Radio host criticizes disabled sportsFeb 15 02:38
It may be 2011, but they're still out there — ignorant, sometimes hateful people with no respect, no real experience with people with disabilities. Maybe they’ve never really known someone with a disability. Maybe they had a mean one-armed uncle who stole their birthday card money as a kid, or a mom in a wheelchair they were embarrassed of. But for whatever reason, they see disability as a wholly negating feature.
And when one of these close-minded people gets a soap box, that’s when the scenario goes from annoying to problematic. Michael Laws, the New Zealand version of Rush Limbaugh, and provocative show host of Radio Live, talked himself into a hole last week after criticizing the athleticism of athletes with disabilities. Why he decided to go on this tirade is beyond me, but click here to hear a clip of his on-air comments. This video also includes an interview with International Paraympic Director Sir Philip Craven, who has called for Laws' termination. (Won't happen. His network is supporting him.)
To sum up: He describes sports for people with disabilities, i.e., adapted sports like quad rugby and mono skiing, as “ludicrous” and questions the competition levels in Paralympic sports. “The fact that a guy was able to fall down, get up again and still win, shows that there wasn’t really a lot of competition in his field, was there?” (referring to a gold medal ski race in the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games).
He also let disabled sports receiving recognition have it, saying its “crazy” Paralympians are eligible for New Zealand’s Halberg Awards (ceremony that recognizes top sporting achievements) and added, “If you have had your legs chopped off, you shouldn’t be in there at all.” From what perspective is a sports achievement to him? Why not include Paralympians for an elite award? WHY THE HATE Mr. Laws? WHY?
As an understanding person and a previously able-bodied person, I can barely see his point. Barely. But I have long since corrected my ways, and have seen enough Paralympic games to see these people aren’t just a happy-go-lucky souls throwing a ball around or running around a track for recreational therapy. They are hardcore athletes who’ve found strength and purpose in sports. They train 8 hours a day and break records. These sports are HARD and have earned every right to be called a "sport."
So to you Mr. Laws, I say believe it or not, people with disabilities can be be badass. Competition in sports is universal, cannot be measured by a perfect body, and just watching a few videos on adapted sports and giving them the once over on-air is total bullcrap. Try attending a few of these sporting events in person — hell even shadow a top Paralympian athlete for a week, then let's see just how tightly you're still hanging onto your archaic opinions.
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1. Deb Larkin | Feb 16 08:18
Michael Laws is simply pathetic. While he is certainly entitled to his own personal opinions, his choice to express those opinions in the manner he did is disgusting. Under the guise of "provocative entertainment" Laws expressed childish, crude, and negative opinions about the elite athletes with disabilities who participate in Paralympics and other competitions. Regardless of whether this is Laws' idea of promoting himself as a publicity stunt or he truly believes the garbage coming out of his mouth,the end result of his behavior should remain the same. Michael Laws, who clearly has no remorse for his statements, should be terminated by his employer. It is 2011, there is no room for Laws and his backwards "thinking".
2. Tiffiny | Feb 18 03:22
Well said, Deb. I hope he gets the boot soon!
3. tandi | Mar 12 02:14
Mr Laws coped coniderable flack for his comments at that time. As is often said; "bad publicity is better than no publicity at all." He seems to need to maintain his public 'profile'. It may seem, tho, that his comments and behaviour seems to have barely put so much of a dent in it. Certainly not in favour of "brownie points".
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.