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Friday, February 8, 2013

Euthanasia and Disability

On Wednesday I gave a talk to students at King's University College at Western Ontario University. King's has interesting course offerrings in disability studies. Spearheaded by Pamela Cushing, an anthropologist on the faculty, I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with students. The students were engaged and alert when I spoke. They also asked cogent questions that made me think. I spoke about the mainstream media representation of disability. I tried to make four general points about the media and how skewed disability is portrayed.1. Disability rights and civil rights are one in the same. A point rarely made. 2. Feel good stories about disability abound that are inherently demeaning. 3. Disability rights violations are the norm. 4. People without a disability are swayed by a grossly distorted notion of what disability means socially, politically and economically.

I used two examples from this blog to illustrate my point: my analysis of Purple Feather in 2011 and the recent double euthansia of deaf-blind twins in Belgium. I hope I made an impression on the students because they are our future. It is my hope the generation of students currently attending university will have a far more nuanced view of disability. Academic programs that focus on disability are desperately needed in Canada and the United States. The fact that King's has such a program is heartening. There is hope for the future if the students I met are an indication of how disability is perceived.