I still agree with what I said in this post about the dilemmas of advocacy in different situations. Two years later though, I would add one more thought. These kinds of no-win situations we find ourselves in when confronted by unnecessary barriers and ableism are part of ableism itself. We shouldn’t have to agonize over whether to complain when there is real, concrete reason to do so. And one reason we do have to weigh our words so carefully is that we as disabled people are often held to an impossible standard of perfectly calibrated behavior. If we stay quiet, it’s taken as either consent or weakness. If we complain, we are grumpy malcontents or attention-grabbing egomaniacs. If we stay quiet at first, and complain later, well, why didn’t we say anything earlier!?
Our city got closer than I ever thought possible to seriously considering making sidewalk snow and ice removal a city responsibility. It’s interesting that the strongest opposition came from the city employees who would be most responsible if the city did take over the job. I can see how they would want to doge that thankless job. On the other hand, it would expand their dominion, so to speak, and if they did a good job, it would enhance their careers. But that requires an optimistic, activist government point of view, whereas most of Plattsburgh’s top level civil servants seem to have a Ron Swanson* philosophy regarding local government work. So, depending on how the weather actually turns out, it looks like we’ll have another winter of patchy compliance and many more days of disabled people being “snowed in” for no good reason.
* Don’t get me wrong, I adore the Parks & Recreation character. Ron Swanson is a sweetheart of a guy. And some of our city officials are absolutely nice, decent people. I’m talking about their perspective on local government.