Southern Cross Austereo DJ Fifi Box’s disabled parking fiasco has turned into a verbal fight between her and fellow Melbourne radio presenter Tom Elliott.
Earlier this week on her Fox FM breakfast show, the “Fifi and Dave show” presenter recounted a time when she mistakenly parked in a disabled parking slot while shopping with her one-year-old daughter.
When she returned to her car, she was surprised to see people looking at her car. She thought that they were going to break in, but “they looked of an age and status in society that they weren’t going to break into my car.”
She then realised that she was parked in a disabled car slot. Panicking, Box did the first thing that came to her mind: she faked a limp.
“I didn’t want them to look down on me because I didn’t mean it, it was an accident,” she explained before adding, “It was a very convincing limp. Method acting in year eight that came off.”
She laughed as her co-presenter Dave Thornton jokingly compared her to dictators Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein.
Tom Elliott wasn’t laughing with her, though. The 3AW Drive host expressed his disapproval over Box’s story on his show, telling the other presenter to “hang your head in shame.”
“I think imitating or impersonating a disabled person just so you can justify having parked in their spot is an extraordinary low act,” he said.
He invited Yooralla disability rights activist Tully Zygier on his show to discuss the incident.
Zygier, who has neurological chronic illness called Familial Dysautonomia, said, “It made me very frustrated that she went out of her way to pretend to have a limp while walking to the car.”
She challenged Box to spend a day with her to know what it’s really like being a disabled in Melbourne.
Box then blamed Elliott for inciting online hatred and bullying, saying she now has a “lynch mob” after her because of what Elliott said in his show and wrote on the 3AW blog.
She insisted that she wasn’t imitating a disabled person when she walked a fake limp, saying, “I have far more respect for them. I am not in any way ever trying to hurt or disrespect anybody. If I have offended anybody by telling that story, I am so sorry. That’s a heartfelt apology.”
But Elliott wasn’t buying it, saying Box’s apology was a “half-baked apology at best.”
He explained that he told Fox FM to “hang its head in shame” because the station advertised Box’s fake limp incident as a funny prank.
He also hit out at Box’s assertion that he brought online hatred onto her.
“I’m not the one who parked in a disabled spot. I’m not the one who pretended to have a limp,” Elliott said.
“I’m not the one who made a joke about it on air and I don’t work for the radio station that continued to promote it for three days before we pointed out it was in extraordinarily bad taste.”