Open Letter to the Mainstream News Media
Hi, how are you? I am fine.
Okay, that’s a lie. I am not fine.
There’s a certain type of “news” article that drives me up the wall. The “feel good” story about how the poor pathetic cripple, whose life was horrible and bad, has now been SAVED! by something miraculous, by which we mean “something that would be common place if we lived in a world that wasn’t full of disability fail and discrimination” and also “something done by non-disabled people so we can all talk about how Good and Kind they are to the pathetic disabled person”.
Here’s an example: Legally Blind Man Gets First Job
Debbie and Russell Ward spent a whole evening crying in silence when they were told their four-year-old son would never see again.
Fifteen years later, their tears were ones of joy when they saw the look on Bobby’s face as he was told he had landed his first job.
The shy but proud 19-year-old worked his first shift at the new Supa IGA yesterday morning, where he will work in the produce section.
The article [do read the whole thing] describes how Bobby has multiple certifications that would make him qualified for a variety of jobs, but everyone should be Very! Happy! because look! The poor blind boy has a job. Isn’t it so awesome of the “new Supa IGA which opened yesterday morning”
get this free publicity – I mean, give this nice young man a job?
The whole article is structured in such a condescending way, too. I mean, all due respect to Bobby’s parents – I still get teary whenever it hits me again that Don may never get his voice back 1, so I totally get the grieving period and how it can be a total blow to find out your life has been drastically changed – the article focuses a lot of attention on their grief, how their life was affected, and what they thought about everything.
Notice, please, that there’s not a single quote from Bobby himself. Just the Nice Sighted People who work so hard for him.
Look, Reporters: I get it. You want to tell a story that makes everyone feel good, and really digging into why Bobby couldn’t get a job he had qualifications for because of his disability wouldn’t really make anyone feel good at all. Prejudice rarely does.
But these sorts of stories fuel people’s pity. “Oh, how sad it must be to be blind! A world of darkness, of dependency, of not being able to drive a car! WOE. I’m so glad I’m not one of THEM. And I don’t know how I’d cope if my child were one of them. Oh, Bobby’s parents are so brave! And that nice man who gave him a job! So Nice!”
You can do better than this, really. I’ve seen you do better than this.
Do better, okay?
Hugs & Kisses,
- Side effect of the OMG! Cancer surgery. They removed his thyroid, and hurt his vocal cords. They may come back, but every day it seems less likely. ↩