Monday, December 9, 2019

Cripples Can't Win. Or Maybe it's Just Me


Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know about other cripples. But I find it really hard to enjoy winning, which really sucks because that takes a lot of the fun out of life.

I mean, take for example Ali Stroker, that woman in a wheelchair who won a Tony award last summer for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She starred in Oklahoma. I’m sure she kicked ass and really deserved the award. I hope she enjoyed it. But if that was me, I’d have a hard time enjoying it because I’d be worried that the only reason they gave it to me was because I’m crippled. That’s what sucks. Cripples don’t win a lot of stuff in life and you know the only reason why you don’t is because you’re crippled. Nobody in a wheelchair ever won a Tony award before not because cripples aren't good enough to win Tony awards but because for a long time nobody ever cast cripples in the kind of roles that might win Tony awards. The reason that changed is because some people bitched that cripples aren’t ever cast in the kind of roles that might win Tony awards. So if I was the first cripple to win a Tony Award, I’ d be worried that the only reason they gave it to me was to shut up those people who were bitching. I bet that’s what the uncrippled performers who got beat out by Ali Stroker thought, though none of them would ever say it out loud.

I guess what I need to do to get over this stupid inadequacy complex is take up with the Paralympic cripples. If you win a Paralympics medal you can’t wonder if the only reason you won it is because you’re crippled because everybody’s crippled. But then I’d probably tell myself maybe it doesn’t really count because it’s just a cripple medal, not a real medal.

I guess what I’d need to do to get over that stupid inadequacy complex is remind myself that the only reason the regular Olympics are considered superior to the Paralympics is because most people are uncrippled and uncrippled people created the regular Olympics in their own image. It's probably true that if a cripple tried to compete in the regular Olympics they’d never win. But the same thing is true if an uncrippled athlete tried to compete in the Paralympics. Put a gold medal sprinter in a racing wheelchair and see how far they get. They’ll be left in dust. So who’s so fucking superior, huh?

But maybe it’s just me. I don’t know about other cripples.






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Monday, December 2, 2019

Equal Time for Idiots

There’s too much bitter divisiveness in America these days. I think it’s very important for all of us to consider the perspectives of those with views different from our own, even if they’re idiots.

Thus, so as to practice what I preach, I’m beginning a new feature where I occasionally bring in a guest blogger to express opinions that are profoundly different from mine. This is my attempt to build bridges and promote healing. I call it Equal Time for Idiots.

So please give warm a Smart Ass Cripple welcome to Aaron P. Smugly, executive director of the American Libertarian Freedom Association (ALFA), our first guest idiot. Take it away Aaron.

Thank you so much, Smart Ass Cripple, for this opportunity. ALFA is an organization that promotes and defends the bedrock American values of personal freedom and responsibility. Our members don’t just believe in those values, we embody them. We begin each day with an affirmation. We look proudly in the mirror and repeat five times, “I am ALFA!”

Let us consider the hypothetical and metaphorical scenario of an individual I will refer to as Mr. X. Mr. X had the misfortune of being born with two fully-functioning heads. First of all, let me say that I know that I speak for all ALFA members when I say that my heart goes out to Mr. X and all those born with defects and deficits. Because of his defects, Mr. X will have additional challenges to overcome in life. For example, he will have to pay twice as much for necessities such as haircuts and dental floss. In order to address this misfortune, many liberals would advocate a confiscational approach i.e the creation of a new bureaucracy to levy additional taxes and redistribute wealth to the Mr. Xs of the world in the form of vouchers for free haircuts and dental floss. Those of us who cherish liberty above all must not be so intimidated by the tyranny of political correctness that we cannot affirm that whereas we sympathize with the misfortune of Mr. X, we did not inflict it upon him. Therefore, we should not be penalized for it. This is the province of charity. Americans have shown time and time again that they will volunatarily rise up to help the less fortunate if they are called upon to do so with the proper deference. I’m sure that if an upstanding foundation such as United Way was to launch a dental floss drive for Mr. X, millions of Americans would gladly purchase dental floss and donate it to the cause. If there was a 5k run to raise money for a haircut fund for Mr. X, generous Americans would turn out in droves.

Appealing to the “better angels of our nature” is the prudent course for those with defects and deficits to overcome their lot. The vast majority of the citizens of this great republic are extraordinarily kind and generous, as long as no one is forcing them to be that way.


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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Self-made Cripples

There just aren't enough self-made cripples around. Those are the cripples that don’t wallow in their victimhood. They take charge of their lives and they do it the American way. When life gives them lemons, they make lemonade! They don’t sit around and wait for the government to make lemonade for them and then give it to them for free!

The most shining example of a self-made cripple is Greg Abbott, the current republican governor of Texas. No state embodies the self-made, no-nonsense, rugged individualist spirit more than Texas. Abbott became crippled when he was jogging through a park on a summer day in 1984 and an oak tree fell on him. That left him paralyzed from the waist down and he’s been riding around in a wheelchair ever since.

But that didn’t stop him from becoming a millionaire! No way! And he acquired his millions the American way! He sued!

Abbott sued the homeowner of the property where the tree fell and a company that previously inspected the tree. The settlement guarantees him a six-figure annual salary for the rest of his life. He also gets an additional lump sum payment every three years. All told, the settlement can pay Abbott around $9 million tax-free, depending on how long he lives.

So whereas many other cripples expect “society” to pay for all the extra expenses that come with being crippled, Abbott does it himself, dammit!

But the funny thing is, if you want to become a self-made cripple in Texas nowadays, it won’t be nearly as easy. In 2003, the Texas state legislature capped the noneconomic damages a plaintiff can collect in medical malpractice cases at $250,000. Abbott has always said he thinks that’s a fine idea.

However, there is another litigious path to becoming a self-made cripple. You could sue someone for violating your rights. But it’s not nearly as lucrative.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Walmart on behalf of a woman in Maine who became too disabled to continue working as a sales associate . She wanted to transfer to another in-store job she could do but corporate policy prohibited it. So the woman became unemployed.

Walmart settled the lawsuit by agreeing to scrap the policy and to pay the woman $80,000. That’s all well and good, but I think it’s pretty unfair if you ask me. That’s only enough money for her to be a self-made cripple for a year or so. Then it’s back to square one for her.

How come Greg Abbott gets to be a self-made cripple for the rest of his life just because a tree fell on his head? It seems to me that working at Walmart is a much more painful thing to endure.



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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Cripples with no Crippled Friends


I’m always at least a little suspicious of cripples who have absolutely no crippled friends. Maybe it’s not fair, but that’s how I am.

I get suspicious in the same way I do when I see things on television where there’s a live audience, like late night comedy shows or sporting events. I never ever ever see a cripple in the audience. Even when the camera pans the cheering crowd, there’s never the slightest hint of a cripple.

I imagine daytime talk shows and game shows are pretty much the same. I don’t know. I can’t bring myself to watch them—not even for research purposes. But it’s hard for me to believe that of all the people who show up daily to be in the audiences of these shows, there is rarely if ever a cripple among them.

There has to be a conspiracy at play. It must be someone’s job to be on the lookout for any cripples that happen along and then actively turn away or otherwise dissuade them, perhaps for aesthetic reasons. But that wouldn’t work for some massive event like a football game. You can’t turn that many cripples away. You can bet there are mucho cripples in the crowd of every sporting event you see on TV. So how come you never see any featured in the hundreds of seemingly-random crowd shots on camera or the Jumbotron? The only exception I ever saw was when this guy scored a touchdown and he ran over and gave the ball to a cripple in the stands. But that doesn’t count because that player tricked the camera operator into showing a cripple.

So I’m suspicious that there's another conspiracy going on because this can’t be a coincidence. It seems like whoever is calling the camera shots has to be consciously avoiding showing anybody who’s obviously crippled. If you can’t beat ‘em, ignore ‘em.

That’s how it is with cripples who have no crippled friends. If a cripple wants to find other cripples to hang around with, it’s pretty easy to do. So I figure they must be making a conscious effort to avoid associating with other cripples, perhaps for aesthetic reasons.

And that makes me suspicious.



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Friday, November 8, 2019

The Ignored Man



I hear a lot of cripples, especially those who just became crippled, lament how when they go out in public, they often feel “invisible.”

In all my decades of crippledom, I can’t say that I’ve ever felt that way. Cripples are really the opposite of invisible. We stick out. If there are 50 people going down the street and one of them is a cripple, who’re you gonna notice?

But I know exactly what these cripples who say they feel invisible are talking about. They’re talking about those situations like when you’re out and about with a vert (which is short for vertical, which is slang for people who can walk.) And some other vert starts talking to your vert instead of addressing you, as if you’re not even there. Like maybe you’re getting ready to board a plane and the vert that’s checking people in says to your vert, “Do you have the boarding passes?”

That kind of shit happens to me all the time but when it does I don’t feel invisible because I know goddam well that I’m visible as hell. It’s not that the vert doesn’t see me. It’s that they’re trying to pretend that they don’t see me. I don’t feel like I’m invisible. I feel like I’m being ignored. I’m not the invisible man. I’m the ignored man.

It’s the same insult by a different name. And I also don’t feel insulted when people stare at me. Hell, I don’t even notice if people are staring at me or not. Maybe nobody does anymore. I don’t know. But I do notice when people are trying real hard not to stare at me. Because once again they’re trying to pretend I’m not there. They pretend like they’re looking at something really fascinating, like their phone or their feet or their fingernails.

When verts try to pretend I’m not there, I ought to run over their feet. That should get their attention.




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Thursday, October 31, 2019

My Amazing Display of Courage


What makes me nuts more than just about anything else are those news stories about cripples who rise from their wheelchairs and walk across the stage to receive their diplomas or walk down the aisle to get married or that kind of stuff. It's so insulting.

There ought to be a law where any journalist who puts out a story like that has to face a firing squad. And they can’t get out of it by blaming it on the editor or producer who assigned them to do it. You can’t just throw up your hands and say, “I was only following orders” and expect immunity when you commit an atrocity. Complicity is as damaging as instigation.

The crippled protagonists of these stories are always gushingly praised for showing such great courage. But how come it never works the other way around? How come there’s never a story about a cripple who bravely rolled across the graduation stage or down the aisle in their wheelchair? Because that takes a helluva lot more courage. Everybody’s expecting this cripple to spend a zillion hours working out in the physical therapy gym just so she/he can rise up and take a few halting steps so everybody else can applaud and cry soap opera tears of joy. And that cripple has to have the balls and self-confidence to say fuck all that. I’m not ashamed to be crippled.

This summer I was invited to be the commencement speaker at the state boarding school for cripples from which I graduated in 1974, which I call the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). I call it SHIT because the quality of the education was so dismal that I am perhaps their greatest success story. How sad is that?

At the time, I was just breaking in my new blower, which is what I call the attachment that enables me to operate my motorized wheelchair hands-free by inhaling or exhaling into a straw. I got it because it's becoming increasingly difficult for me to drive my chair with my hand, especially in cold weather and on inhospitable outdoor terrain. I thought about using my hand to drive up the microphone, since the graduation was indoors in a flat, smooth gym. But then I said to myself, “What the hell are you thinking?” This was my chance to be an antidote for that horrifying brave walking cripple cliché. So I drove up to the microphone using my blower.

I doubt that I’ll get married again but if by some strange twist I do, I’ll damn sure go down the aisle using my blower. And if I ever win the Nobel Prize or anything like that, when I come up to make my acceptance speech I’ll proudly use my blower.

Before I gave that commencement address, I should have sent out a press release about how a local cripple was going to display his amazing courage at a graduation by using his blower. But I'm sure nobody would’ve covered it.




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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Because I'm a Grown-ass Man



I hear a lot of cripples who live in nursing holes (not a typo) talk about how they can’t even go out of the premises without first getting permission from some dumbass doctor.

And it blows my mind to little pieces. If it was me, I know what would eventually happen. I’d just roll out of the front door one day and soon someone would track me down and say, “Hey, why are you leaving without getting a doctor’s permission?” And I'd say, “Because I’m a grown-ass man!”

But I’m not naïve enough to think that would be the end of it. Because I also hear people who live in nursing holes talk about if they break the rules they might get put on restriction, which means they’re not even allowed to leave their rooms.


And that not only blows my mind to little pieces, it dumps the pieces into a blender and purees them. So surely I would be hauled back to the nursing hole and restricted to my room as punishment. And thus I’d feel duty-bound to venture out and soon someone would say, “Hey, why aren’t you in your room?” And again I’d have to say, “Because I’m a grown-ass man! What part of grown-ass man don’t you understand?”

But I’m not naïve enough to think that would be the end of it either. They would surely haul me back into my room and barricade me in or chain me to my bed or something. And so I’d have to sue them. I’d line up some lefty lawyers to represent me and they’d prepare a diligent document citing all the various civil rights statutes the nursing hole is violating by treating me like I’m 10 fucking years old. But forget all that stuff. I would want the document to simply say they can’t treat me like I’m 10 fucking years old because I’m a grown-ass man. What more justification do I need?

It’s not that I ‘m some big badass ready to take down Goliath. It’s just that of all the things I value most, at or near the top is my status as a grown-ass man. If I had to write an essay entitled What Being a Grown-ass Man Means to Me, I’d say that first and foremost it means not needing to get some asshole’s permission to do a simple little thing.

Sometimes cripples think they’re never going to reach that point. But I earned that status a looooooong time ago, goddammit! And I can’t imagine giving it up without a helluva fight.




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