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CBS owes an apology for Big Brother faux pas

by Allison Waldman, posted Feb 18th 2008 4:19PM
ChenThis is no laughing matter. John Gilmore, executive director of Autism United, said today that CBS must apologize for an insensitive remark made on the Julie Chen-hosted reality show Big Brother during last week's episode. One of the contestants, a man named Adam, said that if he was the show's big winner, he would use the money to start a hair salon for people with developmental disabilities. Adam went on to say he wanted a beauty shop "so retards can get it together and get their hair done." When Sheila, another contestant, protested, "Don't call them that," Adam declared that, "Disabled kids. I can call them whatever I want. I work with them all day, okay?"

According to CBS's Big Brother web site, Adam is a public relations manager for an unnamed foundation. The 29-year-old is from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, but is now living in Delray Beach, Florida.

CBS has yet to respond to Mr. Gilmore's request, but it would be highly unlikely for the network to remain quiet for long. In fact, considering the politically correct era in which we live, it's shocking that CBS did not catch this faux pas before Big Brother was broadcast. Just last week, Jane Fonda uttered an inappropriate word, a vulgarity, on Today, prompting NBC to apologize for the slip. Also, news reporter David Shuster was suspended by MSNBC for using street slang terminology to describe Chelsea Clinton's campaigning for her mother. In both those instances, though, the programs were live. CBS had ample time to vet the Big Brother episode.

It's ironic, really, because the term Big Brother refers to George Orwell's classic novel 1984, in which the characters live in a totalitarian state where their every word and action is monitored. If you do something wrong, you're caught and punished. Had the producers of the TV Big Brother been doing their job, Adam's callous comment would have never made it out of the editing booth.

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MR BIG

people need to grow up, stop whining about everything
some things will never change so just accept it
where is mercy in this country
now everyone wants to condem instead of forgive
even our laws are becoming harder on those that want to change and become a good citizen
people should be reformed and given a leg up when they do, not thrown away with hardened criminals so they never change

February 22 2008 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MR BIG

could someone explain to me what a white nigger is?
I hear it alot around teens

February 22 2008 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MR BIG

WHITE PEOPLE ARE WHITIES AND BLACK PEOPLE ARE BLACKIES WHATS THE BIG DEAL?
MENTALLY RETARDED ARE RETARDS DUH

February 22 2008 at 12:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marcus Gorman

*sigh* Rocket, Rocket, Rocket. Clearly you don't want to have a discussion, and that you can dish it out but can't take it.

February 20 2008 at 11:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Marcus Gorman's comment
Rocketboy_X

Wow, said by someone who can't figure out a reply button, nor can respond to any points that I make. I've tried to answer any points that you've made that made sense, and did not require me to watch a stupid movie. And when you are made to look like an idiot, you pull the 'i'm trying to mock things' excuse.

Let's start over, shall we?

"First of all, the PC movement has been uncharacteristically blamed on the liberals,"
-The PC movement is based on words that hurt. That IS correctly blamed on liberals.

"when the modern version of it was brought about by... a moderately right-leaning group"
-There's a difference betwee the PC crowd and the Moral Majority crowd. They both want to supress speach, just different segments of speach, and for different reasons. If you think that the two groups have any sort of common agenda you are wrong.

"If you do think that referring to a group of people as "retarded" is okay, then you are out of the loop"
-Retarded: "relatively slow in mental or emotional or physical development". Does that not an apt description? If you have a physical defect that causes you to be slow in mental/emotional/physical development, your growth has been retarded, and you are retarded. (Look, I even corrected your typo.)

"It is honestly considered as bad as calling someone a "colored person" or a "fag.""
-At one time they were OK words. People said them every day without malice. A group of people decided that they were 'evil' words, and now they are bad to say. At one time Black was ok, then it was Africian Americian, and now it's back to Black. At one time Trainable was the correct word to use. Then it was Retarded. Now it's 'developmentally disabled', or as some people would say (as you would claim that you mentioned as a joke) 'differently abled'.

-"it actually is a false description of those with disabilities...which is a too-broad definition "
Yes, and no. If you want to restrict the term to only someone that a physical defect causing the illness, then yes, it is too narrow of a definition. If you consider it a to broad of a definition, then it could reference anyone who was retarded in any way. If that's what you consider, then it should be even less insulting, as a much larger group of people could be considered retarded.

"usually considered wrong in this "progressive" country to lump people into a category"
-And Progressive =! Liberal how? Not 'lumping' people into a catagory that they are refective of is not bad. Lumping people into a catagory that they are not specifically reflective of is bad. 'Lumping people into a catagory' is a normal, natural reaction, and ignoring your instincts about a situation has proven to be dangerous.

Now for the remainder of my points.
Yes, this guy is more likely than not is an idiot.
No, CBS should not apologize for something someone said during a "reality" show.
The word 'retarded' by itself is not a 'bad' word. When the word is used with malice and hatred, that's when it's bad. But again, the word didn't make it bad, but the malice behind the word that made it bad.
Calling people that are disabled, as 'differently abled' is an insult. It's coddling, and lying to try to make people feel better about themselves. To try to use that term with the intent to mock me is a epic failure.
http://www.secme.org/home/overview.html
" Its mission is to increase the pool of historically under-represented,* under-served, and differently-abled students" is one example of that phrase used in all seriousness.

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February 20 2008 at 8:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rocketboy_X

Wow, said by someone who can't figure out a reply button, nor can respond to any points that I make. I've tried to answer any points that you've made that made sense, and did not require me to watch a stupid movie. And when you are made to look like an idiot, you pull the 'i'm trying to mock things' excuse.

Let's start over, shall we?

"First of all, the PC movement has been uncharacteristically blamed on the liberals,"
-The PC movement is based on words that hurt. That IS correctly blamed on liberals.

"when the modern version of it was brought about by... a moderately right-leaning group"
-There's a difference betwee the PC crowd and the Moral Majority crowd. They both want to supress speach, just different segments of speach, and for different reasons. If you think that the two groups have any sort of common agenda you are wrong.

"If you do think that referring to a group of people as "retarded" is okay, then you are out of the loop"
-Retarded: "relatively slow in mental or emotional or physical development". Does that not an apt description? If you have a physical defect that causes you to be slow in mental/emotional/physical development, your growth has been retarded, and you are retarded. (Look, I even corrected your typo.)

"It is honestly considered as bad as calling someone a "colored person" or a "fag.""
-At one time they were OK words. People said them every day without malice. A group of people decided that they were 'evil' words, and now they are bad to say. At one time Black was ok, then it was Africian Americian, and now it's back to Black. At one time Trainable was the correct word to use. Then it was Retarded. Now it's 'developmentally disabled', or as some people would say (as you would claim that you mentioned as a joke) 'differently abled'.

-"it actually is a false description of those with disabilities...which is a too-broad definition "
Yes, and no. If you want to restrict the term to only someone that a physical defect causing the illness, then yes, it is too narrow of a definition. If you consider it a to broad of a definition, then it could reference anyone who was retarded in any way. If that's what you consider, then it should be even less insulting, as a much larger group of people could be considered retarded.

"usually considered wrong in this "progressive" country to lump people into a category"
-And Progressive =! Liberal how? Not 'lumping' people into a catagory that they are refective of is not bad. Lumping people into a catagory that they are not specifically reflective of is bad. 'Lumping people into a catagory' is a normal, natural reaction, and ignoring your instincts about a situation has proven to be dangerous.

Now for the remainder of my points.
Yes, this guy is more likely than not is an idiot.
No, CBS should not apologize for something someone said during a "reality" show.
The word 'retarded' by itself is not a 'bad' word. When the word is used with malice and hatred, that's when it's bad. But again, the word didn't make it bad, but the malice behind the word that made it bad.
Calling people that are disabled, as 'differently abled' is an insult. It's coddling, and lying to try to make people feel better about themselves. To try to use that term with the intent to mock me is a epic failure.
http://www.secme.org/home/overview.html
" Its mission is to increase the pool of historically under-represented,* under-served, and differently-abled students" is one example of that phrase used in all seriousness.

Comment?

February 20 2008 at 8:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patrick R

As much as I think this Adam guy is a moron, I have to point out that this is supposed to be a reality show, so if you're watching this crap, you got what you asked for: reality. CBS outed him as the insensitive jerk he is, so let's just revel in that and call it a day. If CBS had censored him, then they'd be offering him a protection he doesn't deserve.

February 20 2008 at 10:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Emily

I work in an office full of 20 somethings. They toss around "that's so retarded!" as a joking insult on a regular basis. I have to admit that I used it too, in my high school days.

I stopped when my chid was diagnosed as MR/DD (Mentally Retarded and Developmentally Delayed) due to a genetic abnormality. Suddenly, that word wasn't so funny anymore. I couldn't even say the word retarded out loud without misting up. I ignore the use by young people that are too immature to listen to the crap coming out of their mouths and hope one day they will grow up.

As my son as grown (he's 17 now) I have come to realize that retarded is not the insult I once thought it was. My son has a pure spirit, dry wit, is an excellent judge of character and is the only one in our house that can get the surround sound to work with the sattelite through the universal remote!

PC run amok? I don't think so. Why is it bad not to call people names that we know will hurt? Back in the day it was called common courtesy.

February 20 2008 at 9:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marcus Gorman

Rocketboy, "differently-abled" was a mockery of you. I guess you didn't catch it.

February 19 2008 at 8:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Marcus Gorman's comment
Rocketboy_X

That's where you fail. Because 'differently-abled' is a term used for handicapped people.
Gee, how come I didn't notice the sarcasm in this line:
"Yes, Rocket, but it is widely, WIDELY considered that the term "retarded" in describing differently-abled people is offensive."

Boy does that sound like mockery. It sounds to me more like someone is now trying to back-pedal from what they posted earlier. Just like in that one move with the one guy who said that thing... right?

February 20 2008 at 6:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marcus Gorman

Yes, Rocket, but it is widely, WIDELY considered that the term "retarded" in describing differently-abled people is offensive. This isn't an argument. This is the accepted term in jargon, in the field of healthcare and in our society. You are still defending being offensive for the sake of it, and it is the actions of people by using this word that has the connotation that these people are below us. I know autistic people that shame me with their knowledge and developmentally delayed people who could kick my ass despite the fact that I have a hundred pounds on them. Instead of being part of the problem, you can EASILY learn the lesson and become part of the solution.

But what this boils down to is the fact that Adam on Big Brother works closely with the autistic and yet STILL, against his better judgement, expresses ignorance in calling them "retards." Do you remember that part in "There's Something About Mary" where Matt Dillon pretends to work with the developmentally delayed, and the punchline of his ignorance to Cameron Diaz is that he says, "I work with retards"? The joke is that he's being an asshole, and that "retarded" is improper. Do you still call people with Down's Syndrome "mongoloids"?

February 19 2008 at 5:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Marcus Gorman's comment
Rocketboy_X

AhHA! "differently-abled". That right there shows the kind of disingenuous twit you are. What does "differently-abled" mean? I can't climb a mountian, or write a beautiful piece of music. Are people that can, "differently-abled" than me? Is that a better definition to use than a word that means "relatively slow in mental or emotional or physical development". You can't even be honest with the language that you use. No wonder you find 'retarded' insulting. You know what? Some people use the word 'ginger' to define someone with red hair, freckles, and light skin in a mean way. Some people use the word 'ginger' to define someone with red hair, greckles, and light skin in a positive way. And some people use the word 'ginger' to describe a spicy root. It's not the word, but the intent behind it. A group of people decided that retarded was ALWAYS being used with the intent to hurt, REGARDLESS of how someone felt about the subject. That's the real problem. You are adding meaning to words that A: Were just fine before, because they are an accurate description of the condition(s), and B: That I never felt. That's your problem, and not mine. At one time, the correct word to use was "Trainable", according to you, today the correct word is "differently-abled". What word will be OK in ten years when "differently-abled" is marked as offensive?

If you were to ask me, "differently-abled" is offensive. It's like a game of 'everyone wins' dodgeball. If everyone's a winner, then nobody is. If everything is special, great, and beautiful, then nothing is.

And yes, Adam is more likely than not an idiot, he's on Big Brother, isn't he? Also, for me to remember a part of a movie, you'd have to assume that I've already watched it, or even cared to watch it in the first place. Sorry, i must be "different-abled" in my ability to sit thru dreck.

February 19 2008 at 8:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kevjohn

Did no one besides me see that Surreal Life episode where that monstrosity of a human being Janice Dickinson were calling the developmentally disabled people they were competing against 'retards' over and over again? I don't even watch reality shows and I saw that clip. Even after a talking to by several other show menbers, as well as the 'retards' she was making fun of, she didn't see the err of her ways. Pretty much what you'd expect from her. In showing what a small-minded evil person she is, she clearly displayed that those 'retards' were much better human beings than she ever was or will be.

It's not up to the networks to censor (or apologize for) each individual thing that comes out of it's "reality" stars' mouths. That'd hardly be any kind of reality. If you're making any attempt to show 'real people' doing and saying 'real things' then political correctness should be expected to go flying out the window. They should do a blanket warning before a trash show like this advising you that you are indeed about to watch a bunch of trash, and then release the hounds, so to speak. Then the participants could be judged by their actions and attitudes, instead of how well they were edited and packaged. Reality ain't pretty, no matter how you try to dress it up with pretty faces and bodies.

February 19 2008 at 3:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve Ungrey

Because it's hard to tell what qualifies as offensive these days. It's hard to tell when something completely innocent can set one person off. You're best left to shut your mouth and not say a damn word, which this contestant should have learned.

And Marc, yes, you are right that Nancy and the FCC started this movement, but it's mushroomed in the past decade. There will be a big backlash against the PC police someday if this keeps up because people are going to get fed up.

I did not agree with his comments, but it falls under First Amendment rights.

February 19 2008 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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