I’ve often thought that if a person is truly at peace with a decision, he or she doesn’t feel the need to argue over it, defend it or hide from the consequences of it.
While I have no window into anyone else’s mind or soul, things like this news story really makes one wonder. From CNSNews.com:
France’s Conseil d’État (State Council) banned the award-winning “Dear Future Mom” video from airing on French television due to concerns that the expressions of happy children with Down syndrome in the video were “inappropriate” because they were “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.”
The Council rejected the Jerome Lejeune Foundation’s request last week to lift the ban.
“Dear Future Mom” was produced by the Italian Down Syndrome Advocacy organization CoorDown for World Down Syndrome Day in 2014. The video features smiling children and young adults with Down syndrome from different countries reassuring a worried pregnant woman that her child can be happy.
GADIM (Global Alliance for Disability in Media and Entertainment) has launched a petition on Change.org to “respectfully” ask the French government to intervene and lift the ban.
In part, the petition reads:
No other country has taken the position of France and in fact the video has received acceptance and acclaim worldwide, has attracted significant media coverage and an outstanding 7.2 million views on YouTube alone and has received multiple international awards including 6 Cannes Lions at the prestigious Cannes Festival of Creativity in France. In Australia, for example, the video has been used in some universities to provide medical students with information about life with Down syndrome. It was translated to other languages and shown in countless awareness raising situations in many countries.
The discriminatory ban of the video sends the message that people with Down syndrome are unwelcome in society and has impacted the Down syndrome community around the world who have seen it as a rejection of the effort to challenge negative stereotypes and societal prejudices and to assert the equal and inherent value of the lives of people with Down syndrome.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., A&E Network’s “Born This Way,” a sophomore docu-series focusing on young adults with Down syndrome, recently took home an Emmy Award for Best Unstructured Reality Series (beating out two-time winner, Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch.”).
On the heels of the win, A&E ordered a ten-episode third season.
A&E EVP/Head of Programming Elaine Frontain Bryant this morning called Born This Way “a shining example of what the entertainment business needs more of – powerful, thought-provoking storytelling with a greater purpose.”
EP Jon Murray describes the show as a lesson in learning that bigger is not always better and “earnest” not necessarily bad for a reality docu-soap.
Since the first season of the series, the cast and families have become more trusting of producers and crews, Murray said. “This was a big decision on the part of the young people and their families; they did not want a typical reality show made about them,” he said. “They did not want it to be The Real Down Syndrome Cast of Orange County.”
Now I wonder if “Born This Way” is syndicated to French TV. Probably … not. Just imagine all the consciences that might be disturbed seeing people with Down syndrome all grown up and living productive lives.
While I’m thrilled that “Born This Way” is a hit, it is a shame that, in this day and age, we need a show like this to put a human face on human beings.
Here’s the video that caused all the stir in France:
UPDATE: Archbishop Joseph Kurtz wrote a response to all this for Crux:
But I can share with you my own experience of my brother, George, who was born with Down Syndrome.
My engagement with my brother Georgie was not distant. When our mother died in 1989, I became his legal guardian, and at the age of 48, he came to live with me in the parish rectory in Pennsylvania and later moved with me when I was appointed Bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee.
I remember well how George contributed to the life of the parish I was serving. He was a community builder par excellence. Two weeks had not gone by before he had given each person on the rectory staff a nickname.
In the Old Testament, God gave Abram a new name to claim him as his own, and so Georgie quickly claimed us as part of his family.
At the rectory, Georgie contributed in countless ways. Through a playful “boo,” an occasional hug, and a pat on the back, Georgie brought to the rectory an ease that became infectious. He became a valued co-worker and was greatly missed whenever he would take a vacation.
He was a friend in the evening, and I learned the television schedules for most evenings after 9:30 p.m. His gentle presence forced me to take the time to stop, pause, and enjoy.
I quickly learned how much he was giving to me and to all he encountered. He comforted me after a tough day, responded to my grief at the death of our mother, and helped me to keep things in perspective.
Giving and receiving are intertwined, and we never do one exclusively. In the case of my relating to my brother, it is not a cliché to say I received much more than I ever gave. The gift of my brother overflowed with a cornucopia of concrete acts of love and because of him, I am a better person.
There is no question about the sacrifice that was involved in my relationship with Georgie, but love always calls us to concrete actions and choices and to sacrifice. My brother died in 2001, and I miss him every day.
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