Thursday, February 17, 2011

Paralympics official slams New Zealand shock jock who called disability sports "ludicrous"

From NZPA:

The head of the world Paralympic organisation has slammed comments made by radio host Michael Laws (pictured) that disability sports are "ludicrous" saying he had stooped to a "pathetic low" and should be taken off the air.

During his talkback show on Feb. 11, Laws said it was "crazy" that disabled sports people were able to compete for the Halberg Awards saying "If you have had your legs chopped off, you shouldn't be in there at all".

Laws was also critical of Paralympian slalom skier Adam Hall who got up and won a gold medal after dramatically falling over at the Vancouver Paralympics last year.

"The fact the guy was able to fall down, get up again and still win, shows that really there wasn't a hell of a lot of competition in his field, was there?," he said.

International Paralympic Committee president Sir Philip Craven, said he was "utterly disgusted" by Laws' comments which were an insult to all paralympic competitors.

"His derogatory comments are an insult to all athletes within the Paralympic movement who train for long hours each day to compete at the highest level," Sir Philip said.

"To say there is not a lot of competition in paralympic sport is pure ignorance."

Laws had stooped to "a new pathetic low" with his comments and listeners and advertisers should boycott his show, he said.

"What is equally disappointing is that his employers RadioWorks are standing by him claiming to have not received any complaints."

Sir Philip urged people to write to RadioWorks and the New Zealand Broadcasting Authority to highlight make their views known about the comments.

"His comments have absolutely no place in society, and his employer should do the responsible thing and remove the platform they currently give him to air his archaic and mindless views," Sir Philip said.

RadioWorks programme director Jana Rangooni said the station had received a complaint from Sir Phillip this morning and would be responding directly to him.

"We have received about a dozen further complaints including a number of formal ones which are all being dealt with as part of our complaints investigation process," Ms Rangooni said.

Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) legal manager Christina Sophocleous said they were yet to receive any complaints because they had to be made through the broadcaster first.

The broadcaster had 20 working days to reply to complaints and if the complainant was not happy with their response they could come to the BSA for an independent review, Ms Sophocleous said.