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The show that made fun of Sarah Palin’s child with Down syndrome has sunk even lower—mocking the disability and death of Terri Schiavo.  The episode– which I embedded over at Secondhand Smoke only after much thought , opens with a fictional school play, Terri Schiavo: The Musical .  In it, Terri is depicted as having been hooked up to every conceivable machine, a total lie since all she needed to remain alive was food and water delivered through a tube.  But the facts this case have been continually misstated from the beginning, so that is nothing new.

But what is novel–and truly beneath contempt, not only because it mocks and degrades Terri, but also, everyone now living with serious cognitive impairments–are the lyrics.  “Michael Schiavo” says, “She’s a vegetable,” and the chorus responds, “We hate vegetables!” to which the audience breaks up in laughter. Later she is depicted as having “mashed potato brains,” which are poured into a bowl, and being “the most expensive plant you’ll ever see.”

This doesn’t just mock a dead woman who can’t defend herself.  It is hate speech against people similarly situated.  Indeed, the V-word should be rendered just as societally unacceptable as the N-word has thankfully become.  Both epithets serve the same purpose, that is, to demean, dehumanize, and exclude–so as to open the door to oppression, exploitation, and killing.

One final point: Don’t think the dehumanizing of the cognitively disabled in entertainment isn’t relevant to the current struggle over health care.  I am not alleging a conspiracy, but Hollywood consistently pushes themes that are consistent with accepting the direction in which we are being taken politically.  Shows like Family Guy soften the ground for the coming campaign, the effect of which will be to do away with the expensive for which to care, whether through rationing, futile care theory, perhaps even assisted suicide/euthanasia.  Indeed, Hollywood has long pushed culture of death issues– such as the upcoming puff biopic of  Jack Kevorkian, starring Al Pacino .

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