GD-Zone Archives Logo

GD-Zone Archives Logo
Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT?

I didn't get the time to write a blog yesterday mainly because I was caught up in other things ... This morning I woke up with feelings I thought overcome. But feelings sometimes catch up with us especially when I read and hear about:

- The list of murders in Iraq
The never ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The post-recovery of Lebanon

Read more about these at:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/default.stm

Besides these events mainly staged in the Middle East, there are things that anger me over here as well. As the title suggests, I am thinking of crime and punishment. Although I am not referring to the Dostoevsky novel (still need to read that), I feel that some of us are not necessarily convicted legally, but are nevertheless punished for being who we are. Let me elaborate...


I have always grown up with other kids, who were non-disabled, and essentially believed that I could attain the same things as all my other friends did. But when I started studying and slowly entering into the public sphere, I noticed that this was not that easy. Aside from the prejudice people have against people with impairments (especially those that cannot be hidden away like mine) - you get the social exclusion as a bonus that helps to enforce these prejudices.
As a child I didn't use a wheelchair but still had a mobility impairment and looked different from my other peers. And at the time I did notice that people talked to me differently than they did the others. And I'm talking about people I didn't know here of course. But if that was the only problem, it would be alright (well sort of). But the fact is our structures do not help me now as a visually impaired wheelchair user to get around as much as I'd like.

Things that could and should change include:

1. Public transport (currently inaccessible)

2. Buildings (unless I can find a way to fly over some steps)

3. Information and communication services (not many bodies believe that disabled people are capable of making their own choices and living independently)

4. More resources polled into personal assistant schemes (these will help many disabled people really gain more independence - forget investing in miracle cures or aggressive rehabilitation practice)



As you can tell, not being able to go where I want and when I want is sort of house arrest or being given restriction to go places. And the crime? Being different ... or here having an impairment.

I still dream of one day settling down with the woman I love and someday having children. And one reason for starting this blog was to explore what others think of disability and impairment ... or actually to gauge into what I think or feel about many things. But indeed, I do have aspirations of someday becoming a husband and a father. And I believe, with proper support, I will get there. But then why do people still regard people with impairments with pity verging on mistrust?


With all the good intentions some people treat me either as a child, or else pity me, or well try to convince me to get 'fixed', or to pray to be 'cured', etc. etc. But I think that the problem is not me but them. Yet, again, these stereotypes wouldn't matter that much if they did not impact negatively:


- Education

- Employment

Future relationships

Socio-political rights

- Access to services

- Access to buildings

- Access to information and communications


I took these things for granted when I could manage more distances on foot. But believe me, once you look at the list below you realize that you've got a branding that might not make you one of the top ten wanted people on the FBI list but it sure makes you less of a citizen, or worse, less of a human being.


EUGENICS AND THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION




Ok, I started off Sunday with a gloomy outlook. But here I'll disappoint people again. I've been reading an article on the rise of the eugenic movement in the 1920s in Europe and the US and it makes chilling reading. Of course, you might say, the Nazi genocide started with an irrational Nazism spearheaded by the fanatic Adolph Hitler... wrong!


The seeds of eugenics actually were sown in the US and Europe with the adoption of the theory of evolution as a basis of the social policy ... to eradicate people deemed 'defectives', criminals, the 'feeble minded', people who were 'epileptics', having 'abnormalities', etc. In short all those who did not fit the ideal of a decent white middle class European or American citizen. Not only were these 'defectives' deemed a threat to the 'purity' of the race but they were also systematically sterilized in many US states and European countries. This gloomy history might be, well, past history, but the fact is that these sterilization laws resulted in the final solution. Or the clinical elimination of people that were considered to be not good for the population. The ultimate solution of the holocaust actually started with the T-4 programmed of euthanasia which gave Nazi scientists experimental material to improve on their killing tactics. The 'inferior' people could then be slaughtered more efficiently ... and the first to go were people with impairments.

More on the T-4 programme:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/closeup/holocaust/faq.shtml



Although that bit of history is sort of over, the laws that limit the rights of disabled people in the US were never removed from the constitution. And one law in particular has never been overturned... that of sterilization.


This not so known side of America is scary because apart from these laws, despite having the American with Disabilities Act, a state, parent or guardian may still call upon the law to bar a disabled person from having children, marrying, or even adopting.

To read more about this embedded discrimination go to:


http://www.independentliving.org/docs1/pfeiffe1.html



And to be honest, with people stating that 'disability' could be removed through genetic technology is not saying anything different than what the eugenic movement was saying in the early turn of the 20th century. I cite the views expressed relatively recently by Hughes:

“While the biological factors in most forms of inequality are probably slight, genetic technology does promise to create a more equal society in a very basic way: by eliminating congenital sources of illness and disability that create the most intractable forms of inequality in society. We can go to great lengths to give the ill and disabled full access to society, but their disabilities place basic limits on how equal their social participation and power can be. Our ability to ameliorate these sources of congenital inequality may even impose obligations on us to do so, at least for those who are cognitively impaired and incompetent.” (cf. HUGHES 1996, PP. 94-101)
Taken from:

http://www.changesurfer.com/Hlth/Genetech.html


But then such views of doctors and people who are considered competent to make decisions about our life are not that uncommon. Believe me, it's the primary reason why I've entered into disability activism. Because I feel that I have a life like anybody else, yet the voices that I constantly hear and are exposed to persist in distorting the facts about my life. And please, do not think that genetic engineering holds the promise of a 'cure' or a 'solution' in the long term. The same reasoning led Nazism to commit the most grievous offences against humanity. Yet, unborn children with impairments now have a higher risk of being aborted or killed shortly at birth because many believe our life is not worth living.

Which leads me again to question the very nature of crime and punishment. Because after all, considering everything, I do believe that I can exert my will like anybody else. But if the structures that are present prevent me from doing so, I must work to change them. It is for that reason that I feel I'm here after all.


I'll take two deep breaths and calm down. It was quite an intense morning. And I need some air... if I find the ramp... just kidding... This ends my Sunday sermon :) Sorry for the long blog!!!

0 comments: