- Basic attitudes have really not changed
"It is amazing that there has been scant public debate about this
revolutionary new technology that allows us for the first time in all of
human history to ascertain certain medical facts about a person before
the person is a person," writes Lisa Blumberg in our cover story for
this issue, The 'Bad Baby' Blues. She goes on
to offer a cogent explanation for this: "The disability rights movement
in the quarter century it has been in existence has been successful on
some nuts-and-bolts access issues," she writes, adding that "important
civil rights laws have been passed. However, basic attitudes toward disability
really have not changed," she adds.
"It is a premise of the movement that a person with a disability
is limited more by society's prejudices than by the practical difficulties
that may be created by the disability. Unfortunately, by and large, nondisabled
people don't believe it."
That's the problem the movement's having with Christopher Reeve as well.
Just as nobody sees anything wrong with getting rid of "deformity,"
nobody sees anything wrong with Reeve shilling for a cure. What's to debate?
Mary Wilt reports on websites devoted to "selective
abortion." She says the websites are designed to make the women feel
better about themselves, to feel "validated" for eliminating
"defective fetuses." "These pages are a paean to eugenics,"
writes Wilt, who has a child with Down Syndrome. "What is it they
hope parents will learn from this page? That people with Down syndrome
are to be greatly feared? That it is a good thing to abort them? That sometimes
ignorant people make fun of people with mental retardation, so it is best
if they are not born?"
If you can, check out the websites; then hold Mary Wilt's thoughts as
you read about the $10 million lawsuit filed
by the family of "Monkey Boy."
It seems most of the stories in this summer issue seem to touch on similar
issues - mostly, it seems, having to do with society's attitudes about
disability (attitudes that, as Blumberg points out, haven't really changed
all that much).
For a fun "thought problem" related to this very thing, you
might try the exercise we thought up -- imagine
Chris Reeve as Barney Frank, and see what you come up with. We'd like to
hear from you about that.
In fact, there's a bunch of stuff scattered all through this issue on
Chris Reeve. Is he coming around on disability rights? We're not holding
our breath on that one (neither is On A Roll's Greg Smith; see
our interview). But we write about him because, like it or not, he's
the public's biggest image of our world. And we keep hoping . . . .
Come to Louisville
If it bothers you that Chris Reeve's image of disability (cure it!)
seems to be the main message the media hears, and if you'd like to start
figuring out how we as a movement can change that, plan to come to Louisville
next spring and hash it out with other like-minded crip activists. May
21-23's the date. Mark your calendar, look
at our ad, and think about joining u here. We'll be sending you more
stuff in the mail about it soon.
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