No One is Laughing at SNL's Skit of Governor Paterson
Statement from the American Foundation for the Blind
New York, NY (December 15, 2008)—Saturday Night Live (SNL) cast member Fred Armisen spent more than four minutes mocking Governor David Paterson for his blindness on Saturday night—a skit that is being criticized by Governor Paterson himself, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), and blindness organizations across the country. Using elementary, offensive humor, the skit derides Governor Paterson for his vision loss and portrays him as a bumbling leader. It also suggests that people with disabilities are from the "freak bin."
Governor Paterson, who has had an impressive academic and political career, is known as a witty politician who brings people together. He has accomplished many firsts in his life, becoming the first non-white New York State Senate legislative leader in 2003, the first visually impaired person to address the Democratic National Convention, and the first African American Governor of New York. As a legally blind public figure, Governor Paterson has challenged public perceptions about what it means to have a disability and shown the world that people with vision loss can be great political leaders.
"Governor Paterson, who was unexpectedly called on to fill the role of Governor last spring, has proven to be an accomplished political leader who is respected and liked by New Yorkers," said Carl R. Augusto, President & CEO of AFB.
It is difficult to understand why SNL, a show known for its clever, political satire, would take cheap shots at people with disabilities instead of coming up with better material—especially when mimicking a politician known for his sense of humor. Next time, we hope SNL judges Governor Paterson the way we do all politicians, based on his political record and not his disability.
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. AFB is also proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the over forty years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB. For more information visit us online at www.afb.org.
Contact: Adrianna Montague-Gray