The Other (or Another) Civil Rights Movement

Disability in America is a complicated mess. Disability messes with the notion that hard work alone will create success. We often need public assistance, either to become gainfully employed or to exist at all. We’re one of the few demographics where there is serious discussion on whether we should exist or where it is celebrated to have the option of our termination. If you are confused at these premises, I’ll be more specific: funding for disability assistance and services are constantly talked about being reduced or eliminated (thus existentially threatening many) and euthanasia, respectively. There of course exists open rhetoric of eugenics that still pervades many absolute empiricists (looking at you, freshman engineers and “logicians”).

Why am I upset at euthanasia? Probably because it is liberalism for the sake of edginess. If you talk to most physicians, they are not going to support physician-assisted suicide, mostly because it goes against their entire ethos. We should have a discussion on right-to-die, yes, but euthanasia is often treated in such broad-strokes, it becomes ableist. Who do you think of when you are talking about euthanasia? Cancer, everyone’s favorite sob story cause. Don’t get me wrong, cancer is horrible and deserves the attention/funding it gets. But here’s my theory as to cancer’s popularity as a cause: everyone gets it and it (seemingly) affects everyone equally. More importantly, the rich get cancer (do you notice that the rich also get Alzheimer’s?). Cancer more often affects those who make it to 65+, like Alzheimer’s. It’s sad when people get it, because they’re often “normal”, “hard-working”, an every(wo)man. It’s a lot more difficult to support causes that aren’t as clear cut. What about those with extreme mental retardation? or those with cluster headache syndrome? or those who suffer brain damage from a stroke? Those people aren’t pretty, aren’t rich, aren’t ever going to be the nice packaged sob story that plays before the NFL game. But these people are affected by euthanasia. What point do you start to contemplate the usefulness of some of these “terminal” people with disabilities? What is “terminal”? Euthanasia brings up some incredibly difficult ethical problems while solving very few problems. Does anyone remember the campaign for that Californian lady’s right to euthanasia? Do we all remember the justifications? She used to be useful, she used to be pretty, she used to have a future, she’s in pain. These are issues that many people with disabilities face, but are a fact of life rather than a tragic single event. As long as America retains this profit-based healthcare system, euthanasia is DANGEROUS for people with disabilities. The economic implications and questions of consent are extremely hard to separate from the instance. Don’t think that this is only about cancer, it isn’t. If you go on reddit (advice: don’t), there are commonly upvoted comments about how the mentally ill should be allowed to kill themselves if they can’t solve their problems (how fracking abelist is that reasoning?). Many think that those in chronic pain want to end it all. Basically, many liberals think that some disability is so bad that it’s not worth living. Surprisingly, I generally get the most respect from center-right conservatives when I’m sporting my cane. Those who stare the most, make conversations awkward, use handicap spots as waiting zones, are more likely than not democrats, not republicans. The DNC has done so little for the disability community, that it’s hard to argue they are on our side. They’re only on our side when it is convenient. We praise them for letting them keep SSDI/SSI at inflation. We praise them for not cutting services. Well, the ADA was put through by a Republican, SSI was put through by a Republican. Obama is the most pro-disability democrat since FDR with ACA and his employment initiatives. ACA is only incidentally advantageous to the disabled, since simply giving the option of healthcare is quite a step up (but hardly a revolutionary one, pretty fracking awful that it’s praised not to deny care due to “pre-existing conditions”). His employment initiatives are executive orders; I praise Obama, not the DNC. The DNC keeps us in reserve just as they do other demographics: LGBT, Blacks, Native Americans, etc. The DNC needs reform, considering most decisions are made there rather than where they should be made: in fracking congress.