tune would start and a grey haired man, aged to a 10 yr old, would walk past a backed bar stool to the microphone. He would then begin to talk in a captivating irish tone.

I always wondered why he never sat on the stool. Only later thanks to the wonders of VHS would I find out that Dave used the stool on his earlier shows. I remember my whole family laughing at the stories this one man on his own on stage would tell. Exposing the absurdities of life long before the likes of Michael McIntyre, doing it in such a subtle nature that is nowhere in comedy these days. The pauses, the timing. The anger, the vitriol.

The show the BBC showed tonight was great because I have made every attempt to learn about the work of Dave before I was even a twinkle in my Dad’s eye. Dave hated repeats, so nothing is ever shown. This documentary showed footage of his early break in Australia, which I had never seen. Also featured was Dave’s documentary making which had past me by.

What however prompted me to write this blog piece was this there is a very small segment of this around 52 mins where Dave is being interviewed by Clive James where he says that language (swearing) is emphasis. I have always used this to explain when challenged on my own filthy fucking language, not sure where I got it from. It surprised me, how much of the wisdom of Dave Allen I picked up.

Allen like Hicks, I feel is needed in todays world. In the 8 years since he died the world, religion, politics and every aspect of life needs someone to poke away at it more than ever. Make the common helpless man feel sane for at least half an hour a week.

Thanks for reading and…. may your god go with you.