Thursday, May 1, 2014

Admiration, With A Difference

Smart Ass Cripple - April 27, 2014

By now the routine should be pretty familiar. Smart Ass Cripple writes about some disability-related thing we talk about all the time, but he nails it in a few paragraphs and it may never have to be written about or discussed again.

This time, he looks at a unique aspect of admiration for disabled people. People admire them, but inherent in their admiration is that they would NOT want to be like them.

Just read the article; Smart Ass Cripple says it best ...

Photo Of The Day

Young woman wearing sleeveless Doors t-shirt, looking down at a dog with its head resting on her lap. Woman is sitting in a manual wheelchair in a kitchen.
From the Sapfromtheseal Tumblr blog, via Wheelie Wifee.

Famous People Making Faces

News topic icon
Robbie Couch, Huffington Post - April 30, 2014

What is this story about? What are we supposed to take away from it? What is important about it?

- Rich celebrities we admire for specific talents often turn out to be stupid, awful people.

- People who are members of socially marginalized groups can be just as oblivious as anyone else about stigmatizing people from other marginalized groups.

- After famous people do personally cruel things in a public way, they have to apologize publicly within a reasonable amount of time. The longer they take to apologize, the more the scandal snowballs. On the other hand, although everyone knows that these apologies are a ritual, they seem to work anyway.

- It is possible that a majority of Americans still think it’s okay to make fun of people who look strange, as long as they can’t immediately define their specific strangeness. Did Shaq, in that moment when he pulled a face, actually think of Mr. Binion as a disabled person, or as just a “weirdo”? Maybe we are in a transition phase, when a whole bunch of people are surprised to find that making mean fun of certain kinds of "odd" people is socially akin to racism, sexism, or homophobia.

- I find it interesting that for the first few days after this story broke, practically the only outlets covering it were recognized right-wing sources … The New York Post, The Daily Mail (UK paper), The Daily Caller. The Huffington Post is the closest thing to a “mainstream” outlet that seems to have bothered with the story. Is that just a coincidence. If not, what’s the deal? Do right-wing outlets get a bigger kick out of exposing the bad behavior of African-American celebrity athletes? Do more liberal-leaning outlets overlook prejudice directed at disabled people? Maybe it’s a little of both?

- It could be argued that Shaq’s fame makes his public behavior influential and therefore worse, because his individual ableism may encourage more of it on a grand scale. I think that might be a real concern, especially since it was a social media thing that would extremely easy for people to emulate and turn into meme. I hope that doesn’t happen, but we will probably find out one way or another over the next few weeks.

- Some of the articles on this incident refer to it as "bullying". I don't think it quite fits the usual definition, but I think it puts people in mind of a very real variety of childish / adolescent bullying directed specifically at disabled kids. Mimicking someone's odd appearance, voice, or movements is just the sort of "innocent" razzing that escalates fast, to the point where a kid will spend years learning to not hate his or her body, and parents who desperately want their kids to get a complete education will start to think that separate schools might be not just equal, but better ... simply for an anticipated end to bullying.

- I am glad, again, to see that Mr. Binion has a voice and real agency in the story. He is more than a silent, abstract victim. I like how he emphasizes that Shaq was a hero of his … making connections between the public and personal aspects of the incident.

What do you think? Is there more to this story, or is it mostly just another example of famous people behaving badly?