Before I begin this mini-rant, I want to say that I'm fairly sure that the US doesn't have a better track record than Britain does in this area, so this should be taken as any sort of self-righteous "US is more sensitive than Britain" thing. But seriously, British parents who are freaking out because a children's tv host has a physical disability need to grow the hell up.
When the BBC hired a pretty young actress to co-host a daily program for toddlers, it never expected viewers to complain that the young woman might give their children nightmares.First of all, your kids probably aren't going to freak, especially not the small ones, unless you make a big deal out of it. I have some experience in this--Amy's uncle's leg was amputated below the knee, and he has a prosthesis which he enjoys taking off in public. He does it for shock value as much as for comfort, but the fact is that while adults might be a little taken aback by it, little kids are often in awe of it. To them, it's cool that you can detach a leg--they don't have the experience necessary to understand that it's odd.
“I didn't want to let my children watch the filler bits on the bedtime hour last night because I know it would have played on my eldest daughter's mind and possibly caused sleep problems,” wrote one viewer in an e-mail to the British television network after seeing Cerrie Burnell play games and read children’s stories.
The viewer’s problem? Burnell was born with an incomplete right arm that ends in a stump below her elbow.
And frankly, that's what we ought to be working toward--a society that acknowledges disability and makes accomodations for it, but which treats the disabled as full members of society rather than as freaks. And heart attacks over a television network putting a disabled person in full view says a lot about the people having them.