Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gareth: misguided and misinformed by others

I have been the target of outrage for daring to highlight the fact that a journalist says that their hero Gareth Gates is in fact stuttering again. And for suggesting that his openess on stuttering and work on his stuttering is mostly a reaction to his circumstances and advisors; he had no other choice if he were to succeed in showbiz. Far from doing unselfish work. And suggesting that McGuire UK is hugely milking his popularity and they and his managers are shielding him from the BSA by misinforming him about the BSA. He could have been heading a BSA campaign for example to raise awareness to help children who stutter. Why is he not involved in such campaigns but instead in bowel cancer? It is because people around him are manipulating him for their own benefits, with the result that effectively he comes across as not caring about those stuttering kids in stutterers in general.

Listen I have never met him, and he surely seems like a nice and good person; probably better and more liked than myself! I am attacking the public image "Gareth Gates" on which McGuire UK and Gareth's managers are feeding. The main reason I wrote my last post is because the "why don't you fix your speech like GG has"-pressure stutterers get all over the UK. In fact he hasn't fixed his speech at all. And McGuire is just one approach you can try out, and not better than other approaches. Which stutterer doesn't hate those claims made by all kinds of people not just those watching Gareth Gates.

Here is what the BSA says. Actually that is what I wanted to say, though I have to admit that Norbert says it more eloquently and diplomatically. :-)

Just to be entirely clear, no-one on this thread so far has been speaking for the BSA. I am not sure where some of the Anonymous people are from and what if any their relationship with McGuire or Gareth Gates is, but Tom has no formal relationship with the BSA and I am sure he wouldn't claim one.

It is true we have asked GG on any number of occasions for support and have always been refused except for the one time he agreed to speak at the Conference in Stirling as part of a McGuire presentation which he then had to pull out of for medical reasons. It is also true that as an individual, it is entirely up to GG to decide which charities, if any, he wishes to support and which he does not wish to support and it does not do anyone any good to second-guess his reasons.

We have been impressed by the fact that he spoke openly about stammering on many occasions and on that count I am sure he is a role model for many teenagers who stammer, and others.

But in terms of raising awareness - it's the kind of awareness that leads to peope who stammer being asked "why don't you fix your speech like GG has". I know this is a terrible media simplification, and not his own message, but there we are. BSA's awareness raising campaign goes beyond "before the course and after the course" video tapes of miracle cures so beloved by journalists. The message is far more subtle and therefore less interesting to journalists and the media, but it's much more important and it's hard work, hard work that's not only done by us...

As you see from the BSA statement. They are working hard to change lives for ALL people who stutter, and Gareth Gates (or let's say those that surrounded him) has refused them every time. For God's sake, what is so difficult to head a campaign, for example for stuttering kids? And even his potential conference participation in Stirling was only due to heavy heavy lobbying by Graeme Duffin, the guitarist of Wet Wet Wet. A nice down-to-earth guy who is involved in McGuire without doing the preaching. I must know because I travelled in the car with him to Stirling. Yes, I travelled with a rock star in his jaguar to Stirling. :-) Gareth's PR company was against it. They felt that he should move away from the image of being associated with stutterers!! Let me say this again: they felt that he should move away from the image of being associated to stutterers. This strategy does not exclude talking about your stuttering (good PR: you get on TV shows with interview on your struggle: if you don't have a record to sell, you can always use stuttering to be still in the news!) and working on your stuttering (again good PR: everyone loves those who work hard to beat the odds!) Even Graeme was unhappy and lost for words when Gareth didn't turn up; not knowing whether he was really seriously hurt or they just looked for an excuse and ignoring Graeme.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Memo to GG managers - You need to hook up your star with the SFA for successful therapy...Just ask some other stars who stutter like Bruce Willis, Tiger Woods, Julia Roberts, etc.

Sheila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jayne said...

Tom, you didn't just point out that that a reporter mentioned that Gareth was stuttering again. You placed serious questions on his integrity as a person based on shoddy information.

Norbert was not saying what you were saying more eloquently. He seemed to be distancing himself from it, even though he, like me, thinks that you do a very good job much of the time.

If you wanted to draw attention to the fact that you are fed up with people thinking that you could easily fix your speech like Gareth, then you should have written a piece on that subject instead of what you did write.

I heard that Gareth was gutted he couldn't make it to Stirling, but unless you were actually with Gareth at the time you wouldn't know how seriously injured he was. You weren't with him, and nor were the other people at conference all jumping to the worst possible conclusions. I don't know if Gareth was looking for an excuse, but I doubt it. He was spotted hobbling around in a cast some time later, so that bit was true. However, I do know for sure that you are a judgemental person who presumes the worst in people, but is easily impressed by a shot in a fancy car.

It's a shame that you have lowered yourself to this sort of blogging Tom, because I thought you were better than this.

Tom Weidig said...

I am looking at the facts. He could have supported the causes of stuttering children but he did not. That is the simple fact. He does not support stuttering children and adult stuttering.

And it is a simple fact that Graeme told me that he had to beg for him to attend Stirling despite him knowing Gareth's agents well. He was dissapointed that his agents felt that Gareth should move away from the image of being associated to stutterers.

You are being naive about the entertainment industry. They did not want him to be associated with stutterers in public. Talking about your struggle in public is great; good exposure. Working on your stuttering privately is also great. But not giving your name for people who stutter. It means associating yourself with loosers in the eyes of these PR guys.

And yes I am impressed by a shot in a fancy car. But for this matter Graeme is actually not a rich rock star. He like the vast majority of top musicians are not getting rich, and we drove in a small and old car. It was a joke to the public image of the rich rock star. It is not the reality.

Sheila said...

Tom, you really have your facts wrong when you say that Gareth does not support children and adult stuttering. Do you honestly think this because he didn't attend a BSA conference?

You know that your blog is very illogical and unfair. Gareth Gates has inspired thousands of stutters in the UK and Ireland and is very very passionate about helping PWS, he has chosen to give back to the McGuire Programme what he himself has got out of it, surely that is very obvious.

I think you need to retract some comments you have put up here, we are all human and humans do make mistakes :)

Anonymous said...

Tom,

You wrote: "He does not support stuttering children and adult stuttering."

Well so what? I happen to stutter and I also don't support stuttering children and adult stuttering. The charities I choose to support are my business, and I happen to think that there are far more worthy causes than stuttering. Just because Gareth and I stutter does not mean that we have to support stuttering causes. In my experience, most stutterers can take care of themselves without any of these stuttering organisations.

If we stutterers really want to do something for stutterers, we must become more open about our stutters - just like Gareth has been doing. There is no cure for stuttering, but there are definitely ways to improve the situation - e.g. therapies like Maguire, CBT, etc. - and Gareth has been raising awareness of that too.

Gareth has had his 15 minutes of fame, but during that time he's reached lots of stutterers. If only the BSA and your blog can do the same ... but you cannot.

Anonymous said...

I have to say there are many McGuire graduates reading this blog....and commenting.

Why don't you identify yourself as McGuire graduate #1, #2, #3???

Anonymous said...

When GG has a son who stutters, then he will help the BSA and get involved.

Just like Alan Rabinowitz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Rabinowitz

(Alan got involved with the SFA when his 5 year old son started stuttering and they didn't know what to do, because there is no quick cure for stuttering)

Good thing the BSA will never turn his/her back on GG, because GG is a person who stammers.

Forgive and forget, right?

Anonymous said...

So lesson learned: don't be influenced by some people and be so quick to judge until you have all the facts.

Such as beautiful women or stuttering experts or David McGuire (is he still cult leader?)

If you are wrong, you are wrong.

If you are right, you are right.

Einstein is always right :)

Tom Weidig said...

>> Tom, you really have your facts wrong when you say that Gareth does not support children and adult stuttering. Do you honestly think this because he didn't attend a BSA conference?

It is because he is not supporting BSA campaigns to help stuttering children and adults. What is so difficult?

And one of the reasons is that his PR agents are telling him not to support stutterers publicly. Ask Graeme Duffin.

Anonymous said...

some PWS hate other PWS.

Some mild PWS feel they are better than severe PWS

More love, less hate in this world

Some PWS run away from other PWS, they think they are not a PWS...

You are who you are......!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wait, as long as GG doesn't do anything negative to PWS or the stuttering community, leave him alone. He has not done enough....when was the last time you see any famous PWS do anything for the stuttering community without any $$$ financial incentive.

There is no obligation, maybe there is bad blood between BSA and GG. Nobody knows.....maybe GG doesn't like TW (Tom Weidig)

Tom was the research commmittee chair of BSA, don't know why he quit?

Fired or resigned. Only Tom can tell us....will Tom tell us?

Don't be jealous, you can be the stuttering magician!!!

Anonymous said...

NOTE:

An example:

James Earl Jones, voice of Darth Vader is a famous PWS in the US.

He wanted $5000 to speak at NSA a few years ago, NSA did not have the money.

The price is now $10,000 to $20,000 or higher I guess.

Everyone is greedy.....even if you are a PWS.

Greed breeds more greed.....

Why not attack David McGuire or John Stossel (they don't respect PWS.....)

Anonymous said...

You seem to be saying that Gareth's management didn't want him to take part in the BSA conference (which I agree is stupid), but Gareth went against their advice by agreeing to attend. Isn't that a sign that he does care about "the cause"?

If it helps you to feel better, Gareth's local paper used to complain that his management didn't give them as much access to him as they thought they deserved. They took that to mean he didn't care about his home town any more.

Both arguments are sensational, but flawed.

I've seen children who stutter around Gareth. They seem to think he's great, but presumably that doesn't count because it isn't in a situation controlled by BSA.

I hate all of the politics that goes on within the stuttering community, but it's been happening since before Gareth appeared on the scene. I'm sure some at McGuire are too insular, but there are a lot of people at BSA, therapists in particular who look down on self-help focused therapies. Both are legitimate.

I've got to admit, even as a stutterer, I roll my eyes when an interviewer asks Gareth questions about stuttering. There is more to me than stuttering, and the same goes for Gareth.

Anonymous said...

I concur with the last anonymous poster. There is more to me (and to Gareth) than stuttering. I can understand why he does not wish to be associated with the BSA; he has a stutter but that is just a part of who he is, and he has other priorities and goals in life. By the way, I am not a Maguire graduate

Anonymous said...

Gareth is associated with stammering and seems happy for that to be the case, but I completely understand that he doesn't want that to be the only thing in his life.

Accepting that you have a stammer is very important, and being open about it is very healthy. However, turning your disability into your only defining feature or hobby is less so.

I don't want to speak on behalf of anyone not here, but in the last year or so I read an interview with Graham Duffin in which he seemed quite proud to be able to mention Gareth as a friend, saying he'd rung up and asked if he could go to the album launch party etc. If he was disappointed about Gareth not making it to the BSA conference, he got over it, and isn't immune from using it to help promote his own music.

Incidentally, I was a fan of Wet Wet Wet as a teenager, and not once do I remember Graham's stammer being mentioned. They always implied that the reason he didn't do interviews was because he wasn't a proper member of the band and he was little more than a regular session musician. In retrospect, I wonder if their management thought it was better that way.

I wish I had known, but I don't blame Graham for not wanting to push himself, or the issue forward.

Joanna said...

Tom

You seem to me to be being terribly biased against Gareth. Surely if the McGuire course is what benefitted him with his stammering, he would be more keen to promote that method. That doesn't mean other methods aren't more successful for other stammerers. Each person must use what's beneficial to them. Gareth appears to me to be quite a shy person when speaking about his stammer, therefore why would be want to talk about a method that has not been of benefit to him. That probably doesn't mean he thinks the BSA method isn't right for others, just that those who have used it to their benefit should be the ones supporting BSA, just the way Gareth supports the methods which proved best for him.
As for picking and choosing which charity to support, surely its up to every individual to decide which ones they want to support. No-one who supports any charity should be made to feel bad because they don't support the ones you want them to support. If you were complaining about someone who is in a position to do so, but who chooses to do nothing, then you may have a point, but that is certainly not the case where Gareth is concerned. From the first day he came into the public eye, he has done as much if not more than many others in the same position.

Tom Weidig said...

Joanna,

you are completely wrong:

1) There is NO BSA method at all. The BSA is the British Stammering Association for all people who stutter and they do not support any method at all. And inform people of all therapy options including McGuire, except those claiming a cure.

2) No, he has not done much actively for people who stutter. He has not invested any "political" capital. And there are people who have done more than he has, and helped the BSA to lobby for more support for stuttering children and adults. What is so difficult to give your name for a campaign to help stuttering kids????

Tom

Jayne said...

Tom, it's time to accept that your idea of helping is different to others. You can lobby all you like that stutterers, including Gareth, should focus their engergies in a particular direction, but it is time to drop this silly notion that Gareth doesn't do anything to help other stutterers.

You can't seem to decide if you want Gareth to talk more or less about stuttering, except that whatever it is he's doing, you think it is wrong.

By all means, if you can be explicit about exactly what it is you think he ought to do, say so, but remember that he or "his people" are more likely to listen to you if you do it in a polite way. Please stop with the implication that he's a traitor to the community. He is not the one taking pot shots at the people he doesn't like or giving the BSA a bad name.

Joanna said...

Tom

In your opinion I'm wrong, in my opinion you are wrong to attack Gareth and `his people' the way you are. I've seen numerous articles from people who have been inspired by listening to what Gareth has experienced. Surely it can't be wrong if he helps people by them listening to how he's tackling his own difficulty. Whether you agree with the way he goes about it or not, he's doing good for other stammerers and helping them to believe they can improve their own lives just as he's done.
Perhaps a bit of encouragement for what he's achieved would be a better way to get what you obviously want, which appears to be for him to become part of the BSA's program to help people with stammers. You're not really going about it the right way by implying he's self-centred are you.

Anonymous said...

Memo to GG's managers: GG needs to get with the SFA or AIS. They have the $$$.

Shame on Lee Reeves for not coming up with the $5,000.00 for Darth Vader to speak with us at the NSA convention... The NSA has $ too, but not quite as much as SFA or AIS. C'mon Lee...open that Dr.'s wallet of yours....