Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I'm in heaven when you smile

The VW BeetleWhen we first went out in the Beetle, I realised to my horror that people noticed the car. I hadn’t really considered this beforehand; I know it’s a funky little car, but I didn’t think it was particularly noticeable. But actually we've not passed another one on the road in six weeks. And alas, people look. My heart sank.

I have quite enough of being noticed, thank you. No, please don't look over here.

People do notice me when I am out and about. The shape of my presence is different; I am going to catch your eye. Not your problem. I get so used to being noticed because of the wheelchair that whenever people look at me, it feels like it is because of that. Even when I'm not using the wheelchair.

Baby Alexander SmilingBut then I realised something else about the Beetle. People notice the car. People look at the car. And then, almost every time, people smile at the car. They smile! Almost every time!

What a funky little car, I suppose they must be thinking. It is uncomplicated, whatever it is. Unlike me.

People don't automatically respond to me with a smile.

Naturally, I get more smiles if I smile a lot myself. And I do smile a lot because that's what you do when you meet someone's eyes. And I like being smiled at. Do you get the feeling I'm not about to break into a bad poem about smiling? Not worth applying my skills to; smiling has already inspired a wealth of fantastically bad poems, and every one of them rhymning smile with while.

Baby Alexander SmilingBut I really do appreciate it.

Smiling is never patronising. You might be smiling at the poor pathetic wheelchair woman as you might smile at a child, but I'm not to know that. You’re already looking at me, for crying out loud, what else are you going to do? Stare at me? Avert your gaze in embarrassment?

The latter is a very common and upsetting response. Because it doesn’t feel to me like you merely found yourself looking and didn’t want to be rude. It feels like you are embarrassed by the very sight of me. Like you are blanking me out because my appearance makes you uncomfortable. It looks like disgust. Which perhaps it is.

Baby Alexander SmilingJust a few of these and I get a tight knot just under my ribs. I get pissed off. Unreasonably, deeply pissed off. I start speaking your thoughts out loud; "How embarrassing!" I declare, to make you all the more so.

No, that's not nice. It isn't fair either. The mistake is a split-second barely-conscious decision, and I must have done it myself. I try not to. I try to look every charity collector or homeless person in the eye and smile, even when I have nothing to give them, even when it often means saying as much out loud, which is embarrassing.

But a smile, even from a stranger, can untangle that knot completely; Alka-Seltzer for the soul. It is that powerful, a physical relief, especially when on those days when the world seems full of scowlers and starers. Staring is less troublesome, because I convince myself that nobody ever knows they're doing it. It looks like you are just staring into space and I happen to occupy that space. Because nobody could possibly be that rude, could they?

Baby Alexander SmilingSo anyway, it's a novelty to be noticed in an uncomplicated way. And I love riding in the Beetle for its effect on people. Whenever we are the first in the queue at a level crossing (which we are, very often; we have to cross the track between Norwich and Cambridge to get anywhere), I sit and wave at the train. I reckon I can get six or seven smiles for every carriage that passes.

And last week, I was sat in a carpark in Thetford and a small group of passing Portuguese school children broke into song about the Beetle; something about a buggy bug. Now that's a novelty indeed.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

5 Blogs That Make Me Think

I have been a very naughty blogger, in that I have received the Thinking Blogger Award more than once and haven't got around to doing the post until now. This is not to detract anything from the honour of receiving the award, particularly from the folks who gave it me; Sage at Persephone's Box, David at Growing Up with a Disability, Sara at Moving Right Along and Sharon from The Family Voyage. All fantastic bloggers, who do make me think.

The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

It wasn't that I didn't want to do this, but that it I found it very difficult thing to do. Of course, when I first received the award I had a much longer shortlist; many of those I would have chosen have got their just deserts in the meantime. However, it is still necessary to leave out bloggers who might well make me think as much as these do. And that's before one comes to the issue of how to be complimentary without sounding somewhat creepy, a lifelong conundrum for me.

Not that I can guarantee that none of my five haven't already received the award; if they have then either I missed their post about it or they are just as naughty as I am.

So, the award goes to...

1. Chewing the Fat
Many disabled writers steer well clear of sentiment, for fear of the Tragedy Model stereotypes we're all used to. David Hindburger does a remarkable thing, in that he writes very moving and touching stories about his experiences and the disabled people he meets, without resorting to the emotional shorthand we're so used to. This is human interest, to which disability is incidental. Uh, not very articulate today, so you best go read some.

Check out Shufffft about the changing pace of the "Institutionalised Shuffle", Too much on whether it is possible to have too much diversity in one person or Imagine that! where David encounters some ladies who may be in denial...

2. Writhe Safely
Flawedplan is one of the most articulate and authoritative bloggers writing about mental health politics. She manages to intersperse very smart impassioned analyses of current affairs, medical ethics and sociology, with extremely personal accounts of her own life experiences, some of which make for rather uncomfortable, if very compelling, reading.

Check out Red Eyes and Tears, where she wrestles with the question of overcoming stigma or
Mothered Day about nature, nurture and child abuse [Trigger Warning].

3. The Center of Gravitas
Gay Prof is a extraordinarily smart cookie, writing about queer politics, academia, queer politics within academia and Wonder Woman. But he is also very funny. I can have read the most robust argument on a deeply serious subject and still, he's always thrown in some line which has me creasing up. Usually something rather rude. Or something about Tinky Winky.

Check out The Wages of Straightness about the divisive nature of privilege among the those fighting for equality (contains sexual references), Immoral Minority the best post I read reacting to the death of Jerry Falwell or ¡Por Fin! on getting over a crap relationship... and Texas.

4. The Beauty Offensive
Seahorse hasn't been blogging for very long, but she is a blogger with a mission; to blog the everyday things of beauty. Which she does, despite having started this project at a pretty dramatic turning point in her life.

Check out I am happy in which she shares a day of happiness, Accessories for the Aesthete or From Where I'm Sitting, Seahorse's contribution Blogging Against Disablism Day which records her first outing on wheels.

5. The Perorations of Lady Bracknell
I'm kind of amazed that it looks like I'll be the first to award her, but Lady Bracknell is the epitome of wit and wisdom, perhaps' the thinking blogger's blogger (the compulsion in my fingers to type crumpet just then was only narrowly avoided). She manages to be both very clever and very funny however serious or (dare I say it) frivolous the subject matter. Her Ladyship and her Editor also keeps a hold of that humour even when the fates seems quite determined to knock it out of them.

Check out In which we name and shame, about revealing Sitemeter data, Do you think you are sufficiently decayed? in which Lady Bracknell outlines those qualities in a gentleman which are likely to catch her eye or The results of a sleepless night about pain and friendship.

Friday, May 25, 2007

In defence of the Human Rights Act (with thrilling house martin action)

The Human Rights Act 1998 came into UK law in October 2000. Since then, it has faced a lot of criticism, with the opposition proposing to scrap it altogether. The main reason for its unpopularity is an inevitable consequence of its fundamental purpose; to protect the individual from abuse at the hands of the state. Inevitably, many of the people who have been affected or brought cases invoking it have been suspected or convicted criminals, including suspected terrorists; the least popular people there are. And inevitably, with any brand new wide-reaching law, some of the most sensational cases invoking the law have been pretty frivolous. The media also has a habit of reporting when a ridiculous case is brought, but forgetting to report when it was subsequently thrown out of court.

Wowza fluke action shotI, however, would argue that the Human Rights Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation that has ever been and is perhaps more important at this point in our history than ever before. Seriously. Very very very important. Very. Very important indeed.

The wording of the Act is based on the European Convention on Human Rights (1950) which borrows from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, first proclaimed in 1948, inspired by events which should be obvious. This point is worth bearing in mind; there has been very little change in the wording in fifty years, but it took that long for advocates to persuade governments like ours to put this properly into law.

Why? Because it puts firm limits on the power that the state may enjoy over the individual. And the state does enjoy power. This is not a sinister enjoyment, all power corrupts etc., but simply because the more power you have, the easier it is to look after people. For example, when visiting the beach, it is far easier to simply tie your children to deckchairs rather than letting them run about and paddle in the sea where you must watch them, because the sea is dangerous. Similarly when you're trying to run a country and keep people safe. Only it is no fun being at the beach if you are tied to a deckchair.

I think I'll call them Martin and MartinaThe Human Rights Act limits the power of the
state by outlining the minimum levels of freedom that an individual has an innate entitlement to. All of these rights are conditional (e.g. you have a Right to Life so long as you are not engaged in the act of harming someone else and the only way to stop you is by killing you). But they are default; they don't need to be earned. And they belong to every human being. They are, if you like, the Ten Commandments of liberal democracy; the fundamental obligations that a state has to its people. And, rather like the Ten Commandments to a Christian, they are entirely sound to anyone who supports the idea of democracy.

But like the Ten Commandments, there is the small issue of interpretation. That is a problem and perhaps always will be. We need to keep debating how this or that article should be understood and applied, and right now, when it is so very new, this debate is inevitably extremely active. Good. That is good. But still some people object.

The only argument against the Human Rights Act is the argument that I, or my group, know better than other people and should be able to control their behaviour for the overall good. People do argue this or something like this. The indefinitely imprisonment of foreign nationals suspected of terrorist offences at Belmarsh Prison is one example. It is felt that the danger these people might pose is far greater than what those individuals would have suffered for losing their freedom. Yet there is not evidence to charge them of any crime (see Article 7; No Punishment Without Law).

Martin and Martina discuss their self-build projectSimilarly, for myself, quite frankly. I mean, there is no evidence against me which could be used to convict me of a crime, but you never know what I might get up to. Legally, I am no more innocent than any one of those detainees because neither of us have or could be charged of a crime (let alone convicted). So why not me? Wrong colour, wrong religion? It is not as if we haven't messed this up terribly in the past.

For example, when we extended the period a suspect could be detained without charge up to seven days in the 1970s (now 28 days as of 2005), the very first people affected by this law were a certain three Irishman and an Englishwoman, who were claimed they were tortured into giving false confessions. Of course they did; Irish, weren't they? They were convicted of the Guildford Bombing and spent fifteen years in prison before their convictions were quashed. See also the Birmingham Six.

Such events took place in a not dissimilar climate, where fear of terrorism was very great and used to push through changes to the law. Where people assumed that there was no smoke without fire, and that this was a free country where miscarriages of justice simply couldn't happen. Now, we're told, the stakes are even higher. And yet there is a mentality which says, "Yeah, but that was the seventies; miscarriages of justice couldn't happen now, not in 2007."

Thus we have a BBC News: Have Your Say page dedicated to the disappearance of three suspects under Control Orders (once again, because they could not be charged with a crime) and it is full of folks calling for an end to the Human Rights Act, all referring to these men as terrorists when they remain innocent under the law.

Liberal democracy is not, alas, the natural arrangement that all states eventually mature into and stick with forever. It has only existed for a blink of the eye in our political history and it is immensely fragile, particularly durings times where people feel threatened. But it is well worth fighting for. And by far the greatest threat to our freedom comes from our own complacency.

Monday, May 21, 2007

People are strange, when you're a stranger

This stinks: The Times : Secret plans to turn staff into police informers.
"Council workers, charity staff and doctors will be required to tip off police about anyone whom they believe could commit a violent crime, under secret Home Office plans.

Civil liberties campaigners last night said that the proposal raised the prospect of people being placed under surveillance and detained even though they have committed no offence.

And a senior Whitehall official, who leaked the plans to The Times, said that it would entail a mass of personal information, including sensitive medical records, being passed around many different agencies — even if there was no firm evidence of any potential risk from an individual."

It is always difficult to work out how serious these things are, the words leaked and proposal being key. But it would be in line with the increasingly popular idea that all tragedy is preventable and the law enforcement authorities should become involved in matters where nothing which constitutes a crime has actually been committed (for example, Anti-Social Behaviour Orders or Clause 23 of the 2005 Terrorism Bill)

There are currently fairly clear guidelines about the parameters of confidentiality that public service workers have to work within. Whenever you see a psychiatrist or counsellor, for example, there is always a preamble about how nothing you say goes beyond the four walls unless you give them reason to believe you are going to put yourself in danger, are going commit a crime or have committed a crime.

But none of us are qualified to anticipate who may, at some time in the future, commit a crime - even those who are experts in human behaviour. If healthcare professionals could merely predict which of us were going to commit suicide, then many thousands more lives could be saved each year than if we somehow managed to eliminate violent crime. Only they can’t. Why? Because people are making choices in their own heads, choices we are not privy to, choices which are often completely different to the ones the same person might have made last week, or yesterday or five minutes ago. Free will is awfully inconvenient like that.

The only obvious predictive indicator of criminal activity is criminal activity; someone who beats his girlfriend up might eventually kill her outright, someone who has an illegal drug habit may, in time, feel compelled to commit theft in order to fund said habit, and so on. We can prevent these more serious crimes if we can effectively deal with their precursors, however that might be best achieved.

How else would you be able to guess who might be a potential violent criminal? Well, we've all seen the films and read the books. Your dangerous criminals - other than your sophisticated and charming master criminals who live in isolated mansions and rarely cross paths with public service providers - are oddballs; they are all men (the freaks!) and they’re kind of scary-looking. They don’t make eye-contact - or they make eye-contact but too intensely - perhaps they have a tic? They are sometimes over-friendly, they talk too much, make inappropriate remarks or become easily upset or angry when met with disappointment or confusion. This one seems a bit paranoid - being put under police surveillance is exactly what he needs!

People who lack social confidence or acumen, including a hell of a lot of disabled people, are extremely vulnerable to meeting the stereotype of a suspicious character. And I can't see what, other than sheer prejudice, folks could have to work off. Unless, of course, they had evidence of an actual factual crime being committed - in which scenario, no new legislation is required.

To be perfectly honest, I am myself suspcious of what this story implies, which is surely too outrageous to be true. Come on, it is; this is the stuff of totalitarian nightmares...

[Giving power to people who might exercise it out of malice is another issue, of course. Last time I came into face-to-face contact with a council worker, she was a grumpy lady whose inattention to what I was saying made the whole thing long-winded and rather frustrating. Towards the end of our conversation she thrust a Customer Feedback form in my direction, saying, “You need to fill this out.”

This was, in itself, a fascinating form. It had the various aspects of service you had to rate; Friendliness of Staff, Helpfulness of Staff, Office D├ęcor (which was, actually very nice, but not of tremendous importance). And then if you didn’t understand the conception of rating your responses as Very Unsatisfied, Unsatisfied, Neutral, Satisfied and Very Satisfied (in which case it seemed unlikely you would manage to read the rest of the form), they’d filled the columns with emoticons for you to tick; sad faces for the two negative columns, a straight face for Neutral, and smilies for the positives. And then, if this wasn’t clear enough, they had colour-coded the emoticons, red for Very Unsatisfied through to bright green for Very Satisfied.

You can tell I studied the thing. And all the time, this grumpy lady is sat opposite me, scowling impatiently (it is possible to give an impatient scowl; it's all in the eyebrows). So naturally, I ticked the bright green smiley, Very Satisfied for the friendliness and helpfulness of the customer service I had received. Which was a wise move, because the sourpuss – on whom I was relying on to pass essential documents on to the folks who would deal with my Housing Benefit claim – proceeded to scan down my responses the moment I'd handed it back.]

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Passing by, like Lady Godiva

Mystery flowersSome more mystery flowers have sprung up (doiiing!). I think the dark pink flowers belong to the same sort of plant, even though they appear to be trailing and the pale pink ones are more up right. Once again, these appeared in the middle of the grass, which we haven’t got round to cutting yet. There is a mower in the shed, but it is broken, so has gone on the list of things that need fixing, which is already as long as your arm (if you have really very long gangly arms).

We also have at least two nests of sparrows living in our roof, despite not having had a ceiling at the point they nested their. Noisy little buggers they are too.

Meanwhile, I have been sleeping lots, but we went out today with my folks to Ely. Ely is a pleasant little town in the middle of the very flat part of East Anglia. It is where Hereward the Wake held out against the Normans. Hereward the Wake is one of the characters who the Robin Hood myth may have been based on.

More Mystery FlowersThe only story I can remember about Hereward from School was that the Normans at one point hired a witch to curse the Saxons rebels during what had become a little guerilla war going on following the Norman conquest (it may be flat, but Ely was in fact an island at the time - we gradually drained the rivers to make the Fens; I'm not really sure why, but there is in fact a Drainage Museum, if you are interested). Anyhow, this witch performed her rite which cursed the rebels and concluded by turning round and mooning at them. Which provoked the Saxons to shoot her in the bum. There's a moral in that.

Perhaps more interesting was Hereward's mother - or who we suppose was his mother, British history of that period being a little shakey - Lady Godiva. I don't suppose she is that much more interesting, but she gives me an excuse to show you a rather lovely Pre-Raphaelite naked lady.

Lady Godiva by John CollierSo the story went, Lady Godiva entreated her husband, a reputedly stingey git, to reduce taxes on the poor people of Coventry. He said, "Not on thine nelly, missus." (which is Old English). Then he said, "Tell thee what, I'll reduce ye olde taxes, if you ride ye olde gee-gee through ye olde streets of Coventry, naked."

So Lady Godiva asked the townspeople not to look and rode through the streets of Coventry in her birthday suit. Nobody looked except for a character called Peeping Tom - the fact his parents had christened their child Peeping suggesting little hope for him from the outset. Peeping Tom drilled a hole through his door, had a butcher's at Godiva and was struck instantly blind. Since then, anyone who drills holes through things to look at naked people is known as a Peeping Tom.

Lilith by John CollierWhile I'm here, I am tempted to post that other famous John Collier nude, Lilith, who is a bit more womanly. Lilith was of course Adam's first wife, who was his equal. She got fed up and left Eden, thus they had to resort the spare rib arrangement. No, I've never really got to the bottom of what Lilith is about, where the idea of her came from, but as I understand it, it is kind of Jewish folklore (as opposed to Jewish doctrine) and she's kind of this vampire type character.

If anyone wishes to enlighten me, please do so. She was clearly an animal-lover, anyway.

In other news:

Timbo is running Big Blogger 2007, so do check that out.

Following my Guide to Talking About Stuff Without Sounding Like A Racist, JackP at The Pickards (Me vs. Stephen Hawking being a particularly memorable BADD entry) has written about attitudes towards race and then disability in I'm not a racist, but...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sex and Feminism - False Consciousness

Probably a mistake to try and write about this given my current brain-mire, but I was thinking about what Sage has been writing about recently. Often arguments come up about why, given that the objectives of feminism would be to benefit all women (men too, but women more so), many women continue to behave in ways which perpetuate inequalities. Much of the difficulty is that feminists are a diverse bunch and passionately disagree with one another about which behaviours actually do perpetuate inequality.

These arguments tend to center around expressions of sexuality, in the widest possible sense. Perhaps it could even be opened up to our bodies and what we do with them. Very much of the way that society values or devalues women is to do with our bodies, therefore it makes sense that they are a priniciple battleground. I'm afraid I think the easiest way of doing this is offering a rather silly and entirely superficial example.

Today I want to wear high-heel shoes (I don't, but let's pretend).

Another feminist (a made-up one, sorry) says, "But high-heel shoes serve one purpose. Standing on tip-toes makes your arse stick out in such a way which advertises your sexual availability to other primates. High-heel shoes are entirely for the benefit of men who live under the illusion that all women are available to them for sex. And by wearing high-heel shoes you perpetuate this myth, as well encouraging other women to do the same."

"But that's not it at all," I say, "I like high-heel shoes. I chose to wear them for me."

"Yes," says the made-up feminist, "you might imagine that to be the case. You have been programmed to think that. But you get nothing out of wearing high-heels except physical problems with your feet and legs. You have been programmed to like high-heels because you have been programmed to enjoy dressing for the benefit of men."

This is a superficial example, I'm not sure anyone would present such an argument, but we could have a similar conversation about all number of choices I might make about grooming and my appearance, through things I do or tolerate in the relationships I have with men, right through to whether I become a prostitute or participate in pornographic movies. Many feminists do argue that the latter two are options that no woman who has a genuine choice could possibly choose, even if she thinks she is exercising free will.

Which takes us on to the real mucky yucky mess in the middle of feminist discourse on sexuality which is false consciousness.

False consciousness was originally Friedrich Engels’ idea, although similar, if fuzzier versions had been used in religion before then. He reckoned that whatever you think you believe, it has come from somewhere; nobody, he argued, can have ideas and beliefs independent of their social and political experience. I’m afraid I struggle with Engels, it is almost as if he is arguing that two plus two equals four only in a society which supports the concept of fourness. Sound familiar?

A more compelling idea was Malcolm X’s description of the difference between what he referred the House Negro and the Field Negro. Black slaves who existed in the master’s house as unpaid servants might form attachment to their abusers, but those who existed outside the house and were treated as working animals were far more likely to rebel. Similarly, he felt that some black folks in his society behaved like House Negroes; they had it just comfortable enough to become compliant – and complicit - in their own oppression

This is an important point for many egalitarians. A recurring theme in some of the BADD posts under “Personal Journeys” was the realisation by disabled people that the way they felt about themselves was not okay, that they were judging themselves by societal values based on prejudice. And the same applies to women. Many women now feel that feminism’s job is done. Many women felt the same in the seventies, when our rights remained disparate in law. And many women felt that the whole suffrage malarkey was a tremendous waste of time and effort.

However, I think we need to be very careful before we describe this as false consciousness, or else put it into language which suggests that a person doesn’t know what is good for them. In the Malcolm X letter linked to above, he goes on to strongly imply that Martin Luther King is a House Negro, a victim of false consciousness, even though the two men were fighting (and were soon to give their lives) for the same cause.

Which is the problem; if I can’t be bothered to argue with you on almost any matter, I can just say, “Well of course, you think that; you have been duped by the dominant ideology. Whereas I, by some miracle, remain immune to it.”

Which is nonsense. As I said earlier, there were always fuzzier versions of this in theological discourse; the idea that deep down we must all know there is a one true God and know who He is since He created us and exists in all our hearts, only we deceive ourselves (with the assistance of Mr B. L. Zeebub). If only we could be forced to undeceive ourselves, we would be saved. Fetch... the cushions!

And similarly, in fairness, I have heard the occassional atheist say similar things about the theists; they must know there’s no God, it’s all made up, people use religion to justify themselves and to maintain control over others. The whole thing should be abolished and people forced to think for themselves - a process which would undoubtedly lead them to the exact same conclusions as we did.

So back to my high-heels. Fact is, that I know that the reason men and women like high-heel shoes is sexual in origin, but thanks to the way we have learnt to think about clothes over a long time, women often opt for a higher-heel because it might look smarter, it works better with given outfit or even because adding height to a person enables someone to better command authority (in line with the sexist and disablist association between physical height and social authority, perhaps). I don't imagine most women are thinking about getting laid, or pleasing men, when they put on their shoes. Many shoes are very beautiful objects of design in any case, so many women like them for that reason.

However, personally, I also fail to see the relationship between high-heel shoes and sex to be necessarily problematic. Perhaps I might wear high-heels on an occasion wear I wish to advertise my sexual availability to someone, perhaps I wish to be sexy. Wishing to be sexually attractive to those people I am myself sexually attracted to is an intrinsic part of my sexuality, as I imagine it is to the sexuality of most people. Also, being an equal-opportunities lech, I like high-heeled shoes on women myself.

What you have here is a point of view. It could be wrong. However, if I am wrong, it is not because I have been passively absorbed the programming that a pair of shoes are just a pair of shoes. If I am wrong, it is because I have made a mistake in my reasoning.

I do have a point here, I imagine the next post will make far more sense.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Smoke without fire

Joan of Arc by Anna Lousia SwynnertonBBC News: Church no smoking signs condemned
(I'm sure that should involve a hyphen, but hey.)

I am one of the very few people I know who have never put a cigarette to their lips. When I was seven or right I was sick off school with the flu and saw a programme on the television which must have been meant for teenagers to deter them from the demon weed. In my case, it gave me more information and gruesome mental images than a seven or eight year old really ought to have and I became very concerned about my Dad's smoking.

This was one respect where I was quite naughty and got away with it because Mum hated the smoking and Dad knew that to defend his habit would be to condone it in us should we wish to have a go (he knew this, because I told him as much). I would hide the cigarettes, I once dipped all the tips in soapy water and put them back in the packet. I would collect all the butts together and stew them in a jar of water before declaring, "Yuck! That's probably what it looks like inside your lungs!"

That's not my Dad, by the wayI know. But I felt very let down; if Dad didn't want us to watch him die horribly (which I was sure was imminent), he'd stop. If he wanted to set a good example to his growing children, he would stop. My world was uncomplicated like that.

So anyway, I don't like cigarettes. I really don't like cigarettes. But...

The UK government has taken what I consider to be the entirely sensible move of banning smoking in all places of work, effective from the first of July. This is a health and safety move and it'll also enable some disabled people to work or simply go to places they couldn't previously access; people with severe asthma or cystic fibrosis for example, who simply haven't been able to go for a drink in a pub. Wonderful stuff.

The destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah - John MartinHowever, it's only bloody cigarettes. Everyone understands what the ban means. You don't need to put no-smokings signs up in churches - since when was it ever okay to smoke in church? And I do wonder what a smoking compliance officer might actually do that another health and safety worker couldn't. We don't have signs up in places of work or special officers coming round telling folks not to sexually harass one another or stick pencils up our noses.

I find it all rather suspicious. Well, of course I'm not that bothered, I'm just writing this post as an excuse to post my ideas for no-smoking signs that could be used in church. You knew that, didn't you? I spent a while thinking about Moses, the burning bush and the pillar of smoke, but I didn't get anywhere. Yes, I know, quite tired today, head full of nonsense.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Baby, remember my name

Following a rollercoaster nine months in which Alexander, of Tinker & The Taylors, has taken the world by storm with his death metal, classical music and Glam Rock, the young star has been taking some time out from rock'n'roll to launch a career in the movies. Our reporter talks to Alex about this change in direction. Photographs by Mummy.

Alexander's acting talents were first noticed by critics when he took a crawl-on part in a remake of the Hitchcock classic, The Baby Vanishes. A further cameo proved to be the highlight of the otherwise tedious Sleepless in Southampton and Alex is now taking a break from touring with the band in order to pursue his first major role.

I catch up with the star on the set of his latest movie, The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Behind, in which he stars as a baby who has nappy rash, which is cleared up with the help of Kate Winslet. I ask Alex whether he has any formal dramatic training.

“None at all," he replies with a giggle, "Everyone knows that once you’ve been a rock’n’roll star, you can do anything; end world poverty, stop global warming, whatever you like! Some of our finest living actors started off in rock’n’roll – such as Johnny Depp, Jack Black and Will Smith, my co-star in The Pursuit of Nappyness. All were very serious and critically acclaimed musicians at some point.”

Alexander famously admits he has never been to the theatre or cinema and he doesn't pay a lot of attention to the television - although he has managed to turn it on and play a DVD when nobody was watching. So how did his interest in acting begin?

"Last Christmas - which was, of course, my first Christmas - I played the part of Baby Jesus in the carol service at Church. The part was offered to me at the last minute, I barely had a chance to look at the script, but it all seemed to come to me quite naturally. If you can pull off the role of the Saviour to several billion people around the world, I figure you can do romantic comedy.

I wasn't responsible for that“Also, being a baby, so I am used to being dressed up in all sorts of silly clothes, which I think helps. My own auntie, for example, having been asked to dress me after my nappy had been changed, attached my socks to my ears and put my trousers on top of my head. I was very confused about it all until Mummy came back and put it right. It seems my grown-up audience has a real appetite for visual comedy, whereas I prefer more subtle cerebral humour. Like when someone blows a raspberry at me. That’s so funny! Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha!”

Alexander continues to laugh for some minutes. When I can finally get a word in edgeways, I ask Alexander how he approaches a role. In his latest project, he plays a baby with nappy rash. Is this something that he has found particularly challenging?

Alex doing an impression of James Dean"Naturally, I have great sympathy for babies who have nappy rash," Alex gurgles, "When I think about what it must be like to have an itchy bottom, I can summon up my serious face. Do you like it? It involves far more work than you'd imagine. I think I look rather like a young James Dean. Or at least the expression James Dean would have made, had he ever had nappy rash."

Alexander has a hectic summer schedule ahead of him, with his first birthday in August and, in just six weeks time, his Christening. I ask him how he feels his spirtual faith impacts on his work.

"I think some of my fans are worried that my getting Christened is likely to have a detrimental effect on my music in particular. But I have a very simple answer to that; there are lots of Christians in the world, but there's only one Cliff Richard."

Alex dancingAnd what about the future, is there any danger that the call of the silver screen may draw Alex away from his rock'n'roll roots entirely?

"I am not yet nine months old," he says, "I am growing all the time and soon I am probably going to be speak and walk and perhaps even sing in tune. I think it is entirely sensible to explore a wide range of possibilities at this stage in one's career.

"I would like to get back in the recording studio, but I would also love to do some theatre work, perhaps some Shakespeare. I am sure there are several parts simply made for me; Baby Macbeth, Pramlet and I intend to put the cute back into Mercutio."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Goldfish Guide to Talking about Stuff without Sounding like a Racist

or Some things I should say sometimes instead of banging my head against dining tables.

You know, I don’t believe you are a racist. And I can be quite sensitive about these things. I see inequality sometimes where others would rather not look; I tend to notice the subtle exercise of prejudice which can add up to tangible disadvantage. And I fear racism. Other forms of discrimination and hatred can and do ruin lives, but racism has brought about violence on the streets of this country, together with civil war and genocide elsewhere, several times within my own lifetime. Not only is it unjust and based on the most superficial difference imaginable, it is extraordinary dangerous.

But I’ve known you a long time and I know you are a reasonable person. Only we keep having these conversations. Imagining my whiteness puts me on your side, you speak your mind, concluding,

“Of course you can’t say what you really think or else people will say you are a racist.”

Only I can and I've been thinking about this. I guess there are really two reasons why someone would call you a racist. The first would be that they were trying to shame you into shutting up, which I guess must happen sometimes. But the second is that something that you said, or something in the way that you said it, genuinely gave that impression.

The latter can be avoided. I wish you’d have a go. Not only in order to avoid offending people, or in order to avoid that accusations, but because you might not be making yourself understood. You may have a very important point and the rest of us might miss it.

The Goldfish Guide to Talking About Stuff without Sounding like a Racist

Rule 1. Say what you mean

Being accurate with language is the key to avoiding unnecessary offence where you are uncertain of (or indeed, unhappy about) preferred terminology. Accuracy and respect - I don’t need to mention the respect bit to you, of course.

For example, how is the best way to describe the group you belong to and the group of people you are talking about? Consider the necessary conditions, the qualifiers for belonging to either group. Does colour come into it? Place of birth? Cultural heritage? Religion?

Try to narrow it down to just one common denominator if possible and don’t use words that have nothing to do with the subject. For example, when talking about Muslims, the rest of the population are non-Muslims, not white people, Britons, or Christians. Some Muslims are white and British, and not all non-Muslims are Christian.

Wherever possible, try to use quanitifier expressions to determine the fact that you don’t believe that all of a group have an experience or viewpoint or exhibit certain behaviour. Talk about some, a few, many, a tiny minority of or simply a group of. Otherwise, whether you mean it or not, to say Muslims have planned terrorist attacks in the UK sounds like all Muslims have planned terrorist attacks in the UK.

Rule 2. Address one issue at a time.

If you have an argument to make about a specific issue, stick to addressing that without bringing in subjects you feel may be vaguely related. It can be tempting, especially when your original argument proves to be a bit floppy, to launch into a ranted list of grievances you have against a certain real or perceived group, mentality or area of policy. But that can very easily sound like racism.

I have listened to you complain on all manner of subjects in one sitting, from illegal immigrants committing organised crime to the EU migrants stealing our jobs to Asian doctors speaking in indicipherable accents.

Each of these points may be valid by themselves (or maybe not) but lump them all together and you might as well offer them up as My problem with Johnny Foreigner. Regardless of the implications, this is not useful way of organising your thoughts; any steps to clamp down on illegal immigration isn't going to help you get a job or understand your doctor better.

Your uncomplicated bigots throw everything in and blame it on immigration or the specific group they hate; they lump in the corruption of youth, the struggles of the health service, drugs, benefit fraud, even rising house prices. The enemy is at once an impoverished parasite and a tyrant empowered by their ill-gotten gains. Clever that.

There is nothing racist about talking about, or even objecting to, current levels of immigration. Like any major area of government policy, education, health care, foreign policy or whatever, there are bound to be disagreements and important debates about how we handle and control immigration to this country. But unless we say "No more!", you can't object to the whole lot all at once. And if we did say "No more!" we'd have a problem; whilst one in twelve people resident in the UK was born abroad, one in ten UK citizens is currently living abroad. Call them back before the borders close, and we'd have a marked population increase*. We'd be swamped, flooded, overwhelmed...

This matter of bringing in extraneous issues is especially important on the subject of Islam. There are one and half million Muslims in our society, there are inevitable issues that arise in the Muslim community about which the rest of us have some concern; most notably, the radicalisation of a small number of young Muslim Britons which has lead to four of them blowing up tube trains and a handful of others plotting to do similar. However, if you are talking about what might be done to combat terrorism, please don’t bring up veils, forced marriages, segregated education and blasphemous cartoons at the same time. You are in serious risk of presenting Islam as an innately problematic faith, and Muslims as an enormous group of troublemakers.

That is prejudice and unsurprisingly, it sounds like it.

Rule 3. Avoid Straw Men

A straw man is a caricature of a real or perceived opponent or viewpoint. It is a cheap trick and very commonplace. Referenes to political correctness, the loony left, the liberal elite, right wingnuts, the chattering classes, bible-bashers, benefit scroungers, fat cats, Daily Mail readers, Guardian readers** or enviro-fascists; these are all caricatures. Since to argue against these things is to argue against a fiction, you can't really lose. Only, what you say won't mean anything, even if you do get a round of applause.

You tell me that we're not allowed to celebrate Christmas any more, or fly the Cross of St. George, that nativity plays, The Three Little Pigs and Baa Baa Black Sheep have all been banned. Surely, you know this is bollocks? Yes, you do. No, come on. You do.

But someone somewhere at some time objected to these things. Yes, they did and the newspapers ran with it. In all such stories I have read myself, it is always someone who is acting out of a fear of causing offence as opposed to an offended person making a complaint. However, do you want to know what all this really means, the big profound social implication of this kind of thing? In one sentence?

Human beings do and say silly things sometimes.

Your efforts are wasted on getting worked up about silliness. None of these things have got into the law or become cultural taboos. It is a bit like me, as a feminist, railing against Patrick Moore's comments about women controlling the television schedules. He said something silly on a trivial matter, he has no position of great influence, bless him, nor does he represent an important viewpoint.

However, straw men are also created about more important matters.

A chap called Dr Syed Aziz Pasha, the head of the Union of Muslim Organisations, suggested that perhaps some very limited aspects of Sharia Law might be put in place for the Muslim community in the UK. For example, Muslim holidays might be formerly recognised and Sharia Courts might help resolve issues in marriage and family life, civil not criminal disputes. Yes, I think the latter bit is extremely problematic too, but that's not the point. A subsequent survey of five hundred British Muslims suggested that about forty percent (two hundred people) supported this idea.

However, if you google Sharia Law UK, one might easily be lead to believe that most of our one and a half million Muslims were calling for the versions of Sharia Law we hear about in a few other parts of the world where folks are hung or else stoned to death because of some minor sexual trangression. Which would be worrying. And it would be very easy to present an argument and get very worked up about that. Only it isn't true, so there isn't any point.

Rule 4. Recognise privilege.

I'm afraid this one is going to sting. Sorry, but I have to do it. It is just that you keep saying this one thing - or at least variations on a theme - which is really very wrong.

"It's getting to a point where I'm being treated like a member of an ethnic minority in my own country."

No, you're not. I mean, really, you're not. No, I know, but you're not. No.

Apart from anything else, your assertion begs the question, how should a member of an ethnic minority be treated in their own country or anywhere else?

In fact, if you look at the government, the media and big business, you may notice that there is a minority group running the show. White straight non-disabled men. A statement I just know you're going to misinterpret as saying that all white straight non-disabled men are a bunch of bastards who have it easy and nobody else ever gets any privilege or power. Not so. I'm not suggesting that they don't deserve to be there, and I am certainly not casting aspersions on their characters. But you'll find it very easy to identify the exceptions in the corridors of power because they are so damn conspicuous.

Privilege is, however, very complicated; outside those corridors of power, things become slightly fairer and when you get right down to my level of wealth and status... Well, I guess I am privileged over a non-disabled unemployed person because disability gives my status legitimacy; my bad luck is not often misunderstood as something I might have avoided or got myself out of already. Being female lessens the cultural pressure to be in work, to be a bread-winner etc.. Thus these things do shift about and you may have been in a situation where it would have been better for you not to have been white. There are undoubtedly situations where white people experience racism. But not many situations.

In any case, I know you, and I know you have never come across such a situation (you'd have surely told me about it if you did). This is something you have absorbed in a round about way, from the media, from dubious anecdote, from the fact you are asked your ethnicity on forms, from the fact that you observe that time and money is going into projects to promote equality where you don't see a particular need for it. Which of course you don't because you've never had any comparable problem.

Even so, consider how you feel at things you consider to be slights against your ethnic or cultural group and imagine you were a Muslim just now. Yes, I know I keep mentioning the Muslims, but to be honest I feel like I'm watching an entire people being slowly - and not exactly purposely - demonised.

Rule 5. Establish logical truths and hold on tight

The truth is that there is an ongoing and inevitable conflict inside all of us. It is not about ethnicity, religion, age, sexuality, gender or disability; no specific prejudice can be considered natural. But what is natural is that life is frustrating, other people are frustrating and our poor little brains are working very hard to try to simplify a very complicated world - worse some very complicated emotions associated with a very complicated world.

Racism is a deliciously simple outlook, it would make life so much easier if other people could be colour-coded. Imagine! These be the good 'uns and thems is the bad 'uns. Wonderful.

But colour isn't really the issue for you, I know. Even so, there is a part of you - just as there is a part of me - that longs to be able to simplify your dealings with and attitudes towards other people, to catergorise them and to have a group upon which you project your fears, insecurities and the disappointments of life. Could be an ethnic group or the generic Johnny Foreigner, or it could be some group you see as different for some other reason, nothing to do with "race".

Folks don't often speak about this. Because if you're a good person, you have no prejudice. Not necessarily so. If you exercise logic in your dealings with other people, you have no prejudice. How you treat them beyond that determines whether you are good.

It is your logical mind that believes in equality. Your logical mind knows that even if someone looks and speaks differently to your or follows a different religion, they aren't worth more or less, there's no reason to imagine they might be more or less intelligent, sensitive, friendly or compassionate than you. They have a different story, they may have quite different ideas about life, death and the universe, but no conflict is innate. And if one such a person turns out to be a bad egg, you know that it is only one and there are bad eggs that look like you. Feelings don't let people off so easy.

If you cling onto these facts whenever you talk about stuff, cold and uninspiring as they might be, you can't go too far wrong.

* Statistics and thus the balance may have shifted, but I believe it is still the case that there are more UK citizens abroad than there are foreign-born people in this country. I realise that doesn't mean a great deal, but it is an important point to bear in mind.

** Of course, people might admit to reading the Daily Mail or the Guardian, but they are unlikely to feel that their views and outlook on life is easily ascertained from the paper they happen to read.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Today I am a small blue thing

Almost certainly bluebellsNow, they are bluebells, aren't they? Unlike the flowers I identified as bluebells in an earlier post. Yes? Good. They're up in our garden now, whereas those bluebell-imposter plants (grape hyacinths, as identified by readers) have gone.

I am afraid I am still rather fragile and have spent a few days watching the light crossing the bedroom ceiling. But on... a day, recently (it's all got muddled) I went shopping with my Mum and bought flip-flops. Or thongs, as I think they are called elsewhere in the world, although here, a thong is an undergarment for people who feel it is important to wear pants - uh, underpants - but undesirable for any closely observant onlooker to know they're wearing pants.

Anyway, my flip-flops are purple. There is little else to be said about them. Enthralling, I know.

In other news, I am sure that Alexander is on the verge of talking. We are having lengthy conversations on the telephone in which he yabbers on, pauses for me to speak and yabbers a reply. He has a noise which is very close to Hello. More like Ewoah!, but hey, that's close. And he has a noise which is definitely affirmative. I can't really describe how I know it means Yes, indeed, absolutely! when it comes out more like Dawah! but I know what he's getting at.

Alexander on the beachHe was particularly proud to tell me that having mastered sitting up by himself (a task he found impossible when he visited less than six weeks ago), he is now pulling himself up into a standing position and letting go of whatever he has hold of for several seconds before falling on his arse. It is only a matter of time before his physical abilities overtake those of his auntie.

The only big negative about our conversations is that Alex hasn't really figured that the English language doesn't incorporate screaming, which seems his way of articulating that something is great fun or very exciting. Just as the pitch of your or my voice might increase as we speak more excitedly, as does his, only it gets higher and higher and higher until it is right on the edge of human hearing and all the dogs in the vicinity go wild.

It is incredibly high-pitched, it seems remarkable that it doesn't cause him pain to make such a noise. And it sounds really bad down the phone. Doesn't help of course that, unable to be cross, one responds with laughter and laughing makes the child even more excited.

Apparently, my first word was gullysucker. A gullysucker is another object which may be known by other names elsewhere in the world. It is a big lorry (uh, wagon or truck) with a suckery thing which sucks all the dead leaves out of the gutter as it goes along. I have no idea what else you might call it. I don't actually believe that was my first word, but so goes the legend that I pointed to this object and identified it correctly. It is an especially dubious story as my sister is accredited with helicopter. Parents are fanciful creatures.

Little AdrianAnother unlikely first-word story is that of Alexander's father, Adrian, who was rather delayed in speaking and didn't say anything until he was about three. Adrian's Dad was in the forces and while he was away, his Mum would put the toddler on the phone so his Dad could speak to him. On one such occasion little Adrian was listening to his Daddy in his acccustomed silence, when suddenly he declared, "We been missing you Daddy!"

Almost mastering the past pluperfect before uttering a word. Is that the pluperfect? Or the imperfect? I don't know, in any case, it is quite incredible.

Friday, May 04, 2007

One each end and steady as we go

Am gradually recovering from Blogging Against Disablism Day. I really want to say thank you to those people who did get about and leave comments places; you know who you are, I do too and I very much appreciate that. It felt rather as if I had made the horrendous mistake of hosting an enormous party when I wasn't very well, but a handful guests kept the party going whilst I passed out under the pile of coats. Thank you very much.

I counted 170 posts on Wednesday morning. Since then I have added several more. I'll perhaps wait until after the weekend and do a final count, but it's certainly an increase on last year. Which is great; I didn’t really expect or hope for it to be bigger and I certainly didn’t do anything to make it so. I was rather bitter at not being able to post anything myself, or get round and leave as many appreciative comments as I might have done, but it was, um, everso slightly taxing. And thank you very much to Vic for sending me a video full of Doctor Who for me to watch just when I needed it. I do love Doctor Who!

Meanwhile three things have happened. The remarkable luck of Lucky the fish finally ran out and she died on Tuesday, but Schmuck appears to be recovering. Later that day we gave the old brown car away to a young man who had the tenacity to knock on our door and ask if he could have it for banger-racing. And the piano arrived!

The piano’s arrival is a very good thing. We weren’t hugely confident of it fitting in here; we thought we might have to take windows out and suchlike to get it in but three burly men (who took lots of sugar in their tea), managed to get it round an impossible corner and into the room where we wanted it. And it makes a gorgeous sound even though it’s full of dust, hasn’t been tuned in seven years and I can’t only remember the first sixteen bars of Moonlight Sonata. It needs to settle for a few days, to the new temperature and humidity and then we’ll get it tuned.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Blogging Against Disablism Day 2007

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2007Hello and welcome to Blogging Against Disablism Day!

Thanks ever so much to everybody who blogged yesterday or else joined in by reading and commenting on blogs.

It was an absolutely excellent response with some really fantastic posts. I am glad I made the archive like this as we went along, but it wasn't the easiest task for my decrepit brain so please, if you spot any omissions or mistakes, do let me know.

Blogging Against Disablism 2007


Do It Myself Blog: Blogging for Inclusion
Dragon in my Soul: Think as I say, not as I do.
Everyone Else Has A Blog: So then.
Planet of the Blind: Disability and Employment Discrimination.
Smiffy's Place: Going to Work - Time for a Rethink?
Work Safely: Safe enough for disabled workers means safer for all!


ADHD & Me Blog: Disablism in Education
Aw Diddums: Hello, This is Diddums Speaking. Who is Calling?
Breakfast Toast and Vegan Bacon: There's no elevator to the top of the Ivory Tower.
From here to there and back: Blogging Against Disablism Day
I Speak of Dreams: Disablism in Education: What I wish were true
Life with Joey: A Day Against Disablism
The ups & downs of our life: Blogging Against Disablism Day in 2007

Other Access Issues
(Posts about any kind of access issue in the built environment, shops, services and various organisations. By "access issues" I mean anything which enables or disenables a person from doing what everyone els
e is able to do.)

Caughtya.Org: Disablism and Parking, they go hand it hand.
Dream Mom: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Dublin (Mis)Adventures: Blogging Against Disablism
From Where I'm Sitting: Universal Design... not!
A good dose of nerdiness with a pinch of salt: My blogging against disablism post
Green Galoshes: Disability Discrimination
Hop Bloody Hop: Blogging Against Disablism
James Oppenheim: Disability rights and Austrailian websites confusion
JBVoices: Blind People Don't Use the Internet
JBVoices: Open Letter to Richard Benyon, MP
Keep Buggering On!!: How to make life better
The Meanderings of a Politically Incorrect Crip: Now gods stand up for anoraks.
Nihilstech: Four short anecdotes about ubiquitous ableism
Paul Canning: Ensuring Accessibility
Peachtree Active Living: Blogging Against Disablism 2007
Rolling around life: A Tale of Two Lifts
Sally's Life: When the going gets tough...
Sean McManus's Blog: Making websites accessible
Sunny Dreamer: 16 Tips on Wheelchair Ettitquette
Telling Tales: Disability Foto Friday!
Yarn Maven: Access this!

Definition and Analysis of Disablism

Astrid's Journal: Freedom from Disablism: What does it mean?
DiversityWorks: Blogging Against Disablism - the Actual Blog!
Dyed In The Wool: The aesthetics of disability
Everyday Magics: B.A.D.
Growing Up with a Disability: Sandbox Lessons.
Life in the New Republic: Disablism in Action
Medical Humanities Blog: Blogging Against Disablism.
Mr Chuckles: Blogging Against Disablism.
One Dad's Opinion: Metamorphosis

The Language of Disablism

(Posts about the language which surrounds disability and the way that it may empower or disempower us.)

Autism Vox: On the "Dis" of Disability.
The Alterabilities Blog: "DISabled", phooey!
E is for Epilepsy: Blogging Against Disablism, Ableism, Disability Discrimination
Marmite Boy on Toast: Blogging Against Disablism Day.
Pagey's Place: Think Before You Speak
Grace Notes: "A Person With"
An Unreliable Witness: Political Correctness gone mad.

Disablism Interacting with Other 'Isms'
(Posts about the way in which various discriminations interact; the way that the prejudice experienced as a disabled person may be compounded by race, gender, age, sexuality etc..)

Awake to Dream: The final frontier: Sex, women and disability
Charlottesville Prejudice Watch: Racism and Ablism Together Again Or: If we do it to them more, we have to invent a reason.
Club 166: Dark Thoughts
Urbania to Stoneheads: Prejudice from "your own kind".
Wheelchair Dancer: Disablism, Identity, Disability and Race

Disablism and Politics

The Bipoiar View: Calling out social justice activists
Keep Buggering On!!: Stand up and be counted.
Maman Poulet: NDA and disability rights - where are ya?
A Modern Lei Feng: On Politeness Part 2: Are. You Kidding. Me?
Rhymes with Javelin: Blogging Against Disablism, One Day Late

Disablism in Literature, Culture and the Media

Fate is Chance, Destiny is Choice: Blogging Against Disablism
Telling Tales: Funny Women... Disability on the Box!
The Perorations of Lady Bracknell: The BADD entry 2007


Criptick: Crippled Ancestors: Equality 150 years ago
Disability Studies, Temp U: In Memory of George Everett Green (1880-1895)
Title Varies Slightly: We were there; 504 Anniversary.

Love and Sex

Feminist Reprise: What Crip Dykes Do: A photoessay about love, living and loss
Telling Tales: Disability Dates... Disability on the Love Wagon!

Non-English Language Blogs

Avenida Central: Blogging for inclusion (Portugese)
Dimodi Web: Blogging Against Disablism Day (in Bulgarian)


The Garden of Nna Mmoy: Horton Doesn't Hear a Who.
Lamb Ramblings: The carer and the papers
Lunatic Antics: A Blind Guy Goes Into a Bar
Monastic Musings: Can a Person with a Disablity Hear a Call to a Religious Life?

One person who signed up but hasn't blogged on this is Angela at Jack's Blog, but she is let off on account of the surprise arrival of her daughter, Morgan Leigh. So congratulations to her and her family.

General Thoughts on Disablism

Andrea's Buzzing About: Colony Collapse Disorder
Arthritic Young Thing: Being vs. Doing
Charming BB: WHEELS (for BB)
Dancing Through Doorways: Blogging Against Disablism
Dancing Through Doorways: More about Disability
A Deaf Mom Shares Her World: Disabled Schmabled
Defying Gravity: Blogging Against Disablism
Feminist Mormon Housewives: What not to say to an amputee
Funk Mango's Musings: Ga ga goo.
The Fruit Basket: A lack of imagination
The Gimp Parade: Fear, avoidance, and the people we never get to know.
Healthy Selfishness: A Post for Blogging Against Disablism.
Horses, words and wool: Happy May Day!
Jenny's Days: Blogging Against Disablism
Laura's Cyberspace: My post for Blogging Against Disablism Day
Lovely and Amazing: The Politics of Gratitude
Midlife & Treachery: As we speak...
Monastic Musings: What if?
Nana Sadie's Place: Blogging Against Disablism Day
The Pickards: Me vs. Stephen Hawking
Publog: Bloggers Against Disablism
Rachel Creative: Blogging Against Disablism (Doodle)
Screw Bronze!: Those lazy deceiving disabled... why won't they die?
Simul Iustus et Peccator: Hope
A Tedious Delusion: Blog Against (dis)Ableism Day
Wheelchair Catholic: Disablism Happens
Whose Planet is it Anyway?: Normal People Need Services
Winsornot's Other Blog: Blogging Against Disabilities Discrimination Day

Parenting Issues
(Experiences of being a disabled parent or being a parent to a disabled child.)

Adventures in Juggling: Learning to fall down sometimes.
The adventures of a Stay at Home Mom: The World Through My Boys Eyes.
Anika: Diaper Discrimination
Big Blueberry Eyes: Hope and Normalcy
Cheaper Than Therapy: Mom, the Disablist?
Emma & Co.: What to write? What to write?
Emma Sage: Blogging Against Disablism Day
From the Mountain Top to the Valley Floor: What is the significance of May 1st?
Gabi's World: "The Harsh Reality"
Gaijin Mama: Lilia's Abilities
The Imperfect Christian: Blogging Against Disablism
Jenelle's Journey:Blogging Against Disablism Day 2007!
Left Brain/ Right Brain: Blogging Against Disablism
Maternal Instincts... Flying By the Seat of My Pants: Shadows of Disablism
The Monkey and Me: Here I stand
MOM - Not Otherwise Specified: Inside Out
No Whey, Mama: Conversations
One March Day: Thank You
Ryn's Tales Book of Days: It's just cerebral palsy
Speak Softly...: One in Five
Terrible Palsy: No man's land
Troubled Diva: A father's thoughts on having a deaf son
Twinkle Little Star: Defensive Parenting.
The Voyage: Blogging Against Disablism
Whitterer on Autism: Motor Mouth - who knew a speech delay could be so noisy?
The Wood Vale Diaries: How Young is Too Young?

Experiences Through Family and Friends

All that comes with it: Blogging Against Disablism Day.
Are we having fun yet?: Blogging Against Disablism Day 2007
At my table: The real reason is...
Compost Happens: May Day and Blogging Against Disablism.
The Education of an Able-Bodied Ally: Ally and Friend
Faith and Web: My Father's Daughter
Mason Dixon Knitting : This is not about knitting
Sam I am: On Friends.... The Discrimination Siblings Face.
Pinwheels: Blogging Against Disablism Day

Disablism within Healthcare Systems

All 4 My Gals: Blogging Against Disablism
Ballastexistenz: Manipulative? No. Impertinent? Maybe.
Incurable Hippie's Musings and Rants: Self-harm and medical treatment
Sly Civilian: Unmedicated.
Jan's Group Home Support: The Fight against Prejudice
Junia's Daughter: Disability and Abortion
Yarnerinas - Not About Knitting

Impairment-Specific Prejudice
(Posts about those experiences specific to people with a particular condition (or type of condition).

Academia as an Extreme Sport: The good, the BADD and the invisable
Action for Autism: Disablism and Autism
And all that stash: Disablism
Angry for a Reason: Me, Bipolar?
Blogaway: Blogging Against Disablism - BADD?
BloggingMone: It was your choice, wasn't it?
Everything and Nothing at all: Straddling the line
The Family Room: May 1, Blogging Against Disablism Day.
ishouldbeworking: A Good Thing
Never that Easy: Blogging Against Disablism Day.
Rachel's Tavern: Invisable Disabilities
Reimer Reason: Syndrome Sydrome
Smiffy's Place: What about food?
Transabled: Two impacts of disability discrimination on BIID
Transabled: When does impairment become a disability?
Water Owl's Gratitude Journal: Are you are have you ever been insane? (Cross-posted at Silicon Valley Moms Blog)
What's that you said?: Blogging Against Disablism Day

Personal Journeys
(Posts about learning experiences and realisations authors have had about the nature of disability discrimination and the impact on their lives.)

and I should have learned my lesson the first twenty times... : The Search
Aw Diddums: Pigeon-Holing: Losing the Right to be an Individual
Ballastexistenz: How Early Do We Internalize Ableism?
The Beauty Offensive: From Where I'm Sitting.
Chewing the Fat: Blogging Agasint Disaphobia/ Disablism
Crip Chronicles: Disability Identity
Croneway: A Disabled Person's View of the Disabled
Humdrum: Disabled
It could be worse, you know: Life, a few years later
The Life and Times of Emma: Blogging Against Disablism Day.
Life, Interrupted: Blogging Against Disablism
Moving Right Along: The Disablist
Nickie's Nook: Painism or Pain and Ablism
Puglet Ponderings: I am
Ramblings: Your today is my yesterday
Ryn Tales Book of Days: My Two Sense
Sally's Life: BADD 2007
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