August 13, 2012
Mr. Joel Gallen
Producer, Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne Barr
Tenth Planet Productions
3450 Cahuega Blvd W. Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90068
cc: Mr. Jonas Larson; Mr. Wayne Brady
Dear Mr. Gallen,
I am writing to you on behalf of the National Down Syndrome Society to express our great disappointment and disgust with Wayne Brady's comment during the "Roast of Roseanne Barr," which aired on Comedy Central on August 12, 2012. His comment, directed at Jeff Ross, was, "...a lot of people hate you, especially Sarah Palin because you remind her of what Trig is going to look like when he's 40."
We have written to you before in similar situations. Most recently, last September after the "Roast of Charlie Sheen" and several years ago after the "Roast of Flavor-Flav." You have disregarded our complaints made on behalf of over 400,000 families in this country that are saddened and outraged every time they try to enjoy your programming and they are hit with jokes made at the expense of their children who have Down syndrome.
Down syndrome is caused by a third copy of chromosome 21. Individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities work very hard to graduate from school, participate in sports, live independently, and become valuable members of their communities. They deserve to be respected and celebrated for their success and achievements, and not to have their clinical diagnosis used as a punch-line. More often than not, these individuals are underestimated their whole lives by people who focus on their disability, rather than their abilities, and who perpetuate outdated stereotypes. Negative and inaccurate public perceptions are the greatest barriers the National Down Syndrome Society faces in achieving the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.
You censor other "jokes" made by the comedians that participate in your roasts. There is no reason why comments of this nature should not be censored as well.
We again request that Comedy Central enforce a policy that prohibits and prevents the airing of jokes made at the expense of people with Down syndrome, in addition to the use of the word "retard" or any form of it.
We urge you to respond to this complaint quickly with a policy for the future.
Julie B. Cevallos
Vice President Marketing
National Down Syndrome Society
New York, NY 10012