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I'm not sure how to write this... It's something I want to say without having a double standard, being completely unkind or doing something that will cause anger and further obbstruct the meaning of my point. But after
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.


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Feb. 23rd, 2007 12:37 am (UTC)
people DO really use the internet as an excuse to say whatever they want without fear of personal repercussion, and it's sad. i think when someone's really bitter about something (like people approaching accomodation for a disability in a different way than them, for instance) it just gets magnified a hundred million times online. I try to pull back as much as I can and pretend I'm speaking to someone face to face, but I can understand how it would be tempting to just fly off the handle...
Feb. 23rd, 2007 12:46 am (UTC)
I've actually become more reserved online than I am in person to an extent because I can't hear the voice of a person online. And my screen reader voice can mask the meaning of what people are saying. I could tell you some interesting stories there...
Feb. 23rd, 2007 02:26 am (UTC)
interesting post
I thought this was a very interesting post. I did like how you said this does apply to other groups, because I think that is equally important. I think sometimes because we are in the disability community, that is what we see most often. However, I know "normal" people who criticize other so-called "normal" people due to their behavior or whatever the case may be. Perhaps we as the disabled community are so harsh on ourselves and others is because most of us have been told that people look at us, so if some of us behave one way, some ignerant people in society might think every person who has that disability behaves that way...am I making any sense here?

think this post is definitely something to think about..thanks for posting, and it is your blog, so you should be able to post what you wish... just my thoughts though *smiles and hugs*
Feb. 23rd, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
Re: interesting post
kbird, what you say makes me think of another community i have to constantly represent and make sure i'm portraying in a good light: pagans. i practice wicca, a not-so-mainstream-but-rapidly-becoming-so faith. AND i get upset when other people aren't perfect examples for the rest of the world, just because of all the wild stereotypes surrounding my religion. every group has its extremists, but i feel so personally about these people in MY group, because i don't want others to think every pagan acts that way. i guess i didn't realize i'd find a parallel in my own life so quickly...
Feb. 23rd, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC)
shooting from the hip: chronic pain blogs and kinder people
I am not on any message boards for chronic pain, but I do read your blog. One thing that's clear to me is that you don't have the answers. Most of what you write is about how you adaptyourself to your life circumstances. You have never stated an absolute rule about your pain management to my knowledge (i.e. this always works, I must do thyis, etc.) Your pain management requires flexability and invention.
The blind community I think tends to be rather rigid in the way it does things. There are those in the blindness community who feel that if they use braille, all people should use braille. If they groom their dog every day, then you are a bad dog owner if you don't. If I am employed and you are not, there is something wrong with you: never mind the circumstances that have prevented you from getting work, or how I found my job.
I think what I'm trying to say is thatkeeping an open mind, realizing your way is not the only way, and being able to respect others is easy when you are less certain of things. I hope this makes sense.
Feb. 24th, 2007 12:20 am (UTC)
Re: shooting from the hip: chronic pain blogs and kinder people
I think your observations are definitely valid. One of the concerns that people with pain bring up constantly is that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work with pain. People are in pain, and have to deal with people saying "well, x works for my arthritis". It's not usually that simple.

With blindness, we have to deal with the image stuff, which I think is problematic. I think you and I have had this discussion before, to an extent.

I'm having a hard time typing right now, so I'll talk at you soon.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 24th, 2007 04:00 am (UTC)
I'm sorry to read about you having to deal with that. I think one of the best ways to deal with any kind of challenge or difference in life is to admit that sometimes it does make life more challenging, hard or down right frustrating. But I guess I can understand the concerns relating to employment. And since I've never been employed, I guess and have concerns about that, I can't speak from experience. But to an extent, I'd think a good employer would realize that it's okay not to be "little miss sunshine" all of the time.

The best friends, professors and mentors I've had have realized that there is no "typical" blind person. That to me is the only way I will succeed in employment. Although I do know others who don't agree.

Thanks for responding. I'm hoping this makes some sense; my brain seems to have run off somewhere else.
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