The National Stuttering Project, the group that launched protests after “A Fish Called Wanda” was released, demanded an apology Thursday from actor Kevin Kline over remarks he made the previous evening upon winning the best supporting actor Oscar for his role in the film. “Wanda” features British comedian Michael Palin as a stutterer. When asked by reporters about the protests, Kline responded, “John Cleese (the film’s co-author and star) mentioned to me today he was getting a lot of calls from a group of stupid people who didn’t like the way stupid people were represented. . . .” Kline defended Palin’s portrayal and noted that Palin’s father stuttered in real life. “Michael Palin had no qualms that I know of about representing that and I think he did it brilliantly,” Kline said. “A lot of times it’s funny, what comes out of them. . . . We have to laugh at tragic things if they’re seen in a certain perspective. Let’s not lose our sense of irony.” John Ahlbach, executive director of the National Stuttering Project, said, “We were not saying that stuttering could not be laughed at. Humor must play a part in coping with any chronic disorder like stuttering. However, we feel the movie reinforces a stereotype of people who stutter, and therefore invites the audience to laugh at people who stutter and not with us.” Ahlbach acknowledged that Kline “made his remarks in haste and perhaps did not mean all that was implied in his joke.”
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