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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
darkriver BS: The Paralympics (62* d) RE: BS: The Paralympics 04 Oct 04

My first tendency was to ignore the nameless asshole who calls himself English Patriot, but his second posting bears some response.

I used to teach American Sign Language to adults at a junior college, and a large number of students were classified as blind, mentally retarded, having cerebral palsy, deafened or hard of hearing, etc., in addition to the usual numbers of "normal" people. No, this is not a story about how the disabled folks beat the pants off the "normal" folks. It has, in fact, nothing to do with "ability."

What I'm getting at here is perception. As the teacher for one course and the teaching assistant for all the courses, I had to work with everyone, so I got to know all the students who cared enough about the class to come to a practice lab. And I would see them around the area, outside of class, living pretty normal lives--the mentally retarded ones taking buses to jobs every day and so forth. I remembered thinking about how limiting my perception was, how it was keeping me from seeing what these people were able to do. One of my favorite students was a guy named Steve, who was in a wheelchair because he had cerebral palsy. He was also very hard of hearing and wore hearing aids (as I do). You would assume someone with CP wouldn't be able to fingerspell and sign, but you'd assume wrongly. Steve's fingerspelling was very clear. The reason he was a fave of mine was his sense of humor. I was amazed he had any sense of humor, because in his early life, he was assumed to be retarded and stuck away out of sight. God knows how he managed to keep his wits sharp, but he did.

As an adult, Steve was breaking out of the limitations imposed on him, NOT by his handicaps --which were real ones, sure enough-- but by other people's perceptions of him (people like the English Patriot). Seeing him as less than whole, less than what he *could* do, was the source of Steve's real disability. I'm sure Steve wished, as EP stated, he could walk and hear like other people, but I would assert that the reason for this wish is so that other people would stop seeing him as a cripple, as a less than whole person.

You, English Patriot, with your attitudes, are the real source of these disabilities--you and everyone else who cringes or is disgusted at the sight of anyone different from them. English Patriot, you are the one that should crawl into a hole, just like you hide behind a ridiculous anonym.

Doug Montalbano

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