Friday, February 15, 2013

Followup Question

How many of us who have disabilities actually feel any personal stake in celebrities who also have disabilities? Do you care about Oscar Pistorius in any kind of special way ... positive or negative ... because of his disability? Are you more interested in famous people when they have disabilities, or is your interest level determined by other factors, on a case by case basis?

Oscar Pistorius

Is the developing Oscar Pistorius murder trial story in any way a "disability" story?

Yes, because the reason we even know his name ... and probably the only reason we know about Reeva Steenkamp's murder ... is because of Pistorius' 2012 Olympic performances. And the main reason we knew about those was because he was the first Olympic track athlete who ran on artificial legs.


No, because as far as we can tell or plausibly imagine, Ms. Steenkamp's murder, whether by Mr. Pistorius or not, had nothing to do with Pistorius' disability.

Or, maybe his disability was one of several elements that lead to what appears to have been a horrible crime. We often make the mistake of thinking that a person's disability either has nothing to do, or everything to do with their character or actions. This is especially true when the person either achieves something great ... like competing in the Olympics ... or does something dreadful ... like killing a room full of schoolchildren, or their girlfriend.

For those of us who have disabilities, its a seesaw. We want to claim "our" heroes, though we sometimes kind of resent them because their spectacular successes challenge us in ways we can never realistically meet. When disability becomes connected with tragedy or evil, we naturally, often rightfully, point out the ways that disability is unrelated.

But a disability is almost always two things at once ... a defining characteristic, and just a thing. It can't explain everything about us, but it has an impact on each one of us, whether we know it, like it, or not.

In the meantime, here's a thoughtful piece about what Oscar Pistorius meant, and now means for South Africa:

Oscar Pistorius: South Africa's symbol of hope shattered
Donald McRae, The Guardian


A article summarizes the case against Pistorius. It doesn't look good.

Details emerge of girlfriend murder case against "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius
Alex Perry -