Margarito Vs. Parkinson’s… Ding Ding Ding!

Rabbi Mark, Freddie Roach and Tom Arnolf at the Beit T'Shuvah Knock Out Addiction Fundraiser

Tremors, muscle rigidity, insomnia, and even dementia. These are all a few of the many symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, which is a disorder of the motor system that only gets worse over time. Freddie Roach, a very famous boxer and honoree of Beit T’Shuvah’s first annual Knock Out Addiction boxing match, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1992—depressing news, yes, but did the best he could with the skills he possesses and became a coach. A few weeks ago, Antonio Margarito, who’s boxing one of Roach’s fighters, Manny Pacquiao, made fun of Roache’s disease on camera. He extended his arms and pretended to have a tremor, clearly showing his contempt for the man.

I find this sort of behavior completely despicable. To me, there is nothing that is worse in the world than seeing somebody else make fun of somebody else’s genetic dispositions. I went to a high school that had a magnet program for kids with all different types of mental disorders and heavy learning disabilities, and I was fortunate enough to gain a lot of tolerance towards others who are physically and emotionally different from myself. The unfortunate part is that most of the world is not as lucky. Attitudes like these are what enables so much hate and prejudice in the world. When I asked our own Rabbi Mark Borovitz what he felt about Margarito’s video, he replied that it is completely evil to take public advantage of another’s vulnerabilities. Not only that, but attitudes like these can add a lot of negativity to our already volatile world. Is a man with Parkinson’s really so different from the rest of us? Not only is this a below the belt blow from Margarito, but what is he really saying? Perhaps he is projecting his own feelings—his fear of insecurities or of failures. And it turned out that Margarito’s spiritual bank account was below zero; Pacquiao won the fight.

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3 thoughts on “Margarito Vs. Parkinson’s… Ding Ding Ding!

  1. thank you to the author of this article~
    i have struggled with the issue of whether or not a disability is fair game for humor (politically correct and/or socially acceptable) , and appreciate the opportunity to share some of my thoughts-
    my second son was born with a neurological condition that has been variously diagnosed over the years as developmental delay, autism, hypotonia and mental retardation; this topic is close to my heart.
    the golden rule of humor applies here: “Laugh with me, not at me.”
    many attempts at humor in the popular media, although seductively appealing to the lowest common denominator, have hit a nerve with me and left a taste in my mouth that can only be described as sourly offensive. no need to illustrate with examples…hopefully any readers of this blog would recognize this comic tactic for what it is: a low blow.
    perhaps a determining factor of whether or not a joke is in bad taste might be the sentiment behind the words–if the intent is to diminish or demean the person with a disability, thereby elevating the ego/esteem of the comic, i believe it is safe to say that we can file that joke under the category of ridicule.
    as jews we have been at the receiving end of this practice for centuries, right? it is curious to note that if a non-jew makes a less than attractive comment about a jew, our sensibilities are naturally bruised; but if a fellow jew makes the same comment we are able to “hear” it in an entirely different way. the same holds true for “your mama” jokes; i can laugh with my siblings about my blessed mother’s shortcomings, but WOE to anyone else treading on this sacred territory!
    if the intent, on the other hand, is to relieve the tension and suffering of someone affected by a disability, including the family members and caregivers of that individual, then i say LAUGH ON! and LOUDLY!
    humor can be the best remedy for hopelessness, self-pity and pain (emotional AND physical). although be careful: a well executed joke has been known to induce side-splitting, tears, and even loss of bladder control!!!
    g-d bless the funny people~
    i don’t know where i would be without them…
    (dedicated to my sister mindy, who has kept me in stitches since the age of three—happy hanukau y’all)

  2. Thanks Melissa! I’m glad to hear that you identify with the subject of my article. I completely agree with you–sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who gets the same “sour taste” in my mouth when I hear this kind of ridicule. And I think humor can also be one of the best ways to relate to another person–when I go to AA meetings there’s a surprising amount of laughter, and it’s usually because so many people in the room have been in the exact same place as the speaker. It can definitely be a fantastic way to connect to another human being.

    1. right on ben-
      as long as individual dignity is preserved, a healthy guffaw now and then is one of the best ways to remind us that we don’t need to pollute our bodies and souls with false gods in order to enjoy life~
      the talent show sunday afternoon was a prime example of this principle—i am pretty sure all in attendance were abstinent from their drug/behavior of choice, and no one can deny a great time was had by all!
      rock on, laugh on and live on,

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