Tuesday, April 04, 1995

Kato Kaelin

Kato Kaelin is an actor who became known as a friend of OJ Simpson during the infamous trial... As he spoke to the media, some people thought he was a stutterer. Woody Starkweather though that he was NOT a stutterer.

Woody, I must defer to you as SLP for a diagnosis, but I confess that
I am a bit surprised at how definite you sound (in spite of a very
minor qualification).

My impression is that it is also a common layman's misperception that
a highly disfluent "normal" speaker is NOT stuttering. Even blocks
are often not recognized as "stuttering" by most people, let alone
word substitution.

I came to a different conclusion (but I am far from sure) in a rather
peculiar way. I was driving home, and I started hearing on NPR what appeared
to be a very disfluent speaker trying to tell a children's story. No repetitions
or evident blocks but stuff like "hmmm ... not-a-boy ..hmm ..a.. girl..".
Far from finding it amusing I found myself getting very angry. Here we
go again, I thought, ..making blatant "fun" of a stutterer! I was already
planning to send a message to Ira asking him if he new anything about
this stupid skit when I realized this was a parody of Kato Kaelin!

Now, I haven't followed the trial much and I haven't heard more
than a few seconds of the "real" Kato. But... sure enough, the notion
that he might be a stutterer had occurred to many others on this list.
Let's not forget he is trying very hard to be an actor, and he's
probably under enormous pressure to mask any stuttering any way he
can. It wouldn't surprise me if he found that hesitating and substituting
words is a much better way to go than appearing to stutter. There are
probably not many directors that would risk giving a part to a stutterer.
His kind of disfluency on the other hand (they would probably think)
would be esasily remedied by a good script.

Why is this important enough to discuss? Because perhaps he could
use "our" help, and because, if he does turn out to be a PWS, this
could be a good chance to "educate" the public on the peculiar
forms stuttering can take. In any case, whether he is a stutterer
or not, we should react forcefully against anyone who feels the
right to make fun of him (of course having PWS come to his defense
may be the LAST thing he wants...). Is there anyone among us who
could get the story from him? (Any idea Ira?)

(Referring to Ira Zimmerman who was the self-appointed media "watchdog" of the stuttering community)

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