Stuck In The Middle — Is There A “Disabled Voice” ?

Stuck in the middle

I’ve been following the discussion about The Mighty and trying to form my own opinion.  I’ve listened to the people using the hashtag #CrippingTheMighty and thought there were some valid complaints being expressed – again.  Most of them I’ve heard before – they are longstanding issues.

Then, as I review my own Facebook and Twitter feeds – I admit there are quite a few parents of children and adults who have a disability contributing to them – I got a different perspective. I expected to see complaints about the “mommy blogger” issue. (One of the complaints being that too often parents speak for their disabled children.)  I didn’t see that many. What I saw was a number of extended discussions about “inspiration porn” – apparently in response to the “Inspiration Porn Resolution” that was released.

I saw some people who were sincerely trying to understand why anyone would take offense at being called an inspiration to others. (Again, not new.) Some may have walked away from the discussion with a new understanding, some were not swayed.

Then, we got word that the docu-series Born This Way has been renewed for a second season.

Hooray!!

I have a serious question though – do those who are attempting to bring about changes to The Mighty consider the show offensive?  For the last five Tuesdays I’ve live-Tweeted (is that a word?) during the show and I lost count of how many people called the cast and/or show inspirational.  According to the resolution, I guess you could say that the show presents “participation trophies,” but, the cast does speak for themselves.  The parent perspective is also shown. Does that come too close to the “SuperParent” issue? Does the fact that these actors are real people with Down syndrome outweigh the other issues? I’ve also seen some comments claiming that the young adults are being exploited because they can’t possibly understand the concept of reality television…..

The only conclusion I’ve come to so far is that there is no consensus about many of the issues that have surfaced.  The discussion is good. The fact that the Washington Post picked up the story is good.  But so far the comments seem to back up my original conclusion. Is it constructive to suggest that the “disability community” feels a certain way about anything? It seems to me that shaming and insulting people who identify as part of the same community is counter-productive.

Some of the comments from the WP:

This sounds like just plain old stifling tow-the-acceptable line demand that so many other people face – minorities, women, conservatives, liberals, adherents to various religions….don’t stray from the correct perspective or we will swarm like hornets and attack you until you see the light, shut up, and see it our group approved way. Group shaming and ostracism until you prove you can group think.

I would have thought that a publication dedicated to giving those with disabilities a voice would have taken a hard stand on honoring and defending ALL those voices. And sure, ask the disabled how they would like to be referred to and talked about, because you know, we all think exactly the same.

It all just means that if you force everyone in the “disabled community” into the same narrative, you are refusing to acknowledge a key point of any advocate – that this community is composed of unique individuals.

I don’t know the answers but I’ll continue to watch and listen to all sides of the conversation.

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