Our View: Pathetic defence for Laws' swipe

By Editorial

Paralympians are an inspirational breed.
These disabled athletes overcome tremendous odds to achieve greatness in their chosen field. They deserve admiration and respect.
But on Friday they got neither from Michael Laws.
As we reported on page 2 in the Bay of Plenty Times today, Laws delivered a wide-ranging verbal assault by lashing out at disabled athletes during his RadioLive talkback show.
Laws believes disability sports are "ludicrous" and should not be recognised alongside able-bodied pursuits.
Laws said it was "crazy" that Paralympians were eligible for Halberg Awards.
Laws took a potshot at Paralympic gold medallist Adam Hall, a slalom skier born with spina bifida and who captured the imagination of the New Zealand sporting public when he picked himself up to win at the Vancouver Paralympics last year.
"The fact that that guy was able to fall down, get up again and still win, shows that really there wasn't a hell of a lot of competition in his field was there?" Laws commented.
Laws also said giving the overall Halberg Award to the All Whites made it "like the disabled sports award".
Hall, a 2009 and 2010 Halberg Sportsman of the Year nominee, described the comments as discrimination. Laws, he said, had no idea how much work a disabled athlete had to put in to get to the top.
Of course, provocative talkback hosts like Laws are supposed to push buttons. After all, it is talkback - a platform where, thankfully, people can say their honest opinions and free speech is encouraged.


It is part of having a free media in a democracy.
But attacking disabled people? He's got be kidding.
In doing this, Laws has overstepped the mark and instead of being seen as an hard-edged radio host, he comes across as offensive, ignorant, and repugnant.
In 2009, former Breakfast host Paul Henry was reprimanded and ended up in the firing line for calling Susan Boyle "retarded".
But Laws seems to have dodged the bullet on this one.
His boss says there have been no complaints - most likely because his comments flew under the radar on talkback rather than being made on primetime television - and palmed the incident off as "pretty provocative talkback".
How pathetic.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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