Can we please stop pretending it’s less important than all the other -isms?
i’ve gotten more crap for my autism than for being queer. more bullying, more shit talk, more exclusion, more dehumanizing — and WAY more trouble with employment and housing. ableism is a bigger problem than homophobia. surprising? that’s because people aren’t talking about it!
violence against disabled people is unbelievably common. i don’t want to start comparing it numerically with violence against women and racial minorities, because that might imply i don’t take the latter seriously. don’t get me wrong; those hate crimes are super awful and we need to make them stop. however i need to say this: my dash was 80% ferguson for at least a week after mike brown was shot, but i see at least a couple stories every month about autistics being murdered by their caregivers, by their schools, by police who interpereted a nonverbal shutdown as resistance, and these stories seldom get more than 100 notes.
please, folks, i know you care about people, i know you care about me, and i know you care about justice. please pay more attention to ableism. this is a huge civil rights issue.
i don’t mean the dumb sjw thing where people star out words like ‘crazy’ or call ‘ablesim’ on shit that is not ableism, btw. i definitely don’t mean the thing where my reclamatory usage of ‘sperglord’ and the like sets the whole parrot tree screeching. i mean stuff like sheltered workshops where it’s legal to pay disabled people less than a dollar an hour. i mean accessibility, i mean acceptance. i mean the thing where the discussion about autsim is led by a hate group that wants to eliminate our existence. i mean stop the violence.
In addition to the many autistic people who have been murdered by caregivers (and then, even scarier, the general public says that’s so sad, they might have done the same thing if they were that poor, overworked mother…), there is the pervasive problem of disabled people being discriminated against by the medical establishment.
Doctors routinely underestimate quality of life of disabled people and advise them—on the basis of inconvenience, not on the basis of any physical pain they might be feeling—to end their lives (see http://www.notdeadyet.org/ for an advocacy group devoted to protecting disabled people from coercive assisted suicide, such as doctors in some jurisdictions being allowed to suggest suicide without having to mention the existence of accommodations for a person’s conditions). In the US, in places where this is legal at all the doctor has to make a good-faith prediction that the person would die within six months anyway, but there are countries in Europe that are less restrictive in this regard, or that have no such restriction at all. (Belgium allows euthanasia even in non-terminal patients, and euthanasia—as opposed to assisted suicide—doesn’t even require the patient to be conscious or otherwise capable of giving consent as long as they have consented at some point in the past. Keep in mind that most people who want to attempt suicide change their mind at the slightest hindrance, intervention, or change in situation or mood—and that many people, upon becoming suddenly disabled, are briefly suicidal but almost all of them get over it after a month or two when they’ve had time to adjust—so if this sort of thing is to be even remotely ethical it has to involve consent at the moment before death.) Furthermore, there are tons of cases of families and friends pressuring disabled people into suicide. This can range from them saying they’d kill themselves if they were in the disabled person’s situation (despite there being several research studies saying that abled people, including doctors, vastly underestimate quality of life of disabled people, compared to what the disabled people themselves report feeling) to outright telling the disabled person they’re a burden.
The medical establishment also routinely obstructs treatment of disabled people. If a person is disabled they are unlikely to be able to get an organ transplant, for example—even if it’s for an unrelated condition—because they are considered low priority patients (see, e.g., http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/30/health/disabled-transplants/ especially the parts about studies of hospitals in general). And in some cases doctors will outright refuse even more basic medical care for disabled people, who then have to actually sue to get the life-saving care they need. The doctors base this, again, on their assessment of the disabled person’s quality of life, not on the disabled person’s own assessment.