Washington, DC – This week, on Fox News’ The Sean Hannity Show, a guest named Gavin McInnes made highly offensive comments, ridiculing civil rights leader Al Sharpton “as retarded.” Host Hannity interrupted McInnes chiming in, “you’re not allowed to say that word, it is politically incorrect,” at which point McInnes described Sharpton as, “seemingly similar to someone with Down syndrome.” To make matters worse, in a later comment posted on YouTube, McInnes attempted to explain that he didn’t intend to demean people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) stating, “I was trying to say retards aren’t qualified to have their own news show.” Referring to himself as “pro-retard,” he advised the mom of a child with Down syndrome to “get over that word soon.”
“It’s Gavin McInnes who needs to ‘get over’ outdated language that perpetuates stereotypes and fuels hatred in society. The “R-word” is being banished from our lexicon because it’s hurtful to people with disabilities and their families, so why use it?
“McInnes’ assertion that people with I/DD don’t understand enough to be offended by language that is used in their presence is absolutely absurd. Clearly, he has never met or talked with the many self-advocates who have led the fight to get the “R-word” out of state and federal laws, let alone the many individuals with I/DD who recount stories about how they are taunted and bullied. Language does matter.
“His assertion that people with low IQ can’t host a news show ignores their abilities. Perhaps McInnes has never heard of Jason Kingsley, Chris Burke, or more recently, Lauren Potter on the hit show, Glee. People with I/DD are a part of all our communities, going to school, working alongside people without disabilities, and living life to the fullest. They are in the media, starring on hit television shows and in movies, and doing more to contribute to society than those that spread hate with their words.
“While McInnes, a self-styled provocateur, may aspire to be a regular on the Fox News network – clearly he failed the audition. Hopefully, Fox News will know better than to give him a platform to spread the ignorance and disrespect he has for millions of people with disabilities and their families,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.