Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tolerance Ends, Animus Arises Where Disability Begins

Cyberspace has been alive with discussions of a hit piece written by the Huffington Post’s Erik Sean Nelson. Nelson used the now well-worn epithets of being retarded in commenting on Sarah Palin’s resignation as Alaska Governor last week.

The piece was pulled almost immediately, but not before several media watchdog groups had downloaded screen captures. Nelson swiftly offered an apology for what he wrote, but not for the way he thinks about people with disabilities.

I’ve decided to share the piece in it’s entirety because it reveals the palpable animus toward people with disabilities that’s alive and well in the US.

Penned as a “humorous” piece (it’s not), had this been written about almost any other group of people (take your pick: minorities, women, on and on) there would have been nothing less than a media firestorm that would have had the potential to wipe the Michael Jackson coverage from our TV screens.

However, Nelson is in good company. It wasn’t too long ago that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) repeatedly said, on the record, that Sarah Palin was retarded. And don’t let’s forget President Obama cheerfully noted that he bowls like a retard.

Just so that it’s clear: Palin is targeted in this way because Trig has Down Syndrome.

Funny, I don’t recall anything like this ever being said about a person in the Kennedy family who had mental retardation.

Here’s Nelson’s vitriol:

Palin Will Run in '12 on More Retardation Platform

In Sarah Palin's resignation announcement she complained about the treatment of her son Trig who always teaches her life lessons. She said that the "world needs more Trigs, not fewer." That's a presidential campaign promise we can all get behind. She will be the first politician to actually try to increase the population of retarded people. To me, it's kinda like saying the world needs more cancer patients because they teach us such personal lessons.

Her first act as President: To introduce a Pre-K lunch buffet that includes lead paint chips. Sort of a Large HEAD-START Program.

She will then encourage women to hold off on pregnancies until their 40's just to mix up some chromosomes.

She now is in favor of abortion only in case of diploid birth.

Her policies will increase jobs because Wal-Mart is building new stores each day and someone has to be the greeter.

This will lead to smaller government because fewer Americans will have the cognitive ability to hold a government job.

Look, she says she's resigning as governor because people are making attacks on her and Trig. If she ever did become president, all Osama bin Laden would have to do to defeat the United States is Photoshop a picture of Trig and she'd surrender the country that night. As she said, "That's not politics as usual." It isn't. Politicians don't usually quit for so stupid of reasons.

I’m sure you’re all laughing your heads off.

A final thought: A raft of disability advocacy groups have been stunningly silent on this issue. They get their alerts, they read the blogs every day, and are lightning quick to defend against the kind of bigotry that Nelson showed.

They’ve been AWOL here.

Why? Do they believe that for Sarah Palin and her son Trig this kind of nastiness is OK?

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