The Paralympics - Reinforcing Attitudes Towards Disability
I boycotted the Olympics because of the involvementof ATOS. I was going to boycott the Paras for the same reason only listening to friends and adding my own prejudices I added Dow, McDonalds and Coca Cola to the mix.
Then I started to change my mind. Someone said the fourth principle of the Paras is equality. I can support that. Then articles on access started to appear in the press and media. Even Disabled People Against Cuts and other activists groups began to get a mention. I can go with all this. Maybe the paras were going to be a good thing after all.
My vacillation on this point took another turn. The Paras were going to change attitudes towards Disabled People forever. I felt uneasy with that. Certainly the promotion of the Super Human wasn't to my taste. It chimed with the other thing that the fourth estate had been so careful to avoid but which had now started to ring out loud and clear. Specialness, bravery, courage, overcoming tragedy, extraordinary achievement in the face of insurmountable odds, were all mentioned as luvvies took to the stage. What's David Beckham doing on that advert? What's all that about? Suddenly the tragedy model was - the old way of seeing Disabled People - the ingrained attitude; had become prominent again.
I'm turning away from the Paras again now but i'm hoping for better stuff still. What will swing it for me one way or the other. I went out last night to see a movie. I missed most of the opening ceremony but i was up for catching what was left of it at a friends house where a party to watch the ceremony was in full swing. I arrived in time for the march of the athletes - a boring parade of waving, fist pumping, gurning Crips that received the following comments from the gathered flippant, jovial guests:
- "Who let that one out?
- What's that one going to do? They certainly won't be doing the hop, skip and juimp without legs
- Look at that
- What a shame
- What a mong
- Spot the looney"
Except there are not going to be any Mental Health Service Users. They do not participate in the games. If i recall the history of the Paras correctly, People with Learning Disabilities were banned because of the ease with which non Disabled People iinvaded this category and left countries open to accusations of cheating. And what of Deaf People?
So, now i'm feeling Super Human my backside. This is no more than the passage of the Super Freak - an elite determined by an eligibility of criteria based on impairment - 'the deserving disabled'.
What could possibly be worse than this but the sudden appearance of David Cameron, sitting close to Wills whose brother had nominated a carrier of the torch because of heroics in Afganistan (still potentially an illegal war that goes about its daily grind of impairing people). Yes that Cameron, the one who had appointed ATOS to get Disabled People off benefits, the one who fails to take action against ideas expressed on all sides of the house and on all sides of the media that Disabled People are really no better than work shy scoungers who really need to be left without an income until they find a job in a society that freely discriminates against us. The same Cameron who is cutting services to Disabled People. Only on this day hadn't I advocated for someone who had her care provision cut from 210 hours per week to 35.
Now my mind is made up. I'm with DPAC, Black Triangle, UK Uncut, Social Welfare Union. These games are not going to change attitudes. They are going to reinforce them. Get a job Scounger. The Super Humans can do this. Why can't you do that?
Posted by Rich Downes, 30 August 2012
Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 1 September 2012