news bites gimps : A quick look at news items that cause us problems

A life 'few could endure' in Las Vegas

In 1990, Kenneth Bergstedt of Las Vegas became one of the first quads to seek court permission for "assisted suicide." Eight years later, nothing seems to have changed for still another Las Vegas quad. This time Jack Kevorkian did the deed, offering dead quad Joseph Tushkowski's kidneys to donors and provoking nationwide outrage over "harvesting organs."

The large print:

The sister of a man who killed himself with the help of an ex-pathologist says he lived a life few could endure

   The small print:

Carol Tushkowski, interviewed at her brother's home Sunday afternoon with her husband, said in the last 20 years her brother lived a life few could imagine, let alone endure.

She said that using the bathroom could take as long as eight hours for Joseph, who could not cook his meals or clean his home without assistance. His family said he rarely left home except to visit his physician, taking a Citizens Area Transit bus that could accommodate his wheelchair.

"To understand what he went through, you would have to picture being in a bed every day, just about all day, for 20 years without being able to move," [Tushkowski's husband, Robert Whitcomb]

Following extensive rehabilitation, Joseph Tushkowski lived for a few years in a handicap-accessible apartment in Southern California. "The place he was living in had a lot of crime and he was fearful for his life," Whitcomb said.

He eventually decided to move to Las Vegas and into his mother's residence. . . . he still struggled with the emotional consequences of his injury. Carol Tushkowski said that at the time of the shooting her brother . . .. weighed about 190 pounds. He had since withered to 90 pounds. ..."I think it got to a point where he didn't have a lot to look forward to." ..."If you would have seen the way he had to live his life, you wouldn't blame him," Whitcomb said.

-- From "Kevorkian aids Las Vegas man's death," by reporter Glenn Puit, Las Vegas Review Journal June 8, 1998

The ADA is a joke

On a episode of Fox TV's "King of the Hill" this spring, Hank Hill is confronted with a drug-using new employee who wreaks havoc at Strickland Propane, Hank's employer. The new guy can't be fired, though, because he's protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Soon all the employees are demanding "accommodation" for their "disabilities" (which have clearly been invented on the spot to let the workers goof off and get paid for it). Hank's solution? He quits; the company, now smaller than 15 employees, no longer must obey the ADA. Drug-user Leon gets fired; everyone buckles down to work: Hank comes back as the hero saving his company from the ravages of the ADA.

Many in the gimp community were outraged by the anti-ADA article in the May Readers Digest which took a similar tack. In "A Good Law Gone Bad: Drafted with the best of intentions, the Americans with Disabilities Act has created a legal nightmare" (a headline that says it all), Reader's Digest Staff Senior Editor Trevor Armbrister trots out the usual horror stories of nondeserving malingerers filing frivolous lawsuits and reaping millions while clogging the EEOC and the courts.

"Because the law is not working as its drafters intended, experts consulted by Reader's Digest [italics added] agree that at the very least our lawmakers should: narrow the definition of disability to discourage marginal claims; stop viewing all disabilities as if they were alike; make it clear that no employer has to compromise safety; and insist that employers everywhere receive clearer guidance about their rights and limitations," writes Armbrister.

Experts? He quotes two:

"Miami attorney Michael Casey complains, 'Under the ADA, everybody's disabled.' "


"Walter K. Olson, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The Excuse Factory, sums up best the need for these changes. 'The law,' he says, 'has produced spectacular injustice and irrationality.' "

Is this balanced reporting? Where are the experts for "our" side? They're never in the news. The right-wing Olson, however, is well known to editors and reporters. He's a frequent contributor to opinion pages.


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