Ana Swanson, Washington Post Wonkblog - April 24, 2015
You can’t swing a deceased feline in the Disability Blogosphere without hitting lists of advice from disabled people, offered to non-disabled people, on how we prefer to be treated. I think it’s a great exercise for ourselves, and I’ve seen some nice feedback from non-disabled readers, so I know some of them are reading and getting something out of it, too.
This Wonkblog compilation of a Reddit thread is unusually good reading of this kind, and best of all, it’s in a mainstream publication … two of them actually if you count the complete and original back and forth on Reddit. I am especially pleased because I agree with everything on the list. Most of the commenters are saying what disability activists and bloggers say all the time, but I love the irreverence and novelty of how some of these folks explain things. For one thing, they are almost completely free of disability jargon.
I do wonder … Reddit being Reddit … if Ana Swanson intentionally left out angry ableist responses. It's understandable if she did, since she set out to compile good advice, not online hate. However, if there were any ugly comments in the thread, it would be educational to see a sample of them. There is a reference to the common phenomenon of the hyper vigilant, self-appointed guardian of “handicapped parking,” but that is presented mostly as a misunderstanding. The kind of thing I see a lot is people drawing distinctions between “good” disabilities and “bad” ones, a widespread skepticism and intolerance for any kind of “emotional disabilities,” insistence that disabled people who speak out in any way are “just craving attention,” and of course the fiscal conservatives and Libertarians who resent any penny spent on assisting us that comes out of their paychecks.
People who have positive feelings about disabled people and disability issues sometimes can’t imagine that aggressively hateful ableism really exists. It’s so foreign to their thinking that there is a tendency outside the disability community to discount our tales of horrifying ableism as overreaction or misunderstanding. While one must occasionally correct for hyperbole language, the incidents disabled people describe when they let their hair down and really share are quite real. And there are some true haters out there who have special, very intense little resentments directly aimed at disabled people.
I would love to see a compilation like this that not only catalogs online ableism, but categorizes it as well into its most popular themes.