THE NEWSDESK: Celebrate GB medals - it's not a pity party
THERE is an ancient proverb - those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.
I'm adapting it this week to fit the Paralympics. Those whom the gods wish to diminish, they pity.
I draw a very clear distinction between empathy and pity here, and so, clearly, does Bladerunner Oscar Pistorius.
He says: "Pity is one of the worst things. People don't know how to treat someone with a disability."
Which is why I get very uneasy about the tabloid outrage about comedians like Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle making jokes about disability.
I don't like Boyle's comedy in particular. I find it cheap and lazy. But I would have to defend his right to make cheap and lazy jokes if that's what he wants to do, because I cannot see how his latest affront to Daily Mail readers encourages hatred against people with disabilities. And since when did we become a country which says that there are certain subjects which should not be joked about?
Here is Boyle's 'joke': "I'm going down to the blind football to shout that the referee's a deaf b******."
I've heard funnier in the supermarket queue.
But before the moral arbiters of Middle England get their teeth into ripping Boyle to shreds, why don't they actually ask some disabled people themselves what they think?
I watched the Paralympic opening ceremony. The organisers are people with a fantastic sense of humour and sense of themselves - they used Ian Dury's anthem Spasticus Autisticus, the use of the beautiful statue of a pregnant Alison Lapping firmly stamped the Paralympics' arrival on Olympic Park, and there was no way anyone involved would accept the sort of pitying comments I have heard this week.
"Aw, aren't they brave...." Makes my blood boil.
For me that sort of comment is far worse than anything spouted by Boyle or Carr. Our Paralympians do not want it. They want us to celebrate their achievements just as we celebrated those of our Olympians - for their sporting excellence. They want to win gold medals.
This is what Tredegar's Mark Colbourne said when he won Paralympics GB's first medal - a silver - at the velodrome: "If you take adversity and you face it head on in a positive way, then you never know what doors can open for you and you never know what you can achieve. This has shown that."
I admire Paralympians for that desire to be the best in the world, and I admire anyone who has had to overcome adversity to achieve their success, disabled or not.
But I won't be pitying them.
IAN DURY'S daughter said her father would have "exploded with pride" that his song was used in the opening ceremony watched by millions across the world.
Dury, who had polio as a child, swam at the Stoke Mandeville games int he 1950s. He wrote Spasticus Autisticus in 1981, the UN international year of disabled people.
The song, which attacks condescending attitudes to disability, was banned by the BBC. It was performed by the disabled theatre group Graeae.
Dury's daughter Jemima said: "I had a very special place in my heart for the wonderful Graeae cast singing Spasticus Autisticus full-pelt. Dad would have been exploding with pride - I was."
WHISPER it softly, but I have seen a number of Facebook posts in the past week from normally die-hard Cardiff City fans who seem to be switching allegiances to Newport County .
County's early season run has impressed them, excited them, and many are still angry about the changes being brought into Cardiff by the club's Malaysian owners.
Let's hope County can continue to mop up those disaffected huddled blue masses and bring some much-needed funds in to swell the club's coffers.
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