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TELEVISION JUDGE JUDY SHEINDLIN VISITS BRISBANE
The debate about needle supply to heroin addicts is an indulgence lead by "liberal morons", according to America's most popular television judge.
No point talking about how best to approach the problem since the solution is simple, said "Judge Judy" Sheindlin during her lunch time speech yesterday.
"Give 'em dirty needles and let 'em die," she said.
The audience at Brisbane's Carlton Crest breathed a collective "yes" and a cheer went up around the room.
The fast talking Brooklyn-born dynamo is touring her forthright opinions around the country to promote her book, 'Beauty Fades, Dumb is Forever'.
"I don't understand why we think it's important to keep them alive," she said.
From: Allan Clear [SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 1999 9:46 AM
Subject: Judge Judy Action
DrugSense FOCUS Alert #139 Wednesday December
"Judge Judy" Sees Death For Addicts As Justice
PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE
DrugSense FOCUS Alert #139 Wednesday December 8, 1999 Judy Sheindlin, the former family court judge who now plays a judge on TV ("Judge Judy"), was in Australia last month promoting her new book when she made some outrageous comments that illustrated the depth of the hate produced by the war on drugs. According to the Australia Courier-Mail, Sheindlin made an appearance in Brisbane, Australia on November 16 where she said the debate about needle supply to heroin addicts is an indulgence lead by "liberal morons." The solution is simple, she said. "Give 'em dirty needles and let 'em die. . .I don't understand why we think it's important to keep them alive."
To read longer accounts, see
Activists have taken note of Sheindlin's barbarity, and calls and letters to the producer of her television show seem to be having an impact. Some carefully worded responses from Sheindlin's representatives do not deny that the "judge" made the "let 'em die" statement. However, the attempt at spin control seems like more of an effort to justify the comments, rather than admitting the stupidity and cruelty of them. Despite her effort at damage control, her death sentence for addicts was not the first attack attempts at reform. In her 1996 book she wrote about seeing "a TV profile about a woman in the South Bronx who has devoted her life to rescuing drug addicts from infection by giving them free needles in exchange for their old ones. She believes that America has becomes callous to their plight. She says she is discouraged and ashamed of the citizens' inhumane response to 'afflicted addicts.' Well, forgive me for not dabbing my eyes. In the TV show about her, I watched addicts dump a weekly supply of syringes on her table, fifty or more apiece. What the hell did she think they put in those needles - soda pop? They were all shooting heroin, which is deadly and very expensive."
Please write to the sponsors of Sheindlin's show to express your displeasure over her comments and her half-hearted responses to our concerns.
Thanks for your effort and support.
WRITE A LETTER TODAY
It's not what others do it's what YOU do!
Your help is urgently needed on the "Dump Judge Judy" campaign. DRCNet has launched a web site, http://www.dumpjudgejudy.com, to enhance the campaign and build political support for needle exchange. Since launch, the site has garnered coverage in the New York Post and other venues, and indications that major coverage is possible if the campaign to get her sponsors to drop can be reinvigorated. This is a major opportunity to raise awareness of our issues in the popular media -- the last reporter to call is a TV critic -- and at the same time to build up the coalition of people supporting needle exchange.
Since running an article in the Week Online late Friday afternoon (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/128.html#dumpjudgejudy), well over 100 people have used it to send e-mail to Judge Judy sponsors, and about 2/3 of them have also used our site to send a pro-needle exchange message to their state legislators. If the campaign and attendant coverage goes big, there's no telling how many people can be brought into the movement who care enough about injection drug users to speak up.
This will only happen if you visit the web site, forward the following bulletin to your supporters and take action. Also, we are tentatively planning to put up a list of participating organizations working on the Judge Judy campaign. If your organization would like to sign on and be listed, please e-mail me with the specifics. Here's the article:
DRCNet and TV's "Judge Judy" in War of Words Over Needle Exchange Remarks Following Launch of "DumpJudgeJudy.com" Web Site
Remarks made in Australia last November by the popular TV personality "Judge Judy" Sheindlin against needle exchange and injection drug users continue to "follow her around," according to the New York Post, Thursday, March 9, following the launching by DRCNet of the web site DumpJudgeJudy.com (http://www.dumpjudgejudy.com).
During a book talk in Brisbane, Australia last fall, Judge Judy was quoted in The Courier Mail as saying, "give [addicts] dirty needles and let 'em die," and "I don't understand why we think it's important to keep them alive," calling needle exchange to reduce the spread of AIDS and other infectious diseases an idea advocated by "liberal morons."
Judge Judy was soon slammed from both sides of the globe. Bob Aldred, chief executive of the Alcohol and Drug Foundation of Queensland called Judge Judy's comments "callous and deplorable," quoted in the Melbourne newspaper "The Age," saying "the arrogance of a TV celebrity using the tragedy of young lives struck down by drugs for her own commercial gain is nothing short of repulsive." In the United States, prominent conservative commentator Arianna Huffington slammed Judge Judy in her nationally syndicated column, with an editorial titled "The New Callousness."
An Internet-based campaign aimed at the Judge Judy show's sponsors began to percolate, as DRCNet, together with allied organizations such as the Harm Reduction Coalition, Family Watch and Drugsense, circulated lists of Judge Judy advertisers and contact info. Three Judge Judy sponsors, Herr's Potato Chips, Papa John's Pizza, and a joint venture of Shell Oil and Chase Manhattan Bank, responded by e-mail that they would cease running ads on the Judge Judy show. Feeling the pressure, Sheindlin released two public statements on her web site, http://www.judgejudy.com, on 11/30/99 and 12/3/99.
On 12/21/99, the campaign received coverage in the unlikely venue of supermarket tabloids, with simultaneous articles appearing in both The Globe and The National Enquirer. On Feb. 18, a caller to the CNN program "Larry King Live" show challenged Judge Judy about the incident. Later in the month, activists in New York planned to protest a Judge Judy book talk, but called the plans off after learning she was reading from a children's book. Earlier this week, DRCNet launched a web site, DumpJudgeJudy.com, (http://www.dumpjudgejudy.com), to enhance the anti-Judge Judy campaign and raise awareness of drug-related HIV and hepatitis and the urgent need for needle exchange programs.
Last Tuesday, 3/7, the popular web site APBnews.com covered DumpJudgeJudy.com and the Judge Judy campaign (see http://www.apbnews.com/media/celebnews/2000/03/07/judy0307_01.html). DRCNet Executive Director David Borden was quoted in the article, saying "We have children being born with AIDS because of infected needles, and nowhere in any of her statements has she acknowledged that the disease spreads to other people," adding "I feel she owes an apology to anyone that has lost a loved one to drug abuse."
Papa John's spokesman Brian Jennings told APB, "I regret ever advertising on her show," continuing, "We stopped it as soon as we found out about her adverse views. We have nothing to do with Judge Judy, nor will we ever."
APB's story led to a Thursday, 3/9 article in the New York Post titled "Judge Judy sorry... sort of." Sheindlin told the Post, "If they're looking for me to say I'm sorry to the families who lost children or loved ones [to AIDS or drugs] -- absolutely. I feel badly if words that I used hurt them. But am I going to apologize to a [drug advocacy] group that has an agenda -- absolutely not. This group has an agenda, and that's legalizing drugs." Sheindlin said she doesn't remember her exact, original quote, but claimed it was changed or taken out of context.
Borden explained to the Post, "[t]hrough her callous remarks she has made herself fair game, and we intend to use this episode [as a platform] to discuss an important public health issue." (The Post article can be found online for several more days at http://www.nypost.com/03092000/entertainment/1269.htm.)
Members of DRCNet's Board of Directors who are prominent in the AIDS field made comments in a statement released by DRCNet announcing the web site. Board member Keith Cylar, Co-executive Director of Housing Works, the nation's largest minority-run AIDS services organization, said, "Ignorant is too good a word for her views," explaining, "Syringe exchange protects not only the lives of drug users, but their families and sexual partners, present and future."
Board member Joey Tranchina, Executive Director of the AIDS Prevention Action Network (APAN), stated, "No person who proudly and unrepentantly consigns whole groups of human beings to horrible death from AIDS can ever be considered an acceptable spokesperson for any product or an attractive personality for any entertainment. By these comments, Judy Sheindlin has made herself unwelcome in any decent American home." (APAN is a needle exchange program that achieved legality under a California law passed late last year.)
Experienced sources have told us that DumpJudgeJudy.com could be a hot story if Judge Judy's sponsors continue to drop her. Please visit http://www.dumpjudgejudy.com to help. Our site offers e-mail, web form links and sample text to contact the sponsors online, making it easy for you to join the campaign. The site also includes a petition to state legislators asking them to make needle exchange and pharmacy syringes sales legal, a "Don't Come Back" section of responses Australians have written to Judge Judy, information about needle exchange and more. Please visit http://www.dumpjudgejudy.com and forward this article to your friends too. And please let us know of other sponsors you see advertise on Judge Judy, and forward us any correspondence you receive back.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Judge Judy's comments dehumanized people with drug problems and harmed efforts to improve drug policy. Even if she was sincere when she told the Post she felt "badly if words that I used hurt" families who've lost loved ones to AIDS or drug abuse, her other comments are scarcely more positive. She talks about how addicts "rob and maim and murder" and how her sympathy is with the victims of crime and the children born addicted to drugs.
No one should doubt that crime by addicts and prenatal drug exposure are serious, often tragic problems. But nowhere in any of her public statements does she acknowledge that most addicts don't "rob and maim and murder" nor even commit low level property crimes. Nowhere in any discussion of this issue has she acknowledged that the worst prenatal substance exposure problems are due to the legal drugs alcohol and cigarettes, nor to our knowledge has she called for those drugs to be prohibited. By attempting to cast all addicts as violent, child-abusing monsters, Judge Judy is unfairly demonizing an entire, vulnerable class of people.
And most bafflingly, she has failed on repeated occasions to explain why children, even under the worst of circumstances, are better off being born with AIDS -- the inevitable, horrific consequence of the unavailability of sterile syringes. Only an extraordinary leap of illogic gets one from "some addicts commit crimes" to concluding that deadly, incurable epidemic diseases should be allowed to spread unchecked through the population. The spread of disease places untold numbers of wholly uninvolved third parties as well as injection drug users at risk. Nor does she acknowledge the great weight of evidence showing that not only do needle exchange programs reduce the spread of HIV, but that they do so without increasing the use of drugs, hence do not contribute to the drug abuse problems that she decries. Last but not least, she is deliberately confusing the issue by focusing only on funding; whereas the heart of the problem at this point in time is that needle exchange is still illegal in most states, even when privately funded.
Your efforts can keep the controversy going and bring dumpjudgejudy.com publicity that will fuel positive discussion in the popular press and attract new supporters to the issue and the organization. Please visit http://www.dumpjudgejudy.com and please help us spread the word.
LINKS RELATED TO THIS CAMPAIGN
official Judge Judy web site: http://www.judgejudy.com
Judge Judy's 11/30 statement: http://www.judgejudy.com/drugs.html
Judge Judy's 12/3 statement: http://www.judgejudy.com/drugs2.html
Dump Judge Judy web site: http://www.dumpjudgejudy.com
Arianna Huffington's column slamming Judge
Media Awareness Project archive of relevant
Family Watch, organization that contributed
to the write-the-sponsors
Harm Reduction Coalition: http://www.harmreduction.org
Housing Works: http://www.housingworks.org
DRCNet's 11/19 Judge Judy article and action
DRCNet's 12/6 Judge Judy update:
DRCNet commentary on Judge Judy, 12/6:
3/7 APBnews.com article:
3/9 New York Post article:
"Don't Come Back": Australians Respond
to Judge Judy:
see more Media Irresponsibility articles:
And sometimes AIDS Rags can be the worst...
see for yourself > > > A&U Editorial (April 2001)
ABC NEWS 20/20 CRAP
"AIDS Gets Too Much Money"
A sensationalist piece like Farber's is just what cheap media loves. Maia Szalavitz wrote a good critique for NewsWatch: Sensationalist Hype of Celia Farber, an official member of a group of so-called AIDS denialists who believe AIDS is caused by drugs not HIV. A highly misleading and extremely biased article is stirring controversy in the AIDS community. Published in the March2000 issue of the American "lad" magazine Gear, it claims that the "cocktail" of anti-HIV medications currently in use is killing more people than it helps. The story has also been picked up - and expanded on - by this week's New York Press and on an ABC News Web site and touted by the AIDS denialists like so-called "actup" San Francisco.
MEDIA IRRESPONSIBILITY: The New York Times
MEDIA FRENZY: Nushawn Williams