Thursday, January 2, 2014

More Shit People Say ...

This AmputeeOT video is similar to the “shit academics say about access” video I posted last Saturday.

I feel like a lot of non-disabled people … and quite a few disabled people, too … disapprove of this kind of thing. It’s ill-tempered and bitter. It’s mean to make fun of or get mad at well-meaning people who just don’t know what to say or how to say it. We should be patient with people who don’t know everything about disabilities. We should be good ambassadors, and educate people.

Yes, obviously, people saying we’re inspirational is a *good* thing. We do get that. And people asking sometimes stupid questions doesn’t mean they are stupid or massively ignorant. We do get that, too. But, we hear these exact things so often, in exactly the same situations, using exactly the same words, that once in awhile we have to vent about it a little. Really, 99% of the time we don’t say anything at all. We play by the rules and, if we’re really brave and have a lot of tolerance on a good day, we try to teach people a little bit, refine their understanding. Just a little bit mind you, because the only thing more sensitive to criticism than a disabled person is a non-disabled person who’s said something stupid about disabilities.

And no, it’s not all in our heads. We’re not imagining the ableism we hear. If someone came up to you and gave you a completely out of the blue, out of context compliment … well, the first time it might make your day. But by the fifth or tenth time, I promise you, you’d say to yourself, “What the hell?” There’s something going on here besides simple kindness.

I submit that under the circumstances, poking a little fun at the “shit people say” about disabilities is the least harmful, most productive response we can make.