I had a tantrum today. I did. It felt good. In the Toronto Star today (Nov. 17) there was a several page article that was purportedly about deinstitutionalization and how it will damage the lives of those who need to be kept in care. The article was nothing more than propoganda - it described people with disabilities with lists of negative adjectives designed to make different into deviant. An interesting literary alchemy. I sat down to write a letter to the editor and I was going to be all calm and address, issue by issue, some of what was said.
Then I thought.
I'm never, ever, ever, ever again going to explain to anyone that people with disabilities deserve to live at home in the community. Some truths are self evident, that's one of them.
Then I realized.
I'm angry. I'm really, really, really angry. It's not OK that journalists write stories about people with disabilities without talking to them. The reporter never talked to one person, not one person, with a disability. She talked to parents and to 'friends' and to non-disabled talking heads from the community living movement, and I'm sure they thought it was balanced.
Then I fumed.
To hell with it. I'm not going to write a polite letter. I'm upset. They are talking about peoples lives. They are talking to future neighbours who will be upset that these deviant others are in their back yard. They are talking to people who've never smelled an institution. I sat down and banged on the keyboard. I called the reporter a bigot and chastized the paper for printing propoganda.
Then I remembered.
After I hit the send button, I remembered Thursday ... visiting a woman with a disability scheduled to leave the land of the long corridor and come home. We showed her a video of her new home. I watched her cry. Break down and cry. When she saw her new home. It was like she finally won at the game show 'life' and was 'getting out of jail free'. She trembled with excitement as she pointed at a room and said, "I want that one.' But no reporter is going to talk to her ... what does she know, she only lives the life that others talk about.
And I got angry again.
Enough. Enough, enough, enough. Disphobic attitudes and disphobic people need to be confronted. I know there is little likelihood that my letter will get printed. I didn't write it to get published. I wrote it so that some damn letter opener, letter reader at the paper will go ... "Wow, I didn't know that people would get ANGRY at the idea of continued institutionalization." Can we stop EXPLAINING and start YELLING being UNREASONABLE being RUDE being UNCOMPROMISING being RIGHTEOUS being INDIGNENT being CONFIDENT THAT WE ARE RIGHT. Can we start calling a bigot a bigot and throw and spitting clawing temper tantrum - even if it's on paper.
Please, anyone who read that article here in the Toronto area. Grab a few mintutes and yell at them. Forget being polite - get mad and let them know it. Call the paper, deluge the reporter with emails, DO SOMETHING.
My first post on this blog was called ... there is a line I will not cross ... how about we all agree that we're going to get angry a little more, be 'understanding' of bigotry a little less, and speak up a lot more.
A LOT MORE.