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Advocates Hot Over "Freak Show" Comments
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 30, 2004

LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA--Disability rights advocates here want WLNI radio morning man, Brian Weigand, to apologize for insulting them and other people with disabilities on the air Wednesday.

Members of the Lynchburg Area Center for Independent Living and the Lynchburg Depressive Disorders Associates said that Weigand described a recent City Council open forum as a "freak show". Several people with disabilities had showed up at the forum to protest proposed transportation cuts in the city's budget.

"I was just shocked and very hurt that people with disabilities would be called freaks," Linda Theisen, of Lynchburg Depressive Disorders Associates, told local TV station WSET Thursday.

Dana Jackson, who is with LACIL, wrote on a WLNI website forum, "I was one of the people at the open forum using a wheelchair and do not consider myself a "Freak". I question if Mr. Weigand has come up to the 21st Century."

"People with disabilities are allowed out of our houses, allowed to work and allowed to speak when we want," Jackson added.

"I believe that anyone with Mr. Weigand’s total lack of regard for people’s feelings should not be allowed on the air. At the very least he owes all people with disabilities an apology for being behind the times and not aware enough to apologize in the first place."

The director of the Lynchburg Center for Independent Living told WSET he will ask the Federal Communications Commission to investigate Weigand's comment.

WSET reported Friday that Weigand had not apologized and that WLNI station management said only that his comments were taken out of context.

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