Dear BBC NI and ‘The Blame Game’….

Dear BBC Northern Ireland and ‘The Blame Game’,

I would like to draw your attention to a recent incident on your show ‘The Blame Game’, in which one of your ‘comedians’ did an impression of someone with a speech impediment.  Clearly the standard of comedy on the show was not high when you resort to making fun of someone who suffers from this type of disability.  This type of ‘comedy’ – which I find neither funny nor entertaining – falls well below the high standards I would expect from the BBC.

It seems to me like it should be self-evident that jokes that mimick those with speech impediments are an utterly unacceptable form of public entertainment.  That this show is being funded by the public via the licence fee causes me great unease, as it should you.

The question I would like BBC Northern Ireland and ‘The Blame Game’ to address is this: on what planet are you living where it is acceptable to make fun of people with speech impediments?

If you don’t mind, perhaps then you would also clarify for me what other disabilities you find it acceptable to make fun of?

I wonder if you think it is funny to laugh at those who have learning disabilities?

I wonder if you also laugh at people in wheelchairs?

What about people with downs syndrome?

Where do we stop?  What about people with AIDS or cancer?

It would be useful for future reference if BBC Northern Ireland and The Blame Game would send me a list of disabilities and conditions that you regard as fair game to ridicule.

I know that those at The Blame Game are comedy fans, so perhaps you have heard Stewart Lee’s piece about Top Gear making fun of Gordon Brown’s sight?  It starts at 8:33 in the clip below.

The person in question that was made fun of on your show was Jamie Bryson.  I have no objection to you disagreeing with Mr Bryson’s political views – quite frankly, I don’t agree with him myself – but his views are irrelevant as to whether it is acceptable to use a speech impediment as a point of mockery.

I asked a friend for some feedback before I published this article and this is what he said: ‘I like a laugh as much as the next guy but the secret in comedy is knowing the limits. Evidently the Blame has crossed the line. I have a speech impediment and it is not funny – it is damned difficult and far from funny.’

A final note for the comedian who made the comments.  I don’t know your name, which probably says something of the quality of your comedy and why you need to resort to mocking disabilities to get a laugh, but what I would say to you is this: the type of people who make fun of people with disabilities are unintelligent bullies.  When you mock someone for having a speech impediment you don’t make a d***head out of them, you make a d***head out of yourself.  I hope you have a child or grandchild someday who develops a speech impediment.  I hope every day when they go to school that they get bullied and mocked because of it and then they come home in tears and they look to you for comfort and support.  (I don’t really wish the final part – no normal person would – but if you’ve watched the clip above you’ll understand what I’m saying.)

I look forward to hearing back from you on this matter.

Dave Magee

p.s. I asked BBC NI for someone to email about this and they couldn’t/wouldn’t give me an email address to send it to.  I hope that by publishing it on my blog it will get a response.

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