Sunday, February 21, 2010

You're All Fucking Retarded!

Kidding! I kid!

But it looks like people are getting all wound up again, and our patron saint of hypocrisy Sarah Palin has taken to her high horse of indignation to speak out on behalf of fucking retards everywhere. Being one, herself, it is at least something she's qualified to do, as opposed to, say, being President. As you can likely guess by my username, I'm not one to get worked up over words like retard or gimp. I'll tell you why, and take a moment to dissect this whole retard/Limbaugh/Family Guy issue.

See, I've never understood why we tell children not to be bothered by words - 'sticks and stones may break my bones...' - and then turn around and get all worked up over a word, ourselves. I've personally made it my goal to reclaim the word 'gimp', but I can appreciate that words are offensive to some. I just don't get how we can argue one thing but do another. Either words are hurtful, or the people that use them are. I vote for the latter.

If we try telling the world that calling someone a fucking retard is wrong because it insults those with mental disabilities, I firmly believe we're sending the wrong message. We're telling everyone that might be hurt by the word retard that they should be hurt by it. That it describes them. But it doesn't! Now, I've known quite a few people who would be classified as Mentally Retarded, and I have to say that none of them were fucking retards.

To borrow a phrase, fucking retarded is as fucking retarded does.

By telling them that whenever someone calls someone else a retard they're really insulting them, we're suggesting that there is something about them that they should be ashamed of. We're basically telling them that yes, they are retarded, and that's bad. We're reinforcing the hurtfulness of a word.

Words are constantly changing, and it's hard to keep track of what is or is not acceptable. First it was crippled or lame. Then it was handicapped. Then it was disabled. Then it was differently-abled. Each time it gets changed, it gets changed to be more polite. More thoughtful so that we don't hurt anyone's feelings by pointing out the fact that they're different. We ARE different. Calling me differently-abled isn't going to make me get out of my wheelchair and walk. These words are all about erasing or hiding or ignoring the very things that make us who and what we are. Different.

Everyone's different. Everyone has their strengths and their weaknesses. A word isn't going to change that. It's my opinion that these words are more often used to make others feel better. A parent, like Palin, gets upset at the word retard because it might hurt her child's feelings. (Okay, really she's just grandstanding for that attention, but you get my point.) The word upsets the parent because it points out the flaw in their child. Except it doesn't have to be a flaw. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. But when the parent reacts badly to the word, it tells the child to react badly.

Now, I'm not suggesting that pretending a word isn't bad is going to keep the kid blissfully ignorant of the connotation behind it. I'm suggesting that we're focusing on the wrong part of the problem: the word. Words are just consonants and vowels, lines drawn in the sand by early cavemen to tell other cavemen that there's a bear in that cave and not to go in. Words aren't hurtful, or offensive, or insulting.

The people who use them are.

The real issue that needs dealing with is the attitude that powers the word. Nine times out of ten, when someone insults someone else it's to make the insulter feel superior to the insulted. Usually this is because the insulter is rather insecure and feels threatened. By reacting badly to the insult, we just give them the gratification they seek. Hence the whole sticks and stones philosophy.

As for when one non-retarded person calls another non-retarded person a retard, getting upset about it is, well, pretty fucking retarded. Insisting that the word not be used is not going to accomplish anything. First of all, the word is not going away. Ask black people how that whole approach works. Nigger, kike, spic, fag... it's all cemented in our language. It will always be there. Removing the hurtfulness of the words by getting past the words themselves to the motivation behind them is the better goal. Kos posted a hate mail calling him a faggot beaner, and he laughed at it. Laughter was exactly the right response, because the person who called him that wanted it to hurt. It didn't. Kos wins.

Second, again, it's just a fucking word. Get rid of it, another word will take its place. But thirdly, getting upset over the word draws the discussion away from the real focus. This whole thing over Rahm calling Dems fucking retards turned into hysteria over the word retard instead of what it should have been about - Rahm, Dems, and what's going on. Rahm not only got a dig in, he got the entire subject changed. Rahm wins.

Which brings us to Palin. As we all saw, she's a hypocrite as she excuses Limbaugh's repeated use of the word as satire. Then she went twenty steps further and called out Family Guy for... satire. Family Guy's joke was a girl with Down's Syndrome saying that her mother was the former Governor of Alaska. This is offensive how? Seriously, I don't get how it's supposed to be offensive. Was the character a bumbling idiot? No. Actually, she was kind of a badass. Did they make fun of her for having Down's Syndrome? Nope. So where's the offense? There was none. And yet Palin got all offended.

I personally think Seth did it to draw her out, just as it did. There was absolutely nothing offensive in any of it, but he knew she'd bite. He backed himself up by having the character voiced by an actress that actually has Down's Syndrome, too. An actress who thought it was funny. You know, satire? He set out to see just how far Palin could take the hypocrisy thing, and as she's shown us time and again, she can take it pretty fucking far. She didn't disappoint.

In the end, I guess, I think this whole thing is well intended but wrong. Kids will be calling each other retards until the end of time, and kids grow into adults that do the same. It doesn't need to hurt the feelings of those with mental disabilities. All it does is show the person using it to be what they are.

Fucking retarded.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Return of the Gimp!

My life is still a chaotic storm, we still can barely eat, but at least we have functioning computer equipment again! It's been a few years, but I'm dusting off this old blog and getting back to business.

So a few weeks ago I did a series of Will Draw For Food diaries and a few generous, lovely Kossacks helped us out. Computer issues prevented me from getting any art going until now, so if I owe you art, it's coming this weekend! Also, as I only qualified for $48 a month in food stamps, I'm still offering to draw caricatures in exchange for grocery giftcards - details are in the link above.

All the recent problems I've been having, combined with current events and other things have inspired me to return to semi-regular blogging. So, as often as I'm able to, I'll be posting here, with some entries cross-posted at my Daily Kos diary. These posts will be daily rants on life as a disabled person, commentary on news and current events, and maybe a bit of art and random things that interest me.

At any rate, I hope you'll continue to check in and see what I'm ranting about, or consider having me draw someone for you so I can put food on my family. Or just drop in and tell me I'm fucking retarded. That's fine, too.

Speaking of which, seeing the diary at the top of the Rec List right now, I'll be putting together a gimpalicious rant about Palin, Rahm, and the whole 'retarded' thing tomorrow. You won't want to miss it.

Until then...


Thursday, April 13, 2006

GOP Congress to Deaf Americans: We Aren't Listening

Apparently the GOP Congress thinks deaf people are also blind. Otherwise they'd realize the deaf community will be reading this:
Several deaf-theater groups are struggling to stay afloat after the federal government mysteriously cut funds for cultural programs for the deaf around the country 16 months ago.
These groups that were cut have made a huge impact in the disabled and abled communities. They are a national treasure that we cannot afford to lose.

Apparently, Democratic Senators Harkin and Dodd care, and are looking into this 'mysterious cut'.

Of course we could easily solve the 'mystery' by asking Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), Chairman of the Education Committee.

I've recently started writing about disabled issues, and this is my first call to action.

I called Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, the Chairman of the House Education Committee to ask him about it, but of course, he's on vacation.

I left a message for Heath Weemes, his Education Legislative Assistant - also on vacation - and urge you all to do the same. Fill his voicemail box with messages so that when he gets back from vacation, he knows that we're listening and speaking.

Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon
2351 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
ph:(202) 225-1956
fax: (202) 226-0683

Ask for Heath Weemes' voicemail and/or the Congressman's.

It only takes a few minutes of your time to impact the lives of millions, and this is a small victory we can easily win.

I told them I was bringing the blogosphere in. Who has my back?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Gimps Overwhelmingly Liberal, Not Voting

I've always been a liberal to some degree. As a kid, I'd dress up as FDR for Halloween. I was one of the lone Democrats in my heavily Republican highschool. I've been registered as either Green or Dem all my voting life.

And I'm not alone:

June 27, 2000 -- A new political-attitude survey of people with disabilities has found them to be more liberal than the general population, as might be expected in a group that often accepts government services, but also reveals a strong streak of skepticism about government, says study author John Gastil, a University of Washington assistant professor of speech communication.

The findings were based on telephone surveys of 302 disabled and 1,485 non-disabled people ages 18-64 in New Mexico, a state whose party affiliations and election results closely mirror the nation's as a whole.

In the surveys, 52 percent of those with disabilities identified themselves as Democrats and 23 percent as Republicans, compared with the general state population surveyed of 43 percent Democrats and 39 percent Republicans.

Yeah, it's six years old, but I imagine the numbers are even higher. No Child Left Behind has really made a mess of disabled education, and the stem cell debate along with Medicare and Social Security 'overhauls' by the GOP congress has been a nightmare. For example:

The report also examined what the task force called conflicts between the federal law and the disabilities act. Under No Child Left Behind, a disabled eighth grader whom educators deem to be working at a sixth grade level must take examinations for eighth graders. The report said the requirement contradicted provisions in the disabilities act requiring school authorities to devise a unique program suited to the needs and abilities of each disabled child.

"N.C.L.B. requires students with disabilities to be tested by grade level, while IDEA mandates that students be taught according to ability," the report said.

A Republican state representative from Utah, Kory M. Holdaway, who is a special education teacher as well as a task force member, said the federal law's provisions for educating the disabled were a special irritant in his state.
Now add it all together and you get a pretty big chunk of Democrat voters, right?


The problem is, they aren't voting:
People with disabilities are about 20 percentage points less likely than those without disabilities to vote, and 10 points less likely to be registered to vote, say researchers who conducted a national random-household telephone survey of 1,240 Americans of voting age after the November, 1998 elections.


If people with disabilities voted at the same rate as those without disabilities, there would have been 4.6 million additional voters in 1998, raising the overall turnout rate by 2.5 percentage points
Can you say President Al Gore?

So why are gimps holding out? As the above study points out, about 27% aren't voting because they don't think they'll be able to physically do it or even get to the polling place. Only 8% who do vote actually do have problems. I never have, and polling places are required to assist voters with special needs.

And then there's absentee balloting, which makes it even easier.

So come on, Democratic Party. Talk to us. There are 20% of the American public identified as disabled, and they're overwhelmingly liberal. They're literally waiting to vote for you.

Many of us were born blind or deaf. What's your excuse?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Of Landlords and Slumlords

Our last landlord was a slumlord.

He let the property go in sub-standard conditions for at least six months because he knew we couldn't exactly stop him. If we were to take legal action, he'd evict us, and suing him would take far longer than eviction proceedings, and while we would likely win in the end, we'd be homeless. We couldn't afford to move - which he knew - and my wife's medical condition makes it impossible for us to just stay with friends or family in the meantime.

Ultimately, a friend fronted us cash to move, and we did. We've been in our new place going on a year.

Patterns are repeating.

There were serious plumbing issues on several occasions here, issues the new landlord took their sweet time even getting around to, and now we have astronomical water bills that they are refusing to cover. The city doesn't care who pays them, but if they don't get the money, they shut off the account.

Again, if we fight, we risk being given a 30 day notice as we're on a month-to-month lease and they can terminate at will.

Welcome to a day in the life of a disabled person riding the poverty line.

'It's Hard Out Here For A Gimp', or 'Tell Me Something I Don't Know'

I don't like copying an entire article, but this needs reading.

Job hunt a challenge for disabled
Employers wary despite applicants' qualifications


ChartsNEW YORK -- Bruce Morgan knew he was in for a long job search.

Morgan has a strong résumé and a master's degree in business administration, but he also has cerebral palsy, which affects his speech. After his company, Nabisco, was bought by Kraft Foods Inc., his 25-person department was laid off on the same day in 2004.

Some of his colleagues planned to take time off. Morgan, a triathlete, piano player and father of three, started looking even before the layoff.

Over the next 19 months, he had 125 in-person meetings and sent a monthly e-mail update to 1,600 people. Sometimes he was merely discouraged; once he felt he was discriminated against so blatantly that he filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Near the end of his search, Morgan, who lives in Pompton Plains, N.J., was so disheartened, he started his own computer repair business.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990, prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, yet the employment rate for those with disabilities has been nearly flat for almost 20 years.

Only 34 percent of working-age people with disabilities had full-time or part-time jobs in 1986. In 2004, the figure was 35 percent, according to surveys done by the National Organization on Disability in conjunction with the Harris Survey. People without disabilities have an employment rate of 78 percent.

People with disabilities are nearly three times more likely to live in poverty than people without disabilities; 26 percent of people with disabilities had a 2004 annual household income below $15,000, versus 9 percent of those without disabilities, the survey found.

"Employers still have fears and misconceptions about people with disabilities," said Nancy Starnes, vice president and chief of staff at the National Organization on Disability, a non-profit focusing on the participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of community life.

Starnes, who has used a wheelchair since 1973, when a plane crash left her paraplegic, has made a career of trying to open doors for other people with disabilities.

"I heard a lot of very, very disheartened people who were trying to look for work," she said.

While their disabilities ranged widely, their message was the same. "They were asking, in some cases, pleading, 'Can't you help me try to get a job? I'm having a very difficult time finding an opportunity, finding an employer who will just give me a chance,' " she said.

Advocates for the disabled try everything to open doors, from events where college students with disabilities spend a day with an office worker to poetry contests.

"My mom without her job is like a baseball player without a bat. My mom with her job is like a cat lover with 20 cats," wrote Diamond Clark, age 12, whose mother works as a data entry clerk through New York City's FedCap, a non-profit that serves 3,000 people with disabilities a year with job training and placement.

People who train disabled workers not only have to find willing employers, they have to prepare their clients for a tough search.

Students who have spent their school years in special needs classes also have to adjust quickly to the less sheltered world of work.

Chef instructor Matthew Sywhaho teaches culinary students at FedCap's Career Design School. The students staged mock interviews with graduates of the program.

"Every time you go out, there's 400 people going out for the same job," Sywhaho told the students, who have severe learning disabilities. "What are you going to do to differentiate yourself from the other 399?"

"My No. 1 goal," he said later, "is to keep them from being scared, to keep them from being scared of new opportunities."

He gave them daily verbal tests and took them shopping for unfamiliar foods, such as white eggplant. For their graduation, the students prepared and served a seven-course lunch. Each new course was greeted with applause.

Between courses, Joann Kelly, whose son Terrell, 19, was in the class, said, "The job market is rough, but seeing what can be done, how far he has come, I believe he can prosper."

The students are still sheltered, said Robyn Saunders, a career placement specialist at FedCap. One received a job immediately after an interview, spent a day working in the kitchen and never returned. She now tries to place two graduates in the same kitchen so they aren't entirely surrounded by the unfamiliar. So far, her success rate is good; less than two months after graduation, six of the nine graduates have jobs.

Morgan, 44, eventually landed a job, too, after meeting a Deloitte & Touche partner at an awards lunch sponsored by Just One Break, a non-profit that helps find jobs for people with disabilities.

Morgan is now a tax manager at Deloitte & Touche in Parsippany, N.J.

Thinking back to his job search, he said, "I think sometimes people feel -- not at Deloitte, but at other jobs -- 'If someone handicapped can do the work that I do, what does that say about me?' "

We have been hearing a lot about discrimination of minorities, immigration and racism, lately, but nobody on the left talks about the biggest minority group of all - the disabled.

Gimps come from all ethnicities, religions and cultures, and yet we get little to no support from any activist community. Think it's hard being black? Try being black in a wheelchair. Think life is hard as a lesbian or gay man? Try being gay with CP or MS. Every problem you have? We have ten times more of it.

I live in California, am wheelchair bound and severely disabled. In Arizona, I had a $12 an hour tech support job and got promoted to Quality Monitoring. Then my wife got sick and became bed-ridden. She's a Canadian and doesn't qualify for benefits, so I had to quit the job, leave my life and move to a small town in California to be near family that could help me care for her. I can't get any decent job here, so have to live on SSI and SSD, which means I'm supporting myself and my housebound wife who gets no benefits or healthcare on $824 a month in California. But California gives you additional SSI - in most other states (like Az.) I would be getting about $500 a month to live on.

Luckily a friend moved out West to live with us and be my live-in aid, and her meager $1050 a month for caring for me allows us to live a little above the poverty line. But only just.

Think $1874 a month is enough to live on? Not in California, where our rent is $895 a month, bills run $500 a month (and more in summer), and we haven't even made it to food, medical costs and the like, yet. We get by, but only just, and one unexpected expense buries us for months.

Gimps are by far the most unemployed, the most below the poverty line and the most in need of healthcare. Are we blaming illegals for our woes, like Tancre(tin)do? No. It's the corporations and hiring managers who won't read the laws and educate themselves. I'm not going to be framing houses or washing my own toilets anytime soon. The only jobs most of us can get are tech jobs and those got shipped to India by the GOP Congress.

The same people who tell me that $824 a month is enough to live on. And if you make over $1500 a month, yourself (not counting your aid), you lose your aid or have to pay towards their salary, putting you right back into poverty and making it utterly pointless to even try working. Why work 40 hour weeks just to make the same amount of money you would staying home? And don't give them the 'lazy' argument or tell them to work for the 'satisfaction of doing it yourself'. Everything gimps do is ten times harder than it is for normals, so working ten times harder just to make the same, below-poverty living is a suicide waiting to happen.

Average Americans won't pick fruit or wash toilets just to live in poverty, so why should gimps bust their asses just to do the same? They keep the system so that you can't get off of it. You better enjoy poverty, because unless you're one of the lucky ones, you're never getting off the government system.

And yes, this is the same system the GOP want to cut because of 'welfare queens' and 'deadbeats'. They'll tell you that you aren't the problem, you can stay on the system, but they cut the rates across the board all the same.

This is why the rate of people considered 'very satisfied with life' is 34% for gimps.

Drive a mile in my wheelchair. Sit in the same seat 11+ hours a day (transportation times suck for us as we mostly rely on slow public transit), piss in a bag, don't have bowel movements, and explain to your supervisor that 'that smell' is the rashes and sores you get from doing this every single day just to live in poverty. Want to try it?

I didn't think so.

How's The View Down There?

Life At Four Feet Tall

An Obstacle To Equality

By Brian McGrory, Globe Columnist | January 10, 2006

Nothing's easy in this town, is it?

Now that MBTA officials have finally decided to make more of the Green Line accessible to people with disabilities, you'd think everyone would be cheering them on.

You'd think everyone would be cheering over the fact that the T paid world-famous architect Graham Gund to design elevator head houses in Boston's Back Bay. You'd think everyone would be cheering over the $48 million in planned renovations to two key stations, at Arlington Street and in Copley Square.

What's not to cheer about? We ought to have a parade down Boylston Street for the disabled, welcome them to Copley Square, apologize that it took so long. It's not like anyone could be opposed to these improvements, right?

Wrong. Allow me to introduce you to the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay.

Years ago, I simply mentioned the acronym NABB to Thomas M. Menino and the mayor let out a long, resigned groan. Restaurateur Charlie Sarkis recently referred to the group as ''professional obstructionists." NABB's mantra: ''You propose, we oppose."

On the issue of allowing people with disabilities into the neighborhood, NABB officials say they're for it. What they don't want, however, are the elevators that will allow the disabled to get from the subway to the street, at least in the locations that the T plans to build them.

T officials, God love them, just want to build their multimillion-dollar, Gund-designed head houses next to existing subway entrances. It seems like a reasonable plan, no?

Well, no. NABB officials say one of those head houses would violate the architectural symmetry of the venerable McKim Building at the Boston Public Library.

They say the other, next to the Old South Church, would disturb sightlines into Copley Square.

The head houses, I should note, are to be made of glass.


I know for a fact that most NABB members are well-intentioned people.

As I look over a roster of NABB officials, I'm realizing that many of them live on my block and -- oh, boy -- in my building. I recognize some of them as friends.

But they've lost a sense of perspective, and, in short, seem more concerned with the buildings of the Back Bay than the people who live and work inside them.

What they fail to understand is that cities are vital and dynamic places. Copley Square is filled with trucks, restaurants, and stores, mobbed with people of all colors and shapes.

It is blessed with three historic landmarks in the form of a stately library and two gorgeous churches, but buildings exist to encourage life, not to stymie it.

Every day that people with disabilities lack easier access to the Back Bay is another day of embarrassment for this city -- and another day of shame for NABB.
Glass elevator head houses will block the view? It must be nice to see the view to begin with.

Look, I love historic views and districts as much as anyone, but this is stupid. They're delaying disabled people's ability to commute and hold down jobs over a couple tastefully designed glass elevaters. We have enough trouble in
small, conservative towns getting around, but the People's Republic of Boston can't get us accessibility? This is as disgraceful as San Francisco being one big ball of 'screw you' to gimps, too. Yes, it's getting better, but it's still sad that the most liberal of places are often the least gimp-friendly.