Friday, June 28, 2013

More About Rep. Duckworth and Who's Disabled

Tammy Duckworth's Impassioned Shaming Of A Faux-Disabled Vet
David A. Graham, The Atlantic Monthly - June 27, 2013

Jake Miller, CBS News - June 26, 2013

Marc Herman, Pacific Standard Magazine - June 27, 2013

The more I read about this, the more clear it seems that Mr. Castillo's "30% disabled" status really is bogus. And even if he did injure himself in military prep school in a way that still causes him some pain, his disability is only "service-connected" in the most bureaucratic possible sense.

These articles also do more to emphasize that part of the outrage is about the nonsensical way that Rep. Duckworth's disability is rated compared to Mr. Castillo's. So, there are probably two scandals here ... Mr. Castillo misusing a poorly-designed disability determination system for personal gain, and the fact that the system itself is so poorly designed to begin with.

So yes, her anger is understandable and probably justified. But the systemic confusion over how to determine who is disabled and who isn't just underscores how risky it is for individuals ... even individuals with disabilities ... to call people out for faking. I was thinking about how Rep. Duckworth could have mitigated this, and although it's also kind of annoying when pundits and bloggers say, "What she should have said is ...", I'm going to do that a little bit.

If she had prefaced her questions and comments by acknowledging that it's often hard to spot a disability faker, and that people have very serious disabilities you can't see, and then went on to underscore that the evidence is overwhelming in this case, I think the whole incident would have been less troubling, at least for me.