Monday, November 9, 2015

Weekly Reading List

Picture of a stack of multicolored books
Caroline Mortimer, The Independent - November 8, 2015

The statistical aspect of this reminds me a bit of the panic over “skyrocketing” rates of autism, which are mostly due to better identification of autism that has always been prevalent. It’s unlikely that the actual rate of occurrence of hate crime has gone up 41 percent in one year. More likely that in the last year, reporting has gone up and maybe followup and record-keeping have improved. In a way, that’s good news. That said, it’s still a terrible problem, and hate crime against disabled people may, in fact, be on the rise. It’s hard to tell. I also wish the article had mentioned something about why people commit hate crimes against disabled people. I sometimes get the feeling that people writing about this leave out the content of peoples’ prejudices, because talking about their beliefs seems to endorse them. How can there be a “because” for something so terrible? I think there’s always a “because.” It’s probably a bullshit “because,” but people rarely do things for literally no reason. And knowing what people are thinking can help us fight and counter their thinking. Otherwise, we’re just condemning and groping in the dark for answers.

Karin Willison, Free Wheelin’ Travel Blog - September 4, 2015

Re: my comments above … I really appreciate Karin mentioning the reasons her school bullies gave for why they did what they did:

“ … the girls tried to blame me for being bullied. They said it was my fault because I looked weird and did things they thought were strange.”

Again, it’s a piss-poor reason, but it tells us something. It suggests, to me anyway, that some kids really can’t handle any kind of difference, and will latch onto anything they can to differentiate themselves and establish and ironclad pecking order. I’m know sure how that understanding helps, but it certainly makes it less personal, at least in retrospect. Maybe it also points to the reason why schools should spend more time getting kids to be comfortable with difference. That’s important, because there are lots of people who regard this effort as “political correctness” or “indoctrination.” I think it’s important to connect the dots between bullying and prejudice. It’s not just a kid thing, as Karin also points out in her discussion of more recent bullying she experienced online. On a side note, I wonder if bullying in online discussion groups is an indicator of a different problem … people who literally don’t know any other way to make an argument than to hurl insults?

Stephanie Woodward, - November 6, 2015

This is my new favorite editorial against assisted suicide. It’s hard-hitting, but also humane. It doesn’t lean too heavily on a “slippery slope” argument. We are going to have to be good at explaining ourselves on this issue. Being in favor of assisted suicide is at this point a full-fledged part of the progressive policy agenda. I think that’s a big mistake, but I can understand why progressives tend to support it. It’s not that we have an opposite view, we have sort of a side view, a change the subject view. Progressive see it as a personal choice issue. We see it as an existential issue and a priorities issue … because there’s more intense support for people who want to die than there is for services that help people want to live. For the moment, I think the best we can do is keep raising the disability angle. People tend to forget the disability angle on just about everything.

Erica Curless, The Spokesman-Review - November 8, 2015

I posted this in the comment section of this article:

“This article raises some important issues for people to think about. However, one option isn't even mentioned ... gradually transitioning to a situation where Blaine is assisted by paid in-home staff. Since his father is, thankfully, relatively healthy, there is at least some time to do this. When he passes away, Blaine could then have 2 or 3 familiar staff who could see to his needs as his father does now. It would also allow his father to care for himself and get a bit of rest. The way it's presented in the article, the only choice for families of significantly disabled sons or daughters is a) provide total care, solo, forever, or b) put them in a nursing home. That's a false choice, and it would have been helpful if the article had informed readers that there are other options and models for long term, care.”

Tom Socca, Gawker - December 5, 2013

This article isn’t related in any direct way to disability issues. I re-read it last week because I made a mental connection between what the article describes as “smarm” and something I’ve been thinking a lot about, “Inspiration Porn.” Ultimately, I don’t think the two concepts match up very well. There’s a bit of an overlap, but not as significant as I imagined it might be. However, I do think Socca’s observations are very interesting, and may include important ideas to consider for Disability Culture. How much of the opposition we fight uses Smarm, and do we use Smarm too?