Never Mind the Bollocks: It’s Heavy Load!

The five members of heavy load raising a red flag (literally)

The five members of heavy load launching a red flag

Yesterday I saw the world premier of the brilliant documentary Heavy Load: A Film About Happiness at the Edmonton International Film Festival. It’s about the UK punkish band of the same name. They’re middle-aged punk rockers with a difference: the band started with the musical dreams of several individuals, each with some cognitive / learning impairment or other, to be in a band. Together with support staff Paul and Mick (guitars), Michael (drums and vocals), Simon (vocals) and Jim (guitar and vocals) formed Heavy Load over 10 years ago. The doc follows the band over about a 24 month period, culminating in their Stay Up Late Campaign last year, which highlighted a late night limitation of many of their audience members: Continue reading

Call for papers: On the impact of nanoscale science and technology on disability, community and rehabilitation.

Call for papers: On the impact of nanoscale science and technology on disability, community and rehabilitation.

For a special issue of the International Journal on Disability, Community & Rehabilitation (IJDCR) (http://www.ijdcr.ca/copyright.shtml)

Guest Editor: Gregor Wolbring, Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies Program, Dept of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary.

Invitation

Nanoscale science and technology, while still in its infancy, describes a rapidly growing sphere of enquiry, with many and varied implications for the disability field. To establish a ‘benchmark’ of the current state of knowledge and conceptual understanding, the Editors of IJDCR decided a special issue should be devoted to the topic. Background information and potential topics are presented below. Continue reading

Crimes against people with cerebral palsy

The recent murder conviction in the UK of Joanne Hill for drowning her 4-year-old daughter Naomi because she was ashamed of the girl who had mild cerebral palsy, raises questions about whether crimes against people with cerebral palsy are rare events or business as usual. An icad post summarizes a sample of some of the news about crime stories against children and adults with cerebral palsy that have been published during September 2008. Crimes range from bullying and harassment to sexual abuse and murder. Continue reading

Violations of the Human Rights of People with Albinism

This post (acknowledgements to Sandy Sufian and Penny L. Richards) includes a letter from Rick Guidotti of Positive Exposure, the link to a petition Guidotti will take to Tanzania, as well as a link to the NY Times article (June 2008) on these unspeakable crimes. 

___________________________________________________________________

We write to advise you of disturbing human rights violations against people with albinism in Tanzania that call out for action by the genetic community and ask for a few minutes of your time to make a difference.  Recent reports from Tanzania published by BBC News, New York Times and the Washington Post tell of the murders of persons with albinism, including children, on the orders of witchdoctors peddling the belief that potions made from the legs, hair, hands, and blood of people with albinism can make a person rich.

In mid-October, Positive Exposure’s Rick Guidotti (www.positiveexposure.org) will be traveling to Tanzania in partnership with Under the Same Sun (www.underthesamesun.com) to  collaborate with national and local government officials, authorities and interests groups to develop effective strategies to end these 
crimes against humanity.  Please sign the online petition which the team will present to the government of Tanzania. We need 10,000 signatures for this to be effective.  http://listserv.galists.org/t/345183/10873/81/0/?u=aHR0cDovL3d3dy51bmRlcnRoZXNhbWVzdW4uY29tL3BldGl0aW9ucy5waHA%3d&x=dde07514

This petition will also let the albinism community in Tanzania know that they are NOT ALONE and that many throughout the world are standing with them in defense of their fundamental human right to safety, security and freedom.

Positive Exposure is a non-profit organization that challenges stigma associated with difference by celebrating the richness and beauty of human diversity. 

Here is the link to the NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/08/world/africa/08albino.html

“Let’s Talk About It”: Contemporary Eugenics for Louisiana and the Problem of Intergenerational Welfare

Famous picture of The Kallikaks

Famous picture of The Kallikaks

Republican state representative  John Labruzzo has recently suggested a sterilization program in Louisiana to solve the problem of “intergenerational welfare”. Labruzzo’s proposal derived from a “brain-storming session” (which makes me kinda wonder what sort of brains were involved). Labruzzo represents himself as prepared to go–on the bold ideas for the 21st-century front–where no man has gone. Readers of this blog, however, will know that the idea is all too familiar in the history of eugenics. The core proposal was to pay (say) women who are deemed to be in a situation of “intergenerational welfare” $1000 to undergo tubal ligation.

I don’t know whether Labruzzo has also had the bold idea of making this compulsory, or working actively in ways to make the economic plight of such women even worse than it is now so that they would be more likely to accept such a “voluntary” program of sterilization. Both might be ideas that Representative Labruzzo’s brain-storming team missed, but both would be natural extensions of the eugenics program he is just kinda throwing out there for people to consider. The proposal derived, it seems, in part from Labruzzo’s reflections on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the more recent hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico.

I wish I were making this up (as can sometimes happen …). But I’m not.

What do New Orleans, or Louisianers, or Americans more generally, think of this, one wonders? Some vids and other links on this beneath the fold, where you can see Labruzzo in action defending the idea and a few ways in which it has been picked up in the media already. Continue reading

The Criminal Brain

Cover of Rafter's The Criminal Brain showing two head shots

Cover of Rafter's The Criminal Mind showing two head shots

Criminologist / sociologist Nicole Rafter has a new book out, The Criminal Brain: Understanding Biological Theories of Crime, with NYU Press. The flyer here will give you a spanking 20% off, and I’d be happy to send it to anyone who needs one. Rafter has written extensively on crime, science, film, and, most relevant for me and many readers of this block, on the history of eugenics. Her White Trash: The Eugenic Family Studies: 1877 – 1919, which is surprisingly hard to get now (our library, with over 5 million volumes, doesn’t have it …) collects the now classic “white trash studies”, starting with Dugdale’s “The Jukes”, which provided the core of the scientific basis for eugenic sterilization policies in North America, including here in Alberta. You can get heaps more information about Rafter from her website. And for a special 20% discount … Continue reading

Families and Memory — Free Public Symposium

.
A Free Public Symposium on Eugenics and Family Life:
Past, Present & Future
.

Friday, October 24, 2008, 8:30 am – 4:00pm
Edmonton Public Library, Stanley Milner Branch (Downtown)

This FREE PUBLIC SYMPOSIUM will centre on the stories and experiences of survivors of sterilization, institutionalization, and other aspects of our social structure that have excluded persons with real or perceived disabilities from family life

Planning on attending? Enrollment is limited! Please tell us!

Visit http://www.whatsorts.net and register today
(Register Here)

Get more details on the day beneath the fold.

Continue reading

The War in Iraq: an Australian perspective

Although it is not the habit of this blog to be “overly political” (heavens forbid!), with all the election fever that is sweeping both Canada and the US, my Australian sensibilities have led me to think that readers would appreciate a uniquely antipodean interview with the Australian Minister of Defence, Dr. Brendan Nelson on no less important a topic for our future than the war in Iraq.

The video, which shows Australian Minister of Defence Brendan Nelson interviewed on the respected ABC network (not to be confused with the acronymically identical ratbag US network), is not captioned, nor translated from Australianese into North Americanese. But still, it shows our leaders at their best. Beware: what follows is a bit of a lollyscramble!

For those who want a transcript of the video, click here. (By the way, we are working on making use of the new YouTube facility for captioning, but it’s still more than a few clicks away for videos that we don’t ourselves own. We hope to bring some nice results from that change shortly.)

Victims of Violence with Autism

Recent murders, violence, and abuse of children and adults with autism or Asperger syndrome are an incredibly disturbing trend. The following cases are only a sample of the many cases reported within the last month:

19 September 2008 – Margate, FL, USA NBC6 News reports that two men were arrested in connection with a sexual assault of “an autistic girl.” Continue reading

Posts on Cognitive Disability: A Challenge to Moral Philosophy

If anyone has any reactions to talks they’ve heard at the Cognitive Disability conference in NYC sponsored by SUNY Stony Brook and run by Eva Kittay and Licia Carlson that has just finished, please post away, either as a comment here (anyone) or in your own post (if you’re a What Sorts blogger). Kristina’s link to her Autism Vox post on Ian Hacking’s talk is a start.

Rangel takes heat for ‘disabled’ comment

now again more than questionable use of language
Interviewed by New York television station WCBS Friday evening, the powerful New York congressman was asked why Democrats appear “afraid” of Palin. “You got to be kind to the disabled,” Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, responded in an answer the reporter interviewing him later called “astonishing.”

and
Shortly after the interview aired Friday night, Rangel issued a statement say his words were “misinterpreted.”

“Sometimes in the heat of a political campaign you choose words that can be misinterpreted,” he said. “Governor Palin is an obviously healthy person who in no way fits the description of disabled. I meant to say then, and I am saying now, that she entered the campaign with a disadvantage in the area of foreign policy.”

read here
My question: what fits the description of disabled? the deficient unable to be a president….?

About How We Talk About Autism

I was able to make it into New York last night and hear philosopher Ian Hacking give his keynote speech on How We Talk About Autism, for the Stony Brook University conference on Cognitive Disability: A Challenge to Moral Philosophy. Some reflections on Professor Hacking’s lecture are here—-the lecture has kind of “jump-started” my thinking for my book on language and neurodiversity.

SHAMELESS: The ART of Disability

For those in the NYC area:

The Council for the Study of Disability invites you to a

Screening and Discussion of the award winning documentary

SHAMELESS:

The ART of Disability. This humorous, passionate film tracks artists with diverse disabilities as they create and present self-representations that transform stereotypes and reveal the complexities and richness of their lives. Discussion with filmmaker, Bonnie Klein and George Stoney.

For more information: http://www.nyu.edu/disability.council/.

ACTUP Oral History Project

 

silence = death

silence = death

This week we had a real treat in Edmonton in having Sarah Schulman from the ACTUP Oral History Project around for the week. ACTUP–the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power–was the leading activist organization in the US formed to fight on behalf of those with a then-mysterious “gay disease” in the early 1980s that came to be known as AIDS. The Oral History Project has been underway for over five years, and is centred on almost 100 video interviews, one with each living member of ACTUP, New York. The interviews, which run up to 4 hours, can be accessed via the OHP website. There you can view about 5 minutes of streaming video of the 70 or so interviews that have been posted there, and download FULL transcripts of all of these in pdf. Continue reading

Salon article: The “retarded” renaissance

By Lynn Harris (ST: with acknowledgement to be given to Lawrence Carter-Long)

“Never go full retard” was the catchphrase of the summer. Activist groups aren’t laughing. Should you be?

News     

Image of Ben Stiller playing “a retard” from a past Dreamworks marketing site.  patriciaebauer.com

Sept. 18, 2008 | When I was in fourth grade, someone you liked was a “good kid.” Someone you didn’t like was a “retard.” (Or, in the colorful patois of my native Boston, a “wicked retahd.” That, or this withering shorthand: “a wicked re.”) We did not use the term for the special-needs kids. They were “the special-needs kids.”

Basically, we used the word to describe any annoying person (or rule or homework assignment). There was also the timeless “loser,” of course, and the more ephemeral “dink” — “douche bag,” for its part, came later — but “retard,” and “retarded,” with all their variations, packed the most playground punch. And today, pop culture and the Twitterati, tirelessly mining those formative years for irony pay dirt, have spurred — for descriptive better or for derogatory worse, depending on whom you ask — a “retard” renaissance. Continue reading

NY Times article: US Congress Passes Bill With Protections for Disabled Americans

Published: September 17, 2008

WASHINGTON — Congress gave final approval on Wednesday to a major civil rights bill, expanding protections for people with disabilities and overturning several recent Supreme Court decisions.  The voice vote in the House, following Senate passage by unanimous consent last week, clears the bill for President Bush.  The White House said Mr. Bush would sign the bill, just as his father signed the original Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990.  The bill expands the definition of disability and makes it easier for workers to prove discrimination. It explicitly rejects the strict standards used by the Supreme Court to determine who is disabled. 

Read the full story here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/18/washington/18rights.html?th&emc=th

Podcast about the ‘trials’ of courtroom interpreters

How should the courtroom interpreter interpret their own role in the courtroom? And what discrepencies exist in understandings of this role, between defence and prosecution lawyers, judges, defendants, and the interpreters themselves?

This comprehensive and interesting Australian Radio National podcast may interest readers of the ‘what sorts’ blog, especially with respect to the interests of access to justice and the ability to be fully linguistically present at one’s own trial. Continue reading

Three Cheers for Granta!

Cover of Granta 102, The New Nature Writing, showing a person in a semi-cleared field

Cover of Granta 102, The New Nature Writing, showing a person in a semi-cleared field

I am a long-time Granta subscriber, and it remains one of the most informative and fun things I read on a regular basis. For those not in the know, Granta is “the magazine of new writing”, published out of the UK, and it published issues 100-102 under the new editorship of Jason Crowley this year. It includes fiction and poetry, but also essays, autobiography, photo essays, and other forms of writing. Two things about it that might be of interest to readers of this blog.

The first is that under Crowley’s short-lived editorship (he has now moved on, or perhaps back, to The New Statesman), Granta now has a significant online component, much of which is free. You can go there and check out interviews with authors, weekly updates on relevant stories, recent events, and much more. Some of this complements the printed version, but much of it is free-standing and so of use to those who don’t subscribe to or otherwise read Granta. Two on-line items worth checking out are Continue reading