Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Total absence of humour renders life impossible

I've pinched that headline and well known quotation from the byline a friend of mine uses on forum posts... as I think it's particularly apt with this story today! (Thanks Joe R smile)

A cartoon about Professor Stephen Hawking which appeared in yesterday's regional newspaper, the Metro, has once again prompted the 'politically correct brigade' to come out in force this morning!

As I'm sure you are aware, Professor Hawking has motor neurone disease. He uses a wheelchair and speaks using a voice synthesiser. On Monday, Professor Hawking was admitted to Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge with chest problems.

The cartoon, in the Metro yesterday shows two people discussing Professor Hawking. The caption says:

"I wonder if they've tried switching him off and switching him on again".
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the cartoon has caused offence in some quarters. The Motor Neurone Disease Association say the cartoon is "distasteful and it's appalling that the cartoon seems to mock disability".

But did you chuckle when you read the joke?

This morning on Nicky Campbell's phone-in on BBC Radio Five Live's Breakfast programme callers were asked about Britain's attitudes to disability - "are we prejudiced"?

Many callers held the view that Britain is prejudiced against disability and I would not disagree.

But, in my opinion, this cartoon has nothing to do with prejudice... or disability!! It's just a joke... and I would hazard a guess that Professor Hawking would be the first one to laugh at it! smile

Professor Hawking is held in great affection, not just in Britain but across the world. He is greatly admired for much more than just for his huge revealing contributions in the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity, or for writing his bestseller A Brief History of Time.

Professor Hawking has always reached our hearts through his indomitable spirit... his humanity... AND his ability at self-deprecation about his condition!

Professor Hawking has played himself on a Red Dwarf anniversary special. He played a hologram of himself on the episode 'Descent' of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He appeared in a skit on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and appeared on the Discovery Channel special Alien Planet. He has also played himself in several episodes of The Simpsons, Futurama and on episodes of Family Guy!

Frankly, those people taking offence about a silly and quite funny cartoon... should really chill out... and take a leaf out of Professor Hawking's own book... and get themselves a sense of humour in the same way as Professor Hawking has always shown.... with his ability at self-deprecation and great sense of humour!

Professor Hawking latest condition

Readers I am sure will be pleased to hear, as I was, that the latest news on Professor Hawking is that he is "comfortable" but still in hospital.

Cambridge University, his employers for the last 30 years, said Professor Hawking has undergone some tests on Monday at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge and that the 67-year-old was now "comfortable".

I am sure everyone will join me in wishing Professor Hawking well... and a quick recovery... back to his normal self. I hope someone keeps a clipping of that cartoon for him... as he's bound to be amused!

Read more about Stephen Hawking and about Self-deprecation @ Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.