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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More on Health Care Hysteria

I read many blogs that are disability related. I never cease to be amazed by the high quality of writing I encounter and often wonder why the mainstream media is so dreadful. Disability is almost always poorly covered, reliant on antiquated stereotypes, and worn out cliches. When I read blogs I come across vibrant writing, thought provoking ideas, funny stories, anger, happiness, interesting human adaptations and a wide range of emotions. This morning over coffee I got a great chuckle from one such blog, and the following paragraph that touched upon the health care debate:

"Conservatives love to pretend they're the disability community's knights in shining armor when it suits their political purposes. In years past, they tried to co-opt us in the abortion debate by making both subtle and explicit claims that every gimp would be snuffed out in the womb were it not for them staying the liberals' murderous hand. The right has now adapted the tactic to the health care debate, portraying themselves as the defenders and protectors of us meek and vulnerable cripples who dwell in the shadow of a tyrannical and cruel government. I won't win any Pulitzers for this sentence, but they can take their false magnanimity and go fuck themselves."

This paragraph reinforced why I love the well used tag line"piss on pity" employed by disability activists. People, not all but most, don't understand disability is not about a physical or cognitive deficit but the social problems placed on top of an existing deficit. For example, people with a disability are unemployed in great numbers not because they cannot physically work but rather employers will not hire them. This is bigotry plan and simple. In the blogs I read such as insight and common experiences abound. In sharp contrast, the mainstream media and politicians such as Sarah Palin, who I quoted in my last post, are disingenuous. They seek to prompt an emotional reaction devoid of thought. Editorials and stories that employe this tactic abound. The great "health care debate", purposely put in quotation marks, is a classic example. As I noted, no such debate is taking place. Instead, the media has a pack mentality in which they go for the jugular. Reason and rational debate are absent. In its place is hysteria, news bites that are short on facts and long on emotion. This is no way to learn and why in spite of my comments I am hopeful about the future. The college students I teach do not read much less think about the print media. When a news story breaks they turn to the internet for information. Sure they likely go to sources such as CNN online but from there they quickly move on to other small sites that are of interest to them. Hence the future is online sources such as blogs and other nontraditional resources. It is on line people will find this little blog and hundreds of others like it where people with disabilities tell it like it is. Thus I am very proud of not only my disability but to be part of a vibrant on line community. Change is coming and I hope to part of it.


Elizabeth McClung said...

It is true that I have been sourced by news and other print media because the 'blog' is the sort of 'human story' to add on to the print story which is then printed online. Since most people get the news online (or many do) quoting reputable bloggers with credentials (such as yourself) is anticipated and already here. It is irksome that the BBC or CNN, or CBC has not given the space officially to create blogs by people with disabilities/impairments - if only to have that resource in their pool to pluck from. Yes, the down side is the unpredictable nature but the BBC had an editor to go through, and I don't see why the CBC which has one blog every other month (my GOD! Can you get a little LESS symbolic representation please? We are 1 in 6 in Canada!), is sort of saying, the same way the reshaping of the BBC Ouch to make disabled people the 4th group of users (after relatives, professionals and caretakers) excludes them. To me, this is like medicine BEFORE examining the human body and doing autopsies: It is all a guess and they are going to stick with that.

I agree, the problem is that there is no desire or incentive EVEN in areas that are desperate for workers (and they were pretty damn desperate here) to allow disabled individuals to work. To me, this goes beyond and into the realm of the way women were seen before WWII and WWI - we laud the one woman doctor of WWI on the field, but what about the 300 who WANTED to be but just didn't have everything align so they could go to med school? We assume that women who were stuffed into homes or into watching the children of married siblings were not wanting jobs when that is not the case - the case is society did not want to hire them.

In this we have in a way the diaries of people like Elizabeth Bishop, and Woolf who talk about a room of their own with eloquence but by the time society changes will they ever really understand what it was like to live here. OR are we the disposable generation, like those with disabilities before us. That we are not supposed to WANT a job, and so we are turned down for our own good. And by the time anyone put it through the thick skull of the US population that we and thee are not that far apart; we will be forgotten, I fear.

Blogging helps me know I am not alone, it is the quilting bees that helps me know that my worries are the worries of others. But it is not something that will be held up as important; no, only when we break into what society considers of value will what we say have the meaning it should. That is of course, my opinion.

Thank you for making me think about this and I am sad to come up with this conclusion. I look forward to your observations.

william Peace said...

Elizabeth, Thanks for your interesting comments. Your comparison to the struggle of women's rights is spot on. I also loved your description of blogs as modern day quilting bees. These points highlight why the blogging community that is disability related is important. I too find the blogs I read heartening in that I know my views are not extreme and shared by others.
News sources do indeed quote bloggers but not often. I wonder why this is the case--would such quotes lend credibility to people they do not respect?
Like you, the utter lack of coverage of disability related subjects from a civil rights point of view is frustrating in the extreme. Stories about the super cripple of today or super woman that became a doctor circa WWII ignore the many who are discriminated against.