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Group demands apology for 'Big Brother 9' houseguest's comment


By Christopher Rocchio, 02/18/2008 

Adam Jasinski's perfect-match partner Sheila Kennedy apparently wasn't the only person offended when the Big Brother: 'Til Death Do You Part houseguest referred to people with autism as "retards."

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Autism United executive director John Gilmore has demanded an apology from CBS over Jasinski's remarks, The Associated Press reported Monday.  The organization is a national alliance of families and individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders that works with those who serve the autism community. 

CBS did not immediately reply to The AP's request for comment.

"We believe Jasinski's should be terminated immediately, and we believe that the show should be canceled. Further, we expect an apology to people with autism, developmental disabilities and their families from Jasinski, Big Brother, CBS and National Amusements," Gilmore wrote in a letter to CBS Corp. executive Sumner Redstone, a copy of which was obtained by TMZ.com. 

"While Jasinski's displayed gross ignorance, the producers of the show chose to use his comments to forward the show's storyline. This displays a conscious choice on their part to demean and hurt a large group of people to further their own commercial goals."

Jasinski, a 29-year-old public relations manager from Del Ray Beach, FL, made the offending comment during a conversation that aired on Wednesday night's pre-taped Big Brother broadcast.

"I do PR work for an autism foundation," Jasinski told Kennedy and several other houseguests.  "I want to do a hair salon for kids with special needs so retards can get it together and get their hair done."

"Don't call them that!" scolded Kennedy.

"Disabled kids. I can call them whatever I want!" Jasinski fired back.  "I work with them all day, okay?"

"I do have friends and family that are affected by children with disabilities," subsequently said Kennedy in the diary room.  "The comment that Adam made was absolutely heart wrenching."

Kennedy -- who had been bickering with Jasinski since being paired together as part of the season's "perfect-match pairings" twist -- then proceeded to let other houseguests know how she felt about her partner's use of the word "retards."

"Just as we are confident that CBS would not tolerate the use derogatory epithets regarding race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation we hope that the use of derogatory terms for people with disabilities [is] also unacceptable in your programming," Gilmore wrote in the letter to Redstone. 

"While a large number of people with autism do have mental retardation, a very large portion do not and they are perfectly capable of understanding that they have been denigrated in an extremely demeaning way by a program broadcast for profit by CBS."

Big Brother is no stranger to criticism from comments made by houseguests.

Just last summer, CBS canceled all post-eviction media interviews with the show's remaining houseguests after Amber Siyavus commented "the majority of people I know from New York and Jewish... so many are greedy and so selfish" during a July episode broadcast.

"This season, several cast members have made either offensive statements or exhibited controversial behavior," said CBS in a statement issued at the time.  "We respect journalists' interest and right to pose questions about these matters, but at the same time believe doing so could provide information that influences the final vote and potential outcome of the 12-week competition.  For that reason, the remaining jurors will not be made available to the media for the duration of the program."

(Photo credit CBS)


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