Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Joke that Fibromyalgia sufferers should be shot is not funny.

On October 10, Dave Ryan, a morning show host for KDWB in Minneapolis, Minnesota, tweeted that people who claim to have fibromyalgia should be shot.

When the large group of fibro sufferers on Twitter caught wind of this, we were outraged. This is exactly the type of stigma and disbelief we have to put up with from doctors, families, friends and nay-sayers all over the world. We re-tweeted his statement and sent it to news media twitter accounts. We posted about it on Facebook, on our statuses and on Dave Ryan's own fan page. Now there is a Facebook Cause: Fibromyalgia Sufferers Against Dave Ryan.

This man is a member of the media, and as such has power to affect the opinions of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people. We cannot let this kind of prejudice slide. KDWB is owned by Clear Channel, who's "creed" includes the core value of "respect for the individual". Not only has Dave Ryan disrespected the millions of individuals living with fibromyalgia, he's discredited his employers and his advertisers with his remarks.

Dave's "excuse" is that it was just a joke. He sent the following email to a fibromyalgia sufferer who expressed her outrage:

That was NOT directed at any one person. Wow, if she thought it was, she is sadly mistaken. That was just for the 6,500 people who follow me on Twitter. It was also a joke as should be clear by the previous statement also obviously being a joke. Do you also think that maybe all slow airline passengers should contact me in protest?

I don't expect people who aren't familiar with our show to understand the joke. It would be like you expecting me to understand an inside joke that your family shares.

The frightening thing is how quickly wrong information can be spread carelessly over the internet. As your e-mail does.


Dave's right about one thing, wrong information does spread quickly over the internet. Which was why it was necessary for us to do something about his comment, to let the world know that we will not put up with this marginalization. We are not stupid, we know his comment was a joke. That's not the point. The point is it fosters, encourages, and spreads stigma and prejudiced attitudes towards people who are suffering greatly, regardless of whether he really meant it or not. An "inside joke"? Did Dave's followers who have fibromyalgia appreciate it? No. This was not a hushed remark at a cocktail party. It was posted publicly where anyone with access to a computer could see it.

People with fibromyalgia cannot be compared to airline passengers who walk slowly out of gates. We don't have this illness for 10 minutes every time we step off a plane, we have it every minute of every day of our lives. We are an already marginalized and dismissed group of people. Making a joke like this is akin to making a racial slur. It is not acceptable, especially for someone who has the power of a microphone and thousands of fans listening in. People in the media should be leaders in the fight for worthy causes, not using their power against us.

Dave Ryan is the one who is being careless. We, on the other hand, are carefully using this opportunity to create even more awareness of the illness and the stigma those of us with it face daily.

Please don't let this go. We have been given a chance to bring fibromyalgia into the spotlight, to educate the public, stand up for ourselves and help put an end to stigma. Help us do so:

Write a letter to or call Dave Ryan's boss:
Mick Anselmo KDWB 101.3 FM
1600 Utica Avenue South Suite 400
St. Louis Park, MN

Click for information on how to contact Clear Channel and KDWB-FM
Let Dave's fans know who they are supporting by commenting on his Facebook Page
Tell Dave directly what you think by tweeting him @daveryankdwb


I sometimes write things that I don't really mean or believe. These are not to be taken literally, nor as definitive statements about me or my beliefs. Thoughts and emotions are transient, and I reserve the right to change my mind, generalize, exaggerate, give strong opinions, or write other possibly offensive statements. I don't lie, but I may say something that's not true to check whether I believe it or not, or to make a point. Call it creative license. This is my blog, and do have the right to say what I want. I'm using it in creatively therapeutic ways. Whatever the reader may think of me and my words, please believe that my core intentions are always good and I never willingly hurt anyone.