30 December, 2007

They're in Our Schools--Everybody PANIC!

The only thing that bothers me more than a crappily-written news item focusing on a person with a disability is when the comments to said news item are so full of vitriol and outright hatred.

A quick sampling of some of the reader responses--unfortunately, copied verbatim from the website, errors and all:

God bless this family.... reminds me that any of my struggles are really nothing in the scheme of things!


Just why are they shipping her off to school? I'd want to spend the final time with her. They risk not being there when she dies, and having the poor childs last moments be in a school nurses office. I sympathize with the parents, but disagree with their actions of shipping the kid off to school!!

How dare the SELFISH parents send this child to school KNOWING full well she is putting the school staff, classmates and the entire school in a position of standing idly by and watching a child die without providing any help. This can traumatize the entire school body in the event she dies there. How dare the parents subject the other children, teachers, staff and people at the school to this form of child abuse. The parents need to keep the child AT HOME instead of subjecting others to their SELFISH intents.

So why are they sending this child to school? I don't get it! I'm sure their lives are painful, but what is the point of sending a child that is this handicapped to school, risking that her classmates, teachers, and staff may have to stand around and watch her die. If they want her to have human contact, there are other ways. One of my sister's classmates died in the classroom on the first day of school. 30 years later, it still bothers her. Think of the other children and how this affects them.

If the parents truly cared about children they would keep her at home and keep this as a private family matter instead of making it a public issue and forcing the public school system into fulfilling their barbaric desires at the expense of other children.

There are commenters who are actually tactful and have some knowledge about the issues brought up in the article, but the majority do not.

Speaking as a disabled individual with mild cerebral palsy as one of the things with which I share my body, the reactions on the Tribune website are just more proof that if you think you know about what life with a disability is like, or about people with disabilities, or about the decisions that the families of disabled individuals sometimes must make, even though you do not have a disability yourself, it's more than likely that you have no goddamn idea what you're talking about. (Particularly over the internet, but that's a whole other post!)

Education is a RIGHT in this country. Everyone, no matter what sort of medical issues they may be dealing with, has a right to public education. Perhaps the parents of this child cannot afford in-home care, private tutoring, or other luxuries. Maybe the parents don't want to keep their child isolated from other children--certainly, she *may* die while at school, but what about maintaining some semblance of a life that is not full of doctors, hospitals, and specialists? If young Katie enjoys school, there is no reason that she should not be there--even if it is at the "expense" of the other children.

I'm so tired of hearing about how the mere PRESENCE of disabled individuals--especially children--affects other, presumably "normal" individuals. I heard this reasoning throughout my childhood (in much cruder language, of course; and my CP-afflicted, limping left foot, in addition to my quietness, was often the cause of much commentary from fellow students), and that caused more "damage" than most "normal" people seem to be aware of. My experiences don't bring up as many outright political/right-to-life issues as those of Katie and her family, but the sanctimonious, handwringing over the "well-being" of the other kids, Helen Lovejoy (of "Won't someone PLEASE think of the children!?!" fame) crap makes me incredibly angry, especially as a disabled person who has faced the ignorant attitudes of people who are not disabled.

Newsflash, folks: We exist, and we have as much right to be on this planet (and in your schools) as you do.

BrownFemiPower, CripChick, and BintAlshamsa have some more perspective on all of this, unlike a fair number of the commenters on the Tribune piece.

29 December, 2007

A Ridiculous Situation

Alanis Morissette, who is one of my favorite musicians, will be touring the U.S. this spring. One stop is in the Bay Area, which is rather close to where I live, on March 12th, which is my birthday.

However, on said tour, she is opening for Matchbox 20, which I consider to be one of the worst musical groups of all time. I cannot stand them. I believe they are dull, wholly uninspiring, and somewhat irritating. Hearing the opening chords of any of their songs makes me want to do two things in a very specific order: Cry, and then punch out my eardrums with the nearest sharp object that will fit into the human ear canal. I know some would say the same about Alanis, but at least she didn't record that annoying song with Santana (the one that has been overplayed about 100 million times since its release. In fact, I heard it yesterday while I was out to lunch, and all I could think was, "God, this song makes me livid, simply because it is so bad").

This makes me absolutely bummed. I really don't want to pay through the nose just to see her opening set, but she's quite a performer, and I've never been disappointed by her shows in the past. Does my unwillingness to throw down money for this make any sense? Has anyone else been in a similar situation?

28 December, 2007

Quick Thoughts on the S.F. Zoo Tiger Mauling

After reading initial reports on the recent San Francisco Zoo tiger mauling that killed one 17 year-old and caused the two other boys that were with him to be injured, I have to wonder: Where does personal responsibility fit into a situation like this?

Certainly, the zoo is responsible for the tiger's enclosure not being quite up to the height standards set by whatever organization sets said standards, but there is something to be said for common (human) sense on the part of visitors to the Zoo. Just because an animal is enclosed does not mean that it lacks the capacity to react to human stupidity.

I'm aware of the old "don't speak ill of the dead" chestnut, but it seems to me that the young men who were injured by this animal should have known better--that taunting a potentially dangerous animal (even if it is enclosed) by throwing sticks and pine cones at it is, at best, completely stupid and perhaps cruel, and at worst, fatal. Additionally, I'm no PETA militant, but how many of us had it implanted into our skulls from an early age that being mean to animals (or other "helpless") creatures is not okay? I can only hope that most of us learned such a lesson early, but perhaps the young men variously killed and injured during the tiger attack were not so lucky. The tiger was simply responding with its natural instinct--which was, presumably, to fight back when confronted.

Here is an interesting article from Newsweek on tiger behavior, in case anyone is interested in that sort of thing.

09 December, 2007


Stuff that you should read, from around the blogosphere:

--At Feline Formal Shorts, Magniloquence has a fantastic post about continued "escalation," and the continued excusing of racially-motivated incidents as "just jokes."

--Rio reminds us of the harsh realities of foodphobia.

--Rachel of The F Word has an amazing post on the importance of perspective.

--Lauredhel of Hoyden About Town has a very informative (and somewhat terrifying) post on Livejournal's changing ownership yet again.

--Hugo posts on systemic exploitation, in the forms of sex workers' bodies and farm workers' bodies.

--Lindsay considers this year's "THERE'S A WAR ON CHRISTMAS!!11"-esque holiday freakout, which is: Is overweight, cookie-crunching Santa a bad role model for children?

--vesta44 has an incredible post on fashion, femininity, and the matter of "artificiality".

Read 'em.

03 December, 2007

Today in Useless Blog Posts Written by AnnaHam

Does anyone else think that this picture of Pat Robertson is rather, well, Applewhite-esque?


This post has been brought to you by Shakes, and also the fact that I'm about to work on my thesis, which is ALL ABOUT HEAVEN'S GATE.

Y'all find this so interesting, I know. The good news is that Robertson is retiring! The bad news is that this post was more than a bit pointless.

01 December, 2007

The Perils of Being "Stuck" When it Comes to Blogging

I have decided to confess something. I'm posting this with some trepidation--after all, what person enjoys admitting their flaws and/or weaknesses?

I am stuck.

Specifically, I am stuck on what to blog about, and, to a larger extent, what to write about. There are a lot of things that piss me off, that anger me, that make me want to punch those responsible square in the face, but this is not the "What Pisses AnnaHam Off" blog. I could also take the opposite approach and blog about things that I am grateful for, or things that I love to do, but this isn't the "Happy Fun Glurgy Oprah-esque Reflection Time With AnnaHam" blog. Ideally, I would balance the two, but the fact is that [3-4, at most] people read this blog regularly, and in a way, I am still working out my "identity" as a blogger. Oftentimes, I find myself questioning whether or not I actually have the wherewithall or level of awesome-ness to blog at all. Is what I have to say interesting? Does it make people think, or question assumptions that they may have had before reading my posts? Do some who felt misunderstood, marginalized, or alone before feel at least a modicum better after reading something that I have written? I would hope that the answer to all of these questions is somewhat in the affirmative, but despite the mostly positive feedback that I do get, there will always be a wee voice in the back of my mind that constantly screeches NO!

This feeling is extending out into my academic life as well. I have no doubt that I'll be able to come out of being "stuck" with my academic work soon enough, as it is nearing the end of the term, and I almost always go through a phase where being stuck is part of the territory. I've been through it before, I know it's not the most fun thing to go through, and I know I will get through it, but, like any non-fatal human trial, it is hard to realize that you will survive--that you will get out of it--when you're mired in the thick, peanut-buttery consistence of it all. If I had to pick out one "positive" lesson that dealing with ongoing health problems--fibromyalgia and severe depression, specifically--has enlightened me to, it would be just that: I know I'll get through the worst of it, goddammit, but I sure as hell can't see that right now! [Sidenote: This also happens to be the only positive thing about my experiences with chronic health conditions, LOLZ.]

So, my question for EVERYONE who is reading this right now: How do YOU go about getting "unstuck," whether in your writing/blogging life, or in your personal life?

Also, it's World AIDS Day today. Just thought I should point that out.