We’ll probably never know whether the feckless character of Lou has directly contributed any disability hate crimes. Just as it would be difficult to prove that rags such as the Heil incite demonization of disabled people – although the on-line replies to Daily Heil stories do go some way to opening a window to the viciousness and nastiness of many of their readers.
The problem with the Andy and Lou sketches and the repeated attacks on disabled people by the scurrilous right wing media is that some of it rubs off. A few years ago paedophiles were flavour of the month. Elements within the right-wing press began to act as judge and jury; and, as a result their reckless actions whipped up a vigilante attitude in several parts of the country.
People came out onto the streets baying for the blood of paedophiles. Sickening sights of toddlers displaying placards scrawled with hate were across our screens. There were even cases of men being wrongly identified as child molesters (due to a similarity in name) and driven from their homes.
In one incident someone got paedophile and paediatrician mixed up daubing the outside of a paediatrician’s house with the ‘PAEDO’ mark of shame.
When we are dealing with people who are so susceptible to exterior influences such as the word of a newspaper; is it so wide of the mark that they’ll react to what is supposed to be a comedy sketch. Especially, when the right wing press actually go out of their way to take the comedy sketch out of its comedic context and use it as an example of disabled people cheating the system.
After all, when columnists like Rod Liddel from such respected publications as the Times call upon readers to drag people from their wheelchairs and take them by the scruff of their necks off to the nearest Job Centre; what hope is there for us being treated with fairness?