Comic under fire for 'retard' jokes | 'Callous and gratuitous verbal violence'

Comic under fire for 'retard' jokes

'Callous and gratuitous verbal violence'

The organisers of the Special Olympics have launched a campaign against comedian Gary Owen for using the word ‘retarded’ on stage.

They are demanding American cable TV station Showtime remove his stand-up special I Agree With Myself from their on-demand service.

And they have launched an online petition to back their cause.

The special first aired in January 2015 but was repeated on Monday, and includes a routine about the comedian’s cousin, Tina.

‘Tina’s retarded,’ he says. ‘She’s not slow. It’s full-blown. It is what it is.’ He then goes on to make jokes about her having sex.

His routine also mocks the Special Olympics, for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. 

He said: ‘The 100-metre dash is the funniest shit you’ll want to see, because it’s literally eight people running with no arm swing.’

Special Olympics chair Tim Shriver has called on the broadcaster to remove the offending footage, backed by the petition, so far signed by more than 3,000 people, which will be delivered to Showtime president David Nevins.

It says: ‘We live in an era where bullying has become public sport, where public figures and leaders from dozens of walks of life seem to believe that humiliation and viciousness are acceptable ways of communicating.

They also ‘implore Gary Owen to apologise for his use of the R-word and take the pledge to not use the R-word.’

‘He mocks [people with intellectual disabilities’] speech, mocks their love, mocks their sexuality, mocks them as people and worst of all, does so without any qualms or hesitation.  He can pick on his cousin.  Why?  According to him: because she’s "retarded."  Apparently, she isn’t worthy of even the most basic dignity.

‘None of this is funny.  At all.  It is callous and gratuitous verbal violence.’

Tellingly, the report into the controversy on US showbusiness trade paper Variety prints the word ‘retard’ but Blanks out the word ‘shit’.

Published: 27 Apr 2016

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