Search This Blog

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Media Fails to Notice ADAPT

With the stock market plunging and the economy falling apart before our eyes, perhaps this is not the best time to critique the news media. Or at least this was what I was thinking before I read Divine Ms. Jimmi's blog The Life of Pinky Bear. In her September 17 post, What Pisses Me off About Media Coverage For Disabled People, she wrote:

Things like the special Olympics, Variety Club events, The Cure-A-Crip Telethon or some other fluffy piece about someone trying to overcome their disability (has it worked, are ya not disabled anymore?) gets big press. When people with disabilities take to the streets and say that the system is broken, we don't want to live in your shitty institutions because the sight of us bothers you or that we want our rights along with choices that the mainstream public takes advantage of everyday--suddenly, we're not so cute and inspirational.
People with disabilities want to live in the real world with everyone else. We want our chances to live and work and have families. We hate your institutions, your "special schools" your 'special olympics" and your crappy segregated institutional housing choices.

The above clearly echoes what I have written in previous entries. To say I am frustrated this week would be an understatement. This week hundreds of ADAPT activists have been protesting in Washington DC and the national press has utterly ignored what has transpired. Regardless of what one may think of ADAPT methods, the fact is they are trying to help the most disenfranchised disabled people--those in or potentially forced into nursing homes. This is a story that needs and should be put on the front page of every major newspaper in the country. This is a human rights issue that is broad and shocking in scope. Yet, this story does not make it into the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or other major papers. Likewise, no national TV network has mentioned ADAPT nor have the presidential candidates discussed the Community Choice Act. This is why I have been so pessimistic about the future. Disability rights are simply not valued and the lack of ethics among those running the nations largest corporations nothing short of criminal. These sentiments led my son to ask me the following while we were watching the network news on TV: "Dad, I'm confused. If we got a credit card and spent a ton of money we could never pay back we would lose our house and be bankrupt. But if a rich guy that gets paid millions of dollars a year runs a giant company into the ground and falls apart the government will jump in and save them. This doesn't seem right or am I missing something". Yikes, my boy is smart. I only wish he asked a question I could answer.


yanub said...

While Obama has addressed the Community Choice Act (, you are right that there is no discussion of it outside of the disability community. If there is one good thing about the Palin candidacy, it's that suddenly disability issues have salience in the media, so that the candidates' positions on our issues are being scrutinized.

Your son has keen insight. This latest federal bail-out of economic powerhouses which have flouted good business practice reminds me of the late 1970s. Remember the Tom Paxton song, "Changing My Name to Chrysler"?

william Peace said...

Yanub, I am not sure Palin's candidacy has brought salience to disability issues. What makes its was into the mainstream news media is a discussion of "special needs children". By itself, this is a good development. But as many people have noted disabled children grow up and become disabled adults. This population, especially those with cognitive disabilities, remain ostracized and shunned by society.
My son is truly capable of understanding complex problems and getting at the core issue. I blame the current economic woes on Ronald Reagan who empowered the rich to funnel great wealth to a tiny minority of people. When you combine this with grotesque salaries of corporate leaders and a lack of ethics it is a recipe for economic disaster.

yanub said...

Actually, as I've been reviewing the punditry on the subject, it seems the MSM has narrowed any discussion of disability into whether or not it's OK to bring fetuses to term if they are known to have cognitive disabilities. So, I agree with you that disability issues have, once again, been hidden away where "normal people" don't have to look at them.

Yes, I too blame Reagan. I also blame Carter, who oversaw the beginning of deregulation and much of the foreign policy that has now left any moorings of sensible national self-interest. But it was Reagan who began the unhinging of policy from ethics.

william Peace said...

You are correct the media is largely focused on the fact Palin did not choose to have an abortion. I have no doubt McCain took this into consideration as it would appease religious fundamentalists and pro-life zealots. As election day approaches I find I am becoming increasingly depressed. McCain and Obama are fighting like rabid dogs for a job I would not want for all the money in the world.

Anonymous said...

ADAPT can't garner attention of the media. What they've been doing is not working. Sounds like they need to adapt to some other method for being heard.

My suggestion is that they quit knocking on a door that won't open for them in the forseeable future. Target the state goverments where the neglect is the most egregious - take 'em on one by one. After some success in a state or two, they can carry some umph with their message to DC.

With a presidential election in the offing, the competition for media attention is overwhelming even the most stalwart efforts of ADAPT.

I cannot help but offer my irritating suggestion - it's my mindset to look for another solution. I'm more into teaching the patient to drive again over spending time blaming the drunk driver, his abusive parents, or the guy who didn't repair the guard rail above the ditch.


william Peace said...

ADAPT has not garnered the attention of the national news. This does not mean their efforts are wasted nor does it mean the quest for equality has failed. Keep in mind the ADAPT action in Washington DC is part of a national movement that has a grass roots component that you advocate. ADAPT is active locally--at State and County levels. Protests at the local level get a bit more press but the effort for equality must be undertaken at both local and national levels. To the outsider, the ADAPT protests in Washington DC appeared in vain but I do not share this viewpoint. If one looks at the history of the disability rights movement success occurs when local and national efforts are combined. For example, in the late 1970s local Denver protests forced the city to purchase buses with wheelchair lifts. Subsequent national protests led other major cities such as New York and others to purchase buses with wheelchair lifts. I use these lifts in most major cities I travel to--these lifts exist because ADAPT worked at local and national levels.

Anonymous said...

Your answer satisfies me, BC, but does it satisfy you? If you are going to complain about no national media attention and then defend the methods that do not garner that attention, well, where are we for answering your son's questions?

No doubt the sit-ins and demonstrations of the past have had an effect. I sincerely question whether those methods are still effective. Please share recent example where a demostration with signs in DC resulted in a regulatory or legal change benefitting persons with disability. CCA sleeps in committee.

william Peace said...

My answer does not satisfy me. The larger issues that my son identified remain. In the last decade and particularly since the September 11 dissent is perceived to be socially unacceptable if not unpatriotic. Protests are largely staged and timed events. Permits are required and I have heard many bemoan protesters as silly and misguided. Derogatory comments are the norm and I have heard my college students question why protesters are not at work being productive like everyone else.
In short, protests alone will not work to force social change. As for an example of what works, I think the ADA Restoration act has shown disability rights activists how to be effective. This bill was highlighted by the Freedom Tour, blog activity in the form of carnivals and swarms, the independent living community pressing local politicians, ADAPT national efforts, and protests all combined made passage possible.