Saturday, 14 January 2012

A little kindness.

"The 90's you didn't need to tell kids not to try this shit at home. They weren't all complete retards back then"

Comedy it’s a very subjective thing. Not objective at all. We all have sensibilities lets face it and we all will feel hurt at one joke and laugh uproariously at one which may hurt another.

But humour and objectivity isn’t what I campaign against, it’s humour which objectifies people that’s what I’m not keen on.

There’s a lot of talk on Twitter and beyond about comedy. As I’ve said before it is a life saver. That can’t be over stated. It can lift your mood and free your mind if used well.

It can tackle and address taboos too, beautifully and in the case of someone like Richard Pryor permanently when it comes to stigmatising attitudes.

But the comedy of cruelty extends beyond personal subjectivity. It’s a simply a call for people not to promote stereotypes by peddling the myth of laughable clich├ęs.

When you use words like "Retard (or retards), or spastic or mong or window licker" as a negative term to mean stupid or foolish you perpetuate the myth of learning disability being less than. Less than human less than dignified less than a person.

Stigmatising attitudes towards disability as a negative permeate the language we speak. This is a historical fact and all I’m asking is for people not to use terminology which replaces the epithet for stupid or foolish or idiotic with one that references disability. As comedian Richard Herring says"if you mean idiot why not just say idiot"

I do politely challenge on twitter when a celebrity with a huge fan base can influence many people. Retard as an abusive term, may not hurt you or anyone you love but the facts are it does hurt many people when used about them or in front of them as a casual link to stupidity. It’s with the hope that once knowing this, once understanding this people will choose not to perpetuate harm. Which for many many disabled people is a reality.

Despite lots of infuriated assertions from champions of free speech and free comedy, I don’t witchhunt. I love to learn, to realise and understand the human condition of the people I share the planet with and if I ever unknowingly say something hurtful I choose to apologise and change.

That’s how you define intention to my mind. Not by what you say but in how you react to criticism of saying it.. That’s where the truth lies. If you turn the tables and take the "How very dare you" route it’s a shame really.

If you become defensive and go on the attack you haven’t really the type of mindset, which is capable of growth through education. If you portray yourself as the victim as white male, wealthy and unencumbered with the worries many disabled people face in our patriarchal society. You look rather foolish.

If you attack polite reasoning with accusations of humorless PC gone mad abuse and block someone who is replying to you by referring to them as a “stupid bastard and a “fucktard” (combination of fucker and retard) then sadly you have nothing on show but your ego.

It’s a subjective thing comedy I agree. But my feelings currently remain that those who have a lot to gain from comedy ie salaries and TV exposure and offers of further work are sometimes the last people who should dream of lecturing the rest of us on what we find hurtful.

Because we know a little more about our own experiences on that subject.

Twitter can at times be great it can at times be not so great. We can all make mistakes and we can all apologise for them. Whether we do or not is of course up to us.

Apologies should be given not taken eh?

But the final word on the whole sad day belongs to the Tweeter Jay Parsons who thinks this type of humour is fine and that the rest of us need to get a sense of humour. He tweeted the above image to one of the lovely fans of a celebrity who felt he should educate me about comedy and my PC nonsense.

Jay Parsons also wrote this, which he's no doubt now deleted to someone who with his brother, had delighted in calling me a "spastic" and other choice "joke" words.
 :  it was a crazy day that got well out of hand... Loads more followers though

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Then they came for me

The propaganda at play currently across much of the mainstream media is both troubling and familiar. As the Government swoop to change the welfare system they are ignoring a report written and compiled and distributed by disabled people their carers and friends. This report contains facts but no one it seems is listening.

 The BBC our very own public broadcaster who I love with a passion, bordering on blinkered worship, was quick to screen two recent documentaries on awful tales of benefit scroungers- now appears less keen to cover in depth a report entitled responsible reform which lays out the facts and the impacts behind the Welfare Reform Bill.

The most salient point being that fraudulent claims for benefits stand at less than 0.5%.

The assurances we hear at every turn about millionaire claimants and scroungers and liars and propagated by the right wing press are little more than a convenient lie.

However this isn’t the first time that disabled people have been subject to dehumanising disenfranchisement.

It’s been done before and as with many things that the government seem less than keen on it stemmed from Europe.

In July 1933 The Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases brought in forced sterilizations.

It had been voluntary prior to this but with the dawn on the Nazi controlled day the furtherance of the Aryan dream became a step closer to reality. Doctors began to register any genetic conditions and people were identified and lawfully sterilized against their will. Appeals were mounted but usually denied.

Then a Nazi couple with a mentally disabled son wrote to Hitler and sought permission for their “defective” child to be killed. The purity of the blood, to them so shamefully manifested in their child dovetailed perfectly into a warped Darwinist theory of perfection, that this request was granted.
It also set a precedent.

By August 1939 all newborn babies demonstrating disability had to be reported by medical staff to a panel. This panel drew their conclusions without meeting the children and marked their reports with either a minus of a plus symbol. A plus meant death. This then was extended to children up to the age of three.

The children were removed to clinics or hospitals and administered poison. It was more difficult to persuade the parents of children living at home so the parents were told that the children were going to receive treatment and help.
After they were murdered the parents were told the children had died from natural causes.

The plan expanded exponentially and encompassed Adults too. Deemed untermenschen (sub human) on the basis of their disability they were removed to the hospital at Hadamar stripped, stamped with a number, photographed and told to take a shower.
10,000 disabled adults were murdered in this way. Over 200,000 disabled people during the course of Nazi rule, 5000 of whom were children.

The propaganda used is the point I’m making. The Nazi’s spread a simple notion through the German minds as easily as jam on bread. They argued simply that disabled people cost too much. That they took bread from the mouths of decent people and that paying to care for them cost wounded soldiers vital treatment and houses for hardworking men and women.

The 1930’s equivalent of the squeezed middle in alarm clock Germany?

Possibly not but with every day that passes with every headline that screams scrounger I’m becoming more and more concerned. I think the historical imperative bears closer scrutiny because thoughtlessly peddling the myth of the benefit fraud as a majority, rather than the inconvenient truth of the minority makes propagandists of us all. Lest we forget.

Monday, 9 January 2012

United we stand against disabling practices.

I was recently contacted by Sue Marsh passionate campaigner blogger and all round disability activist to support her joint initiative with Kaliya Franklin to bust a few myths around the so called benefit "reform".

Despite their disability these two women have put together a team comprising disabled people friends and carers whose sole aim is to stand up to money saving reform which targets the most vulnerable people in society.

As a carer I was proud to contribute to the fund they have set up to finance their report and as a mother of two disabled children I wholeheartedly thank them for what they are doing not just for themselves but for everyone who receives benefits enabling them to live.

Special thanks goes to the amazing Sarah Campbell who wrote the majority of the report.

They're not scroungers they're what the politicians refer to as genuine claimants yet Sue Marsh has recently been refused DLA. if it can happen to her it can happen to anyone.

As she details in her blog:

"We did everything possible to engage with politicians, lobbying MPs and Peers, writing articles, attending conferences, but at every turn we were brushed aside. 

Despite serious concerns from campaigners, charities and disabled people themselves, the Government's the recent Impact Assessment (October 2011) into the proposed reform of Disability Living Allowance is almost identical to the original. Nothing has changed, almost none of our concerns have been addressed and as the House of Lords return to vote on the final stages of the welfare reform bill, we felt that it was vital we presented our own evidence. 

This is the Spartacus Report. We all own it, we all created it. It is yours, use it in any way you wish. Please join in the campaign online today if you aren't already signed up:"

Please join me in supporting them in anyway you can. Without disabled people and carers fighting as we do the future is bleak and uncertain for all of us.

Below via Scope is that report.