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October 18, 2005 | Read comments | Post a comment

Everybody's fav whipping boy

It is so tiring to come upon Thomas Sowell's screed against disability rights. Doesn't anything ever change?

Sowell, the African-American arch-conservative pundit from Stanford University's Hoover Institution, let loose with a string of venom against everything from ... let's see... disabled golfers insisting on accessible golf carts, to Sue LoTempio's New York Times op-ed on Madison Square Gardens' failure to provide wheelchair seating that allowed a view of the performers... since Ragged Edge had a bead on both those stories, we figured we'd see what Sowell was up to.

What he's up to is just more of the same old same old:

There was a time when people would have said that the hotel is not responsible for these golfers being in wheelchairs and therefore it has no obligation to supply special carts to help their scores on the links. But that was before the Americans with Disabilities Act, under which the hotel is being sued.

If the government wanted to help the disabled, it could have spent its own tax money to do so. Instead, it passed the ADA, which created a right to sue private institutions, to force them to spend money to solve the problems of those with special problems, whether serious or frivolous. (The Politics of Spoiled Brats, Oct. 14 Contra-Costa Times)

Yeah yeah.

What amazes me is that this kind of crap continues to be published with so very little -- so very very little -- rebuttal.

I've said it before and I will say it again and again and again: I understand that there are folks (like Sowell) who hate disability rights. And I know they have a right to spew their poison under the First Amendment's protection of free expression.

What I don't understand is why there is so very very little rebuttal?

Recall the kind of outrage William Bennett met with for his recent remark about aborting African-American fetuses and you'll get an idea of the kind of outrage that can follow in the wake of offensive bigoted free expression. At last count, Google News was serving up almost 2,000 stories about it. Even yesterday's very good Washington Post op-ed about aborting disabled fetuses (and it deserves a blog entry of its own) took as its lede the Bennett controversy.

But rarely does disability bigotry in print get a comeback.

When the Sept. 24 New York Times Magazine published Gabrielle Hamilton's arch put-down of the blind would-be chef last month, I read plenty of outrage -- within the disability community, on the email listservs, mainly. The Times printed exactly one letter in rebuttal, a rather halfhearted one, of the "Hamilton wasn't being nice, but blind people do need to be qualified" ilk. And that was that.

When I wrote about the anti-disability rights pundits in my book Make Them Go Away, I naively thought they were quieting down after they'd gotten much of the Americans with Disabilities Act gutted.

As I say, I was naive.

Posted by mjohnson on October 18, 2005 03:31 PM


Sowell is one of the many who do not believe that people with disabilities have rights worthy of protection.

This is a serious problem for the disability rights movement; one which must be addressed. People with disabilities must make a public case for inclusion. If people with disabilities wait for the media to make the case for them, it'll be back to the nursing homes.

Sowell, a self-hating African-American who socializes with people that would not be around him if he did not disparage civil rights, is always eager to attack the kinds of civil rights laws that allow him to occupy his current position.

Posted by: zak822 on October 25, 2005 03:43 PM

ALl of this with rhetoric put aside just shows what a crappy existence we have in America as people with disabilties. A big part of the problem is that many of us are Uncle and Aunt Toms who kiss butt to keep a perlious hold on our niche. You cant get advocacy from people who are disabled and in the main stream they are so preocupied wiht passing they dont dare raise the disabiltiy issue.
More and more of us fall onto SS because we cant make head way out there in the world. There is nounity , there is so much back stabing from other people with differences that its pitiful to think about.

Posted by: Gary Roberts on October 30, 2005 04:55 PM

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