Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Misery Loves Company

I don’t understand how some people who have suffered feel better when someone else suffers the same way they did.

I hear a lot of that kind of nonsense when people talk about student debt loan forgiveness. Some people say stuff like, “Hey, no one forgave my college loan debt. I had to work three jobs to pay it off so they should, too!”

Let me say here that I never had a college loan debt to pay off. The cost of my college education was paid in full by the state of Illinois as part of the vocational rehabilitation program.

Maybe if I had to pay off a college loan debt I’d feel differently. But I sure as hell hope I wouldn’t. It reminds me of the time a few decades back when I was involved in the fight to make public transportation in Chicago accessible for cripples. We eventually won, but suppose some old timer cripple had come around back then and said, “We shouldn’t make the buses accessible because I couldn’t ride them back in my day so they should never be able to either." Thank God nothing like that ever happened because no one was that much of a dumbass. If the cripples of today were still just as stranded as we were, I don’t see how that would make me feel any better.

Hell, I never even get involved in diagnosis-specific cripple causes because I’m too susceptible to survivor guilt.  I’m interested in doing stuff that makes life better for all cripples, not just those  who are crippled for a certain reason, like they have muscular dystrophy or a spinal cord injury or whatever. Imagine if a few decades back when I was involved in the fight to make public transportation in Chicago accessible for cripples we were fighting to only make public transportation in Chicago accessible for cripples with a certain diagnosis. If I was riding a bus that was blowing past other cripples, I’d feel like shit about it. It would take all the fun out of winning.

We  might’ve all had to carry around a notarized doctor’s note verifying that we were indeed the type of cripple that was officially authorized to ride public transportation That would’ve really sucked.

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Saturday, November 18, 2023

Name that Cripple


I always thought that there ought to be a game show called Name that Cripple. It would surely become a craze that would sweep the nation.

All we’d have to do is line up three wheelchair cripples right next to each other on a street corner somewhere. The three cripples would be of the same age and race and gender and all so they’d all look pretty much alike. But one of the cripples would have something like muscular dystrophy and  the second would have something completely different like cerebral palsy and the third one would be your standard quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury.

The emcee would stop random passersby who are verts (which is what I call people who walk because it’s short for vertical). And if a vert agrees to play Name that Cripple, the emcee gives them three blank cardboard placards and a marking pen. And each placard would be attached to a string and the vert contestant would write something like muscular dystrophy on the placard and hang it around the neck of whichever one they thought to be the corresponding cripple.

And if a vert contestant gets all three right, they win a valuable  prize, such as a lovely new dining room set from Broyhill. But nobody will ever get all three right because it never fails that the average vert on the street can’t tell the difference between a c.p. cripple and an m.d. cripple and a quad. They can’t tell the cripples apart without a scorecard.

This always baffles me because if I played Name that Cripple I’d be the grand champion. I can identify a cripple’s genre from a mile away. If I was looking down from a helicopter on a field of cripples, I could rattle off in no time which one was which.  I think the differences between us are bloody obvious.

But that’s probably because I’ve spent so many years hanging around with such a wide variety of cripples that I’ve developed a keen eye. I don’t think I can say the same about anything else. If I was looking down from a helicopter on a field of cows, for example, they would all just look like a bunch of cows to me.

But when it comes to cripples, I can look at a parking lot full of empty cars and tell you which car belongs to a cripple and which one doesn’t. Like for instance, if it’s a fancy sports car, it’s probably not a cripple car. I never see cripples driving or even riding around in fancy sports cars, probably because doing so is too much of a pain in the ass, what with the bucket seats and all. Or maybe it’s because fancy sports cars are too expensive for most cripples.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Self-Diagnosed Autism


Recent research shows that the prevalence of autism among people age 18 and over who are on Medicaid doubled between 2011 and 2019.

I wonder if this includes people with that new strain of autism that’s been going around lately. I call it SDA, which stands for self-diagnosed autism.

I notice that there seem to be more and more people running around claiming to be autistic. But they seem like regular folks.

This seems like a triumph of marketing. Because in recent years, we’ve developed a much better understanding of autism, which is a good thing. When I was a kid, autistic people were considered to be hopelessly oblivious and so we segregated them away in institutions so we wouldn’t have to be bothered with trying to figure them out.

But now,  autism is viewed as a spectrum with a lot of different variety. Autistic people are referred to as neurodivergent. That sounds much cooler. To be neurodivergent sounds like you’re a little bit weird. And it’s cool to be a little bit weird as long as it’s the  cool kind of weird and not the weirdo kind of weird.

All this makes it easier than ever to proudly proclaim that you are autistic. I’ve never seen anyone who goes around saying that they’re crippled for the same reason I ‘m crippled. No one ever claims to have what I have, unless they really do. It would creep me out if I met somebody like that, just like autistic people are probably creeped out by people with SDA.

 Maybe people don’t try to appropriate my kind of crippledness because there isn’t much that’s vague about that which makes me crippled. There’s no spectrum involved. You either have it or you don’t.

But I think the reason people don’t self-diagnose as being crippled for the same reason I am is because there’s nothing cool about it.

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