Saturday, November 18, 2006


I had a tantrum today. I did. It felt good. In the Toronto Star today (Nov. 17) there was a several page article that was purportedly about deinstitutionalization and how it will damage the lives of those who need to be kept in care. The article was nothing more than propoganda - it described people with disabilities with lists of negative adjectives designed to make different into deviant. An interesting literary alchemy. I sat down to write a letter to the editor and I was going to be all calm and address, issue by issue, some of what was said.

Then I thought.

I'm never, ever, ever, ever again going to explain to anyone that people with disabilities deserve to live at home in the community. Some truths are self evident, that's one of them.

Then I realized.

I'm angry. I'm really, really, really angry. It's not OK that journalists write stories about people with disabilities without talking to them. The reporter never talked to one person, not one person, with a disability. She talked to parents and to 'friends' and to non-disabled talking heads from the community living movement, and I'm sure they thought it was balanced.

Then I fumed.

To hell with it. I'm not going to write a polite letter. I'm upset. They are talking about peoples lives. They are talking to future neighbours who will be upset that these deviant others are in their back yard. They are talking to people who've never smelled an institution. I sat down and banged on the keyboard. I called the reporter a bigot and chastized the paper for printing propoganda.

Then I remembered.

After I hit the send button, I remembered Thursday ... visiting a woman with a disability scheduled to leave the land of the long corridor and come home. We showed her a video of her new home. I watched her cry. Break down and cry. When she saw her new home. It was like she finally won at the game show 'life' and was 'getting out of jail free'. She trembled with excitement as she pointed at a room and said, "I want that one.' But no reporter is going to talk to her ... what does she know, she only lives the life that others talk about.

And I got angry again.

Enough. Enough, enough, enough. Disphobic attitudes and disphobic people need to be confronted. I know there is little likelihood that my letter will get printed. I didn't write it to get published. I wrote it so that some damn letter opener, letter reader at the paper will go ... "Wow, I didn't know that people would get ANGRY at the idea of continued institutionalization." Can we stop EXPLAINING and start YELLING being UNREASONABLE being RUDE being UNCOMPROMISING being RIGHTEOUS being INDIGNENT being CONFIDENT THAT WE ARE RIGHT. Can we start calling a bigot a bigot and throw and spitting clawing temper tantrum - even if it's on paper.

Please, anyone who read that article here in the Toronto area. Grab a few mintutes and yell at them. Forget being polite - get mad and let them know it. Call the paper, deluge the reporter with emails, DO SOMETHING.

My first post on this blog was called ... there is a line I will not cross ... how about we all agree that we're going to get angry a little more, be 'understanding' of bigotry a little less, and speak up a lot more.



Belinda said...

Thanks for giving us a "heads up" Dave. I have sent an email to the editor. I hope others do too.

Anonymous said...

ok Dave, you've done it, and you say I don't listen!
I wrote to the Star to tell them how outraged I was over their article. Thanks for helping me to see the light!

Belinda said...

Good for you Lina. I see The Star published a letter today from the ED of Toronto ACL. Maybe more of us will get in over the next couple of days. I hope so. It was such a bad article.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see the article that triggered this particular tirade (I'm all the way down south in the USA). But I just wanted to THANK YOU for saying that it's okay to have a tantrum once in a while.

From time to time I write letters about things like the need to put closed captions on videotapes or in movie theaters and so forth. And it always pisses me when I get counseled that I have to say "Thank you for the eensy weensy teeny tiny bit of captioning you HAVE done" (except that we're not supposed to say "eensy" etc., we're supposed to pretend to be falling over ourselves with gratitude that they give us any crumbs of accessibility at all) when what I REALLY want to do is have a tantrum on paper, "How can you not see disability access as just plain courtesy, plain common sense, just plain the right thing to do, period, end of sentence? It is just NOT ACCEPTABLE to exclude us!"

I do usually write the polite letters, and even the thank you letters because those are the letters that usually get listened to the most and get the best results. (Even though they make me want to choke: why should we have to "thank" people for giving us a PALE IMITATION of what everyone else already takes for granted?!! [Ever notice, for example, that 9 times out of 10, the "special features" on DVDs are not captioned even when the movie or television show is? Not to mention the dvds that STILL aren't captioined AT ALL.] Hearing people don't write letters thanking television for giving them a sound track. And non-disabled people don't write to institutions thanking them for not locking them up. So why are WE expected to demonstrate gratitude for the EXACT SAME THINGS?)

But every once in a while I get really fed up with writing polite please and thank yous and write a nasty letter instead.

Thanks for giving "permission" to have a tirade of my own (even if probably no one else will see it). I don't get this angry all the time, but sometimes I do, and it's nice to know that there are others out there who "get" that.