Thursday, August 07, 2008


It is tempting to stay safely locked into a world of like minded people. It is tempting to make an intellectual gated community, carefully selecting who we let in and rigourously ensuring that those 'out' stay 'out'. It's tempting but, in my opinion, dangerous. I spent several hours researching reaction in the disability community to the movie 'Tropic Thunder' and it's negative portrayal of those with intellectual disabilities. I thrilled at the idea that Dreamworks blinked and pulled the 'Simple Jack' promotional website. Grinned that our collective anger brought them to the table. I believe that we all owe Patricia E. Bauer at a big round of applause for her part in bringing this all to light. I was feeling cosy in the disability world, agreed with the outrage, nodded along with comments made by others.

Then, as I like to do, I bit the bullet and did a search of sites that are not disability focused. Sites that might disagree, just a tad, with the idea of our protest. Those that would see us as another infiltration of political correctness. Those that would see us as intruding on their freedoms even as we claim that the freedoms of those with disabilities are being tread upon.

And wow. Was there some real anger. Comment and comment went on about how Tropic Thunder is just a movie. And if you think the 'r word' is used a lot in the movie, it's used constantly in the blogs and writings of those who are furious that Dreamworks has listened, even a little, to our concerns. They all, or most of them, see that we have a wee tiny concern that needed to be considered but that concern did not justify any form of censorship of the movie.

It's just a word, is what they say. It's not a big deal.

Isn't it?

I recieved an email from Dr. Dick Sobsey a few weeks ago and in that email he was telling me that ICAD (the International Coalition on Abuse and Disability) had been reformatted. It had been a listserv (I think that's what it was called) where those subscribed got updates via email on issues internationally on abuse of people with disabilities. This has morphed now into a blog-like existance.

Now located at this site hopes to continue to provide information on the violence faced by people with disabilities in this world where 'retarded' is only a word. By its very nature this website is as depressing as it can be, it documents the real life experiences and traumas of those we care about, those who are vulnerable, those who's pain isn't considered important. But it's a site that needs to exist. It pulls us away from the realm of mere 'opinion' into the certainty of 'fact'.

It is a fact that people with disabilities are targeted for violence.

It is a fact that people with disabilities are sought out for hurt.

It is a fact that what starts with hateful words ends with hateful actions.

Therefore it is of utmost importance that we collectively do what we collectively do. That we shout down those who think that we are politically correct finger waggers. They need to learn that we know how hate starts and where hate ends. We need to continue to see the real world as a dangerous place that needs our attention, our concern, our voices and our action.

I can read the comments of those who think we are over reacting and I can debate those comments because, through ICAD, I have facts ... it is they who have only opinions.


theknapper said...

So good to hear there are thoughtful & passionate protests going on...thanks for keeping us all informed.

FridaWrites said...

Bless you, Dave, for your work.

FAB said...

I just wrote yesterday about the fact that the world is so cruel, some parents hope that their child with a disability will pass away before them. Parents should not have to fear that upon thier demise thier children will be hurt! Hopefully, eventually we will make a big enough impact that the world becomes a safer place for ALL people and everyone will be valued. I revel in the idea that there are so many out there raising their voices, finally being heard, someday the angry vocies of protest from the ignorant will be silenced with true knowledge. I thank God that there are so many people out there who still stand up for what they believe in!

Heike Fabig said...

Oh boy Dave! What would we do without you. We're in the middle of ranging debate here (well, in the small carer world in Oz) and the use of language - and the defense of "it's only a word" is getting seriously up my nose. Bring on cloning now, we need you here Dave!

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave:

Its only a word? So is nigger - bet they don't use that so freely. Yet in my opinion r#tard carries a similar load of oppression. There is no such thing as only a word - as you have so eloquently said.

We as a society are in such denial about what we do to people with disabilities.

Keep speaking the truth.

All 4 My Gals said...

Funny Dave, I commented on a few articles against the disability community's stance, and guess what? They didn't print my comments. Imagine that. Decency is so rare these days. Thanks for all the hard work that you do for us!

Anonymous said...

As I read the blog I had this thought running through me...Oh God I can't possibly die and leave my daughter here on her own. Then I read the comments and Fab said exactly what I was thinking. I wish that I didn't have this sickening fear for the welfare for my child. It hurts so much to think about it that I usually try to just push the thought aside. I am sick and I will not live much longer. I have several serious health problems so I know that someday I probably will have to tell her goodbye and let her go on without me. Please keep working on this, it is comforting to me to know there are people like you in the world.