In December, on his TV show, British comedian Frankie Boyle made some digs at glamor model/author/reality star Katie Price's then 8-year-old disabled son Harvey. Today, the Daily Mail (in a rare display of moral kindness) published a heartfelt article written by Price, taking Boyle and Channel 4—the network that airs his show—to task for making a blind, autistic little boy the butt of some jokes and then refusing to apologize. Price also opens up for the first time, in detail, about the extent of Harvey's disabilities.
Harvey is autistic, has difficulty walking, and was born with septo-optic dysplasia, which causes his vision problems and affects his pituitary gland, which controls his growth. He also has Prader-Willi syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the part of his brain that controls appetite, meaning he's always hungry and thirsty.
Even though she's published a number of bestsellers—four autobiographies, five novels, and two series of children's books—most people (meaning us) just assumed that she had a ghostwriter. But the earnestness and sincerity of the story about her son has us questioning that assumption. Price gives us a window into her son's personality and his life; she describes his love for drawing and the difficulties he faces each day.
"To the ignorant, Harvey is just a big fat blind kid—and he has been called that many times," says Price. Boyle's comments, however, were more offensive than that, one of which regarded Price's custody battle with ex-husband Peter Andre: "Eventually one of them will lose and have to keep him."
Then, referring to her marriage to Alex Reid, Boyle said: "I have a theory about the reason [Price] married a cage-fighter—she needed a man strong enough to stop Harvey from fucking her." Of his remarks, Price says:
Imagine if the reason Boyle gave for saying Harvey was capable of raping me was not because of his disability but because he is black. People would understand how discriminatory that is. It is just as discriminatory when the joke is based on someone's disability.
But Price understands that by being a public figure, she is opening herself—and her family—to criticism. She addresses her choices for being photographed with Harvey:
I have been forced to consider my role in putting Harvey in the firing line for Boyle's humour. He, and Channel 4, have pointed out that I have put Harvey in the public domain by being photographed and filmed with him. As a result, I have been accused of hypocrisy. I understand that to an extent, and take it on the chin. But I have spent a lot of time talking to people and organisations who see Harvey as a positive role model, and I decided it was in my son's interest - and in the interest of raising disability awareness - that he play a public role.
Since the incident with Boyle, Price has been working on a documentary about raising a special-needs child called Katie Price: Standing Up for Harvey. It airs tonight in the UK.
Mock me all you like but leave my disabled son alone [Daily Mail]