The return of Rudolph

Because I’m up to my tuchis here getting ready to prepare the chicken tamales, baklava, mince tarts, potato latkes and whatnot, here’s a re-run of a holiday-oriented classic post (from 2006):

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
~Albert Camus

There’s a newsclip kicking around the Web, from the CBS Evening News of February 23rd, 2006.  Normally I don’t pay attention to basketball.  Or baseball.  Or football.  Or hockeyball (joke).  This newsbite is different.  So different that CBS felt compelled to make a last-minute change in their programming plans to show this “incredibly powerful” story.

The newscaster explains, “Because he has been so devoted to the team, for the last game of the season, Coach Johnson actually decided to let Jason suit up – not to let him play necessarily, just to let him feel what it’s like to wear a jersey.”

And then near the end of the game the coach even lets him onto the court.  Finally getting to play in a game, rather than fetching water and toweling down sweaty team-mates, the basketball player made six three-point throws.  The crowd goes wild.

Gee, you’d think that a coach would want a player who could shoot like that to be on the court all the time …

View the newsclip now

The whole situation reminds me of how I felt every year when the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” animated Christmas show appeared on television. (links to show posted on YouTube; Rudolph introduced at 4:06.)  There was always something unsettling about the whole story of this reindeer with the glowing nose, and it wasn’t until late in my own high school years that I figured it out.

No one liked Rudolph because he was different.  In the beginning, his family tries to hide his nonconformity, covering up his nose with mud, but then Rudolph talks funny from the congestion.  Still, it is deemed better that Rudolph be perceived as talking funny, than for everyone to actually know the truth.  Eventually the disguise breaks down, and Rudolph’s glaring, glowing nose is revealed in the rough-and-tumble of playground mischief.  Everyone is horrified.  They always are when someone tries to “pass for normal” and is eventually outed.  People feel deceived, because the Other was not what they thought.

The reindeer games coach orders Rudolph away. So shunned, he leaves his North Pole village, joining up with another misfit, Herbie the elf, who wanted to be, oh horror, a dentist rather than a toy-maker.

A few years later there is a Christmas eve of such epically foggy proportions that Santa Claus cannot make his usual gift-giving rounds.  Santa realizes that he can still do so if Rudolph is allowed to lead.  Eventually everyone decides to tolerate the mutant reindeer, perhaps accept Rudolph a little bit, but only because he can be useful to them, lighting the way for Santa’s sleigh.  (Herbie gets to be a dentist, another occupation that is tolerable because it is useful to the others, rather than because Herbie has a passion for dental care.)

The program was made in the early 1960’s, coming off of the ultra-conformism of the 1950’s.  Everyone thought it was cute and sweet.  I couldn’t explain the intrinsic discomfort I felt as a child, not from viewing that particular show, or even in everyday life.  Nor could I explain why I identified so strongly with Rudolph or for that matter, the alien Spock from “Star Trek”.  When the neighbor girls compared me to the Professor from “Gilligan’s Island”, I couldn’t understand why that wouldn’t be a compliment – he was the only sensible one of the castaways!  But even the Professor, a quintessent geek (though thankfully neither of the foolish nor ugly duckling sort), was the odd one out.

The telethon poster child or “odd team-mate” is held up in the same way, but also held away at arm’s length, and Othered.  We’ll let him be on the team in an accessory manner because it makes us feel munificent, and because he might be exceptionally good at something we need.  (Were he merely mediocre, or even near or at the bottom of the list for overall skills, would he be on the team?)

But the mere fact that a team-mate is known more for being different than for any aptitude or acquired skill, and even the fact that stories about such people are circulated as ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! and exceptional shows that pity is still stronger than acceptance.

The problem with pity is that it creates division; it puts distance between people.

Pity prevents respect by implying inferiority; there is a humiliating lack of worth, because the person is defined by what they cannot do instead of what they can do.  Victims receive pity – but nobody wants to be a victim!

Pity is disempowering.  It does not decrease burdens by sharing resources and abilities. The people who see only the “broken” part are uncomfortable; that discomfort is a kind of Schadenfreude, a sense of relief that the bad thing (the disability) did not happen to you.

Pity is like magical thinking, where people want to give Fate some kind of token payment to avoid similar disaster from befalling them.

Pity is similar to both fear of the other, and to contempt for the Other; the Other must somehow have done something bad, and “deserved” their fate (as given to our social mores from the Puritan ethos).  Either way, it is dismissive of the person’s concerns, and denies their opinions, and their own personal view of reality.

Pity is not the same thing as compassion, where the other person is seen as being similar to one’s self, and is identified by who they are, is known for what they can do, and is accepted as being a worthwhile person to play with or work with, and to know and to love.

“Because he has been so devoted to the team, for the last game of the season, Coach Johnson actually decided to let Jason suit up – not to let him play necessarily, just to let him feel what it’s like to wear a jersey,” says the newscaster.

::BARF::

Meanwhile, too many people work endlessly hard at trying to “pass for normal”. The problem with pretending to be normal is that it gives power to the paradigm, to this concept of normalcy.  As long as the person is pretending to be whatever kind of average-normal they are not, they are devaluing themselves and allowing others to devalue them, and they are handing over their personal power to the realm of the imaginary Normal people.

Normal, average people are imaginary, because no-one is wholly average and normal.  However, the imaginary-normal people are a very real majority group.  They all pretend to be normal, and en masse they have majority power under that paradigm.

Wow, isn’t it absolutely amazing!  Autistics can play basketball.  Next thing you know, they’ll let Negroes or women play basketball …

Feh.

20 Comments

  1. 3 December 2011 at 3:46

    […] And of course, it’s pitying.  […]

  2. fireandair said,

    30 January 2009 at 4:15

    FWIW, I didn’t see that story as “Let’s pity the poor disabled kid.” It came across to me as, “Um, you may want to think twice before pitying the disabled kid because he just might blow you out of the water when you least expect it.” The reporter’s rather wry tone of voice when he made that comment about “just to let him wear a jersey” struck my ear that way, strongly.

    That’s definitely what I took away from it — when you think pity is appropriate, be prepared to get your nose rubbed in the fact that it’s not, and that the person you pitied just might exceed not only your expectations for them, but your expectations for yourself as well. Pity, in other words, is a really bad idea.

    FWIW, I’m not quite NT but I’m not autistic, either. I’ve got TLE, and I have ALL the Geschwind markers, every single one of them, to the Nth degree. And I can honestly say that, aside from the memory problems, the biggest pain in the ass about it isn’t that I have it but that I’m surrounded by a zillion people who don’t.

  3. steve v said,

    30 December 2008 at 22:50

    What’s URI. I’m new to this and just found you site. II am impressed. You seem to be a wonderful person. Thank you for providing this amazing reading experience. I am new to everything Aspergers, was recently diagnosed. Am also new to commenting on a blog. The stages you noted are perfect; “Four Stages You Don’t Have To Go Through”.

  4. 30 December 2008 at 18:42

    “I was meaning that the way people act and what views they have, are influenced a lot by what they go through or don’t go through.”

    Ah – I see what you mean. Yeh, you’re right there.

    “That would be a helpful approach.”

    Yeh, I think so. That way, even if some abilities and skills don’t materialise, there still some way of enabling some sort of productivity.

    “I didn’t know things were so out of control where you are.”

    It’s shitty here, I can tell you.

    “I hope I can get some success in seeing a lawyer about the problems I had with my therapists.”

    That I wish for you too. If I can give you info on anything, let me know. If it’s useful to you in getting things sorted, then that means that the support I got from a certain sponsor actually wasn’t wasted.

    The Finnish are doing precisely that just now.

  5. lurker said,

    30 December 2008 at 18:13

    “In practical terms, I’d say that the way in which it would work is that underlying issues may or may not be ‘got rid of’, but that – if they can’t be got rid of – they can be otherwise alleviated.” That would be a helpful approach.

    I didn’t know things were so out of control where you are.
    I hope I can get some success in seeing a lawyer about the problems I had with my therapists.

    “Not sure on the meaning of this sentence, and could do with some clarification” I was meaning that the way people act and what views they have, are influenced a lot by what they go through or don’t go through.

  6. 30 December 2008 at 9:36

    Lurker:

    “Under your definitions of pity and compassion, of course compassion is preferable and sought over pity which shouldn’t be used.”

    Now we’re getting somewhere. This is dialogue, rather than sniping. The definitions aren’t particularly mine – they’re just the best ones I could find at 5.30am. But they do show the difference well, and I’m glad that you can appreciate that difference too.

    “I hope you and those like you abide by those definitions in your commitments to compassion.”

    My tendency is to do that, although I have to say that the organisational culture of the country in which I live hasn’t quite reached the 19th Century, let alone the 20th, and much less the 21st. I’d like to see more with my training note the definitions and work according to the one that – even from first principles – can be seen as the appropriate starting point for proper and appropriate support. It’s still much of a lottery. My support worker from Jan 2005 to Nov 2007 was a total pillock: she had a BA in Applied Social Studies but hadn’t the first fucking clue what she was doing! When she took on my case, I’d just presented a training course to a bunch of people in Järvenpää. Id been training these people to do the job she’d been about to start with me. She knew this. At the time, I was more qualified in this area of disability than she was. Did this mean she was going to acknowledge that I might have some useful ideas to put into my service plan? Did it fuck as like! She ignored everything I suggested, and was two-faced enough to agree one thing to my face and then go back on that commitment without telling me. And she got arsey when I pulled her up on this. Her attitude was that she had the sole right to determine what happened in my life, and she hated the fact that I was highly-trained enough to be able to disagree.

    “I love the idea of compassion as a way to bring action to alleviate difficulties. And I hope it would extend into getting rid of the underlying problems that difficulties are.”

    Glad you feel that way, given the differences in the definitions I posted; compassion isn’t about fluff… it’s about inspiration to act with some purpose for someone else’s good. In practical terms, I’d say that the way in which it would work is that underlying issues may or may not be ‘got rid of’, but that – if they can’t be got rid of – they can be otherwise alleviated.

    “I can’t get anywhere with that as I can’t really get access to support services without a documented diagnosis, which I doubt I have and am not sure I can get. The therapists I’ve saw made it hard to gain any ground in discussing my weaknesses and seem to make it uncomfortable for me to be far reaching in discussing the details about me, and almost seem dismissive of some of the things I try to tell them.” & “I wouldn’t be surprised if I needed that because I just may at this point.”

    Then the fault is theirs. And I think you’re right. Your starting point is finding out the theoretical background of the therapists you saw, and also what they claim they will do in all cases (in terms of, e. g., assessment, diagnosis/needs-identification, support planning and so on). Then devise a checklist from all of that (if needed, get someone to help you), and check off that which you have got from them. And consult a lawyer on issues of failing in duty-of-care and of negligence. See what the lawyer thinks can be added or substituted and be open to anything constructive that the lawyer can contribute to the discussion; but remember – these people get paid for helping you to get what you need. Only reason I can share this with you is that I’m having to do this myself.

    “It’s not easy for me to clearly understand your realities because those like you don’t always seem in touch with what is going on in regards to important issues. I really want to acknowledge your realities for what they are.”

    I’m glad you really want to; it really did seem as if you didn’t, but this latest post and the previous one you made suggest a more open-minded situation now. That in itself makes it easier to open up about one’s own reality. Andrea’s is on display here, and at some point I’ll be compiling material to go in one huge article to go on a single page, just to put my situation in its context. Not easy while I’m doing further studies, but has to be done.

    “But I like to consider how those realities affect the intentions of those who experience those realities.”

    Not sure on the meaning of this sentence, and could do with some clarification (could end up responding to a point you didn’t make, which wouldn’t be productive).

    “I still think pride is important in regards to what range of activities from which pride is generated, are within the capability of people, as determined by their amount of ability.”

    It’s still important, I agree; pride is hard to derive (given how it is derived) if one is not given opportunity to demonstrate one’s ability. However, one issue that comes up is actually related to what an ability is and how it can be measured. Another is how abilities (such as they exist) and how they relate to skills (which are a different thing entirely, it seems), and then how those skills relate to likely work output and to the development of a working environment that maximises a person’s likely productivity in the workplace.

    Now, this may sound a bit sterile and corporation-centred but that’s not the view that I take when I am consulted. I work from the perspective developed by Alec Rodger, the man who suggested combining two approaches in work psychology (‘fitting job to worker’ and ‘fitting worker to job’) in order to maximise ‘goodness of fit’ between the two. This way, the company’s investment in making adaptations for the work can be matched by the worker’s own investment of effort regarding his/her commitment to vocational/professional development (which overall approach can include the development of skills and also the modification of an environment to facilitate better use of existing skills). Ultimately, people get pride from what they do, and that variable (what they do) is not always down to what their abilities would suggest for them (in that other people and things can get in the way).

    The relationship between ability and output is – as I’m hoping you can see – a bit more complicated than it would first appear to be (which is something I found out when I started out training as a psychologist).

    I hope this disabuses you of the notion that I personally or professionally don’t look for ways to improve life for those who are not the elite. The elite don’t need what I do. It’s the people I meet in everyday situations who have aspirations that are not resolved that that need what I can do: those who are under-employed, or those who have difficulties in educational settings that give rise to unmet special educational needs; looking for ways to use existing skills more effectively and efficiently, and for ways to develop any potential skills that may crop up in assessments and work/study-trials.

    In other words: it’s people like you, me, Andrea, Amanda, Larry, and a shitload of others who need what I do. Which is why I went into this area of work. The only things fucking this up for me just now are the Finnish law on psychologists (which is a discriminatory piece of legislation brought in to protect the chances of Finnish psychologists – over foreign ones – looking for work in Finland) and the cultures that exist in this country (especially the organisational ones in the areas of social welfare and employment/learning support). I do have other issues, but those are remediable and do not stop me from being a good educational psychologist. A law that stops me from working because I’m not trained in the country in which I live and want to work will – by definition – stop me from being a good educational psychologist.

  7. lurker said,

    30 December 2008 at 6:06

    Under your definitions of pity and compassion, of course compassion is preferable and sought over pity which shouldn’t be used. I hope you and those like you abide by those definitions in your commitments to compassion. I love the idea of compassion as a way to bring action to alleviate difficulties. And I hope it would extend into getting rid of the underlying problems that difficulties are.

    “That is something between you and the people whose job it is to provide support services. If you’re not getting even an assessment of your needs and your wishes related to those needs, then someone’s not doing their job. And that may need a visit to your local legal aid/advice centre, in the beginning.” I can’t get anywhere with that as I can’t really get access to support services without a documented diagnosis, which I doubt I have and am not sure I can get. The therapists I’ve saw made it hard to gain any ground in discussing my weaknesses and seem to make it uncomfortable for me to be far reaching in discussing the details about me, and almost seem dismissive of some of the things I try to tell them. “if your situation is anything like mine – you’re going to need a lawyer (of only for them to be present at a meeting or two) in order to do them.” I wouldn’t be surprised if I needed that because I just may at this point.

    “Want us to acknowledge your reality? Start by acknowledging ours.” It’s not easy for me to clearly understand your realities because those like you don’t always seem in touch with what is going on in regards to important issues. I really want to acknowledge your realities for what they are. But I like to consider how those realities affect the intentions of those who experience those realities.

    I still think pride is important in regards to what range of activities from which pride is generated, are within the capability of people, as determined by their amount of ability.

  8. 30 December 2008 at 4:43

    “Pity, compassion, or whatever the hell is come up with, isn’t a solution. Alternatives regarding attitudes don’t exist.”

    Actually, try this for size:

    Pity implies tender or sometimes slightly contemptuous sorrow or empathy for a person or people in misery, pain, or distress.”

    Compassion is a profound human emotion prompted by the pain of others. More vigorous than empathy, the feeling commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering.”

    These are two different emotional responses to someone else’s difficulties. One is basically productive, since it inspires action on the part of its host and the other is pity. I can’t put it any clearer or any more simple than that. Ultimately, compassion is the starting point for action. Pity is a starting point for – well – fuck all, really. And that is the difference.

    “I propose eliminating the underlying problem of some people being substantially weak in ability compared to others. I can’t devise how to do that in detail but I would urge others to come up with something.”

    Given that – like it or not – ability levels are variable across the human race, I really cannot see how anyone can solve that problem at the person level. Even in the thorny issue of IQ testing, we know that practice helps some people, but won’t help others.

    “What is a productive emotional reaction to others’ difficulties?”

    I’ve answered that above.

    “What does it matter what the reaction is like when it comes from a person who is more than content to keep those difficulties in place?”

    It matters greatly. A compassionate emotional response (as indicated above in the definitions) prompts action to alleviate difficulties one way or another, so that someone can move on in their life, rather than be stuck in a shitty situation; pity, on the other hand, prompts fuck all.

    “Who the hell wants to be at the receiving end of the deceptive phony smiles of people who enjoy having more ability than others, who resort to sentimental rhetoric to make things seem like they’re fine for everybody even when they aren’t.”

    What you’re describing is, at best, pity; at worst it’s ignorance. To be honest, neither is good, but that’s what I’m meeting every time I interact with my local Social Welfare Office, Job-Centre, and Social Insurance Institution. It was also there in the local Disability Services Unit, until the new unit leader/manager/director came along. Then the pity/ignorance went, and was replaced by compassion; this woman actually wants things to get done so that I get adequate support in areas that are difficult for me, so that I can get to stay good at the things I can do well.

    “I don’t know who follows my wishes. I can’t even get many people to acknowledge my wishes as meaningful or deserved, or get them to acknowledge the insurmountable hurdles to reaching my wishes, much less follow my wishes.”

    That is essentially the way of people guided by pity as their emotional response to someone’s difficulties. A compassionate response – being the starting point for altruistic behaviour – is about following the wishes of the one needing the support, rather than being about the wishes of the one feeling the pity. In issues related to supporting someone with difficulties, that person’s wishes are paramount: without hearing those wishes and without responding in a way that acknowledges them and without doing anything to make sure that those wishes become tangible realities, there’s no support. It’s just pity. Which – as we should be able to agree on – is fuck all use to any bugger. Right?

    “I don’t feel like kissing someone’s ass in permanent submission for the ‘compassion’ they show me.”

    Nor do I, and a compassionate response doesn’t demand that. A response based on pity would, though.

    “How the hell can I do that considering I lack all the means to do so? Why wouldn’t I have done that already if I could?”

    That is something between you and the people whose job it is to provide support services. If you’re not getting even an assessment of your needs and your wishes related to those needs, then someone’s not doing their job. And that may need a visit to your local legal aid/advice centre, in the beginning.

    “I’m sick of this suck it up/pull oneself up by their own bootstraps attitude I get from so many assholes who only want to help those who have the means to help themselves.”

    Me too, actually. But the best results in supporting people come from situations in which the people making the effort to support someone properly are working with someone who is also actively involved in planning, implementing and evaluating that support. Passivity on either side makes it impossible. I’m aware that, for some people, there’s a lot of difficulty for them in being active; but I’ve been in case conferences where people experiencing very serious difficulties (either as a result of cerebral palsy or as a result of much of their brains having been turned essentially to mush by a serious infection) have been supported in being actively involved in their own case-work.

    “True. It’s all I have left besides doing nothing else at all.”

    Rubbish. There are things you can do but I have a feeling that – if your situation is anything like mine – you’re going to need a lawyer (of only for them to be present at a meeting or two) in order to do them.

    “But I don’t want to contribute to the discussion, I want to change its course and throw in some reality checks.”

    Well, fucking tough because you just did contribute to the discussion. Rather than just being a pain in the arse. As for reality checks, I’m going to suggest that you gets some of those yourself: Andrea’s blog has some rather detailed articles in it about her own – very substantial – difficulties. Those of us who have any sort of disability issues going on are already aware of the ‘reality checks’ that you seem to want to give us: we’ve lived it already, and we still live that reality. Want us to acknowledge your reality? Start by acknowledging ours.

    “I wouldn’t expect you to come up with substantial alternatives as you aren’t interested in making things better for anybody but yourself and other elites.”

    Actually, I have been involved in trying to find substantial alternatives to pity (as the emotional basis for responding appropriately to other people’s difficulties) and – well – yeh, compassion is what I landed on. Word of advice: don’t presume to know what prompts me to do any of the work I do or for whom I do it. As it happens, I don’t work for the benefit of any ‘elites’. When I do any work, it’s related to difficulties faced by people who are far from the ‘elites’; and, in more than a few cases, it’s pro bono, because they can’t afford it.

    “Since you decide to prevaricate so much to smear me, I’ll try to get to the point. ”

    Come onto a forum being a shit, expect to get smeared; contribute to the discussion, and you’ll find people more interested in actually listening to you.

    “I don’t think people want to even be in a position where pity or some form of compassion as an alternative has to be used.”

    The best way to tackle whether people would prefer pity or compassion as the basis for how they get support services provided is to look at the type of action needed in order to to provide appropriate services. Compassion, by definition, would be preferred over pity for the reasons I gave above.

    “What about people’s want of pride?”

    Pride is something you generate yourself, from your activities. My issue is this: “what about people’s dignity?

    And, no, this is not about semantics… it’s about the fact that these two things are different, and this is how:

    Pride is, depending upon context, either a high sense of the worth of one’s self and one’s own, or a pleasure taken in the contemplation of these things.”

    “When dignity is associated with the adjective ‘human’, it is used to signify that all human beings possess intrinsic worthiness and deserve unconditional respect, regardless of age, sex, health status, social or ethnic origin, political ideas, religion, or criminal history.”

  9. lurker said,

    29 December 2008 at 22:11

    Pity, compassion, or whatever the hell is come up with, isn’t a solution. Alternatives regarding attitudes don’t exist. For the third fucking time, as an alternative, I propose eliminating the underlying problem of some people being substantially weak in ability compared to others. I can’t devise how to do that in detail but I would urge others to come up with something. What is a productive emotional reaction to others’ difficulties? What does it matter what the reaction is like when it comes from a person who is more than content to keep those difficulties in place? Who the hell wants to be at the receiving end of the deceptive phony smiles of people who enjoy having more ability than others, who resort to sentimental rhetoric to make things seem like they’re fine for everybody even when they aren’t.

    “Methinks you’re a lazy-arse pity-freak for whom life would be shite without the pity, because the pity makes people kowtow to your wishes” It still is shit pity or no pity. I don’t know who follows my wishes. I can’t even get many people to acknowledge my wishes as meaningful or deserved, or get them to acknowledge the insurmountable hurdles to reaching my wishes, much less follow my wishes. So I get a little irked when I see others taking seriously the idea of some “alternative to pity” as a solution to the problem of others’ difficulties. I don’t feel like kissing someone’s ass in permanent submission for the “compassion” they show me.
    “Get a life, Lurker. Seriously. Get a life.” How the hell can I do that considering I lack all the means to do so? Why wouldn’t I have done that already if I could? I’m sick of this suck it up/pull oneself up by their own bootstraps attitude I get from so many assholes who only want to help those who have the means to help themselves.
    “Clearly, you haven’t got one yet – if all you can find to do is rail at someone’s blog post without even bothering to contribute to the discussion” True. It’s all I have left besides doing nothing else at all. But I don’t want to contribute to the discussion, I want to change its course and throw in some reality checks.
    I wouldn’t expect you to come up with substantial alternatives as you aren’t interested in making things better for anybody but yourself and other elites. Since you decide to prevaricate so much to smear me, I’ll try to get to the point. I don’t think people want to even be in a position where pity or some form of compassion as an alternative has to be used. What about people’s want of pride?

  10. 29 December 2008 at 20:41

    Okay Lurker. Here we go.

    “You never had to struggle to just have a chance at basic things.”

    STFU. My case history is well known enough. Yes, I struggle. Just to get the chances at basic things. Like it or not, I do… but what I don’t do is have a go at someone who isn’t just going on a semantics trip, btu is trying to find other internal responses that facilitate alternative and more effective behavioural responses to issues like the ones I myself face every fucking day.

    “What makes your efforts so admirable?”

    The fact that I have had to fucking struggle. Or are only your shitty efforts (basically at put down) any bloody good in your eyes?

    “As an alternative, how about instead of supposedly ignoring what someone can’t do while settling for what little they can do, through ‘compassion’, how about devising ways to make them capable of doing the things they can’t do?”

    Tell you what… since Andrea’s ideas above piss you off so fucking much, why don’t you get your lazy arse into gear and think of some alternatives yourself? Or is it ‘beneath you’? Either way, you don’t get to one-up on me. I struggle, and – by the look of things – I’ve struggled more than you have. And I can still appreciate the efforts of people like Andrea, who are looking for ways to break out of that ‘pity’ crap and enable people to get themselves into more productive emotional reactions to other people’s difficulties.

    Which is more than anyone has seen you trying to do.

    Methinks you’re a lazy-arse pity-freak for whom life would be shite without the pity, because the pity makes people kowtow to your wishes. Get a life, Lurker. Seriously. Get a life. Clearly, you haven’t got one yet – if all you can find to do is rail at someone’s blog post without even bothering to contribute to the discussion. Yep. You’re either just a lazy-arse troll or a pity-addict. Either way, I don’t care. Contribute some ideas and I may just think ‘ah, this person has got some ideas. after all… good!’ – and I’d like to think that could happen. But I’m not holding my breath.

    And, since you have the beef with Andrea’s post and what is contained in it, it’s your job to come up with the alternatives you’re trying to get me to come up with (presumably because you’re too lazy to think for yourself). And, yes, since all you’re doing is giving people shit without putting a single constructive thing into the discussion, that does kinda define you as – well – lazy. Really.

  11. Tysyacha said,

    29 December 2008 at 19:50

    Just to cheer you up, Andrea (not)! :), CBS aired another news story about an athlete with a disability, this time a wrestler without arms and legs. I felt the same icky sense of nausea that I did when I saw the story about Jason McElwain a few years ago. The commentator had that same smarmy tone (“oh, isn’t that special, the disabled athlete overcame his disabilities!”), and the story focused more upon the wrestler’s disability than upon his various achievements in the sport. Sure, he made it to the state tournament, but how many overall wrestling matches did he win? I never found that out. Nor did I find out how he started wrestling or developed a passion for it. What I DID find out about this wrestler is that he had a degenerative bone/muscular disease that caused him to lose his limbs. Maybe I need to watch the news story about him again, but with the sound off and the captioning on so I don’t have to listen to the commentator sound “heartwarming”.

    I can relate to this wrestler: I try to wrestle pity and stereotypes to the ground every day. We people with disabilities don’t need either one, thank you much.

  12. lurker said,

    29 December 2008 at 17:05

    David, what is so lazy about me? You never had to struggle to just have a chance at basic things. What makes your efforts so admirable? As an alternative, how about instead of supposedly ignoring what someone can’t do while settling for what little they can do, through “compassion”, how about devising ways to make them capable of doing the things they can’t do?

  13. 29 December 2008 at 16:48

    “So who qualifies for the “humane” alternatives, and what must they do to qualify? ”

    Not being an arse. That would qualify.

    You’re not exactly coming up with a single alternative yourself (and if you were actually intersted in a proper debate, you’d have suggested some by now); ergo, you’re basically here trolling… pretty much defines you as an arse.

    And this attitude isn’t patronising.

    It’s contempt.

    Which – until you stop being an arse – is what I’ll show you.

    Unless you have an alternative… but then … you can’t be bothered to find one, can you?

    Lurker, you strike me as a lazy shit.

    Show evidence that you can actually provide an alternative yourself – or just STFU. Because until you can contribute something constructive to the discussion, you just spouting piss and wind. Nothing else.

    Now – that rock… I believe it’s still waiting for you.

  14. lurker said,

    29 December 2008 at 7:31

    “crawl back under your rock or whatever it was you crawled out from under.” David, I don’t think I will. I’m not going to be subdued under the weight of all the bullshit I see that easily. What is so mind-boggling about the idea of solutions to underlying problems, as alternatives? Who cares about some phony euphemism laced alternative to pity, which seems to me to be just another form of pity, coming from someone who wouldn’t think to solve the problems upon which attitudes are composed and reactions like pity are made? So who qualifies for the “humane” alternatives, and what must they do to qualify? What dignity must be relinquished to qualify for the patronizing attitudes of those like you, and why should anyone show gratitude for being dealt with through such alternatives?

  15. 29 December 2008 at 5:22

    lurker, crawl back under your rock or whatever it was you crawled out from under.

    disparities of ability will be with us forever – that’s because no two humans can possibly be the same (in terms of ability or intelligence or personality or temperament or any other variables that we measure psychometrically); it takes a spectacular lack of intellectual ability to not realise that. it isn’t disparities of ability that enable pity: they are just there. it’s attitudes that enable pity, and those are a matter of choice. just like your shitty attitude is entirely your own choice.

    i notice how you fail to provide a single alternative to andrea’s alternatives (which are – even if it pisses you off to have to admit this – far more productive than pity itself); this suggests that your only purpose in commenting was to try to insult andrea. but – well – such a pitiful attempt, don’t we think?

    and, since you have failed to provide a better alternative to pity than andrea’s much more functional alternatives, it is hard not to feel sorry for you in your lack of ability to generate something sensible. i really pity you, pal. i really do.

    purely because you don’t really qualify for the more humane alternatives.

  16. lurker said,

    28 December 2008 at 21:05

    Absolute nonsense. Getting rid of pity is worthy of no gratitude until disparities of ability among people that enable pity, are eliminated. Your phony alternatives to pity are no better. How dare you pretend you are nicer than those who pity others.

  17. mike stanton said,

    28 December 2008 at 10:47

    This is excellent, Andrea. I am reminded of the oft-quoted aphorism of Dr Johnson, “”Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”” In modern day parlance, “Hey, look! the weird kid can do stuff!”

  18. Jason R. said,

    26 December 2008 at 3:17

    .I agree with you on how everybody tries to make like they are normal when normal doesn’t exist. I also feel pity is just negative attention. Everybody has their unique talents and contributions to this world which is why there should be a way for any one to be a contributing member of society. Any skill any body has can positively construct a contribution to this world.

  19. 25 December 2008 at 8:41

    I concur, I was going to have some particular issue with your running this story because I thought it was one of the most demeaning stories I had seen (admittedly I don’t HAVE a TV), and only showed that Autism has made high on the pity list to take over from Down Syndrome for a while. Then you decontructed it so I didn’t have to get upset at YOU. I’m still upset that a player who can make three pointers and 20 points in four minutes has no place on a basketball team but to give out water because they are ‘special ed’.

    I have been puzzling for a while my own issue, one Harriet McBryde talked about, the complete fear and alienation people feel once they see a seizure. And I could not figure out, WHY (after 9 of my care workers left and the agency warns people they can leave at any time since I have …..(pause)….seizures.) people are SO afraid. But I think it is because of the other. I would go so far as not to say, the person is “not one of us” but that they “aren’t human” – they are in some way not, or sub human. It is interesting because this was the oft made point about spock, that he lacked being fully human. That all stories tell, that pinnocho (sic) wasn’t HUMAN. It did not matter what they achieve but that they achieve it different than REGULAR humans. They act different than REGULAR humans. Pity is what you give an animal, pity is what you give a person in africa who is a different color from you and whom you have no concept of thier life and yours being equal in any way, and pity is what you give the special ed student. Because while he LOOKS kind of like the other humans, he isn’t. And so to do what a regular human is allowed or given to do as a right, is granted as a special privilage, a special compensation. This is the prize, that on Xmas, we will all pretend, thought we all KNOW DIFFERENT, that this person is like us, that they are equal to us. That is our gift to them.

    BARF indeed!

  20. Patrick said,

    24 December 2008 at 21:54

    I like that Feh.

    Merry Christmas Andrea!

    (and Camus … you know once I had an Advanced Placement English teacher that made us read/discuss Le Stranje, scary, but interesting. Then I was told how existentialist some of my thoughts were at the time, and got a bit more scared/paranoid, but I have grown since then, I hope.)


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