(PRWEB) July 25, 2005
For Immediate Release
(PRWEB) July 25, 2005 -- In an all-too-common feat of cultural insensitivity, PBS has chosen July 26th, the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to air ÂPOV: The Self-Made Man.Â The documentary features the videotaped statements of Bob Stern, an elderly man deciding to commit suicide rather than face possible disability, medical uncertainly or complications.
ÂThe choice of this particular air date is an affront to people with disabilities in this country,Â says Diane Coleman, president of Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group based in Forest Park, IL. ÂThe 15th anniversary of the ADA is, for people with disabilities, the nationÂs largest minority, what the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is for people of color. Not only is it being ignored by PBS, but the network is featuring and promoting a program about a person so terrified of aging and disability that he commits suicide. In terms of sensitivity to diversity issues, this puts PBS in the same league as the Fox News Channel. And, no, that is not a compliment.Â
Stephen Drake, research analyst for Not Dead Yet, notes that the film is a slanted portrayal of the broader issues. ÂNormally, we donÂt comment when a rich, privileged guy decides to take his own life. We didnÂt comment when Hunter Thompson shot himself. After all, Thompson wasnÂt asking for a change in the law, a permission slip, or help from anyone.Â
Drake says the situation is different with ÂThe Self-Made Man.Â ÂItÂs being promoted as a tool for adding to the public discourse in regard to assisted suicide, an issue confronting the U.S. Supreme Court and legislators in California," he said. "Whether society will treat some suicidal people differently than others is a public policy issue. The film, however, frames the issue as a dispute between religious conservatives and those who Âbelieve in autonomy.Â
Coleman and Drake say this ignores the fact that secular disability rights groups have been at the forefront of opposing legalization of assisted suicide. Twelve national disability groups filed an amicus brief supporting the Attorney General in the Gonzalez v. Oregon case currently before the Supreme Court.
Moreover, disability opposition is well known to the official ÂadvisorsÂ to the documentary. Three out of the four credited advisors to the program are long-time assisted suicide/euthanasia advocates: Paul Spiers, ex board Chair of ÂCompassion and Choices;Â Margaret Battin, advisory board of the Death with Dignity National Center; and Dennis Kuby, ex-regional director (California) of the Hemlock Society. These ÂadvisorsÂ could have advised a truthful portrayal of the policy debate, including disability opposition. ÂObviously, balance is one thing producer Susan Stern wasnÂt looking for,Â says Drake.
Stephen Drake 708 209 1500 ext 29
Diane Coleman 708 420 0539
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