reading this CNN-Sponsored blog
and just a few of the comments, I feel I need to say something.
Why does disability seem to come with so much anger? In just the last few hours, I've seen comments questioning this young woman's diagnosis (I unfortunately don't know her, so I don't think that's within my scope, and wouldn't even if I did). I've seen people get angry because "that's not how I do things, or my brother does things" or whatever. But I've observed this for years. Friends of mine have had fights picked over stupid, irrelevant issues. I've had personal attacks on my character on email lists I'm not even on by people who've never met or even emailed back and forth with me. I've heard people described as "a disgrace to the blind community" and seen commentary on situations where it's obvious we don't know the whole story.
I think, to an extent, this is magnified by the internet. It's much easier to speak my mind on this blog, for instance, where I can post anything I want. It's much easier to criticize someone on an email list, in comments or on a blog than it is to actually talk to them directly. And it's much easier to attack the person than discuss the issue.
It's interesting, though, that I don't see the same amount of griping in some of the chronic pain communities and email lists I'm on (although I'll note that I'm not involved in very many simply because of time). I rarely rarely see personal attacks or even commentary on a specific person without well-thought-out and well-researched work.
There are a lot of great bloggers with disabilities who don't attack the person. The bloggers I read do give opinions on an issue, but I've never seen someone questioning a diagnosis, attacking a person's skills or even picking a fight. It doesn't mean that debates or discussions can't get somewhat intense--the discussions about the Ashley treatment became intensely personal. Part of this is that we all realize, to some extent, that it could have been us. But there are some LiveJournal communities where I've seen personal attacks.
Where are these getting us? I realize that I was blessed to have parents who loved me as I was, and pushed for me to have the best. Even then, we all carry "scars" from growing up different from "the norm". I know that others have probably suffered emotional and spiritual pain I can only begin to attempt to imagine. But I think we do a huge dis-service to ourselves as humans by attacking others because they ask for more or fewer accommodations, do things differently, don't have as many or as few adaptive techniques, don't view disability the same or whatever the current arguments are. We've all felt the pain of living in a society that is based on everyone being a young, white male who is capable of any physical or mental challenge we'd throw in his way. Why, then, do we try to throw arbitrary challenges in the way of others with disabilities?
Most of what I just wrote could apply to other subsections of society. I don't mean to unfairly pick on the online community of people with disabilities, because, like I said, I've found lots of support here, and seen some excellent discussions. I've seen the same stuff going on in other subsections to just as great of an extent. And I also don't want to attack anyone. I don't really have any specific person in mind for this entry. It's mainly sparked by what I feel are unfair characterizations in the comments on the blog I linked above, but this could be written about countless personal experiences. I guess one could say I finally got ticked off enough to write about it.
Edit: March 3, 2007: I love
Amanda's explanations of her experiences.