Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cripples on the Titanic

I don’t know for sure, but I bet there weren’t any cripples like me on the Titanic. But if there were any, I wonder what happened to them?

Rescue etiquette in a civilized society dictates that women and children be saved first. The whole basis for this is to save those who are allegedly the weakest and most vulnerable. So it follows that cripples would be included in that grouping, being that we are a popular symbol of the ultimate in weakness and vulnerability. Cripples might even be at the top of the rescue list.

But my guess is that even if that’s how things were on paper, any cripples like me on the Titanic probably went down with the ship involuntarily. Or at least I’m sure that’s how it would be if the Titanic went down today. Because the humane plan for orderly exit that moves the weakest and most vulnerable to the front leaves rich white guys at the end of the line. And I can’t imagine rich white guys of today sitting back and letting that happen.

Altruistic notions really get put to the test when the holders of such notions suddenly find their own asses on the line. So if cripples were at the top of the rescue list and the ship hit an iceberg, the rich white guys on board would face two courses of action. A: They could pretend to be crippled. Suddenly they all start limping or bumping into walls like they’re blind. Or they mug cripples like me, throw us out of our wheelchairs and hijack them. Some, no doubt, would elect to go that route. Or, B: They could resort to the power of rationalization. In other words, sway public opinion by cranking the old propaganda machine up to full blast. The libertarians would lead the way, standing on the soapbox and arguing that whereas saving the weakest and most vulnerable is a commendable idea, it is too simplistic of a worldview. It ignores the most immutable fact of human nature, which is that those who have acquired the most have necessarily worked the hardest. These are the humans to which we are all most beholden. But if we force rich white men to the back of the rescue line we are punishing success and that’s un-American! What’s next, sharia law? Our rescue priority must be job creators first!

Where I live, the doorperson in the lobby has a list of the seven or eight cripples living my building so if a big fire breaks out the firefighters know where to go to rescue us. I just hope the firefighter assigned to rescue me isn’t a libertarian.

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