Saturday, November 03, 2012

Hear Hear Jack Carroll

Suddenly I was hearing a young voice, on television, talking about disability. He was seated with his mom, bursting with pride as she listened to him talk, and relating his desire to make people laugh and get people comfortable with the idea of disability. He was mature and well spoken. I stopped what I was doing to listen to the fourteen year old boy, who's name turned out to be Jack Carroll. The reason he was on the show was that he was one of the "Pride of Britain" Teen Award Winners. He stated plainly that he was surprised to have won the award but that he did want to use comedy as a means of getting people talking about disability in a different kind of way. He seemed really grounded, very funny, and someone who wants to make change. Yet, after all this, the interviewer turns to Jack's mom and uses the words Tragic and Tragedy to the mix. It was as if she wanted to amp up the discussion to make Jack something different - a freakish tragic accident that is doing well in spite of his suffering.


There is another world constantly associated with this story. Look his name up and you will see him described almost constantly as suffering from Cerebral Palsy or as a Cerebral Palsy sufferer. References will be made to his wheelchair, his difficulty with movement, his need or reliance on a mobility device. Suffering and tragic. Seriously.

Jack Carroll in the interview I heard, and in the interviews I subsequently watched, was funny and witty but he was also careful and conscious of his language. He sat in interviews listening to his birth as a tragedy and his life as full of suffering. He maintained a grace that was remarkable, he refused to answer any questions in kind.

I'm wondering what would happen if interviewers actually LISTENED to the answers of those they were talking to. It was like they simply couldn't hear what he was saying because their prejudice and their disphobic views on disability were so much louder than the quiet sensible words of a young boy who wants disability discussed.

This could have been the realization of his dream. National Television. National Papers. But instead, he found Tragedy and Suffering discussed. But not disability.

Jack Carroll, we will likely never meet, you will likely never make it over her to my corner of the blogosphere. But he's one disabled guy who heard your interview, saw what you were trying to do. So if you listen very carefully, you might hear the disability community applauding your achievement an acknowledging with you that it was a tragedy that you had to suffer fools.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps someone on twitter (not me, sorry) could alert Jack to your lovely post.

Maybe neice Shan??

It appeals to me that I, half a world away in Sydney Australia, can be suggesting to Canadian you, via the internet, how you might contact someone in the UK...

Take care 'over there', Susan x

Belinda said...

That young man has a reason to be and I think he is about to make a difference with his life that will set the world right side up. He isn't finished yet--thank goodness.

Tamara said...

They just always have to say whatever they can to exude pity. Ugh.

theknapper said...

I want to follow this young man....he has alot to say.....would love his take on Jerry Lewis....

matt said...

Hi there,I'm Jacks dad and I have been touched by your wonderful words and great articulation of the events of last week.
it was an incredible time for Jack and indeed all of us.
Jack also feels that your blog and observance of the fact that what he is trying to achieve is being blurred sometimes by journalistic ignorance.
He is however very determined to progress in the field of comedy and highlight the fact that his ability is far more importantand relevant than his disability.He understands that it offers a USP initially and is unabashed at exploiting that to break through in a tough world whatever the level of ability you have.I have enjoyed reading "rolling around in my head"and so have friends and family,keep up the great work.
Jack will continue to challenge attitudes to disability as part of his routine and is about to do his stand up at three different venues (all charities,in case the tax man is reading!)over the next few weeks.I wil watch your blog with interest and try to keep you up to date with any progress Jack is making.
There is some exciting news regarding a big role in a film with Jack playing a child with severe CP who is in a care home.He hopes to have more news on this quite soon.
He also appears in a BBC TV programme called "ministry of curious stuff"
Once again thank you for your wonderful words.
Matt Carroll

Rowan Thomas said...

Hello, can I ask if you used "disphobic" in this post to indicate discrimination against disabled people? If so can I ask you to consider changing this language?

A number of people with phobias have requested that people avoid associating phobias with discrimination and biggitory in this manner. Here are a few of the terms that various communities are using and encouraging other's to use which do not have this issue;

Ablism for discrimination against disabled people

Cissexism instead of transphobia

Hetrosexism instead of homophobia (which then also includes people who are attracted to people of more than one gender which is a good thing in my opinion)