Quentin Letts wrote in his Daily Mail column this week about a ‘talkshow war’ between Andrew Marr and Robert Peston. Andrew Marr had a stroke a year ago and Letts decided to name him “Captain Hop-Along” because apparently journalism now consists of reverting to a 10 year old school yard bully. Mocking disability is NOT OK… how ridiculous that in 2016 we even have to say that.
The whole piece is filled with jibes over the presenters looks, age and ability, I felt as though I was reading something by Katie Hopkins. Or the mean bully I knew as a child.
“Sunday mornings just became a little madder and more metropolitan… we have Andrew ‘Captain Hop-Along’ Marr growling away on BBC1, throwing his arm about like a tipsy conductor.”
Speaking of his stroke to the BBC, Marr said “had affected “the whole left hand side of my body, which is why I’m still not able to walk fluently. I do a kind of elegant hobble is the best I can manage – my left arm isn’t much good yet and I’ve got a lot of physio still to do”
Why do we still allow the discrimination of disability in mainstream media? I know a few people who have had strokes whose lives have been turned upside down, they have a tough recovery and have to fight to regain their lives, which many do.
Marr (whether you like him or not) is an inspiration to the 110,000 people who have a stroke per year in the UK. Returning to work and carrying on his on-screen performances was an important step for those with a disability who want to lead normal lives. Whether we like it or not, disability is a stigma and Marr is doing a great service to many.
The Stroke Association says “All strokes are different. For some people the effects may be relatively minor and may not last long. Others may be left with more serious problems that make them dependent on other people.
Unfortunately not everyone survives – around one in eight people die within 30 days of having a stroke. That’s why it’s so important to be able to recognise the symptoms and get medical help as quickly as possible. The quicker you receive treatment, the better your chances for a good recovery.”
It’s not funny and it’s not ok. Mocking his speech and movement is a sign of ignorance, stupidity and generally of being an arsehole. Quentin Letts should be ashamed of himself, even children understand that laughing at a person’s disability is morally wrong. We can throw words around like free speech, and I stand for that notion wholeheartedly, but just because you CAN say something mean doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
I think Letts should apologise, not only to Andrew Marr, but to the community of people who have had a stroke, who do not need to be called names and mocked but celebrated and supported.