Saturday, July 18, 2009

“As our society grows more and more health-conscious, good health, too, becomes a virtue, and its absence a vice.*”

I used to be one of those people who watched a lot of nothing type shows - the gossipy ones that run between 6 and 8 - simply because there was nothing good on and I was too tired/sore/sick/whatever to even think about doing anything besides watching TV. At some point, though, those shows just crossed my own personal lines from 'I certainly don't need this information, but it's kind of fun and random to know stuff like whose birthday it is or when I can expect the newest version of Star Trek to hit the local theater' to full out 'I wish I didn't know these things. I don't know why they have to be so mean. I really should stop watching these shows, because it's just upsetting how often they call skinny girls fat or pretty girls ugly or question whether or not someone is gay.' I would end the shows feeling so much worse about the world in general that I just decided to not watch them anymore (Thank you, Tivo for saving me from the wasteland that is the 6-8 time slot in our neck of the woods.)

The worst offender in the Access Entertainment Inside Hollywood Edition Tonight millieu was the most recent (at least to me) addition: TMZ. Not only did they make every slightly positive story seem sarcastic and unnecessary, they were often offensive, rude, and it seemed to me there was even less actual 'reporting' than most of those type of shows require. As if any day's story could be "Based on the information we got from a local coffee barista..." or "You know, my 14 year old nephew has a hunch that..." Perhaps that is a slight exaggeration, but you get the point: I just didn't like the show. Not my thing, no big deal... I know how to change the channel. If you enjoy it, good for you: we'll agree to disagree.

All of this is just to preface that, had I known that the link on AOL was pointing to a TMZ story, I would not have clicked on it in the first place. But also, it serves as a reminder to my own damn self that, having clicked on the link and found out it was TMZ, I should immediately have closed it and NOT KEPT READING.

Of course, if I had closed the tab, I never would've been able to enjoy the wonderful - and supportive - comments of the TMZ commenters. Which, while that might have been nice, and helpful in my efforts to remain sane, would also have created a world in which I do not want to viciously punch people that I have never met, because of their Temporarily Able Bodied prejudice against people with disabilities. Yes, yes: I agree, we all would've been better off.

But I didn't close the tab, which means I got to read such beauties as -

Americans w/Disabilities Act= another lame, retarded (pun intended) law which wastes taxpayer money and opens the door further to ridiculous lawsuits which are further degenerating the judicial system.

I'm sorry you're so bitter and angry about being disabled but it's not all about you and your disability!! Idiots.

in regards to a story where two individuals with disabilities - both wheelchair users - are suing CBS studios because of the treatment they received during a recent Dancing with the Stars taping. (While DWTS is on ABC, it's filmed at CBS, FYI. Maybe I could put more acronyms in here, OMG.) The suit claims that there's no designated accessible seating, that the two disabled men were specifically placed out of cameras' sight lines, that one of the men was seated in a place where he could not see the show at all, and that a camera man threatened to 'run over' the one man's guide dog as it sat in the aisle. The men are suing for damages, and for permanent changes to CBS studio policy regarding their lack of compliance with ADA guidelines.

Ok, so what could the commenters be berating, you might wonder? A whole damn lot, it turns out. I know I've ranted before about Disablism/Ableism, but these commenters manage to use every ableist argument in the book - from "I'm not prejudiced but..." to "Disabled people all should die" - and so, another rant seems long overdue.

Matthew seems to think the suit makes sense, because
They have a disablity and they are different from the rest of us.
But he'd also like to note that
They are smart to not put people in the wheel chair in front of the camera, but the camera doesn't have record in that direction
. Good thinking, Matthew! Don't TELL them that discriminating against them, and it won't count! Moxy was more explicit in his/her condemnation of their attempts to be treated as all of the other audience members, however:
Why would anyone at home want to look at a couple of limb-less cripples in the audience?---TV is escapism, no one wants to see you guys (yes, I went there!).

Lil wants us to know that she's "all for equal rights"
but when they go and ask for damages sorry that is a clear indication that they just want to get paid. A true and honest fighter for equal rights does it for equal rights not for the big bucks.
There seemed to be a lot of commenters who shared Lil's low opinion, that the men should just fight out of a need to see justice done. That the changes would, of course, be forthcoming if they just reported the misconduct to the appropriate authorities. Because that is the way the world works for PWD, as we all are aware. It's just my cynical mind that thinks if they had just sued to change the studio's policy, there wouldn't be quite so much coverage of it, but that's just my warped mind.

Lil continues to make her position clear, stating that
Im so tired of people taking advantage of others in this case Im on both sides. These 2 should not have been treated this way but these 2 should also not be sending such a negative message " oh i didn't get to go in first? I wasn't treated as someone special? (that is not equal rights just so you know) well screw you im gonna sue you for some money.

That's right, Lil: it's not "equal rights" we want, we want to be "treated special." And by "special", of course, we mean things like being able to see the show we came (I had originally put 'paid' here, but turns out the tickets are free) to see, and not being threatened by the staff. How dare we??

More than one commenter echoed Hawks' opinion -
Well, gee - I guess everyone can't do everything and go everywhere
As if the two men should've known better than to try to venture out in public at all, because HELLO - They're disabled. Don't you know disabled people don't go anywhere??? (Or, at least, they shouldn't.)

Sarah thought it was important that we know
If I was disabled, I'd kill myself.
Not that she was suggesting that anyone else do that, of course, just that if it was her... But since these two gentlemen didn't have the good grace to kill themselves before attempting to attend a TV show taping, they decided instead to
probably file(d) this suit not so much about the way they were treated, as the fact that they got a little bitter about the fact that the closest the will come to dancing is throwing themselves on the floor and flopping around like fish
. I hadn't really thought about it that way before, explodingchicken: I'm sure you're right, and they deserve your disdain. They couldn't have simply wanted to enjoy the show like everydamnbody else, and, when they were prevented from doing so, been reasonably upset. No, that makes no sense. It's much more likely that they were jealous of the dancers, upset by their own conditions, ashamed and bitter about the lives they lead. We all know that the disabled life is not worth living, after all.

But you know what? Perhaps I'm taking this too seriously. I mean, after all, who cares about one little dancing show, one little incident? I don't happen to care about DWTS at all, and I never go to TMZ, so why does it even matter what a bunch of their commenters think?

It matters because there shouldn't be a NEED to sue, some 19 years after the ADA was passed, to get into a building that is seating the public. It should be automatic that there is seating available, in places were wheelchair users can access and enjoy the events. But it isn't. We are the public, just as much as anybody else, and that's why it matters.

It matters because these are the things that real people still, in 2009, think about disability, about PWD, and about our place in society. That we shouldn't watch shows about dancing if we can't dance the way they do (in which case, why are any of you TAB people watching - 99% of you couldn't do those moves if I offered you $1 million, now could you?) That we shouldn't complain if we're treated unfairly. That asking for fair and equal treatment is, in fact, only code for the special treatment we feel we're entitled to. That we're asking for more than our 'fair share' by asking for reasonable accommodations - after all, we do get those nifty parking spaces, as many a commenter reminded me. That since we have disabilities, we are automatically assumed to be unattractive ("they only put the ATTRACTIVE people on camera!")

That we need to be "put to sleep." (Thanks, Tru Conservative!)

And it matters because it isn't just a bunch of random internet assholes who think this way either: Even the New York Times was explaining this week that the lives of people with disabilities are different and just plain less.

Those aren't things that people used to think, or attitudes that used to exist: those are things people are saying about people with disabilities today, tonight, right now. And, yes, there were also a few posts by those who were appalled at these type of comments, those that seemed shocked that those attitudes still exist, those who stood up for PWD - whether they were disabled themselves or not. And that is wonderful, to have advocates, to have people who recognize all of the FAIL that is included in those comments.

But the advocates, the people who understood were far outnumbered by those who didn't. Who never tried. Who won't understand a word I'm writing in this post.

And if that's not scary, I don't know what is.

Title quote from The Chronic Illness Experience: Embracing the Imperfect Life, Cheri Register.

1 comment:

Crazed Mom said...

Obviously the caliber of commenters on TMZ is low, low, low.

Have they forgotten FDR was disabled, Pope John Paul II, Stephen Hawkings, Lou Gehrig, Christopher inability to do physical tasks do not preclude brilliance, commenting on TMZ however, does.