I've even considered taking down the post on what happened at the airport just to stop the flow of comments and emails. It is taking a mammoth act of will to even look at what's going on here on the blog. I got up to write this because I feel that I have to even though I am terrified of reigniting the firestorm which is only now slowly dying down.
The comments that are personal attacks are really quite rare and are not what concern me much. Remember I am a public speaker, one of the only professions where you are evaluated (anonymously) every time you go to work. I just finished a big one here in Toronto and saw a few of the negative evaluations - they sting but less and less over time. So, those that are critical of how I told the story, the information I did or did not give, who I am as a disabled guy - OK, I actually expect those, I don't like them, I'd rather live without them, but I expect them.
What bothers me though are some of the other things that are said. Maybe it really is about how I told the story but here's my concerns with some of the comments ...
1) I don't like stereotyping. I wrote about the behaviour of one person. One person. I was not attacking an industry. I was not attacking a profession. It was one person. I am capable of seeing one person as distinct from many people. I have had more negative encounters with waitpeople in restaurants than I ever have had with security people. Most of my encounters at the airport are respectful. I get patted down by these folks, they touch me, and almost all do it with incredible professionalism. I didn't expect my story to lead to racist remarks about security people, attacks on them as individuals or as a group. This was ONE GUY. I'm sure I wrote about just ONE GUY. What he did was serious, needs to be dealt with, but it was one (1) guy.
2) What does IQ have to do with bigotry? So many commentors have gone on and on about how stupid and moronic this guy was. Well, I think what he did was based on bigotry, on prejudice about who people with disabilities are ... I don't think that this is tied to intellegence at all. Have you met teachers who think disabled kids can't learn? Have you met university professors who think that the elimination of disabled genes is a good idea? Have you met white collar professionals who believe their tax dollars are wasted by increasing access in buildings and on streets? I have. The idea that 'negative characteristics' are located in 'stupid minds' is what leads to the presumption that intellegence is 'good' and everything else is 'bad'. That maybe we should somehow exclude those who have minds that are a little slower. These comments make me both fearul and nausious.
3) I hate, full on hate, the 'R' word. It is used here in the comment section, it is used by those commenting on the story on other sites. Using hateful language about disability to criticise someone else's behaviour regarding disability is ... odd. It's upsetting. I don't know how to comment except to say ... and you want me to allow you to express my outrage? my concern? If I could I'd be protesting YOU. At least I can find the source of the this problem and hopefully have an effect.
4) A few, but certainly not all, of those commenting are simply venting their rage without any sense of sympathy for me, for what it felt like for those few moments when I did not exist. I realize that the story means something very different to these commentors than it does to me. But I wrote about invisibility and then become invisible in the comments. The behaviour of people is about it's impact on others, isn't it ... or maybe not.
5) Those who are visiting the blog do not know it at all. This is to be expected of course. I've gotten more visitors in two days than I have in the history of the blog itself. But I've written, several times, about the pressures of a daily blog, a full time (and a half) job, a relationship, life with a disability and 'other interests'. I made the decision that if I was going to have a daily blog I would not be responding, like many do, to comments in the comment section. That I had to decide where to put my time. It's been hard but I've kept to that decision and let the discussion run without me. Chewing the Fat was established with a few rules that my regular readers know and expect, it would have been nice if those being hostile about my lack of 'presence' had done just a wee bit of research on the blog about the blog.
I am breaking all sorts of my internal rules in writing todays blog. I don't want a new volley of attacks but if I'm going to stand against disablism and disphobia, I need to stand here too.