Disability on Television: Family Guy

The following excerpt is taken from an article that was published on August 27, 2010.

The National Down Syndrome Congress of the U.S. is taking Emmy organizers to task for nominating the song Down Syndrome Girl for an award for outstanding original music and lyrics.  The song was sung by Baby Stewie on the satirical animated show Family Guy in an episode broadcast in February.  There was outrage when the episode was shown, and Down syndrome advocates became more concerned after the song picked up still more viewers on YouTube. The Emmy nomination added to the insult.  “It goes through a litany of stereotypes that people with Down syndrome have been fighting for years, and so self-advocates stood up and said ‘we’ve had enough,’” Carol Bishop Mills, a member of the board of the National Down Syndrome Congress, said Friday in an interview with CBC’s Q cultural affairs show.

To read the rest of the story, go to the CBC site here or at this url: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/tv/story/2010/08/27/down-syndrome-girl-emmy.html

You can also listen to the relevant segment of the episode of Q referenced above right here or at


You can watch the video for Down Syndrome Girl immediately below

Next is a video that displays the lyrics fairly clearly: Continue reading

Brain Injury Dialogues

Received this from an email list I’m on and thought some might be interested.



Brain Injury Dialogues is an engaging documentary that  was written and co directed by me, a brain injury survivor of 18 years, and my friend, veteran filmmaker Lyell Davies, who is on the faculty of the City University of New York.

We have priced our documentary at $25, making it easily affordable for virtually any library, media center, or as an instructional aid.

Public performance rights are included with our price.

Brain Injury Dialogues reveals many invisible aspects of this hidden disability; viewers see the wide range of deficits that survivors must face, both physically and mentally, and learn how no two brain injuries are ever alike.

Continue reading

Woman with Male Chromosomes

Katie Baratz thought she was a typical teenage girl. Katie was born with XY chromosomes a condition called androgen insensitivity syndrome, or AIS.  This intersex condition is one of many that pushes the boundaries of “normal” sex categories.

In 1990, AIS was still called “testicular feminization,” a name I hate. It makes me sound like a failed man, not a woman at all. The belief since the 1950s was that if a woman knew she had this, she’d go crazy or become a lesbian. The doctor told my stunned parents that I could grow up normally, even adopt, but I shouldn’t know I had XY chromosomes or testes. My parents decided to tell me gradually.

Continue reading

Taking the Australian election seriously: Every Candidate is …

Well, perhaps only taking the Australian election as seriously as it deserves to be taken, but also, for my North American friends (both of them), taking the distinctiveness of Aussie culture seriously.  What other countries have a population that could, on the whole, not only head-nod but actively sing along to the chorus of the following segment from The Chasers most recent broadcast?

h/t Pamela Lyon

Call for Book Chapters from Young People with Disabilities: Disability in America: Voices of a New Generation

Call for Proposals: Disability in America: Voices of a New Generation

Ari Ne’eman and Stacey Milbern, Co-Editors

Deadline: January 15, 2011

This year, the disability community is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), civil rights law that protects the rights of disabled people. Growing up in a post-ADA America has meant that many of us have had access to more opportunities than previous generations. We know if we had been born in 1967 instead of 1987 our lives would look completely different. We know the history of our people is tainted by eugenics, ableism, lack of access and the sting of low expectations. We recognize the work that has been done by disability movements over the last century to make the current lives we live possible. We are proud to be members of this vibrant, breathing, community.

Although the struggle continues, we recognize that the realities of disabled people look vastly different in many ways. With this in mind, we are requesting proposals for chapters in a book-length anthology to document this legacy and record the stories of disabled young people talking about what it is to grow up with a disability in this day and age.

Part One of our anthology will attempt to explore how a new generation experiences these age old challenges, affording a chance to assess how far we have really come. Part Two of our anthology asks disabled young people to identify what our struggle looks like now.

We’re seeking a diversity of perspectives and topics. A few questions we pose as food for thought: Continue reading

Conference, “Community-Engaged Scholarship: Critical Junctures in Research, Practice and Policy”

The College of Social and Applied Human Sciences at the University of Guelph, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada are cosponsoring the conference, “Community-Engaged Scholarship: Critical Junctures in Research, Practice and Policy” on November 4-5 in Guelph, Ontario Canada. Abstracts for oral papers and poster presentations are due Sept 3. Details at http://criticaljunctures.ca

Community-engaged scholarship (CES) and community-academic partnerships are gaining momentum in higher education institutions. The Canadian tri-council funding bodies have moved aggressively towards increasing support for community-engaged research and knowledge mobilization efforts. Yet there is a well articulated disjuncture between calls for social relevance, knowledge translation and mobilization, community based research, service learning and engagement more broadly, and the resources, structures and tenure policies that continue in Canadian universities. This conference will surface and address important questions in this challenging arena by identifying current and critical research and practice.

The conference will convene national and international scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to present and discuss emerging research on community-engaged scholarship (CES) in higher education and its implications for research, practice and policy. Specifically, the conference will examine current research on faculty engagement, faculty development, promotion and tenure processes and institutional change strategies from Canada and abroad that facilitate CES.

Leading scholars in these areas will serve as presenters, moderators and discussants. The conference will identify gaps in knowledge, define challenges and develop strategies to foster new multi-disciplinary networks and research partnerships. While our emphasis is on the presentation of current research, we will mobilize the knowledge from the conference to facilitate change in policy and practice within university reward systems that are persistently raised as significant barriers to CES.

Confirmed speakers include:

   * Sherril Gelmon (Portland State University) on Setting the Stage: The Landscape of Community Engaged-Scholarship
   * Lynn Blanchard (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) on The Development of Community-Engaged Scholars
   * Barbara Holland (University of Sydney) on Structures and Policies that Support Community-Engaged Scholarship
   * Rhonda Lenton (York University) on Strategies for Institutional Change

For more information, please visit http://criticaljunctures.ca 

David Lee Hull and Mary Anne Warren

This week saw the death of two colleagues-at-a-distance whom I more than respected, not simply and coldly for their contributions to philosophy, but for the friendship and caring mentorship they each showed to me early in my career, as I know they did with others. I’ll keep this brief here, just giving some general pointers and two short memorial anecdotes I’ve already posted at other sites.

David Hull was the founding figure in the philosophy of biology.  John Wilkins has already got three posts up on him at Evolving Thoughts, David Hull is dead, David Hull’s Philosophy, and Ruse on Hull: A Memoir.  The last makes me cringe a little, but that’s probably because Michael Ruse often induces that effect, at least in me.  In response to the first, I said:

David was one of the three people I sent my first attempt in phil of biology to–the others were both people in the field whom I’d had some contact with before in other contexts. I was a third year assistant professor mainly working in phil of mind and cog sci at the time, and the paper was on John Dupre’s “promiscuous realism”. Like the others, David wrote back encouragingly and sympathetically. The welcoming response from David, especially since I was a complete stranger to him, marked an important contrast with the fluff and competitiveness of phil of mind at that time, and it made phil of biology a truly attractive option for me to pursue more seriously.  There are likely many other short anecdotes about David’s kindness and professional integrity, but this small one with a big effect for me is what comes to mind first. He will be missed all round.

I also admired David for his successful efforts to convince the Philosophy of Science Association to avoid holding its meetings in overtly homophobic states.

Mary Anne Warren was one of four philosophers who, in essence, put applied ethics on the philosophy map in the early 1970s.  Continue reading

O cursed spite/ That ever I was born to set it right!

I recently had a chance to listen to a question and answer session posted on the What Sorts blog. This Q&A session followed a lecture by Martin Tweedale about the removal of John MacEachran’s portrait from the conference room in the Department of Psychology. MacEachran was the first head of what was then the Department of Philosophy and Psychology and was later Provost of the University of Alberta. He was also a major proponent of sexual sterilization and was the Chairman of the Alberta Eugenics Board from the Board’s inception in 1928 up until he resigned in 1965. In the late 1990s, a portrait of MacEachran in the Department of Psychology conference room at the U of A was removed. In the words of Douglas Wahlsten, a psychology professor who instigated the motion to remove the portrait, “We decided to remove MacEachran’s name from our conference room because we felt that the questions raised about his conduct were inconsistent with the honours the university had previously bestowed on him.”

After listening to the exchange between Professor Griener and Professor Tweedale, I started thinking more closely about how we ought to address issues of historical injustice. I think one of the more challenging aspects of the debate is the idea that by removing the name of an important figure in history from an award we are guilty of a kind of moral self-righteousness. As William Graham wrote in a letter to the Folio in 1997, “Although most in society today would consider compulsory sterilization abhorrent, the view was apparently different a couple of generations ago.” By wiping away MacEachran’s name, we have bowed to current ideas of acceptability (or so the argument goes). Continue reading

On Being (a student) and (having enough) Time

There is a very funny and insightful Youtube cartoon video up by Seferin that covers terrain in philosophy that is not my own, but that raises some general issues that I’m very familiar with in graduate student education.  It doesn’t have regular captions, but some accessibility is made possible here via the automatic translation program that Youtube is still putting through it’s paces–more on this below if you want to check it out).  Here’s the video:

But MUCH funnier and insightful, and I think a minor work of genius, is Serefin’s recent follow up post:

Constructing this entirely from the comments on the first video is more than a nice touch.   To understand it, of course, you’ll have to read Heidegger’s Being and Time.  And who, really, has enough of either to do that … except a graduate student?

Direct access and captioning. Continue reading

Disability and dehumanization

Reader tdhssp sent in the following long comment, which probably should be its own post.  So, wala!  –raw

I believe this is an excellent article for readership. The page which follows below highlights the ignorance associated with disability and trials one faces in achieving sufficient medical care or respect from professionals in various humanities if one has a diversity. Persons with disability are often dehumanized; life devalued to the point that here in Alberta, a child with a chromosome duplication syndrome was referred to as, “IT” by an Alberta Justice solicitor, a young woman who obviously has neither insight, nor compassion towards differences. It is horrific to fathom that these are persons who are considered leaders of Justice in Canada.

Furthermore, a vast percentage of the population within the Child Welfare industry is comprised of children with disabilities. For some families, surrendering guardianship is promoted as the sole way to achieve medical supports, services and funding for medically or developmentally diverse needs. No loving family should ever be forced to relinquish custody in effort to access medical care! : (



Deadly Compassion

16 June 2010, Ottawa, ON—People with disabilities are not strangers to the fact that nondisabled people cannot imagine life with a disability. They tell us that they would rather be dead than living with a disability. This is because disability is equated with pain, suffering, and dependency. At times, this attitude translates into a deadly compassion, where it is seen as a kindness to help a person with a disability to die. As a result, people with disabilities are being harmed. On 16 June 2010, two Canadians with disabilities, Rhonda Wiebe and Jim Derksen, appeared before the House of Commons Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care on behalf of CCD to explain how deadly compassion puts us in harm’s way and to suggest how to improve the medical care and public policy environments, as both are affected by this insidious stereotype. Continue reading

Chromosome Disorder Outreach

Thanks to Velvet Martin for posting a link to the following video from CDO; her daughter Samantha features.  What do people think of the message here?  Community building around chromosomal disorder?  A humanization of the dehumanized who “look kinda funny”?  A tacit complicity with the medicalization of human variation (via the notion of “disorder”)?  All of the above?  Something else? Continue reading

Templeton Positive Neuroscience Awards

Apparently, I’m an “honorary distinguished senior advisor” to this project, where I assume that “honorary” means “unpaid”, “distinguished” is a typo, “dis” for “ex”, and “senior” means “old”.  The complete information on the award recipient projects may be of interest to some readers of the blog. Congratulations to Laurie Santos especially for her grant on the origins of altruism!

Positive Neuroscience, U of Penn

Positive Neuroscience / Psychology

Award-winning researchers to explore human flourishing
from neural networks to social networks

The Positive Psychology Center of the University of Pennsylvania and the John Templeton Foundation (www.templeton.org) have announced the recipients of the Templeton Positive Neuroscience Awards. The project will grant $2.9 million in award funding to 15 new research projects at the intersection of Neuroscience and Positive Psychology.

The winning projects will help us understand how the brain enables human flourishing. They explore a range of topics, from the biological bases of altruism to the effects of positive interventions on the brain.

The Positive Neuroscience Project (www.posneuroscience.org) was established in 2008 by Professor Martin E.P. Seligman, Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center, with a $5.8 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation. In 2009, the project announced the Templeton Positive Neuroscience Awards competition to bring the tools of neuroscience to bear on advances in Positive Psychology. Seligman founded the quickly-growing field of Positive Psychology in 1998 based on the simple yet radical notion that what is good in life is as worthy of scientific study as what is disabling in life.  Read the full press release from the PNP website.

Revolutionary Voices – a resource by & for queer and questioning youth of every color, class, religion, gender and ability


Access to information and information ethics need have revolutionary voices and here is an excellent reason why!