Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Was actor Michael J.Fox faking Parkinson's symptoms..? You decide

Here's the sick clip of American right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh accusing actor Michael J. Fox of faking Parkinson’s symptoms to get sympathy in a TV ad.

Back to the Future star Fox fronted ads appealing to American voters to elect pro-stem-cell-research candidates ie Democrats, in next week’s midterm elections to give medical science a chance of finding a cure.

Conservative Limbaugh mocks Fox's involuntary shaking movements and says he's either acting or he's not taking his medication.

It's an outrageous attack rooted in offensive ignorance of an terrible disease.

My wife who has nursed many people with Parkinson's over her career, says the shakes of anyone with Parkinson's not medication can be far less controlled than Fox appeared to be.

Anyway, the focus on the need for stem-cell research sparked by Limbaugh's instant condemnation of Fox will no doubt help cement the right-wing meltdown predicted in next week's midterm elections and hopefully revive American hope of progress in medical science.

CLICK HERE to see the clip on Americablog.com, scroll down to the utube screen and click the arrow...

Comments welcome.

13 comments:

Bob Waters said...

Well, considering that Fox has admitted not taking his medication before testifying on the subject before Congress in order to increase his visible symptoms, why is the comment either disgusting or even vaguely less than credible?

Anonymous said...

Well there you go, the movements were involuntary, he didn't take the medication and that was the real effect of Parkinsons. It wasn't even the comment which offended me, it was his stupid impression that he did on the webcam, that was completely uncalled for and made him look like an idiot more than Fox.

Bob Waters said...

First, I should say that the charges are at this point just that- charges. I should not have stated them as facts.

But I have to admit that I find your response disturbing. Yes, the tremors are the result of his disease. But if- and I say if- he deliberately went off his medication in order to misrepresent the impact of the disease on his life, the fact that the tremors themselves does not make his actions a bit less dishonest and manipulative- especially given the nature of the ad itself, which in no way addresses the ethical debate concerning the use of living human embryos for spare parts. It's an emotional appeal, plain and simple.

And if the charges are true, a deliberately deceptive and manipulative emotional appeal at that.

fairdealphil said...

Bob: thanks for your immediate and more considered comments. Whatever Fox did, i found the immediate comments by the shock jock to be offensive.

Even if he didn't take his medication, who ruled that it's illegal for Fox not to.

I hope the right-wing presenter who mocked Fox never has to know what it is to have Parkinsons.

Stem cell research might just help find a cure, so I applaud Fox for putting the issue to the forefront of next week's elections.

fairdealphil said...

nightowl: i agree that it was the mocking of the movements that was most offensive - although he didn't mince his words, did he?

Liz said...

I have witnessed Parkinson sufferers and the symptoms displayed by Mr Fox were not a surprise to me. The symptoms are helped but not controlled by medication and like all diseases there are good and bad days. If I suffered from the disease, I would do anything to get my government to support stem cell research which may result in a cure. Regardless of the ethical issues surrounding the research, I found the neo-conservative commentator's remarks abhorrent. Fortunately, most fair minded citizens in the US have condemned his words. I read with interest a review of the recent publication of a book by the former German Chancellor Schroeder on the fundamentalist Christian values of many in the current US Administration. Schroeder is an athiest but some of his words were true. The banning of stem cell research and online gaming are classic examples. All a bit confusing - what about Las Vegas?

Anonymous said...

I guess it's a question of who you believe - Michael J. Fox (a professional actor) or Rush Limbaugh (a professional liar and scum-sucker).

Richard said...

Ten years ago, when my MS was less pronounced, a Lincolnshire Policeman kicked me to the ground. Then, rather than a wheelchair, a walking stick and a hesitant gait was my only obvious outward symptoms. One blind eye allowed me then to still drive - the 'kicking' was not therapeutic and put a halt to that mobility. A 'complaint' took 7 years to be admitted - and, "he uses his MS to gain sympathy" was offered as justified defense.

Understandably, I suspect Fox hardly needs to 'act' his way through Parkinsons Disease. Neither did I similarly use my MS - and clearly neither did not Northwick Park's 'drugs tester' - although I'm certain there is some idiot who is envious of any 'compensation' which may be presumed as forthcoming. Heck, Chrissie Talbot has her eyes upon my Disability Living Allowance - and she a Christian ?

Leftrightleftright said...

Bob Waters

If I understand you correctly, you say that there are unproven claims that Fox deliberately did not take his medication before testifying to Congress.

I certainly hope that is in fact correct. I think it would be entirely appropriate: he and other campaigners are making points about medical research. So it is far from duplicitous to show what his and other Parkinson's sufferers' lives would be like without the benefits of that research, or of further research. That's the whole point of the campaign, surely?

Bob Waters said...

First, Nightowl, it should be said that this blog- inadvertently, of course; the American media thoroughly botched this story, and Phil is hardly responsible for that- didn't present the controversy altogether fairly.

Limbaugh almost immediately withdrew and apologized for his implication that Fox was faking. That is simply not the matter in controversy- or at least legitimate controversy; nobody, including Limbaugh, defends that suggestion at this point.

The issue is rather the reasonableness of Limbaugh's question as to whether, having foregone medication for the purpose of emotional manipulation once (when he testified before a Senate subcommittee), he might have done so again before making the political ad, given that his symptoms
were vastly worse on the ad than they seemed to be in recent public appearances.

I happen to agree with your reaction to Limbaugh's imitation of Fox, which I found reprehensible, btw.

Bob Waters said...

Personal attacks and name calling are hardly helpful, even though Limbaugh is someone I also find distasteful. And again, the issue is not whether Fox was faking. The issue is whether he deliberately manipulated his symptoms in order to make an emotional appeal irrelevant to the issues at controversy in a political campaign.

I now have more complete information.

From Fox's own book, Lucky Man: "I had made a deliberate choice to appear before the subcommittee without medication. It seemed to me that this occasion demanded that my testimony about the effects of the disease, and the urgency we as a community were feeling, be seen as well as heard. For people who had never observed me in this kind of shape, the transformation must have been startling."

Leftrightleftright, your argument might have more merit if there had been no medication available for Fox to take. But the very fact that there was- and that Fox stopped taking it in order to make this point- means that the effects of the disease were not at issue. So the question of what his and his fellow sufferers' lives would be like without this research was in no way illuminated by Fox's appearing unmedicated. Rather, what his appearance before the committee demonstrated was what the lives of Fox and his fellow sufferers would be like if they didn't take their medication, whether the research in question proceeded or not.

Secondly, again- while this seems too obvious to have to point out, everybody is in agreement that Parkinson's is a terrible disease, and that a cure would be a good thing. Fox's unmedicated appearance made absolutley no point about anything in contention. It also totally begged the serious questions that actually are at issue in the debate over fetal stem cell research. And it is here that my objection to Fox's behavior focuses. Since appearing without medication imparted no information relevant to the issue, it can only be described as a blatant emotional appeal, and an attempt to manipulate the senators on the subcommittee.

Now, members of Congress are adults. They are quite capable, most of them, of recognizing manipulation, and guarding themselves against it. It is not so much Fox's appearance before the subcommittee which concerns me. The incident which gave rise to this entire controversy was the observation by Rush Limbaugh- a man I myself by no means admire- that since Fox had a track record of foregoing medication for the purposes of making a manipulative emotional appeal to the subcommittee, he might have done the same thing in a campaign commercial for a candidate favoring fetal stem cell research- especially since Fox's symptoms in the commercial were vastly more pronounced than those he has displayed in recent public appearances.. That seems to me to be a perfectly fair question, especially
if one agrees that manipulative ads and emotional appeals are not helpful elements of political campaigns.

Fox's advertisement clearly was an emotional appeal, in any case. He did not engage any of the actual issues in controversy. Instead, he sought to bypass the issues and appeal to the pity of the viewer. I don't happen to think that emotional appeals which beg the question are terribly helpful in the context of a political campaign, and that is the extent of my problem with Mr. Fox.

Fox, btw, has since addressed the issue. He was accidentally overmedicated. While the ad itself was an emotional appeal, and his condition was misleading to an extent, it seems at this point that the exaggeration of his symptoms compared to their manifestation at his other recent public appearances was not deliberate.

fairdealphil said...

thanks to all for contributions.

whatever happened, or didn't happen, i'm delighted that Fox's adverts - and the media coverage of them - seems to have put the stem-cell issue on the election agenda, and that someone has at last stood up to the right-wing shock jock, culture who seem to have even hi-jacked religion.

Angela Robinson said...

I have MS and suffer from tremor, just like Michael does. It is a horrible thing to live with, and to auggest that Michael was faking it is offensive, distatesful and shows a complete lack of understanding and sympathy. Limbaugh, you should be ashamed of yourself.