On a similar theme, this article about poster children and depictions of people with disabilities, which outlines the trouble with some approaches to charity fund raising, which I touched on in the comment re-posted below.
At least one former poster-child when on to protest the MDA telethon (there's a documentary about it) and I'm feeling like doing the same thing, given some of Jerry Lewis' ablist comments.
Edit: Here's something marginally relevant to these posts about ablism (about a very disturbing argument made by Peter Singer).
On a related note, here's a great post I randomly found at the blog "Planet of the Blind"--a beautiful and insightful read. And in the spirit of looking at the positive in all this ablist bullshit, check out this video on disabled pride.
Here's the comment I replied to and my response:
So should doctors stop trying to find a cure for disabilities because that implies it's better not to have the disability? it's not like they're trying to make a pill to *make* you blind, because being blind is so awesome and empowering, right? They only want to cure it. That's so ableist.
If you consider Jerry Lewis and the MDA (muscular dystrophy association) telethon, for example, it becomes evident why there are issues with this.
They portray kids with muscular dystrophy (nevermind that folks like me, going on 28, have it too) as though they have a fate worse than death. They do this to raise money for a CURE! Because obviously the most important thing is a cure, because look at how terrible and hellish these kids' lives are! Jerry's an awful great guy to help us wretched cripples out (note my sarcasm--Jerry Lewis has made some pretty disgustingly ablist comments).
Certainly it's sad that many people barely get through adolescence with the severe forms of MD, but touting this single narrative makes it seem like MD must make everyone's life not worth living, or a living hell. It makes us sound monolithic and tragic, which is part of the problem with how our society views disability.
Let me add that the MDA does not focus 100% of their resources on a cure--only a lot of them--and they do some other good things like helping with treatment and doctor visits (btw, the notices they send to *us* don't ignore that there are adults with MD).
I think my point is, there are things to improve people lives *besides* curing every disability that it would be nice if people would feel as willing to fund to help people now--access for people with disabilities, adaptive equipment, etc. Instead, people get angry about these things, for example, when having to wait for wheelchair users to get on the bus and then move seats.
Anyway, to focus solely on a cure at the expense of people who have the disability *now* is part of the problem. The thing about cures is, if people *want* to be cured, that's great to work on curing their ailment! It's the removal of agency, "you will be cured", with a side of "so you can stop dragging everyone else down" that is really offensive. Using "lame" to convey badness is just moldy sprinkles on the rotten cake that is ablism.
So the point isn't that disabilities are all OK just how they are (that's a personal issue, and at the very least most of us do require adaptive solutions to cope with the difficulties they present). The point is that there are already disabled people here, cures and treatments in many cases may be a long way off, and the lives of people who are here are also important and deserving of respect as full human beings, not just inspiration or a word you can rely on to convey that something is "bad", because, you know, being lame, etc is the worst thing ever.