Dear Media Member:
My name is Patrick James Lynch, an actor/writer/producer and advocate living with severe hemophilia A. On Sunday night during the airing of ABC's Secrets and Lies, there was a downright defaming and discriminatory remark made about hemophilia, calling it "a nasty byproduct of incest."
Were the same said of many other minority populations, or a "buzzy" health population such as those living with autism, there would've been immediate attention. Instead, our small community is fighting for any attention at all and asking those involved with the show to publicly apologize for misinforming 6-7,000,000 people and giving the 20,000 Americans living with hemophilia a new stigma to worry about (we've already gotten reports from parents about kids being bullied in schools because of this).
I've attached a video clip from the episode that includes the remark.
The Hemophilia Federation of America put out a Press Release, calling for a Public Apology, and, as a community leader, I penned an open letter through my organizations - Stop The Bleeding! - asking for public accountability from the show's producers (the letter - seen by 42,000 people in 24 hours - can be found below in it's entirety). These two pieces of material have rallied a very angry community into taking aggressive but appropriate steps to correcting this horrible incident.
Despite the terrible reason we're in this position, I see these next steps as an opportunity to set two examples: 1) how a small community - 20,000 people with hemophilia in the US - can unify and use aggressive but appropriate tactics to ensure their voice, though small, is heard when they are wrong, and 2) how a gigantic network - ABC - can own such a terrible mistake, make it right, and move forward with minimal fallout. I'm asking your help in getting this message out there.
I live in Los Angeles and would very much like the opportunity to speak with you about this story. I hope to hear from you.
Health & happiness,
Patrick James Lynch (email: firstname.lastname@example.org, c: 516.448.9164)
Originally posted on the Stop The Bleeding! Facebook Page, Monday March 16th, 2015 @ 9:15amPST.
"Hemophilia is a nasty byproduct of incest." - Secrets and Lies, S1E4 "The Sister" (Aired: March 15, 2015)
To Those Behind ABC Television Network's show Secrets and Lies,
As a producer and writer, I daydream about what it would be like to run a hit television show. I like thinking about how I'd collaborate with my writers, empower my directors, and encourage my actors. I like thinking about how to account for fan feedback and grow an audience season after season. But, perhaps more than anything, I think about the responsibility I would own as a creative leader were I to be behind a network show that had a audience of 7,000,000 people, approximately that of Secrets and Lies. I'd like to imagine that anyone in that position would not allow laziness, ignorance, or malice to guide the show's content, so you can imagine my shock when last night one of your character's uttered the sophomorically-conceived, slanderous line, "Hemophilia is a nasty byproduct of incest."
I'm suspending my disbelief that a Writers Guild of America union member making $100,000+ annually for their creative writing prowess could somehow arrive to the decision that "Hemophilia is a nasty byproduct of incest" was in any way a creative or even competent line of dialogue, but the utter discrimination and defamation that drips off of that disgusts me. I'd expect more out of a high school playwright, nevermind a TV show seen by 7,000,000 people a week!
Putting aside the specific writer responsible for this abhorrent misrepresentation of an entire population, I hold the following executive producers - the vision-keepers for the show - responsible for implicitly standing behind this inaccurate, discriminatory, and horrible comment:
Shame on each and every one of you for what aired last night. At it's least offense, it's inexcusably ignorant - a 10-second Google search debunks this horrible suggestion - and at it's worst, it's openly discriminating against and defaming a minority community that’s already faced such incredible misrepresentation in the media. How dare you. Would you ever be so foolish as to make similarly horrible comments about other minority population in this country? Would you keep your jobs if you did? Should you now?
When Ryan White was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the 1980's as a result of tainted blood product he took for his hemophilia, the amount of misinformation that was rapidly spread about hemophilia made our small community members lives exceptionally difficult for many, many years. Today, there are roughly 20,000 of us in the USA, and last night you told 7,000,000 people that each of us with hemophilia have it because it's "a nasty byproduct of incest.” That’s sickening, and you let it happen.
Too often those in entertainment hide from the responsibility that comes with the power of being a leader in entertainment. Defaming & discriminating against a select group of human beings is unacceptable, and "It's a just TV show" is not a satisfactory response. 7,000,000 are listening. 7,000,000 are influenced. 7,000,000 people - 99% of whom knew NOTHING about hemophilia - are now the classmates, colleagues, and employers of members of our community, and this is the information they are equipped with. Now, we that must fight against this asinine stigma your show has single-handedly created.
The milk is spilt. You screwed up. Big time. There's no undoing that; however, I challenge you - executive producers listed above - to own your terrible decision and publicly apologize to this community. After all, every single one of us belong to an "other" category in some way, shape or form, and none of us deserve to be misrepresented in such an egregious way. You're now known for a mistake, but you can at least be known for owning it too.
I look forward to your apology. Happy Hemophilia Awareness Month.