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August 05, 2005

I'd expect more of a journalist...

In my blog entry on Tuesday I praised law prof Mark Graber for his great oped on Rehnquist in The Baltimore Sun pointing out the irony of a man who "because of cancer, does not attend court regularly, no longer writes his fair share of opinions and pens weak opinions when he does" nonetheless having ruled in the 2001 Garrett decision that

states should never be forced to make any concession to the special needs of the ill when doing so might interfere in any way with the routine functions of state bureaucracies.

What had made me notice Graber's piece, I'd said, was that "disability rights views of public issues are so rarely aired." Yeah. Or even known.
On Monday, Newsday published staff writer Lauren Terrazzano's oped on Rehnquist (I only found out about it this morning.) Terrazzano, who doubles as "an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism," seemingly doesn't have a clue about discrimination against cancer survivors. And she is one.
That's what made me notice the piece.
She predictably praises Rehnnie for keeping on "despite yada yada yada":
At the age of 80, has tried to do what most of us do, show up to work each day.... Everyone should have the opportunity to indulge in the quiet dignity of an honest day's work.
Even a cancer patient.

Tell that to Patricia Garrett. Oops!
I know. As someone who has been facing cancer for the past 11 months... I get it.

Cancer is not necessarily a death sentence, though sometimes it is. We're not all wheelchair-bound and oxygen-tethered...

I'm convinced Terrazzano has never heard of Patricia Garrett, or what happened to her at the hands of the Supremes. Reading this piece, I sorta wonder if she's ever heard of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
What hooked me so especially about this story was it showed so clearly how disability issues simply never rise to the level of awareness in most folks. Including alleged journalists. Here's a journalism prof and a reporter -- with cancer! -- who doesn't know about a major Supreme Court case involving Rehnquist and a cancer survivor?? Shame on her.
We can help her know. Letters to Newsday are sent, very simply, to letters@newsday.com. Or you could contact Terrazzano directly. I plan to. This total cluelessness when it comes to disability discrimination on the part of the media has really gotta stop. As much as I hate opposition to disability rights, I think I'd rather pundits know about our issues, and rail against 'em, than to have simply no idea the issues are even out there.
You can't exactly make the parallel, but . . . well, let's try, anyway: Suppose if Rehnnie had finally come out as gay, at this late age (or been outed as a closet queer). Dontcha think the media would be full of what he had/hadn't ruled from the bench setting back gay rights? Dontcha think it'd be all over the news?
'Nuff said.

Being a cancer survivor is part of my disability soup: It is really important for anyone out there dealing with working through chemo as I did fourteen years ago and this writer has done more recently, what the limits are now, per the court and what approaches could be taken by an employer, regardless of the political push-pull going on because a particular worker-with-cancer works for the Court itself.
COMMENT-BODY:A reader's response to Terrazzano: Writer Perpetuates Myths about Disability.

Posted by mjohnson at August 5, 2005 09:19 AM