Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Dating show for the disabled
We knew this was a sensitive topic when we drove out to the Netherlands from Germany. A dating show for disabled people had never been done before and the question is, whether the people that actually go on such a show are being exploited for the audience’s amusement and the producer’s profit?

Our crew certainly had very mixed feelings doing a story about the show.

In the town of Nijmegen, we met Peter Kunnen who is one of the contestants on the show called “Love at Second Sight.” Peter can only limp with a crutch since he had a car accident 17 years ago. He says he has trouble finding a girl, because they only judge him by his looks when he meets them and many think he’s a freak just because he limps.

Lydia van Dam was the second contestant we met. She has a severe birth defect and has been in a wheelchair since birth. I asked her why she would put herself in the public by displaying her disabilities on TV. She put it simply: “I am physically disabled, I am not mentally disabled. I know exactly what I’m getting into.”

That hit the spot. Maybe the public shouldn’t be so worried about offending disabled people. Maybe that’s a form of pity that’s unfair to them, and which they don’t need, we were thinking.

Peter says he can’t understand all the fuss about the show. He says it’s only people without disabilities that are appalled by the program, disabled people are not. Bluntly Peter added, what disabled people really need is less pity and more respect.

Peter is a professional DJ, and he teaches media classes at Dutch schools. Lydia is a computer whiz. Both them have are managing their lives on their own overcoming the hurdles that stand in their way every day.

In the end the disabled dating show seemed a lot less controversial to us than we would have imagined at the beginning of our research.

You can click here to watch the report.

-- From Frederik Pleitgen, CNN Berlin Correspondent
It would be neat if there were a disabled seniors penpal site.
As the mother of a young boy with a physical disability, I grieve when I think that his future dating prospects are not good. My son is surprisingly charming, and he is highly intelligent. As he, and his disability, grow, people - guys, girls, employers - who would otherwise want him around will likely spurn him solely because he won't look 'normal'. He doesn't look different right now, and I am amazed by the change in how people treat him when they learn of his illness and its future effects.

The attitude change described by Frederik Pleitgen is the change that all of society could really use. Dating shows are trash, one and all, in my opinion, but the fact that people are looking at disabled people dating as being normal is a change long overdue.
"Peter can only limp with a crutch since he had a car accident 17 years ago."
This is not objective journalism; the sentence should read: "Peter walks with a crutch since he had a car accident 17 years ago."
I don't see what all the fuss is about. People without disabilities go on dating shows all the time....why not have one for a group of people who have expressed frusteration at traditional ways of finding dates based on a disability?
What is the fuss about this show? If anything, Extreme Makeover Home Edition is exploitative since they only pick families with children/parents that have special needs.
I am disabled in the USA. I think that the opinionated public who want to protect the disabled are well meaning, but sometimes they turn out to be the ones who can do the most harm. I appreciated the candor of this article. Not everyone I meet has a disability, but, on the other hand, I've never met a perfect person, either. In fact, many criminals are physically fit and work out regularly in the prison gymnasiums.And, even more criminals never get the priviledge of coming to justice for their wrong doing. It's a disabling thought.
Name one dating show where people aren't exploited for amusement and the profits of the producers?

If the disabled contestants are portrayed as human, why can't this program be shown along with ones that exploit B list celebrities?
Frederik:
Like Lydia van Dam said, "I am physically disabled, I am not mentally disabled." It is by choice they are participating in this program. Let's not place them in a category of not being able to make their own decisions.

It will only become a "freak show" if they allow it to do so. Leave them alone.
People fear what they don't know or don't understand. It's just people and every person deserves a chance at love. What is the difference between this dating show and any other?
Michelle Milne
why shouldn't people with disabilities have their own show? more power to them! they understand what they're getting into....my uncle was in a wheelchair due to contracting polio at age 12 (he recently died last year at age 70). he was married twice (1 normal, 1 disabled), and had girlfriends. he was not bad looking, sang and played guitar. he lived as best he could what the rest of us would call a "normal" life...being disabled does not necessarily mean unable
these two give new meaning to love is blinde, they already have 2 children with abnormalities that were taken away, now i see they have another one in the baby buggy normal or not they should be fixt he should get an vecectomy and she should have her tubes tyed, than they can love each other for us much as they like!
I live in the Netherlands and saw this show previewed on TV. After living here for 17 years I can say that I've seen my share of weird and pointless shows. This show, however, is different. I think it's a wonderful way for people (who otherwise might not not have the opportunity) to meet and maybe find a soulmate/friend for life. Not a thing wrong with THAT, folks....
Why not? There are plenty of shows out there that make me want to hurl with people who don't have disabilities. Just because someone has a physical challenge does not mean they do not feel normal things. Everyone needs a companion, lover, and friend.
The real reason why a show like this is controversial is because society is not comfortable viewing people with disabilities as having sexuality. We are stereotyped as helpless and innocent, and the idea that we are capable of living full lives despite our physical conditions is frightening to many people.

The reality is that many people with disabilities have relationships, marry, and have children. It is harder to meet people to date because of society's prejudice, but not impossible. My partner's aunt uses a wheelchair, and her brother has a learning disability, so she was comfortable around disability issues long before she met me, and my disability was not a barrier to us starting a relationship. Most of my friends with disabilities are in or have had relationships as well.

If this show portrays people with disabilities as having the same desires and goals as everyone else, and deserving of respect and love rather than pity, more power to the producers, and I hope they bring it to the USA.
It has been my good fortune to have been raised in a family with a disabled sister and two disabled nieces. I say good fortune because through them I have been allowed to see the world through their eyes and see how the world sees them. My life is better because of them not inspite of them. Sadly, the majority of persons I have known are repulsed when in the company of the disabled. They seldom look them in the eyes, refused to shake their hand, and treat them as second class citizens. The disabled are faced with tremendous obsticals and the greatest obstical is overcoming the stigma that disabled people have no feelings ir are incapable of making decisions for themselves. I aplaud the producers of the dating show for the disabled. To those who find the show disturbing I say, the disabled have as much right to happiness as do the non-diabled. If you don't like the show don't watch it.
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