Posted by Brad @ 3:05 pm on February 19th 2010

Sarah Palin Smackdown

Family Guy aired an episode in which Chris goes on a date with a girl with Down’s Syndrome. One of the throwaway lines was in response to Chris asking “tell me about yourself,” and the girl, in describing her family, saying “…and my mom was the former Governor of Alaska.”

Since Sarah Palin has suddenly become the arbiter of special needs PCism, both she and Bristol (?) released statements calling the writers of Family Guy “heartless jerks”.

Well, the chick that did the voice for Chris’ date in that episode happens to be an actress with Down’s Syndrome, her name is Andrew Friedman, and she has a statement of her own.

My name is Andrea Fay Friedman. I was born with Down syndrome. I played the role of Ellen on the “Extra Large Medium” episode of Family Guy that was broadcast on Valentine’s day. I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor. I thought the line “I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska” was very funny. I think the word is “sarcasm”.

In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life. My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.



  1. And people should be attacking John C McGinley for his own advocacy against the use of the word ‘retard’ and making fun of developmentally disabled people?

    There’s so much other stuff to go after Palin for, too. Implications that she doesn’t care about her kid or is selfishly using him, etc, are going to make people sympathetic to her.

    Comment by Adam — 2/19/2010 @ 4:14 pm

  2. Weirdly, even when I was still on the fence about Palin, the “using her children” thing came up a lot—in conversations with women. I almost never hard it from men, but almost without fail women I talked to mentioned it (and most of the women in my life are not wildly liberal, if anything falling on the centerish-right).

    Anyway, this wasn’t Ms. Friedman going after Palin—this was Sarah Palin appointing herself arbiter and going after the show that Ms. Friedman was on. So I find the knockback perfectly justified.

    Comment by Brad — 2/19/2010 @ 4:30 pm

  3. Oh, Friedman has every right to say it, and defend herself (although I guess her position is already staked out). But it’s a conversation between two people with legitimate interest in the issue, which is, itself, one on which the people affected don’t agree anyhow.

    We can have the discussion too, of course; it’s just a lot easier for us to appear inappropriate when we’re doing it.

    Comment by Adam — 2/19/2010 @ 4:37 pm

  4. Uh, no, not really. Sarah Palin didn’t privately shoot the show’s creators an email to pass on to the voice actress. She decided to make a public statement on the matter, an in the public statement, make an attack on people she knew nothing about. It wound up biting her.

    Anyway, your #3 doesn’t much match your #1.

    Comment by Brad — 2/19/2010 @ 4:54 pm

  5. Oh come one, how elastic do you have to be to defend Sarah Palin’s behavior here?
    1. She rather obviously uses her DS child as a political prop, her continuasly present ode to her own heroism, at least as long as the photo op takes.
    2. She applies a blatant double standard to the PC retard thing: it is only right to condemn the ideological or political opponents, certainly not the allies. I think this double standard is probably actual hypocracy, I have serious doubts as to her true outrage on this. I think she is completely manufacturing it.
    3. One doesn’t have to drop into Sullivan land to believe that her entire story about Trig’s birth is at best dishonest self aggrandizing fabrication (her standard MO, so I go with this option) or at worst blatent endangerment of the child while in labor.

    Comment by Jack — 2/20/2010 @ 5:33 pm

  6. My position is that I feel sorrier for developmentally disabled people than I care about Palin’s opportunism and embracing some “battling Downs’ syndrome” advocates is pretty distasteful. And, of course, it’s easy to cross the line and end looking like/being an arsehole.

    As for Brad’s point about a private comment, what about McGinley? His kid has Downs’ and he’s keen to advocate for Downs’ kids and other developmentally disabled children. In private isn’t the place if you want to make a point about how shittily those people get treated. Even when we suspect — to put it mildy — Palin’s motives, she’s basically saying something that’s entirely defensible and that, in this case, is more important, I think.

    Comment by Adam — 2/20/2010 @ 8:14 pm

  7. Bristol’s quote:

    I have not seen the episode, but can someone tell me how the show mocked Trig? All I have read suggests that it mocked former Governor Palin, executive quitter in chief from Alaska, but I hardly see how that translates into a heartless mocking of disabled people in general, Trig specifically, or the Palin family as a whole. And if it did, all I can say is, have you ever seen Family Guy before this episode? It consists of 22 minutes of unadulterated mocking. Get the fuck over yourselves, you self aggrandizing, perpetually victimized douchebags.

    Comment by Jack — 2/20/2010 @ 11:38 pm

  8. Alright, just trying to quickly understand what’s going on here. Let’s recap:

    1.) Because a woman with Down’s Syndrome played the character, it’s somehow okay? So then, I can assume, that when someone with Down Syndrome comes forth and says it’s not okay — Brad, you’ll jump on that bandwagon and we can watch the debate go back and forth over which individual with Down Syndrome is right?

    2.) No politician affected personally by family members of certain marginalized creeds, sexualities, religions, or ailments are allowed to speak out in support of said marginalized creeds, sexualities, religions, or ailments without automatically being evil/self-serving. Call me crazy, but as someone who has a cousin that is developmentally challenged, I have seen the lengths that a mother goes to in order to defend that individual from people who try and hurt that person or belittle them with cruel jokes. And that mother? Definitely not watching it happen on national television. Also, her daughter is now almost 40 years old. In this case, we’re quite literally talking about an infant, who is somehow fair game because his mother is disliked politically. Let’s say you’re right (maybe you are), and that she’s simply using him as a political prop. I’m going to need you to explain to me in exactly what way Sarah Palin’s self-serving behavior is the child’s fault and why he should pay the price for it? As far as I’m concerned, Sarah Palin could get up on a stage and literally say the words “Seth McFarlane and every Hollywood comedian, please make fun of my kid in the cruelest way you can think of” and it still wouldn’t be anyone’s place to take her up on the offer, because we’re talking about a toddler who had nothing to do with his mother’s political career or decisions and can’t control what comes out of her mouth.

    3.) Also, that that child or family member must be hidden from cameras so as not to come off as self-serving on the part of the politician. It is using the child unfairly to talk about them as a means of connecting to an advocacy or doing things to promote that advocacy.

    4.) Jack – Maybe you should watch the episode in question before coming to a conclusion about how it portrayed people with Down Syndrome and who is being victimized. I’m copy and pasting the transcript of the song that was performed in the episode here, so…sorry for the length.

    “You’ve got to look your best tonight, you tubby little parasite
    ‘Cause there’s a lovely lady and she’s waiting for you.
    And though her pretty face may seem
    A special person’s wettest dream
    Before you get to see it there are things you must do.
    We’ll try a tie, and boutonniere of yellow.
    A rose that shows that you’re a classy fellow.
    With a posh panache of Jefferson at Monticello,
    Busting out a mile with style.
    I know you just can’t wait to stare
    At all that luscious orange hair
    But boy before you touch a single curl
    You must impress that ultra boomin’,
    All-consumin’, poorly groomin’
    Down syndrome girl.
    On any normal day you reek
    As if you’re on a farting streak,
    Your fingers up your nose and you are dripping with drool.
    But if you want a lady’s love,
    You’re better off by smelling of
    A gentleman’s cologne instead of sneakers and stool.
    A squirt, a spurt of something just for Ellen
    And you’ll see that she will find you so compellin’.
    And she does because the only smell that she’ll be smellin’
    Won’t be comin’ from your bum.
    You want to take that little whore
    And spin her on the dancing floor
    But boy, before you do a single twirl –
    You must impress that effervescing,
    Self-possessing, no-BS-ing
    Down syndrome girl.
    Her eyes are emerald portals to a secret land of love
    And her smile is like the sweetest summer flower.
    Her kiss is so inviting, and her hugs are so delighting.
    And what makes them really nice is that they’ve got a little spice
    Because they’re tighter than a vice and they go on for an hour.
    My boy, between the two of us we’ll get you on that shorty bus.
    And then you’re going to take it for a whirl.
    Now go impress that super-thrilling,
    Wish-fulfilling, Yoo-Hoo-spilling,
    Ultra-swinging, boner-bringing,
    Daily singing, ding-a-linging
    Stupefying, fortifying,
    Stimulating, titillating,
    Kitty-cat impersonating,
    Mega-rocking, pillow talking,
    Just a little crooked walking,
    Poorly pouting, boobies sprouting,
    For some reason always shouting,
    Fascinating, captivating,
    Happiness and joy creating
    Down syndrome girl

    5. You’re right! People with Down Syndrome don’t mind being called “Tubby little parasites” and “little whores,” so long as it’s being said by another person with Down Syndrome. Spot on analysis. And totally untempered by the the prior opinion/political dislike of the politician whose child is being made fun of! Makes me proud to read this blog, really.

    Comment by K_Wright — 2/21/2010 @ 4:01 am

  9. “Tubby little parasite” is Chris referring to himself.

    It’s hard for me to get terribly engaged in this discussion on either side, as I don’t much care what either Sarah Palin or Seth MacFarlane think. I suppose that it is a good thing, however, that we reflect on whether the sorts of things that went on in that episode are offensive; I wouldn’t want to be part of a culture where that discussion was out of bounds.

    Comment by Rojas — 2/21/2010 @ 11:23 am

  10. Fair enough, but that doesn’t change the fact that the rest of the song doesn’t exactly paint Down Syndrome people in the best light.

    I guess my thoughts on the matter are this: Regardless of whether or not we’re talking about Sarah Palin or Seth McFarlane or whoever, I think the path of least resistance is probably the most sensible here. What I mean by that is that in life, and certainly in political analysis, sometimes arriving at a certain conclusion about an issue is very difficult and complex because of the fact that you have to look at things from many multi-faceted sides to perhaps come to the best conclusion about any given issue. I just don’t think this is one of those times. If you’re actually arguing, with poor reasoning no less, that it’s okay to make fun of a toddler with a disability (and parent) they didn’t ask for, then maybe you need to reevaluate the situation and ask yourself why you’re literally taking up the side that is the most difficult to defend.

    To me, this is not one of those times where it should be hard to see where you stand about an issue (provided that you care about it at all, and it’s obviously your prerogative not to). I personally don’t think that national television is a good place for making fun of a specific individual for their mental disability. And listen, I’ve watched the show, I get that it makes fun of everyone — all that stuff. But it’s one thing to make fun of a whole group, because it’s sort of an anonymous face where there’s no real repercussion. But that’s not what this was. This was singling out a toddler who didn’t ask to ever be in a public spotlight and certainly didn’t ask to be born with Down Syndrome. I just don’t think this is a really good path to head down as a culture, and I think justifying it with reasoning based on the kid’s last name is kind of crap.

    Comment by K_Wright — 2/21/2010 @ 5:39 pm

  11. K_Wright, Maybe you should get you facts even remotely accurate before condescendingly telling someone off. Its almost as if you reflexively misinterpreted the song to the greatest degree possible in order to defend this ludicrous situation. As has been pointed out, tubby little parasite was about Chris. Damn near everything in that song was about Chris. The Palins, quitter and daughter both, are yet again seeking martyrdom. But regardless, its like you have been living in a Family Guy-free bubble. The show does this to everyone. Rant all you want, distort away even further, doesn’t change what the Palins are and what they are doing. Perpetual victimhood is the nicest I can call it. Guess you can join in by pretending we have made this discussion out of bounds. Not like it is the actual subject of a blog post or anything.

    Comment by Jack — 2/21/2010 @ 9:11 pm

  12. Alright, I’ll step in and contradict myself a bit.

    A lot of people give Sarah Palin crap for toting around her kid or talking about being the parent of a kid with Down’s Syndrome. I think politically that is a bit obnoxious, but I also think there’s more to it than politics. What reminded me of it was a throwaway remark by Ana Marie Cox in an interview I was reading the other day.

    I went to a fair number of Sarah Palin rallies during the campaign, and my friends would say, “Man, the pitchfork-wavers are really out there today.” I thought that, too, but then I started to talk to people, and they weren’t all angry. That’s just lazy. The story that should’ve gotten written, that was really interesting to me, was how at every rally there were families with children with Down syndrome. They weren’t there to support Sarah Palin politically. They were really happy that there was someone in the national spotlight doing what they have to do every day. When you think about what it takes to take a child with Down syndrome to a political rally, I found that really moving.

    And I know from talking to people myself that Palin, particularly in those first few months (much less so now), was a big deal in the special needs community. I don’t think Palin went too out of her way to claim that mantle—as with most of it, we have McCain to thank. But once she was in the spotlight, talking about her special needs kid is about the least obnoxious thing that comes out of her mouth. There was a time (probably in most of our lifetimes) when a politician with a Down’s Syndrome kid would simply leave them at home and put the cute ones on the stage. So, I do think Palin deserves credit. I find some of the “my kid has Down Syndrome!” stuff annoying—particularly when she does this kind of thing—but it is worth keeping in mind that to a large measure her role as the most famous special needs mom in America right now is mostly circumstantial, and mostly positive.

    And it’s also worth noting, regarding Family Guy, that McFarlane wouldn’t have centered an episode around Down Syndrome Girl if it wasn’t, to him and most of us, an inherently funny thing. Which doesn’t speak well of us I guess, but I long ago gave up on apologizing for what I think is funny. Still, again worth noting. It’s not like McFarlane was not asking us to laugh at retardation.

    Comment by Brad — 2/22/2010 @ 10:16 am

  13. Fair enough. But lets say your Palin and you want to make a statement after this Family Guy episode. You can sort of divide potential statements into two categories: 1. Those that demonstrate compassion and recognizes the nature of the ridicule (and what it says about us), but are not purely self aggrandizing while still garnering public exposrue and political points. 2. Purely victimhood exagerations that distort the nature of the show and its crude humor into some sort of personal and special attack against you and your child.
    For the former, I can see something along the lines of “I have been made aware of some rather offensive lines in a recent Family Guy episode, dialogue that specifically mentioned my family. I am disheartened by the popularity of a show that routinely and aggresively riducules people for being different in some way, like special needs children or disabled persons. This does not speak well of our society. This episode is hardly the sole reason, but it is yet another justification for me not allowing my children to watch it, or recommending it to others. As a parent, we all ought to make wise choices.”
    But no, thats not what she chose. She and Bristol chose option 2, and it really kinda sucks, but that is what we have come to expect from them.

    Comment by Jack — 2/22/2010 @ 12:24 pm

  14. Well yeah, but everything she says is victimhood distortions.

    Comment by Brad — 2/22/2010 @ 12:32 pm

  15. She’s certainly picked a politically useful fight. The sort of commentary being deployed against her on this couldn’t serve her purposes any better.

    Why go with “option 1” when option two gets you exactly the sort of attention–from friends and enemies alike–that you feel you need?

    Comment by Rojas — 2/22/2010 @ 1:41 pm

  16. Because it is NOT getting her the attention she needs. She is only reinforcing the convictions of those who arleady support her. If she honestly hopes to be a contender in a future Presidential election, she absolutely must broaden her appeal and ease the concerns of the very large percentage of people who see her as a demagogue, and that’s on a good day. The “I got made fun of on a cartoon” just isn’t gonna win her points with the skeptical. She looks like what she has always looked like to her supporters and detractors alike.

    Comment by Jack — 2/22/2010 @ 8:32 pm

  17. I was going to say “except being President isn’t really the point either; I doubt even Sarah Palin thinks she could ever win”, but thinking on it, I’m not sure I’m comfortable presuming rationality on her behalf. I think she’s just kind of flying by instinct at this point.

    Comment by Brad — 2/22/2010 @ 10:15 pm

  18. I’m pretty sure she’s not even going to run. I think she’s building her ability to make money on the conservative rubber chicken circuit.

    Comment by Rojas — 2/23/2010 @ 12:13 am

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