Dear Cripples of the World: What the fuck is your problem?
Some would say the recent emergence of the Angry Cripple on The Punch, and my employer RampUp have opened up the debate on the disability sector. But they have actually made things worse. Rather than empowering the sector, debates have turned insidious, nasty and unhelpful. Furthermore, they have generated ignorant public discourse, which reverses the progressive leaps the sector has made in recent times.
Today’s piece care of the Angry Cripple, by an (yet another) anonymous crip echoes many of my own sentiments. It is realistic, pragmatic and speaks to many truths. Yet take a trip down to comments and you’ll find comments about inspirational crips who people know that are bright, cheerful and never ever, ever complain! Why can’t we all be like that? It is like a homophobe saying although they find gay sex repulsive, they are okay with it because they know a lesbian. The vitriol spewed fourth in the comments is reprehensible. It says a lot about this country that the most mainstream debate about disability in this country is owned by Uncle Rupert, which has commenters who suggest that their 'tax dollars' should not be given to those crips who are not bright, cheerful and thankful for what (little) they have. ‘Try a few days wiping people’s bums’, Simon the ever so insightful commenter says. This does not even deserve to be dignified with a response. Commenters have also directed venom at said author and suggested that they require professional help because they dare to be negative. This echoes comments expressed at my article on The Punch which advised me that I was subjected to child abuse by my parents because my views weren’t mainstream enough.
So what are the problems here?
The first is that the commentary on the disability sector is far too insular making discussions about disability almost pointless. Despite RampUp being hosted by our national broadcaster, it has only acted as a bigger cauldron to have the same tired debates. The same people comment and the same people write. New audiences aren’t contributing or reading. I’m sick of politicians spewing forth press releases disguised as opinion, I’m sick of ‘my experience' articles. And I’m sick of the same tired issues being debated over and over again. RampUp needs new audiences of people who know fuck all about disability to get educated and informed so there are less of the comments above. It doesn’t need me as a reader. I already know what needs to be done.
Second, the Angry Cripple is a blight on the discussions concerning the sector, If they were really interested in promoting discussion they would reveal themselves or simply stop. It did not help that today the Angry Cripple chose to juxtapose the plight of crips and carers in an adversarial manner. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that a column that is supposed to represent the unrepresented has had the egotistical zealot Sue O’Riley write her horseshit on three separate occasions when thousands of others with thousands of other disabilities (or caring experiences) have not had an opportunity to do so.
Third, the series of debates concerning the disability sector are framed in this adversarial manner, which is controlled by petty individuals and pointless policies. This in turn generates the ill informed debate, best represented by the Angry Cripple Columns. Has there been genuine debate over an NDIS? No, we are just told that we’re stuck with it because the appropriate channels for proper debate have not yet been constructed. We have not yet had an intelligent debate in this country about anything to do with disability. And it shows.
Disability policy is intellectual karma: we generate shit and it comes back to us ten fold.