Paterson suggests hatred against the blind growing

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ALBANY - Citing ridicule of his blindness by actors and newspapers, Gov. David A. Paterson suggested Saturday there was a growing hatred for the visually impaired based on falsehoods.

He said taxpayers wrongly blame the blind for tax increases to fund special education and social services. Speaking to an advocacy group for the blind, he said blind people are good workers but 70 percent are jobless due to discrimination.

Warning of "antagonism . . . fomenting in society," Paterson questioned why there wasn't more public outcry over portrayals of him as bumping into objects on NBC's "Saturday Night Live." He cited New York Post opinion pieces that said he was too dependent on one aide to read documents and that he should touch buildings at Ground Zero to know what kind of redevelopment was occurring.

"A society where that attitude . . . anger . . . vitriolic conduct is excusable when it's waged on a governor, think of what happens to an individual [looking for a job]," Paterson told the National Federation of the Blind's NY chapter.

He later told reporters negative characterizations based on a person's gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation are no longer accepted by society, and neither should ridicule of the disabled.

The Post declined to comment. An "SNL" representative couldn't be reached.

Seeking to dampen criticism, Paterson was quick to say he wasn't blaming the media. "They are just reflecting the attitudes of society."

New York's first African-American and first blind governor has repeatedly landed in hot water for alleging ill treatment by the media because of race. In August, Paterson said the media sometimes uses racial stereotypes in reporting on African-American politicians. He also said he was being undermined by an orchestrated, race-based effort to force him to drop his 2010 election bid.

He was rebuked by many, including some African-Americans, and later had to clarify his statements.

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