Editor Reports: Moaning parents need to shut up when it comes to Cerrie Burnell

ATV Today editor Doug Lambert dishes his tough opinion on the parents who complained about new CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell because of her disability.

We are a society than doesn’t like to moan about the serious problems we may encounter but likes instead to complain about trivial matters, maybe it makes us feel better. Maybe complaining about the lack of bread in a supermarket at 10pm makes us feel we’re making an impact, a different. Maybe it makes us feel we’ll be listened to and now that supermarket will have the bread we want at 10pm. Or maybe we just like to make a mountain out of a molehill of small, pathetic issues, because we can’t face the bigger problems in our society.

Take, for instance, the parents who complained about a new presenter on the CBeebies channel. What had this poor woman done to incur the wrath of these parents? Had she accidentally sworn? Flirted outrageously with her co-star? Had a strong regional accent making it difficult for little brats to understand her? No. The complaints were far more pathetic than even those. The poor presenter, Cerrie Burnell, has only one hand. Yes reader’s parents are phoning up the BBC, and writing on internet forums, to complain about a presenter with just one hand. This is utterly shocking because it really hammers home how utterly intolerant people are of disability.

These moaners are apparently concerned their little “darlings” may be frightened or scared by a woman with one arm or may ask difficult questions. Yes you see the parents may have to explain a few home truths to the brats, like it’s not a perfect world and there are people out there who have disabilities. Of course it’s not the children who are frightened at the sight of a woman with one hand but instead the parents. The parents do not like it and it unnerves them that someone with such a disability should be so visible on-screen.

Perhaps you can’t blame them as, after all, they would have been brought up in a society far less tolerant of such differences and where disability wouldn’t have been visible on screen. Let’s be honest it still isn’t. If a disabled character is added to a soap or drama there are cries of “political correctness” from certain corners, it doesn’t matter the soap/drama may be actually trying to give some level of representation to a part of society, the old “political correctness” argument is rolled out. It’s these same people who use the “political correctness” argument to oppose better representation of television of minorities that are doubtless now screaming blue murder over the disabled presenter. Well shame on them!

A watching child may ask a few questions about why the lady in question only has one hand but that is only natural, children are curious. Children look at the world around them and ask questions because that is how they learn. That’s how they build up their knowledge of the world and society around them and that helps shape them as they grow up and reach teenagedom. It is therefore only natural that parents should be willing to answer their children’s questions about the world and explain concepts to them such as disability, religious differences and sexual orientation. It is a sign of lazy or intolerant parent who isn’t prepared to do this. Once the child has had their questions answered they will think nothing more of it and carrying on watching without further incident.

Will children really be scared or frightened by Cerrie Burnell? No. The complaints are just another sign of a vocal minority who are completely intolerant about differences in society and these people should be ashamed of themselves but more importantly the BBC should take no notice of them whatsoever. Good on them for promoting acceptance and tolerance in our society towards people with disabilities!

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