Family Guy crossed the line with special needs comment

Normally I am not one to have a problem with controversial television shows, especially a show like “Family Guy” that I watch regularly. I believe censoring these shows would take away a lot of the humor that makes them so popular. However, after Sunday night’s episode, which featured one of the main characters, Chris, dating a girl with Down syndrome, I think there is a line that should not be crossed in mainstream entertainment when it comes to people with special needs.

I can understand when the show makes fun of people who are constantly in the limelight like Paris Hilton, Lady GaGa and Adam Lambert. But making a joke at the expense of a mentally challenged person is just uncalled for and cruel. People with a mental illness have done nothing to receive the kind of ridicule they get on a daily basis, and many are unable to defend themselves.

In response to the uproar it caused, the show’s creator and producer, Seth MacFarlane, said, “From its inception, ‘Family Guy’ has used biting satire as the foundation for its humor. The show is an equal-opportunity offender.”

It is a disgusting example of entertainment, and people who got laughs out of it should be ashamed of themselves. I will never understand why people think mocking those with disabilities is considered funny.

My brother Michael has Down syndrome, and he occasionally watches the show when he flips through the channels at home. I talked to him on the Tuesday after the show had aired and he had watched the episode.

“I think the show ‘Family Guy’ may have been making fun of people like me,” he said.

I didn’t even know what to say to him. You never want to hear anyone making fun of your family members, especially ones who don’t deserve it. Mentally challenged children already have it hard enough. Do they really need to be callously mocked as well?

People need to realize that these people can’t help the way they are, unlike celebrities who work to get to fame and recognition. Celebrities strive to get publicity and with that comes scrutiny. But to publicly humiliate people with Down syndrome on national television is ethically, politically and heartlessly wrong.

Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah Palin, lashed out at the ‘Family Guy’ producers after the episode because her brother Trig has Down syndrome, and she said she was offended.

“As a culture, shouldn’t we be more compassionate to innocent people – especially those who are less fortunate? Shouldn’t we be willing to say that some things just are not funny?” Palin said.

For the first time, I couldn’t agree with her more. Mentally challenged children did nothing to deserve the kind of embarrassment they received Sunday night, and I hope audiences understand how appalling it is to ridicule those in the special needs community.

Ashley Iovine is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Katy.