Friday, August 9, 2013

More About Jenny ...

Jenny and Eve and the Statistics of Freedom
Dave Hingsburger, Rolling Around In My Head - August 7, 2013

I "shared" a link to this blog post about Jenny on my Facebook page, because of the photo that accompanied it, and the quote added to the photo. But, until a friend "Liked" it on my page, I hadn't actually read the linked blog post. It's really, really good.

The only quibble I have is where Hignsburger says that before the court ruling, peoples' doubts about Jenny were due to the fact that she has Down Syndrome. That's true, but in a weird way. I think we all knew that she had some kind of cognitive impairment, but the specifics of Jenny's disability were mostly either left out of news stories about her, or described in very vague terms. That vagueness is how people with cognitive impairments are always covered by news media … always. And lack of specificity tends to feed peoples' worst imaginings.

It is not impolite to talk about the specifics of anyone's disability, especially when those disabilities are the elephant in the room in debates over basic human rights.

Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Reading over my post yesterday about use of the word "handicapped", I'm starting to think that disability awareness isn't a binary, aware / not aware thing. There are levels of disability awareness, each of which represents a step in a positive direction. The problem is that if you're at the "Advanced" level, then people at "Intermediate" and "Beginner" levels seem like they're ableist, when really they're just not as far along in their understanding.

I also think that the successive levels of disability awareness aren't just a matter of each step being more of what came before. I think that the focus and even the philosophies shift, and sometimes reverse with each step from Beginner to Intermediate, and from Intermediate to Advanced disability awareness.

What the hell am I talking about? We need examples to test out this argument and see if it holds water. Stay tuned.