I’m not a big Sarah Palin fan. Those who know me will recognize this as an understatement on the same order as “I’m not a big Mets fan” or “I’m not a big fan of being attacked by a hungry alligator.” But, as someone who tries to see issues on their own merit, rather than as always tied to the people involved, and as someone who tries to be as non-partisan as is reasonably possible, let me side with her on one issue.
Apparently, a recent episode of The Family Guy made fun of people with Down Syndrome, and referenced Trig Palin (Sarah’s 22 month old son, who has Down Syndrome) in particular. The Palin family has responded with a very emotionally honest, classy statement, authored by Trig’s sister, Bristol:
When you’re the son or daughter of a public figure, you have to develop thick skin,” Bristol Palin said. “My siblings and I all have that, but insults directed at our youngest brother hurt too much for us to remain silent. People with special needs face challenges that many of us will never confront, and yet they are some of the kindest and most loving people you’ll ever meet. Their lives are difficult enough as it is, so why would anyone want to make their lives more difficult by mocking them?
As a culture, shouldn’t we be more compassionate to innocent people – especially those who are less fortunate? Shouldn’t we be willing to say that some things just are not funny? Are there any limits to what some people will do or say in regards to my little brother or others in the special needs community? If the writers of a particularly pathetic cartoon show thought they were being clever in mocking my brother and my family yesterday, they failed. All they proved is that they’re heartless jerks.
Look – I often find things funny that others find offensive, so I’m not going to lambaste the show for what they did; that would be hypocritical. And, I know that Todd McFarlane, the writer/creator of the show, revels in pushing boundaries and stomping on taboos; that was probably the point of the clip, more than any specific cultural/political statement. I strongly believe in Free Speech, and I’m not trying to get into an argument about whether McFarlane should have been allowed to write/air this piece.
But, I have to admit that I feel a lot of sympathy for the Palin family at this moment. Having a child with Special Needs is incredibly difficult, and the battle to keep your child, whom I’m sure they love as much as I love mine, protected from teasing and nastiness must be never-ending, and exhausting. Maybe McFarlane should be allowed to air a show such as this. I’m just not sure that the world is any better for having done so.