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My Rights vs. Yours

  • Posted by Nicola
  • 28 Apr 08, 11:16 PM

Disabled People are, I believe, all in the same boat, and I for one would never push anyone out. I believe that on principal, but lurking underneath most of my principals is a grubby little personal opinion waiting to get out. You see, there is sometimes a hierarchy on this boat. Kinda like Titantic, some disabled people are Irish dancing and spitting and doomed to drown, while up top the rest are eating kaviar and whatever Kate Winslet was doing...I hate Titantic.

Anyway, let's get one thing straight: impairment comparison is bad, whether you or I do it, we should hang our heads in shame. Thing is, if you understand levels of 'disability' in terms of medical symptoms, then comparison is the inevitable result. "I am worse than him but better off than her" etc etc.

Channel 4's The Shooting Party started two weeks ago and already the contestants (nine disabled - yes, all of them - filmmakers) are being measured for levels of medical tragedy. Maddie, who has depression, and Matt, who has a stammer, came out poorly, it seems. They are not 'proper disabilities', apparently.

See this is what happens when you see 'being disabled' as medical conditions scattered like button badges on a schoolkid's rucksack, counting and collecting. The Shooting Party's wheelchair users escaped the analysis, of course. It is enough that we can see it, it is helpfully obvious, never mind the actual disabling affect on people's lives.

Dyslexics are laptop-grabbers, depressives are moaners, people with acquired paraplegia probably bullied us at school anyway why-should-we-care-now? I could go on, but frankly I fear for my life: comparison, particularly when laced with prejudice, is a dark, dirty game.

Inter-impairment rage: dyslexics' got the spastics in a headlock, the CFS crew smothering the autistic spectrum in their duvets, it's a darkly entertaining picture in my head. It's just not very useful; this whole comparative thought process is, in the end, useless to disabled people. However, comparison, division and prejudice needs to be acknowledged by disabled people *without* discounting what we have in common. Prejudice from the outside, from non-disabled people, is called into question every day, prejudice between ourselves is highlighted far less. I think that might need to change.

**Yay for The Shooting Party dudes and The New Pornographers**

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