F&F: MoveOn “Mentally Challenged”?

Fox & Friends finally got it right this morning! F&F did not let another guest get away with a denigrating remark concerning the cognitively challenged. In a segment entitled “Charging Conservatives” (about colleges making conservative groups pay more for their speakers’ security on campus), Young America’s Foundation spokesman Jason Mattera described liberal “MoveOn.org” as “mentally challenged.”

Regrettably, neither co-host Steve Doocy nor sub co-anchor Peter Johnson, Jr., immediately confronted Mattera: however, apparently, executive producer Lauren Petterson whispered in Peter’s ear. As the interview concluded, Peter sternly asked, “Jason, you don’t mean that the people at Moveon.org are “mentally challenged,” right? Smiling, Mattera replied, “No, that would be disrespect to mentally challenged folks: They’re a bunch of punks over at MoveOn.org.” Relieved, Peter responded, “Okay, Okay.”

After FNC contributor Bob Beckel’s “demeaning” remark about Special Olympians* and Gretchen Carlson’s gaffe suggesting that the “handicapped types of kids” were not the ideal siblings for foster children,** it’s good to see F&F beginning to treat the “handicapped” with more respect. Perhaps, FNC SVP of Programming Bill Shine did require that refresher sensitivity training seminar after all.**

F&F (04/13/09) – @7:27 a.m. ET




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6 Responses to “F&F: MoveOn “Mentally Challenged”?”

  1. Al Says:

    Hmmmm…. Like many words and phrases of the English language that have multiple meanings dependent upon context, I believe the “challenged” descriptor long ago became an acceptable term of insult. “Vertically challenged”, for example, is often used in the context of an obvious exaggeration and should not be construed as “insensitive” to little people. Likewise, using “mentally challenged” as an exaggeration is equivalent to calling someone “a real Einstien”.

    Focusing too heavily on politically correct speech is far more dangerous to American freedom than is risking someone’s mild offence from mis or over-interpretations. I know what Mr. Mattera meant, you know what he meant, and everybody else knows what he meant.

    Peter Johnson knew what he meant and, with that exchange, craftily gave Mr. Mattera a second swing at slamming Moveon.org…. and he hit them solid.

  2. jakeho Says:

    Al, you may have missed my point: I.e., when one compares the mentally and/or physically challenged to those without such disabilities in order to denigrate them, it evidences insensitivity, ignorance, or worse. The same principle would apply to self deprecation, inadvertence, etc.

    As to Peter who pointed his finger at Materra with raised eyebrows, it did not appear that he was giving him a second bite at the apple.

  3. Al Says:

    I got your point, jake, but believe your premise to be… misapplied. I see many wonderful people throughout my workdays who live with wide-ranging physical or mental disabilities from either injury or disease. Their points of view on things vary as much as any other group, but generally they’re more offended by being coddled than they are about casual slights or attempts at humour that some would consider to be denigrating to them. They laugh at the same things everybody else laughs about, and why shouldn’t they?

    Most know full-well that they’re different and they accept it. Most don’t want to be made to feel “weird”, “special”, or “deserving of our pity”, and they shouldn’t be. What is denigrating to them is when a waiter or waitress assumes that the person who brought them to the restaurant should be asked, “What does he want?” instead of asking the person directly.

    As one young man with greatly reduced cognitive abilities lectured me a few years back, “I have as much right to be offended by idiots as you do. Let me deal with that.” As you can no doubt tell, I took his wise words to heart.

  4. jakeho Says:

    Perhaps, his wise word was “idiots.”

  5. Al Says:

    Probably, but he can decide that. We should go after those who arrogantly ridicule or use clearly cruel language… and “shock jocks” like Howard Stern sometimes, but not those who make well-intentioned misstatements or light-hearted jokes that are only derogatory dependent upon point of view. There’s so many different ways to interpret words and phrases that it’s futile to try to go after all the little things. And constantly calling for others to apologise over little stuff is itself insulting behaviour.

    Back before 24-hour cable and internet connections, most of us didn’t cross paths enough to find offence in other language norms. We’ve since forgotten that the USA is a big country (HUGE, by European standards) with widely differing regional standards. In some areas the term “mentally retarded” is still fully acceptable while in others it is considered an insult. All languages evolve, but they seldom do so smoothly.

    Here’s one simplistic example: The term “cotton pickin”, to me, is clearly a racial slur, so I won’t use it. But I am also aware that in some areas of the US and Canada, especially among the elderly population, they just don’t ‘get’ the racial connection that I see so clearly. They never will. Since they don’t mean anything by it, what’s the harm?

  6. Jason Says:

    Bob Beckel is so wrong and when confronted about his views he always acts out with some kind of one-liner. Bob you need to give it all up. You are no good in the political scene and you are definitely not a comedian.
    Hey Bob, do you know any women from Fairfax County??? I don’t blame you for paying for it since you can’t score any other way!!! Maybe you should go gay since you and you’re party is okay with that.

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