Monday, December 17, 2012
Holiday Cheer? Bahumbug
The Holiday season puts me on edge. Many people act out of character during the season of good cheer. I try to limit my social interactions and avoid any mall like the plague. One thing I cannot avoid is the Salvation Army. The fact is I hate the Salvation Army and the people that ring bells outside grocery stores all December. Every time I hear those bells I get annoyed and it instantly puts me in a bad mood. The bells remind this is a bad time of year to be a person with a disability. Charities are out in force and by extension people seem to have an inner urge to help the handicapped. Where I wonder are all these do gooders in the spring, summer and fall? Where are these do gooders when the school budget is cut and the first line items eliminated are for so called special education? Where were the do gooders in the Senate when the UN treaty on disability rights I wrote about was not ratified? Where were these do gooders when Mayor Bloomberg selected the taxi of tomorrow that is not accessible? Where were these do gooders when I encounter yet another broken elevator or bus lift?
Spare me pity and a charity model of disability. Charity at the macro level is a form of social repression. The charity model awards power to the giver and suppresses the recipient. If we think of people with a disability as needy this undermines the civil rights model of disability. This is exactly what I was thinking when I was grocery shopping. Yesterday I stopped by the supermarket and as I was roaming the aisles I heard an announcement over the public address system: “A car with plate number XYZ is blocking the handicapped ramp. The car must be moved immediately. The police have been called”. I would suggest that sort of announcement will only occur in December on the days leading up to Christmas. Ramps are blocked on a regular basis at the supermarket and elsewhere. Shopping carts often occupy handicapped parking. This issue is never addressed much less resolved. The sort of sudden interest based on a feeling of doing good for the handicapped is a one shot deal and categorically fails to address the fundamental problem that is ignored by the majority of Americans: disability rights are civil rights. This depressing assessment reminds me of the slogan piss on pity. Perhaps I should dig out my t-shirt with these words and wear it as a shield from do gooders.