- A summer exercise for the imagination
- Suppose Chris Reeve
- were Barney Frank?
by Mary Johnson
Christopher Reeve draws activists' ire because of his attitudes about
disability (see excerpt from Barbara
Walters' interview and On
A Roll interview. Yet outside the disability movement, there's little
awareness that Reeve's views might even be open to question.
To get a better feel for how little of the activist disability consciousness
has permeated society, try to imagine the following scenario using Congressman
He's gay - and people know it. Bit suppose he hated being gay as much
as Reeve hates being disabled?
Suppose he wrote an autobiography about seeking a cure for his homosexuality?
Suppose he started the Barney Frank foundation to cure homosexuals? Suppose
he held a television special to raise money to find a cure for homosexuality?
Suppose Barbara Walters interviewed him on 20/20 on his work to find
a cure for homosexuality?
Then think about the reaction all this would get in the media. Remember
the issue of "gays in the military?" Remember how much media
attention that got?
If the make-believe scenario we've just described actually happened,
there would certainly be lots of public discussion about it. There would
be stories on television, talk radio and in the major newspapers and weekly
newsmagazines about the reaction from the gay movement in the U.S, and
interviews with gay rights leaders denouncing his effort as a setback to
their movement. Virtually every columnist, liberal and conservative, would
write about Frank's plans. Even columnists who had no firsthand experience
with the issues would pontificate on what it "meant" in broader
And of course there would be articles by gay activists on the opinion
pages of virtually every newspaper and in the weekly newsmagazines denouncing
the move.And of course there'd be opposing articles from the Christian
right applauding Frank's efforts.
Given that this scenario can easily be imagined, it's interesting to
think about why no one in media sees anything controversial about Reeve's
actions and attitudes.
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