For more than two decades, the lunatic fringe has gradually taken control of the Republican Party, thanks to craven media figures like Fox News’s Sean Hannity.
A man who purports to be a dutiful Catholic, Hannity has made a career out of violating the ninth commandment (or eighth in his faith) against lying about others. If Hannity stopped vomiting up falsehoods, his program would be nothing but a test pattern. From him and the others in the “Who cares if it’s false?” conservative media camp, we have heard over the decades that Hillary and Bill Clinton murdered many people, that the Bush administration found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that Obama could be on the verge of declaring martial law, and on and on.
They are pretend journalists pumping out propaganda to scared, foolish people.
But now, Hannity and his ilk have gone too far with their recent lies about Hillary Clinton’s health, a conspiracy theory conservative media groups have seized upon with no regard for truth. They have used misrepresented photos, theories from quacks and other nonsense to back up their story line.
And then came a video of Clinton making goofy movements with her head when a reporter held a tape recorder very close to her face. Being pulled in different directions by multiple speakers at once, Clinton playfully acted like a bobblehead doll, smiling and then speaking after the joke was over.
Hannity and his lying pals shrieked: Clinton had a seizure! Right in front of the cameras! “Are there many seizures like that?” Hannity said. “This looks like violent, out of control movements on her part.”
I know this response to Sean Hannity is a little raw, but as someone with epilepsy, I hope my editors will let this slip through: Fuck you, Sean. Your willingness to deceive your viewers—to degrade those of us with epilepsy, to suggest something is a seizure when it looks nothing like one, to leave people dumber about this condition—is unforgivable.
What kind of seizure do you think it was, Sean? Jacksonian? Tonic-clonic? Atonic? Complex-partial? You have no idea, do you Sean? You don’t even know what any of that means. You just spat it out, and in the process made the lives of tens of millions of people who deal with this condition on a daily basis just a little more dangerous and a little more unpleasant.
Despite having taken anticonvulsants for almost four decades, I–like many, many others–have seizures that are not fully controlled. (Those are called refractory seizures, if you care, Sean.) I have woken up, battered and bruised, when people who thought they were helping did things to me they had learned from the movies or television, things that were totally wrong. I lost a job and was tossed out of college because people were terrified of my seizures. (I only was able to complete my education thanks to the government you hate so much Sean, because the school broke the law when it booted me.)
Some Catholics still view epilepsy as religious punishment, which is why for centuries those with seizures have not been allowed to become priests. Is Sean Hannity now saying we should be blocked from holding public office as well?
Many people have heard that Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court has experienced seizures. Unfortunately, Roberts doesn’t talk about it, robbing the many, many children who suffer with this condition of a possible role model, someone who could show them that they can accomplish anything, even if they have epilepsy. And perhaps he won’t talk about it because of people like Hannity who are sending the clear message that people with seizures are somehow the other, something to fear.
What makes it worse, other than Hannity’s willingness to convey the message to millions of children that their place in society should be limited because of their seizures, is that he has painted a false image of what seizures look like and what to do about them. People do not smile during a seizure while standing upright and then immediately launch into a coherent sentence. There’s no smiling because, if for some reason the person experiencing the seizure has not collapsed to the ground in unconsciousness, the moment the body begins to move uncontrollably is terrifying. After a seizure, someone does not instantly jump back into a conversation, making jokes. Instead there is a period of at least 5 minutes (and often much longer) when the person is unable to think clearly, is very confused, can have trouble speaking and other problems.
Worse yet, will epilepsy now become the next area of relentless condemnation for Hannity’s gullible Fox News viewers who believe they have found a new political talking point? Will people with epilepsy be more reluctant to be open about revealing their condition because of Hannity’s deceitful, ignorant attack?
The answer, Sean, is yes. While I know you almost never apologize for anything you do on the air, this sin requires some penance. It can be done in secret if you don’t have the character to make a public pronouncement of regret. Write a check. Make a donation to help those you demeaned and damaged.
Here is the address for the Epilepsy Foundation:Epilepsy Foundation8301 Professional Place, Suite 200Landover, Maryland 20785
As for anyone else reading this article, if Sean Hannity doesn’t bother to take any public action, please let him learn of your outrage by making a contribution. And make sure to call it just that: A contribution in honor of those harmed by Sean Hannity.
And as for you Sean, if you are unable to show the backbone to undo the damage you have done, you can understand why I say you “purport” to be a Catholic. If you really were one, you’d be worried about burning in hell for what you’ve done.