And Now a Word From the FuckAbilityTM Research Council on the Film “Me Before You”

BONUS UPDATE ACTION ALERT!
From the FuckAbility™ Research Council:
“In response to movie theaters handing out Kleenex to ‘Me Before You’ ticket buyers, FARC calls on our sacrificial viewers to proceed to theaters carrying rolls of toilet paper. When offered the Kleenex, counter-offer your TP, and explain, ‘You’re gonna need it – Me Before You is full of ableist shit.”
FuckAbility™ Research Council Celebrates May As Masturbation Month By Telling Palme d’Snuffilme Winner Me Before You To Go Fuck Itself

Matt Damon hails film’s commitment to diversity

(Cannes’t, OR) Did you know that [INSERT NUMBER] people don’t know that there are [INSERT NUMBER] people with disabilities fucking RIGHT NOW? And that it’s unlikely that even one of those fuckings is a prelude to an assisted suicide?

That’s fucking outrageous. But even more outrageous is the idea that a young man would rather commit suicide in Switzerland than get laid in England. Because WHEELCHAIR.

“He helped us realize that you can’t just pick and choose who you exclude – you have to exclude everyone. In that sense, we are incredibly proud of how inclusive we are of people with disabilities.”

Yet it seems that the clichéd meet-cute that signals death-defying romance for the apparently undisabled becomes something very different – a meet-crip – when one of FuckAbility™ Research Councilthe partners is apparently disabled.

When the characters meet-crip, the romance becomes life-defying.

We spoke to the film’s Medical Advisor, [INSERT NAME HERE], on the movie’s messages about spinal cord injury rehabilitation and quality of life. “’Diversity’ was a word the producers said a lot. I’m very proud of the message of diversity this movie sends about what it’s like to be white, wealthy, male, and doomed to a romantic future with an employee who doesn’t understand sexual harassment.”
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The Top 10 Reasons Why Medically Stunting the Growth of Children With Severe Disabilities Continues To Be an Ethical and Well-Thought-Out Solution To the Problem of Financially Stunting Public Funding for In-Home Social Services, Which Is…Huh, How ‘Bout That.

5. Because we need to support the decisions of overburdened parents/caregivers of severely disabled children right up until the time when their decisions require public funding for adequate and affordable in-home supports.

It’s feels like it’s 2007 all over again, what with “growth-attenuation therapy” for severely disabled children being back in the news.  And today, just like then, people with disabilities are trying to make this all about them. But there’s no unrecognized ableism framing this “ethical debate.” It’s not as though fearful parents who really do care about their children — who really are severely disabled — are being given an absurd and brutal choice:

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Pride and Prejudice: Part Two of Why I Oppose Assisted Suicide Legislation

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a neurodegenerative disease must be in want of an early death.

 My dear Miss Cripple,mr. darcy

Madam, in vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I pity you and plead you to accept my assistance  in hastening your death.

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My Speech to the Graduates, or What I Wish I’d Known As a 5 Year-Old Crip

Ingrid Tischer on the day of her kindergarten graduation in Greece, New York, circa 1969. She is wearing a rainbow vest and skirt sown by her mom. Note the clutching of the diploma and school-bestowed book-bag, and anxious expression -- all indicate a future in literary fiction writing and nonprofit fundraising.

Ingrid Tischer on the day of her kindergarten graduation in Greece, New York, circa 1970. She is wearing a rainbow vest and skirt sewn by her mom. Note the clutching of the diploma and school-bestowed book-bag, and anxious expression — all indicate a future in literary fiction writing and nonprofit fundraising.

If the grand success of the 20th century was the rise of disability as an accepted political identity, we intend for the 21st century to be the time when disability is recognized as the constant but hidden variable in nearly all formulas for global human rights. Including disability as a given factor in most people’s lives is essential to successfully advancing the rights of people who are members of minority communities, survivors of violence and/conflict zones, and veterans; people who live with chronic ailments and have survived catastrophic illness, people who are young and old; male, female, and anywhere on the gender spectrum. While disability has been understood as “different and divided” I believe it can come to be seen as “unique and united.”

As you sit sweating under an increasingly sweltering sun this day, feeling the inevitable effects of a wasteful attitude toward natural resources, you may not be thinking of another type of catastrophic loss caused by another type of massive denial. I speak of almost no one’s favorite topic: Disability. How denying disability’s central role in just about every human life relegates significant chunks of our lives — and worse still, people-sized chunks — to the rubbish heap. It may be that “disabled” doesn’t feel like a word that fits who you are. Fine. Have you ever felt vulnerable? Think of “vulnerable” as a gateway word to a chronic case of disability-speak.

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From Recipes for Inclusive Education, Chapter 6, “Braises and Roasts”

Far from protesting, many an Infirm Child’s eyes shine with an Inner Light at mention of this most noble purpose their otherwise wasted bodies can serve. There are Disabled Children not as wholly selfish as their Disabled brethren who would demand survival, even education and employment, at the expense of their Normal brothers. But good it is to look upon the Infirm Child going cheerfully to the cook-pot to feed the strength of the Normal Child whose rude health is testament to his good character and his Creator’s Pleasure in him.
Color photo of Betsy DeVos, an older white woman, talking animatedly, her excitement presumably over the prospect of destroying the federal civil rights of students with disabilities without even understanding how laws work.

UPDATE: (Salem Village, Massachussetts Bay Colony, January 18, 1617,) Goody DeVos, beloved of GOD as evidenced by her billions, testifying before Congress about the importance of parents being able to choose their disabled children’s schools without mentioning either that: 1) some parents would choose such things as a ducking stool to see if their child’s disability is a “real” one; or 2) choosing that charter dame school the next colony over means they lose their due process rights if the charter school beats their kid for not being able to read his horn book or whatever. Photo courtefy of Salon.

Nature and her master THE LORD have blessed the Educator with ease in beginning any recipe for inclusion, ‘Step One of How to Cook a Disabled Child: Catch a disabled child.’ Truly, the Infirm Child’s emfeeblement makes him an ideal choice for the inexperienced Educator new to his twin masters Efficiency and Economy.

When you have your specimen, consider your various cooking options as well as how many Normal Children you have to feed. Is the Infirm Child plump and well-larded? If this be the case, wrap the lad’s loin with the finest bacon and roast in a hot oven, a dish fit to serve at term’s end to celebrate the holiday.

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Dignity Has Never Been So Disposable

San Francisco had recently become the first county in the country to officially give up on the idea of clean, accessible public bathrooms, available to all in need without regard to payment. The unpropertied in SF were just beginning to walk around with bulgy seats now that all General Assistance recipients were issued a box of generic diapers along with directions to the city shelters, a pamphlet explaining abstinence (UCSF had a grant pending to study the effect of Adult Diaper Dispensation (ADD) on homeless people’s adoption of condom use versus abstinence-only), and $6.95 to get them through the month. The Dignity concession was doing a brisk trade at Pier 39 for unprepared tourists on a budget; a one-day Fun-Pak went for 8.99 but did include two Maxi’s, a plastic Dungeness crab key-ring and a coupon for one Buena Vista Irish Coffee. Dignity Has Never Been So Disposable. A virgin diaper was going for five American Spirits on Sixth Street. The Sheriff’s Department had to fight for, but got, toilets in their renovated facility.

Bureaucrats who may or may not have been wearing a small pin on their lapels, a pin in the shape of a diaper, a stars-and-stripes-waving flag-type diaper almost wing-like from a distance, may or may not have attended a conference in the Caymans to sit in the louvered sunlight of a hotel’s banquet room, listening to presentations such as “Contained Defecation for the Economically Disenfranchised: A Cost-Benefit Analysis.” One of them may or may not have been on the board of a small clinic in San Francisco. None of the conference participants gave any thought to the number of cups of coffee s/he consumed. The conference center had plenty of restrooms. No extra charge. All fees underwritten by the Dignity Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to community development, medical research, and K-12 education. Please take an annual report. Dignity Has Never Been So Within Our Reach. Earnest modern alchemy, how to make the base substance into cold cash. Magicians, start your engines.

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I’m Not Finished: Corn on the Cob, Late July 1970

Part of a series called I’m Not Finished: A Personal Encyclopedia Gluttonica.

The question of whether early gluttony for, say, corn on the cob is an innate or acquired trait is just the sort of debate that misses the point entirely. To paraphrase the elegant  MFK Fisher: When I write about gluttony, I am writing about a gluttony for joy, a gluttony for excellence, and — frequently — a gluttony for any foodstuff bathed with melted butter.

A beautiful ear of fresh bi-color corn still half in the husk

 

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Your 3-Point Take-Down of the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, or Why Your Representative Should Vote NO on HR 620

Here’s how to tell your Congressional Representative to OPPOSE H.R. 620, and any other bill that weakens the ADA! 

Here’s your 3-point take-down of the central flaw in HR 620:

Point #1: HR 620 claims the ADA is so easy that a random person should carry the responsibility for teaching corporations how to obey the ADA, aka civil rights law.

Color still from Saturday Night Live. A parody commercial for Shimmer Floor Wax. Chevy Chase is spraying Shimmer on Dan Ackroyd's pudding while Gilda Radner looks at the Shimmer on her mop.

“HR 620 is BOTH!” Courtesy NBC Universal.

Point #2: HR 620 claims the same ADA is too hard for corporations to learn how to obey.

Point #3: HR 620’s claim to be both a floor-wax AND a dessert topping isn’t reality-based.

Failing the reality test makes HR 620 a NO vote

Tell your Representative to vote NO on HR 620 because even when a corporation is suffering from the heartbreak of toohardism, sabotaging the civil rights of people with disabilities goes well beyond a corporation’s demand for reasonable accommodation.

BONUS POINT: Ignorance of the law is NOT an excuse, so why does HR 620 make it okay for corporations to NOT obey the law because they don’t understand the ADA after 27 years?

You want more on why HR 620 is a hot mess? Here you go.

I’m Not Finished: Canned Mandarin Oranges, Wednesday Morning, 1969

Part of a series called I’m Not Finished: A Personal Encyclopedia Gluttonica.

Of course I had a deprived childhood. Childhood is, by definition, a time when you are deprived of what you most want and, to add insult to injury, the deprivation is presented as being for your own good. This all takes place at exactly the same time when your desires aren’t even desires, as adults know them, but are felt as pure, uncut needs.

A bright yellow can with red and green that reads "Del Monte Mandarin Oranges in Light Syrup."

The can may or may not have appeared otherwise in 1969 but one truth endures: My mother would only have bought a name brand like this if she had a coupon for it.

Or so those darling cans of mandarin orange segments seemed to me, age four,  one grocery-shopping Wednesday morning after some sad holiday fruit salad had tipped me to their crisp succulence. I imagined, I yearned for, I needed a bowl of fruit salad composed of nothing but mandarin oranges. My mother, rather crisp herself and distracted by her shopping list, said it wasn’t possible.

All I wanted her to do was hold the fruit cocktail, canned fruit cocktail being the pallid concoction that she tarted up with chunked green apple, sliced banana, and (sigh) canned mandarin oranges. And then hold the apple and banana. That’s all I was asking her to do. Bring me a fruit salad, hold the fruit cocktail, hold the apple, hold the banana.

Screen shot from the film "Five Easy Pieces" in which Jack Nicholson's character tries in vain to order a breakfast combo but with wheat toast in place of the potatoes. The middle-aged waitress is pursing her lips as she is writing on her order pad. Jack is sitting in a booth next to Karen Black, who plays his girlfriend.

Five Easy Pieces, BBS Productions, 1970

Had it not been 1969, had it not been a Wednesday morning in the canned goods aisle of the Wegman’s closest to our house in Greece, New York — indeed, had I not been marooned in the seat of a shopping cart, her mini-me in our respective polyester stretch pants — this exchange with my mother could have exploded into a Five Easy Pieces type of situation. Instead, all that happened was I eyed the stacked cans of tantalizing citrus receding in the distance as my mother pushed us on toward condiments and instant soups while I pouted that my mother could have entire cans of mandarin oranges whenever she wanted and was choosing not to.

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I’m Not Finished: Clam Roast, Summer 1968

In the realm of emotional bookkeeping, there is literally no number of doughnuts that equals the cost of picking up the check at a waterfront restaurant.

The first in a series called I’m Not Finished: A Personal Encyclopedia Gluttonica.

My maternal grandfather, Carl Pilbeam, remarried when I was almost three years old. I have but one fleeting memory of that afternoon: a group of us under a huge shade tree in front of Grandpa’s farmhouse, outside Victor, in upstate New York. What I do remember, in much more vivid scraps, is a summer night outdoors at the same farm right around that time, a few glaring spotlights, clanging, laughing, and the smell of smoke. I remember it was a clam roast because it was the only clam roast my family has ever had. And because clams at a clam roast are incredibly delicious.

I knew my grandfather as a man of constants until he died at the age of 97. The only incident I ever saw him lose his temper over had to do with a game of gin rummy. He was incurably sociable, a Rotarian and Friday Fish-Fry guy, and incapable of traveling anywhere without running into someone who recognized his heavy-set frame topped with a Napa cap on his bald head. He was an eater, big hungry country boy division, who specialized in ice cream, fruit pies, and the type of doughnut called a fried cake. When Grandpa went to buy doughnuts in the morning, so the family catechism went, one dozen were for the family and one dozen were for Grandpa’s drive home in the truck.

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This #Crip Stays in the Picture: A Past Plaintiff on Opposing H.R. 620, the #ADA Notification Act

Colorful cartoonized portrait of Ingrid Tischer's face

This crip is staying the picture of ADA litigation.

I’m Ingrid Tischer. You may remember me as “headless female torso using a walker” from Anderson Cooper’s “ADA Hit-Piece of Horror” on 60 Minutes. But I’m here today to tell you about a different type of horror: Being a plaintiff in an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit, in which you’re presumed greedy and where whatever happened to you was no more than an inconvenience.

Four years ago, I began a multi-year metamorphosis into “non-vexatious litigant wanting to use a toilet.” That makes me the face of ADA lawsuits. But, in the 60 Minutes segment and the continuing slew of hand-wringing pieces about ADA scam-artists, you don’t see any faces like mine. A face like mine disrupts the narrative of the selfish — or gullible — cripple who financially kneecaps overwhelmed small business owners over access technicalities. You don’t hear much about how the proposed H.R. 620 would also apply to our considerably larger corporate citizens. So I’m putting my face right out there. This crip stays in the picture.

Despite the media’s fixation on “drive-by litigation,” — a completely non-accidental choice of phrase that associates fighting for my civil rights with gang violence – I was using the ADA as it was intended to be used, and should be used. As a civil rights law that, in 1990, made me a full US citizen at the age of 25. But in addition to the external changes in public spaces that have literally opened doors for me, the ADA is responsible for a profound internal shift in my thinking: I have expectations now that I didn’t grow up with: that I can enter a store, eat at a restaurant, cross a city street, open my office door.

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#IAmaPreexistingCondition Says NO to #AHCA and YES to Protecting People Not Profits

Call, email, use social media to tell your Senators to vote NO on the AHCA:
Sample Script: “My name is ________________, and I’m calling to tell you that I oppose, and expect you to oppose, the American Health Care Act. We’re not going back to a pre – ACA era where insurers could ignore the needs of people with disabilities and pre – existing conditions and everyone was one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. If you value the health and well – being of your constituents, you must speak and vote against the AHCA.”
Transcript:
My name is Ingrid Tischer and I live in California.
My pre-existing condition is muscular dystrophy with chronic respiratory failure.
Without healthcare coverage for preexisting conditions, I wouldn’t have a machine called a Bi-PAP S/T and I would have died in my sleep a long time ago from carbon dioxide narcosis. 
I wouldn’t have been able to keep walking for as long as I did because I wouldn’t have had orthotics. 
I wouldn’t have been able to transition to a wheelchair when I finally needed to.
Because of this, I would tell my senators to vote NO on the AHCA and against any legislation that protects profits over people.
Including people with preexisting conditions.
I am a preexisting condition.

Thank you, Rooted in Rights and National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)!

The Crip Sense: “I See Women and Girls With Disabilities. In Your Organizations.”

I was really excited about closing out Women’s History Month this year by developing  and delivering an interactive workshop, “Building Your Organization’s Capacity to Ally With Girls Who Have Disabilities: Principles to Practices” for fellow (sister?) Alliance for Girls members, as part of my work at DREDF.  (To the members who attended — you were GREAT participants!) Based on issues I’d recently written about, I wanted to call it “The Crip Sense or ‘I See Women and Girls With Disabilities. In Your Organizations.’” (Scroll down for 3 “posters” of workshop content.)

I said that part of having The Crip Sense is seeing things that are painful:
  • Disability human and civil rights violations. Way too many of them.
  • Violence against disabled children and adults – especially people of color (PoC) with invisible disabilities — even by caregivers, school personnel, and law enforcement officers, and that such violence at home, in school, and on the street is excused or rationalized.
  • Girls who have internalized stigma that makes it feel “normal” to disown, downplay, or deny having a disability.
  • Girls who hear – even from some disabled people – that “initiative” and “personal responsibility” can defeat systemic barriers born of — and well-maintained by — prejudice, and that they’ve failed if they’re defeated by rigged systems.

Color photo of a fortune cookie that reads,

Why This Workshop, Why Now

In 2017, an inclusive movement includes cross-disability civil rights organizations, as a given.

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