Friday, February 19, 2010

"Kick in the Gut...."

By now I am sure you have all heard Sarah Palin's reaction to the Family Guy show.  If not, you can read it Here.... I am not going to post a link, but if you feel so inclined, you can go to the Fox website and watch the entire episode online.   Now read the response by the woman who played the character Here and Here.- and the full email response Here

For those who are confused by my joy at her interview, let me say this - the episode of the Family Guy was, IMHO both rude, and empowering at the same time. The Stewie song was a little much, but way to go for potraying a person with DS who went out on a regular date, etc! In fact, I am almost more offended on how the brother is portrayed than the girl with DS....almost.

We lament the fact that people with disabilites are far too often portrayed as either the butt of a joke, or a tragic existance, or like a pet needing somebody else to care for and make decisions about....then when the opoortunity arrises where somebody with a disability it portrayed as somebody who can think for themselves, go out on dates with "typical" people, hell, even poke fun at others.....we swoop in convinced that the message was one of discrimination and that the people involved HAD to not have known what they were getting in to.....that they were somehow manipulated into taking such a stand!That they are incapable of thinking for themselves.

For the most part, the jabs that Palin is up in arms over were NOT about DS, they were NOT about Trig -  they were about Palin - Not TRIG - Sarah! Would it have been different if the actor/character involved did not have Down syndrome?  Probably. This would have never made a blip on the screen if it was a "typical" actress saying that her mother was Gov. of Alaska.  PALIN twisted it in to something else - then used it as an opportunity to speak for a group of people who she apparently deems too precious to stand up for themselves - therin lies the problem...

People with disabilities don't need people to speak FOR them - they need people to listen TO them when they speak!  Big difference, and one that is fluid and individual.  While some people with disabilites will probably always need advocates, they also need to learn to BE an advocate.  They need empowerment and the opportunity to advocate for themselves - they need enough respect to allow thier message to be heard, and the opportunity to present it - in short, they need to be treated as people first.  People with different likes and dislikes, abilites, hobbies, religions, races, and politial party affiliations.  People who are CAPABLE of letting you know their needs, wishes, hopes, and dreams - if only YOU have the courage to listen.

Sarah Palin decided that she would put herself out there as a "Disability Advocate", yet when given ample opportunity to stand up for people with Disabilities - she falls flat on her face.....Boy, she comes out swinging when she hears that somebody in the opposite political party has used the "R" word, but let somebody in her OWN party do it - one who has a National Radio Audience - and it is satire - a joke.  If you are going to be an advocate - you are either going to BE one or not.  The "R" word is no less offensive coming from my enenmy as it is from a family member!!!  Do you think that Trig is going to go to school one day and check voter registration cards before he decides if he is going to be upset at being called the "R" word?  Doubt it. Do you think he is going to appreciate being trotted out as the issue of the day every time Palin wants to attack somebody and can't figure out anything else to do it over?  Doubt it.

That whole situation typifies the attitude that Americans have towards people with disabilites, "Oh, I didn't mean it like THAT....Oh, it was a joke!"  Guess what?  I don't care how much money you make, what your job is, who your family is if you use the "R" word - you will get schooled!  Some more politely than others, but make no mistake, it will happen. 

Guess what else?  When/IF Lil Man gets to the point where he can do it himeself - HE will do it! 

A big part of our jobs as parents is to prepare our children to go out and be able to take care of themselves in the big, bad world.  Whether that be typic or special needs, the goal is still the same.  The journey may be just be different.  We do them no favors by allowing them to use their disability as an excuse for not doing all they are capable of....for example: just because Lil Man has had a rough time of it so far, doesn't mean he gets free rein to act like a spoiled brat....If he can throw his toys down the hallway, there is no reason he can't throw them in the toybox at the end of the day.  Just because he held still during an x-ray, doesn't mean that he should expect a gift for doing so.  If somebody or something is hurting him, doesn't mean he needs to lay there and take it until we figure it out.

Sure there are going to be disappointments, hurt feelings, chances lost - but those are all things that typical children need to experience as well.  I am not saying NEVER protect your child, just don't enable them to be dependent on you or somebody else for any more than they need to.  If we put our special needs children in a bubble - never allow them to get hurt feelings, never allow them to speak for themselves, never teach them to take care of themselves to the best of their abilites - then we are handicapping them come than whatever disability it is that they have.  They will NEVER figure out how to speak for themselves.  They will NEVER appreciate being happy if nothing bad ever happens!  And we, as parents, will NEVER get to appreciate the wonderful people our children have the potential of being.  We will never get to beam with pride that first time our child can speak up for themselves and remind somebody to speak TO them, not over them...

As for us, we have a long way to go to get there.  I am not fully sure where "There" is or if we are capable of doing it.  All I know is that I will do everything in my power to give Lil Man the opportunities he needs to grow - it is up to him after that......



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Blogger Lacey said...

You know I hate Sarah Palin, I don't think she deserves Trig! But my hubby saw that episode and the more he thinks about it he didn't think it was too bad either. We can't freak out about every little thing that people do. I do hate the R word, with a passion, but most of the time if I hear it I just ignore it, unless its someone I know and I can give them a little lesson about using it. Lets just live life with our sweet kids!

February 19, 2010 at 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi StephiLou273,

Thanks for sharing your blog. My spouse keeps up our:

I think of all the jobs you have on your resume, Chief Domestic Engineer is most the impressive.

Best to you and Lil' Man.
TxDaD from PG

February 22, 2010 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger heather said...

This is a great post. Thanks for sharing it with us on the ozsquad email. Very well said.

February 25, 2010 at 11:08 PM  
Blogger Tamara said...

Glad Dave posted a link to this one - excellent. Excellent perspective and one of the major things that annoys me about Palin - among other people - :-)

June 27, 2010 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger rickismom said...

I arrived via the disability carnival.

A good post. My take on the press and Palin and disabilities is HERE:

June 29, 2010 at 4:46 AM  

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