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NBC's SNL and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Defame Caster Semenya

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By GLAAD |
September 25, 2009

Last week, we reached out to NBC with complaints about a joke told at the expense of champion South African runner Caster Semenya during September 17th's episode of Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday.

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Although NBC listened to our complaints, the network has yet to issue a statement, an apology or give an acknowledgment that the joke was in poor taste.

Please contact NBC and voice your serious concerns about this joke. Ask NBC to apologize and cut the joke from future airings.

Sharon Pannozzo
NBC Publicity
Sharon.Pannozzo@nbcuni.com

jimmykimmel

This week, a viewer also alerted us to a recent segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live! titled “Kids Weigh In” which perpetuated a series of severely insensitive media reports questioning Caster Semenya's gender.

“Kids Weigh In” was introduced with a monologue by Kimmel that quickly shifted from comedic to offensive when he reported on the rumors surrounding Semenya. Among several distasteful comments, Kimmel referred to Semenya as a “hermaphrodite,” and to her hairstyle as a “hermafro.”

Kimmel’s reference to Semenya as a “hermaphrodite” is in itself offensive—the term is outdated and stigmatizing. The use of such a term was only one of the many problems that the segment illustrated—Kimmel later commented on the IAAF testing of Semenya’s gender saying, “if it takes three months to figure out whether you’re a woman or not, then you probably aren’t.”

During the segment, several children were asked to decipher the athlete’s gender, because according to Kimmel, “kids are the most honest people in the world.” In the interviews, eight children were shown a photograph of Semenya and asked if she was male or female.

Although the video clip was intended to be a humorous take to the gender debate surrounding Semenya, the end result proved to be defamatory.

GLAAD is currently reaching out to ABC and Jimmy Kimmel Live! about the segment. To voice your concerns please contact:

Aime Wolfe
Aime.wolfe@abc.com

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