Thursday, January 18, 2007

When Panties Fall 2

Several days ago I wrote a post about the guys who had gone to a strip club in British Columbia and the ensuing national upset about their choice of Friday night entertainment. If you remember, their trip to the club ended up in the national papers as well as on national talk shows. Well, I met one of those guys in Oliver and I talked with staff from the agency that had supported them (by providing transportation).

He was an interesting guy to talk to, he was clearly angry about what had happened, angry that his private life had become public. As far as he was concerned only two things mattered, first it was nobodies business, second, he had the same rights as everyone else. He was clear on these two points. I asked him if it hurt to have his choices discussed simply because he had a disability, his voice faltered and he said simply, "Yes."

I realized that for an instant the media, the talk shows, the country stood up and called him, "Retard". Those who were upset about him going to the club were clearly acting out of prejudice and ignorance - it's like calling him a name, it's like stereotyping him as something less because he's something more, it's like a slap in the face. Do you realize that there are probably people out there who wish they could surgically remove his right to choice. His right to adulthood. Thank heavens he escaped the tyranny of 'those who know better'.

But he was still hurt by all of this. Yes, actions have consequences.

All that happened here this guy went out with a few friends for a beer to a strip joint. How does that make him different than thousands of others doing the same thing across the country - maybe for him it was more than a beer - maybe it was a statement of independance and adulthood. But maybe that's the problem, he was just a wee bit too much like you and I, and maybe people wanted to slap down an uppity disabled guy who thought he could make the same choices as we do.

The ED of the agency and one of the managers involved were resolute. I was so pleased. Often a media attack like that leaves us scurrying like rats for the boat - but not here. There was a realization that all they were doing was their job, that others had the problem. I love people in human services that have the backbone to do what's right. Let others have opinions, let people with disabilities have rights.

There are costs to our principles and sometimes we have to stand up and be counted. To indicate clearly to people in care 'we are on your side' ... this agency did. The guy with a disability knew it.



Frances said...

Dear Dave- Just wanna make sure you hadn't lumped me in with that other group(those who know better).Because I actually think there's more than one group out here. I fall into the category of" those who defend EVERYONE's rights, yet wants to do unto others as I would have them do to me." Wouldn't I want someone supporting me to defend my right to do WHATEVER I wanted. Yes. But I wouldn't want someone to do something for me that they didn't think was right. Remember, just because it's legal doesn't make it right. To clarify- I believe the disabled and any other human on earth has the rights of every other human on earth. And I would expect others to not get in my way of the pursuit of happiness. But to support me in it if they know in their heart it is immoral? No. I just don't think I have that right.One of the costs of me standing up for my principals is that some will say I'm not on the side of right. But I'm glad I have the backbone to do what I believe is right. Frances

justme said...

I would like to say something really profound about this Dave, but honestly I just wish people would stop being so mean. No one has the right to take away anyone's adulthood or all the trappings that go with it, whether they agree with them or not.


michelle said...

Hey Dave!
Nicole just sent me this link to your amazing blog, and by god, I am hooked!! (and I am not just trying to get brownie points!!!) Ashley's story broke my heart when I heard about it. Let me know how I can help. Safe Travels!

Belinda said...

I was going to start my comment with,"the bottom line is..." when I rememembered the blog topic was "When Panties Fall." :)

I understand the dilemma Frances expressed--the struggle to sort out the balancing act between supporting a self directed life-- yet caring deeply for people and hoping for the best for them.

And there will also be times when people need support to do things their support staff may have a moral dilemma helping them to do--for instance having an abortion--and in those cases I think there is integrity in saying that our values prevent us doing that, but we will help them find someone who can support them in the pursuit of their goal--as long as it's legal!

Dave, thanks for always making us think (sometimes it hurts)--and Frances for having the courage to share your thoughts honestly as you work out how to support people well.

lina said...

thanks for the update on these guys Dave. I have honestly been thinking about them, and there has even been talk about them around the office, but they are more like celebrities then anything else. Thank God there are people who won't get in the way of other people's rights, and don't judge based on their own beliefs - and that is not always easy to do, for all of us. But these guys have all taught me something, so I'm sorry they are feeling that their rights were impeded by making this public, but I hope they see the good in all of this.
They have again opened up my eyes, in what I would never have thought could have made it passed a small discussion, somewhere in a home with a couple of guys and some staff to a news event.
Wow, I can't wait to read about their next outing - what's next guys- sky diving? an R rated movie?
Seriously, kudos to them for living life - and lets find something more newsworthy to talk about.