The CBS ‘Big Brother’ TV Show has angered parents, carers and people with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome around the world. A ‘Big Brother’ contestant called Adam who supposedly works for a US autism organisation said on ‘Big Brother’ that he would spend his winnings on a hair salon for people with developmental disabilities “so retards can get it together and get their hair done.”
Another contestant on ‘Big Brother’ Sheila, told him: “Don’t call them that.”Adam responded on the show: “Disabled kids. I can call them whatever I want. I work with them all day, OK?”

Now a US Autism group is demanding an apology from CBS. Autism United has called for Big Brother to be axed on their website:

Last week on an episode of the CBS program “Big Brother” cast member Adam Jasinski referred to people with autism as “retards.” This dehumanizing language is unacceptable. When Don Imus used racially callous language on his program CBS executives Leslie Moonves and Sumner Redstone issued an apology, fired Imus and cancelled his show. We call up Mr. Moonves and Mr. Redstone to issue an apology to people with autism and other developmental disabilities, fire Adam Jasinski, and cancel Big Brother.

Autism United has asked  people to forward this message to friends and family.

If you would like to write to Mr. Moonves and Sumner here is their contact information

Mr. Leslie Moonves
Chief Executive Officer
CBS Corporation
51 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019-6188
Phone: 212-975-4321

Mr. Sumner Redstone
Executive Chairman
CBS Corporation
51 West 52nd Street
New York, NY
Phone: 212-975-4321

The text of Autism United’s letters to Mr. Moonves and Mr. Sumner is below and also appears on their website:

We are writing to express our dismay and disgust at comments that were made by Adam Jasinski during the broadcast of “Big Brother” program. In episode 2, Jasinsiki describes his plans to open a hair styling business catering to people with autism who he refers to as “retards.”

Just as we are confident that CBS would not tolerate the use derogatory epithets regarding race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation we hope that the use of derogatory terms for people with disabilities in also unacceptable in your programming.

We believe Jasinski should be terminated immediately, and we believe that the show should be cancelled. Further, we expect an apology to people with autism, developmental disabilities and their families from Jasinski, Big Brother, CBS and National Amusements. While Jasinski displayed gross ignorance, the producers of the show chose to use his comments to forward the show’s storyline. This displays a conscious choice on their part to demean and hurt a large group of people to further their own commercial goals.

While a large number of people with autism do have mental retardation, a very large portion do not and they are perfectly capable of understanding that they have been denigrated in an extremely demeaning way by a program broadcast for profit by CBS.

Family members of people with autism, especially parents, are constantly challenged by the great deal of misinformation surrounding autism. Broadcasts such as Big Brother makes caring for a family member with autism all that more difficult.

It is appropriate I believe to note that the Holocaust began with the extermination of developmental disabled children in a secret program called Aktion T-4. The techniques, organization and personnel for Aktion T-4 went directly to run the extermination camps at Treblinka, Sobibor and others. All extermination campaigns begin with the de-humanization of the target group. And referring to developmental disabled people and people with autism as “retards” indeed fails to recognize the humanity of people with these disorders.

We have also contacted advertisers on Big Brother, including Saturn, Pfizer, Geico, Bertoli, Lowe’s, Theraflu, and Taco Bell and have asked them if they want their products associated with language that demeans people with autism and other disabilities.

Thank you for your time and consideration and we look forward to your response.

For further information please see:

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