Weekly Reading List

Two shelves of multicolored books

A selection of last week’s reading …

I was sure that legalizing aid in dying was the right thing to do. Then I met Bad Cripple
Ann Neumann, Salon.com - February 14, 2016

Ms. Neumann gives a fair hearing to both sides of the assisted suicide debate. She also notes a few of the personality traits of some disability-based opponents, like Bad Cripple, that the uninitiated find hard to warm up to ... and then shows us why they are as they are and speak as they do. On paper, some anti-assisted-suicide arguments seem like a stretch. But most people never see or experience first-hand how long-term, severe disability puts our very lives in question by the very people who are supposed to protect us ... our families and the medical profession. When you have significant disabilities, it’s absolutely not paranoid to think that people might be wondering when your continued existence is worth the stress and resources. So it's hard not to feel that another disabled person's choice to die is an attack on our desire to live.

Candidate with autism targeted with ‘shocking’ online abuse
Eoin English, Irish Examiner - February 11, 2016

The precise nature of the hate speech against this autistic Irish woman is no more or less ugly than hate against other groups, but it's different and quite specific. With autism, as with other disabilities, the attacks like this are eliminationist. The message is that disabled people fundamentally don't deserve to live, and that their continued existence penalizes everyone else. It's probably a bit too easy to dismiss this kind of thing as trolling. The ravings of unrestrained bigots usually reflect some pretty nasty ideas among the general public ... just toned down.

When Having A Positive Attitude Backfires
Kristen Milefchik, Taking A Stand Sitting Down - February 10, 2016

Although this article is ultimately a call to action to support specific legislation, the Disability Integration Act, it can also serve as an excellent introduction to some of the most basic and essential components of disability rights and advocacy. Ms. Milefchik's most important point is that too many disabled people hide their pain and hardships, hoping to be more liked and accepted. Unfortunately, putting on a happy face blunts our own power to change minds and policies that really do need to be changed. I'll probably write more about this myself someday, since my views about what kind of faces we should put on have evolved a lot over the years.

Marriage Equality for Broke Ass Cripples
Mike Ervin, Smart Ass Cripple - February 12, 2016

I don’t think much about marriage myself. So I'm really glad that Smart Ass Cripple has finally explained and quantified the "Marriage Penalty" disabled people face, in a way that I fully understand. Now I am really pissed off about it, which is as it should be. Never content to make just one excellent point, he also gets in a pretty good shot at the kind of penny-ante austerity that justifies the Marriage Penalty.

Disabled people are allowed to work for pennies per hour — but maybe not for much longer
Lydia DePillis, Washington Post Wonkblog - February 12, 2016

This article at the Washington Post's Wonkblog paits a pretty accurate picture of what the fights over "sheltered workshops" and paying sub-minimum wage are all about. Unfortunately, the article leaves some questions hanging out there unanswered ... questions with very good answers. For example, severely disabled people can still receive lots of support, in essentially sheltered jobs, but which take place in actual businesses and with subsidized pay that is at least Minimum Wage. This costs public money to provide, but so do sheltered workshops.