For fired radio hosts, punishment doesn’t fit crime

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Unless you’re a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, you’ll usually have a hard time offending me. However, I was pretty taken aback on Monday as news broke from the actions of three Atlanta-based radio hosts mocking the disability of former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason.

To the city of New Orleans, Gleason’s contribution during a single play ended up symbolizing the turning point for a city that was looking to piece their lives together following Hurricane Katrina’s devastation on Louisiana. The play was so iconic in the recovery for New Orleans, Gleason’s block is now memorialized with a statue outside of the Superdome.

Unfortunately, Gleason revealed five years later that he suffers from ALS, a terminal affliction commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Gleason is now confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak. For Gleason to communicate, he must speak through a computer, controling it with his eyes, as he can no longer move his hands. The hosts – who have now been fired for their actions – mocked Gleason’s speaking through a computer during a fake interview, which turned into bone-chilling awkwardness seconds after it began.

If you feel like cringing, here’s the audio link of the incident.

Ravens fans are familiar with ALS as it has struck close to home with former linebacker O.J. Brigance. The man affectionately known as “Juice” won a Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2000 and was diagnosed with ALS in 2007. Over the past few years, the effects of Brigance’s battle with ALS have become extremely evident, as he’s lost primary function over the majority of his body.  As heartbreaking it is to see, “Juice” continues to use his celebrity to spread awareness and raise money for ALS through his many charitable efforts including the Brigance Brigade.

Chances are, these radio hosts haven’t been around anyone affected by ALS or they wouldn’t have made the jokes that they did. I cannot speak for Gleason as I’ve never met him or seen him in person, and I only witness Brigance from afar while at the Ravens facility. Regardless, it’s heartbreaking to hear that someone could stoop so low to take a shot at someone who is literally fighting for every breath.

Brigance is currently employed by the Ravens as their Director of Player Development and lights up any room he enters. Even though those in his presence can only feel sorry for the cards that such a great man has been dealt, they enjoy any bit of time they’re able to spend with him.

I’m not typically someone who complains about what I see on TV or hear on the radio. I purposefully subscribe to satellite radio and cable services like HBO so I can be free of most censorship and over-dramatic reactions from the vocal minority, but I feel that this incident with Mayhem in the A.M. is on a completely different level. After listening to the audio multiple times, I don’t believe that all of the members of the radio show wanted to go along with the bit once it started. In fact, two of them even made statements questioning if they should stay involved.

As for punishment, is taking away the income of three individuals and affecting their families a fair punishment for their actions? Probably not. However, even though all of the hosts have issued apologies, which have been accepted by Gleason, I believe something else could be done to make sure they’ve learned their lesson, and perhaps keep their jobs after a long suspension.

Why not make these hosts spend a week with either Gleason or Brigance? From what I’ve seen, spending time with either of these individuals is far from a punishment; rather, it’s a blessing. They’ll hopefully learn from their actions and a week’s worth of awkwardness is enough to make them think about ever stepping over the line again.

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About Kris Jones

Kris Jones
Kris - or "Goob" as he's widely known - has turned an obsession into a career. As a media member by day and super fan by night, he reports from the Under Armour Performance Center twice per week and brings Ravens news from a fan's perspective. His popular YouTube series...more

12 Raves on “For fired radio hosts, punishment doesn’t fit crime

  1. frank on said:

    ALS is a horrible disease but you can’t stop someone say they like it or don’t like or even laugh at it.It’s called freedom of speech.So you are saying this is distasteful to you did you think it might be funny to someone else. You trying to be political correct is an infringement on our American right to freedom of speech.

    • Kris JonesKris Jones on said:

      Frank,

      I’m one of the biggest advocates for the first two amendments in our constitution. I don’t want to limit the speech of what anyone has the right to say but there is a time and place. Just because everyone has the right to say what they want, doesn’t mean that it isnt’ in bad taste nor could repercussions be possible.

      Business-wise, these jokers could have endangered their station’s relationship as the radio affiliate of the Atlanta Falcons. Even though the station pays big money for this privilege, a lot of perks come with it. They were fired for the damage and potential embarrassment to their company.

      As for what anyone can humanly say, if making fun of disabled people is your thing, go for it. You have all the right in the world. However, I do have the right to judge you and say whatever I feel to you as well. These guys not only lost their jobs, they lost in the court of public opinion.

      And trust me Frank, I’m typically on your side when it comes to the insensitive nature of people listening to mainstream media. Part of the reason I enjoy listening to Opie and Anthony so much is for the way they handle reactions to similar stories. However, this is just something that I don’t necessarily agree with.

      Thanks for voicing your opinion.

      • John on said:

        I love when people use the freedom of speech card, thinking that it gives you the right to say whatever you want with no consequences. Are these DJ’s behind bars right now? No because freedom of speech protects them from that ever happening, it does not protect them against being fired.

  2. jim k on said:

    Ignorance is bliss if your the ignorant one!…..the hosts have their 7 second delay and their incomes, they should have moved on! I don’t agree with censorship but I do not agree with ignorant and cruel people!…

  3. Randy on said:

    People who think this is infringement of freedom of speech do not understand what that right means. The Constitution says the GOVERNMENT shall not abridge one’s freedom of speech. It says nothing about the right of an employer or other private party to limit how their facilities are used. There is no constitutional right, for example, for an employee to stand in the middle of an office and yell insults at his/her boss/employer. Further, that right is not absolute – there are limits, for example, when public safety is at issue. The clowns here have no immunity from the consequences of being stupid, abrasive, and anti-social using their employer’s equipment. They could create their own company to broadcast and say what they want without fear of being fired, of course then they would still be guilty of being despicable human beings to mock the misfortunes of another.

    • Grey on said:

      Thank you. I believe the SCOTUS covered this issue back in the 30′s, with the example of not being able to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

  4. Reading Comments on said:

    Remember the recent story of a Guy somewhere I believe in the Midwest (Can’t remember exactly where) that got jail time for goading his elementary school aged son into making fun of a classmate who has MS.
    I can not remember all the details, she was walking to the school bus, and it happened several times I believe?
    So after this piece of crap did this, (Really surprised somebody didn’t beat the living shit out out of him) where do you draw the line?
    Mentioning this, at the same time these guys sound like they were trying to be shock jocks, comedians like Stern, or that crazy bitch Sarah Silverman. Anything can come out of that girls mouth, and it can really be twisted.
    So do we silence them as well?
    Curious, where do we draw the line?

  5. Gail Kiser on said:

    It’s never funny to make jokes about someone will such a terrible illness. But no they shouldn’t have been fired. I agree, make them spend some time with some body with ALS. Ya kno, God don’t like ugly.

  6. karl on said:

    America is immoral. Needs to submit itself under the Mighty Hand of God. America won’t be a superpower within the next 30 years. Too immoral. Repent from legalizing homosexuality and abortions.

  7. g money on said:

    I heard the bit. While it was in poor taste and cruel, it was also incredibly unfunny. it was bit that died. every second was painful, there was not a moment that came anywhere near causing me to chuckle. these guys have no idea what humor is, that’s got to be part of the reason that this particular morning zoo is done. and Kris, Opie and Anthony, really?

  8. Craig on said:

    Freedom of speech is a valid point. They can say whatever they want. The station has the freedom to fire too – as do we have the freedom to disagree. Bottom line, the radio station reserves that right, especially in a public forum.

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