Je Suis Seth MacFarlane

Preface: Saturday evening kids are in bed, put a movie on, A Million Ways to Die in the West.  We didn’t make it very far past the first cheap shot “retarded” joke, turned it off and found something else to do.  …and then the dark humor of a special needs parent kicks in,  mixes with recent events (references below) and ongoing disappointment with American popular culture’s obsession with the r-word…

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It has been over a week since Seth MacFarlane, creator of The Family Guy and American Dad TV series, was struck and killed while crossing the street in Los Angeles.  This report details what this news agency has been able to ascertain about the events leading up to the incident and deeper commentary on the events that have transpired since the tragic incident.

At 3:17pm on Monday, January 26th, Seth MacFarlane was struck in the crosswalk on Sunset Boulevard by a west bound Honda Odyssey.  Mr. MacFarlane later died of his injuries.  Accident investigators at the scene concluded that the vehicle, carrying a family of three, made no attempt to stop prior to the collision.  The driver, Jane Smith, was initially taken into custody to determine if she was under the influence of any substances.  However, we have now learned, from an unnamed source at the District Attorney’s office, that the state plans to bring criminal charges against her.  A press conference has been scheduled for later this afternoon where we expect this statement to be confirmed.

This turn of events of appears to corroborate the authenticity of an audio recording, allegedly taken shortly after the incident.  It has since gone viral on social media.  The anonymous poster of the recording claims to be a passerby that happened upon the scene and captured an exchange between Mrs. Smith and a paramedic.  Here is a portion of the transcript:

Paramedic: Ma’am, ma’am? Are you alright?

Mrs Smith: I… I… didn’t stop.   I… I… *couldn’t* stop.

Paramedic: Ma’am, please, are you injured?

Mrs. Smith: I mean, how could I stop!?  How can I give way to a man that has made a career of laughing at Alice and people like her?  How could I let him enjoy one more breath when Alice won’t see her next birthday!? *sobbing* …what have I done?

We reached out to the family, but received no comment prior to press time.  A neighbor of the Smith’s conveyed that 3-year old Alice Smith suffers from a rare metabolic disorder that has affected her brain and other vital organs.  The survival rate for those afflicted by this condition is low.  This neighbor stated the family is frequently at the hospital.  Video footage from the parking garage of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles show’s the Smith’s leaving at 2:58pm.

Since the announcement of the press conference a group of protesters has gathered in the Civic Center outside the Superior Court House with signage in support of Mr. MacFarlane.  We caught up with one of the protesters, holding a sign that read “Je Suis Seth MacFarlane” alluding to the solidarity rallying cry that the people of France embraced after the recent terrorist attacks.

Protester: “These people need to learn how to take a joke.  Just so you know, there is an entire private group on Facebook of over 900 members that laugh at parents like this.  We question their parenting skills, the behaviors they allow their children to exhibit amaze us and boggle our minds.  We thank them for making it so easy for us to conclude that retards should not be allowed in our society.  Disruptions to normal people’s days are distressing and their children will never be productive members in our society; they only take them out to make themselves feel better; to measure themselves on an unrealistic ruler, a ruler that moms with normal children think is stupid.” [1]

We reached out to a local couple for a response.  They co-author a blog that chronicles their journey caring for their special needs child.  Given the heightened tensions we are not disclosing their identity:

REPORTER: What do you make of the evidence that appears to implicate Jane Smith deliberately struck Mr. MacFarlane.

HUSBAND: It’s so sad and tragic.  Nothing justifies violence, period.   But…

WIFE: …but, we know the darkness that can envelop you after some of these hospital visits where you are yet again brought face-to-face with your impotence and helplessness to find a positive trajectory for your child’s health.

REPORTER: What is your reaction to this protest that appears to be taking a menacing stance against the special needs community?

HUSBAND: Typical, not surprising in the least.  I mostly feel it is a reaction to the resilience of the special needs community.  Strength in the face of adversity is intimidating.

REPORTER: If you could say something to this protester we interviewed what would it be?

HUSBAND: Individually? I don’t think it would make a difference, I’d rather speak to the wider culture that allows groups like this to operate.  Their rallying cry of Je Suis Seth MacFarlane reminds of a comment Jack Miles recently made in an interview:

“Je Suis Charlie has a double meaning. For the millions of demonstrators saying I am Charlie meant, you think you’ve killed Charlie Hebdo but let me tell you – I’m still here. You haven’t killed me and you’ll have to kill all of us if you want to kill off the French spirit of wit and satire and total freedom of speech. Who can disagree with that, you think. But the cartoons that had to do with Islam, you know, portraying a naked Muhammad writhing on his belly and asking the observer, do you like my butt? Cartoons like that seem to say to Muslims, Charlie Hebdo despises you – we despise your prophet and we despise you. And so when all of France rises up and says, I am Charlie Hebdo, all of France seems to be rising up and saying to the Muslims, we too despise you, we too scorn you just as the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo did.  And you have to recognize that this is a metaphor and metaphors are always subject to more than one interpretation, and here are two perfectly clear, perfectly reasonable, but fatally contradictory interpretations.” [2]

It’s much the same in this situation.  Maybe these protesters are simply standing up for freedom of speech, but what I hear them say is that they enjoy the privilege and luxury of adding insult  to the injury that atypically developing individuals have already suffered.

REPORTER: Do you believe anything positive can come from this tragedy?

WIFE: Bill Maher once said in his defense of the word ‘retarded’ that “Language is a living breathing thing.  Americans have voted with their vernacular, they need the word ‘retarded’, they use it constantly”. [3]  I wish it were under different circumstances, but this incident has highlighted a divide between typical society and people like us.  I hope it prompts conversations that moves language and society forward to allow us to suffer our misfortune and mourn our children’s “normal” lives in peace.

References:
[1]: This was an a comment left on https://www.facebook.com/AutismUncensored in response the page author’s story of surviving a trip to the barber shop with an autistic son.
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[2]: http://www.npr.org/2015/01/29/382388786/editor-picks-religions-for-the-first-norton-anthology-of-world-religions

[3]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EngtvUmSKQA

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