WTF WFC?

Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:31 am
davidgillon: Illo of Oracle in her manual chair in long white dress with short red hair and glasses (wheelchair)

A wee bit of a twitter firestorm broke out earlier when the World Fantasy Con panels were posted and one of them was called "Spicy Oriental Zeppelins" Apparently the title was based on a 'joke' that had only every been made by the WFC Head of Programming, Darrell Schweitzer, and he'd been repeatedly warned it wasn't funny in advance.

With just about every SFF author on twitter going WTF WTC? that was quickly changed to "Outrageous Aviation Stories, Flying Pulp Oddities."

What got a lot less attention, and has been more subtly changed was another panel:

"7. Freaks, Sideshows, and Human Oddities. From “Hopfrog” to Freaks to Geek Love. Is this the last taboo, the final frontier of bad taste, or something (perversely?) alluring even yet?"

Which became

7. Freaks, Sideshows, and Human Oddities. From “Hopfrog” to Freaks to Geek Love. Is this the last taboo, the final frontier of bad taste, or a persistent archetype in literature?

Schweitzer had been warned in advance about this one as well, and specifically that it was ableist. I'm glad to see it has been changed, but I still think it's deeply problematic and I'm horrified something so negatively objectifying about disabled people ever made it out as a formally released program item.

And it's not as if this is the first issue WFC has had with disability in the last year. WFC 2015 had major access fails, never mind they had a disabled guest who had talked to them about her access needs, and then earlier this year WFC 2016 instituted a significant price rise despite disabled people telling them they couldn't book until they had published their disability access policy. The price rise had no sooner gone into effect than they published their access policy, which looked to have been written in five minutes on the proverbial back of a fag packet. I got the distinct feeling that was sheer spite.

ETA : File 770's on the story:  Outrage Greets 2016 World Fantasy Con Program
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

It's Blogging Against Disablism Day and all the blogs can be found at the index page.

I was struggling for a topic until [personal profile] kaberett 's post here got me thinking about all the microaggressions around wheelchair use and especially the meme that it represents 'giving up'. That led to thinking about my experiences of the past year, and so here we are:

On 'Giving Up'.

 

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
Wow. I said as soon as I heard about it that the plan at Mount St Mary's, a Catholic US university, to push out 25 or so of their 1st years who were having difficulty settling (or as their ex-Wall Street President described it, shooting the bunnies) was going to specifically disadvantage disabled students, but it gets worse. The survey they were asked to fill out, and which they were specifically told had no wrong answers, includes a section of questions lifted wholesale from the CES-D depression questionaire, and an outright Do you have a learning disability?

Mount St. Mary’s Ableist Plan To Push Out Vulnerable Students

The disabilty questions can be seen here,

I'd also note that I've filled out the CES-D questionaire as part of my chronic pain treatment, so it's not necessarily just students with MH issues and learning disabilities who could be caught up by it.

And I'm pretty horrified to hear there's a religious exclusion in ADA, so it's a 1973 Act it's likely in breach of.


davidgillon: Dina Meyer as Oracle, sitting a manual chair in front of a clock face (Wheelchair)

I've finally written my second blog in response to SF Signal/Amy Sterling-Casil's "We Are All Disabled" (aka the utter car-crash).

SF/F and the Politics of Disability

TLDR: Disability exists within a political context Sterling-Casil couldn't be bothered to research

Trigger warnings for discussions of Ableism/Disablism and Aktion T4.

davidgillon: Text: You can take a heroic last stand against the forces of darkness. Or you can not die. It's entirely up to you" (Heroic Last Stand)

Amy Sterling Casil has responded to the criticism of her "We are all disabled" post at SF Signal, with an 'apology' on her own blog.

I put 'apology' in inverted commas, because rather than simply saying "I'm Sorry, I Fucked Up", she spends 2300 words explaining how we all misunderstood her (while explaining she meant exactly what she said), and people are being nasty and horrible and disablist* to her for not accepting empathy is totally a disability, and the people being nasty are no different to the guy who raped her or the one who accused her of killing her child when they died in an accident.

She throws a PTSD diagnosis into the ring most of the way through, and I'm not sure if what I'm reading is some sort of  PTSD hypervigilance reaction, or just utter narcissism.

It's bad enough in what it does say about disability I think I need to reply, but Is it just me? Am I reading it wrong?

Dear Individuals on the ASD Spectrum and Others: I am Sorry



* I've found five blog responses to "We Are All Disabled" so far, four are by people who are either disabled, couid legitimately claim to be disabled, but don't, or who have disabled family members (and the other says 'I have more sense than to shoot my mouth off about stuff I don't know'). Several of those posts, including mine, do say empathy is not a disability, but then go on to say she may well be disabled in some more conventional manner and just expressing it in a particularly weird way.
 

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
I noticed a tweet flashing past last night indicating activist and fan Elsa Henry (@snarkbat) was seriously pissed off with something. So I went to check what, and found it was a new post on SF Signal, the SF/F news/magazine site. It was in their 'Special Needs in Strange Worlds' column (a title I loathe) and it was the most utterly bizarre and offensive post I've seen in a long time.

Content warnings for: cure narratives, erasure, offensive stereotyping (especially of autism) magical crips, locking the crip in the attic, and generally being utterly 'special' about us. )
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
Oh, *Headdesk* *Headdesk* *Headdesk*

Iain Duncan Smith tells disabled people to work their way out of poverty

And what about those of us who can't actually work?

I think the tone of that says we can be pretty sure there's a new round of demonisation of disabled people as scroungers incoming.
davidgillon: Text: I really don't think you should put your hand inside the manticore, you don't know where it's been. (Don't put your hand inside the manticore)
Someone wrote a really good piece for a Conservative Christian forum explaining why disabled people find the election result threatening and appealing for the readers to look at the situation from our viewpoint and with Christian understanding. The replies were appalling, some of the worst self-righteous disablism I've ever seen (one of the reasons I was really depressed early in the week). Several disability activitists, including me, replied to some of the worst of them. After several exchanges one of  them has just told me "The image of God that man was created in has been distorted by the evil one since the Fall and that is why people have disabilities. The gospel is explicit about that."

Headdesk.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
Blogging Against Disablism Day 2015 is coming up on the 1st, and I'll be taking part as usual (cholesystectomy allowing!), it usually ends up as a fascinating collection of disability writing from around the (mostly English-Speaking) World.

I'm planning to look at the outright disablism featuring in two of the major parties' electoral campaigns (shouldn't be difficult to guess which two parties....)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Crutches)

Invisible illness - 'I'm fed up of having to perform my disability'


This one really nails the point: non-disabled society expects us to behave in a specific way, and if we don't, then will take that as full justification to abuse us. Thematically very similar to the s e smith article I saw at the start of the month.

(And really good to see pieces like this appearing on Mumsnet, which used to be a really nest of nasty comments from mums with buggys about wheelchair users taking up 'their' spaces on the bus).

davidgillon: Text: You can take a heroic last stand against the forces of darkness. Or you can not die. It's entirely up to you" (Heroic Last Stand)
Just realised that Sunday was six years to the day from being forced kicking and screaming* out of the doors at Evil Aerospace Inc. Wow, that seems like a lot. And yet in someways it really doesn't. 

I'm not happy my career ended that way, it robbed the good parts of it of something they can never get back.

I'm glad I fought, it was something I needed to do, and I'm a better person for it.

Fighting for my needs also made me better at fighting for the needs of others.

I'm still so disappointed in some of the people who were in my management chain. Some of them were clearly arseholes, and the most problematic of all was open in his disablism (unless we were on record), but some of these people had a history of fighting for other minorities. What happened to them? When did doing what was right take second place to covering the back of an open disablist? To denying evidence that was clear for anyone to see? To holding opinions that were outright illogical ('we don't believe you're disabled, but you'd better have my executive chair because I know your back is so bad you won't get through the meeting without it')?

On the other hand, I'd probably have needed to stop working relatively soon after that, and I'm not certain I'd have been able to do that on my own, so maybe a tiny hint of utterly unintended usefulness in there.

* I actually went quietly on the day, having put the day off for longer than anyone believed possible, then turned the union's lawyers on them ;)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Crutches 1)
Apologies to anyone trying to read this, LJ seems to be wiping out my formatting, normal service will be restored when I figure out what is happening. ================================================================================ LatentExistence wrote a piece yesterday for Where’s The Benefit, entitled Godwin’s Law Must Die, discussing how people’s horror at Nazism actually gets in the way when 1930s Germany really is the only historical parallel for the situation you are experiencing. It had slipped my mind what today is the anniversary of until I was reminded by someone else’s tweet, but it is an anniversary that brings that post by LatentExistence into sharp focus and reminds me of the things we must never allow ourselves to forget, whether disabled people or not. Today is September 1st. Although in Britain we usually remember the start of WWII as the 3rd of September, based on our own declaration of war in support of Poland, it was on the 1st that Germany executed Fall Weiss, the invasion of Poland, having used commandos the night before to manufacture an incident of ‘Polish’ provocation. Attacked from three sides - Slovakia invaded with Germany, while Russia stabbed Poland in the back on the 17th - organised Polish resistance soon collapsed, although many Poles slipped away, coming to Britain and France to continue the fight. The end of organised resistance did not bring an end to the killing, it just provided freedom for the massacres and the men of Einsatzkommando 16 moved through the mental hospitals of Western Poland, slaughtering the disabled patients: 7,000 at Gdansk, 10,000 at Gdynia, and hundreds at Poznan in the first example of mass gassing, a process Himmler came to see in December of 1939. The organised extermination of disabled mental patients then spread back into Germany itself, clearing the hospitals of the ‘useless’ to free them for war-wounded: 1,400 in Pomerania, 1,600 in East Prussia, 8,000 of their own people in this wave, killed for the crime of being disabled. The organised killing of disabled Germans had actually started before this, with children. Part of Nazi Party ideology, a creed which in some cases literally became a religion, was a fetishising of racial purity, the cult of the inherent superiority of the blue-eyed, blonde-haired Aryan German, destined to rule over the untermensch, eugenics taken to its ultimate conclusion. That some Germans might be less than ‘perfect’, might actually be disabled, was problematic for the Nazi party’s racial purity zealots, and in the confrontational politics of 1930s Germany problems were simply something to actively pour your hatred onto. They took the passive concept of racial purity and developed it into the active concept of racial hygiene, planning to purge the German Volk of undesirable elements, such as people with disabilities. Eugenics run rampant wasn’t actually unique to Germany at that time, both the US and Sweden had programmes for sterilizing those with disabilities considered inheritable or who were judged to show anti-social behaviour, but Germany turned to sterilization with all its national fervour for efficiency and in June 1933, almost as soon as the Nazis were in power, passed the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, which mandated sterilization for disabilities such as epilepsy and ‘social deviances’ such as alcoholism. Hereditary Health Courts (Erbgesundheitsgerichte), conducted a witchhunt through the German mental hospitals, asylums and other institutions, choosing those to be sterilized, a number estimated to have run to 360,000 Germans by 1939. Perhaps the only reason the programme did not progress to physical disabilities was that the senior Nazi Joseph Goebbels had a club foot. And all the while the Nazi propaganda machine was churning out films and posters intended to portray disabled people as a drain on the state and worthy only of euthanasia. In 1939 Hitler asked Brandt, his personal physician, and Bouhler, head of his chancellery, to look into the case of a disabled baby, Gerhard Kretschmar, whose parents wanted him killed – the father’s letter to Hitler apparently referred to his son as ‘this monster’. In July 1939 the killing was carried out and Brandt was instructed by Hitler to proceed on the same basis in other cases, leading to the systematic classification of disabled German children by the Committee for the Scientific Treatment of Severe, Genetically Determined Illness authorised on 18th August 1939, with doctors and midwives required to report all births of disabled children and preparatory measures being made to extend the process to adults. With the outbreak of war the need to proceed cautiously diminished and in October 1939, Hitler issued the Euthanasia Decree, bypassing the Health Ministry in favour of Brandt and Bouhler, his own men: Reich Leader Bouhler and Dr. Brandt are charged with the responsibility for expanding the authority of physicians, to be designated by name, to the end that patients considered incurable according to the best available human judgment of their state of health, can be granted a mercy death. And so Aktion T4 was born, a programme that ultimately killed over 200,000 disabled Germans and started a full two years ahead of the Wannsee Conference and the decision on the extermination the Jews. But the killing had already started, and so Hitler backdated the decree to ‘legalise’ the actions that had already taken place. The date he chose was September 1st, 1939, a day of infamy.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
I came a little late to this week's eruption of the News International scandal, I was too uncomfortable to sleep on Monday night, which spilled over into general crapness Tuesday and Wednesday and it was Thursday before I was well enough to really get caught up with what was going on, and I'll be totally frank that once I did my grin just kept getting broader.

None of us can be happy with the degree of corruption that has been exposed, or the evidence that the political establishment, the police and the rest of the press, with the honourable exception of the Guardian, have run scared of News International for pretty much 40 years. Nor can we draw comfort from the attitudes betrayed by the hacks and executives being put in front of the harsh glare of the cameras for once. There's something very wrong with the profession when prominent hacks can appear on the leading political and news shows, defending hacking grieving parents, even hacking missing murdered teens to the detriment of the murder investigation, and see nothing wrong with their attitudes. Possibly more worrying is when a political leader as prominent as Ed Miliband is threatened by a nameless News International executive for daring to suggest that a more senior executive should be held to account for all the sins that happened on her watch, or when the executive editor of The Times launches a rabidly contemptuous attack on Mumsnet, blaming them for the closure of the News of The World, rather than the journalists who were responsible for the hacking and corruption, or the executives who at best sat by while they did it, at worst actually colluded in it, and who ultimately threw the New of the World hacks to the wolves in the hope of saving their dash for the prize of complete ownership of BSkyB and the domination of British media it will bring them. I guess for once the public have seen the real, contemptuous, attitude of the hacks towards the rest of the world.

Unfortunately the reality of how contemptuously the hacks view the public isn't a revelation for those of us who are disabled. For the past several years the tabloids have been calculatingly drawing a picture of disabled people as systematic fakers and fraudsters, a justified target for public anger, and that anger has manifested itself on the street with many disabled people, including me, being harassed by complete strangers simply for the 'sin' of daring to be disabled in public, harassment that is leaving many scared to leave their houses. The campaign of vilification might have started with the politicos (and 'might' is an increasingly interesting word as we realise just how deeply the Murdochs has sunk their manipulative claws into the heart of the British establishment), but the tabloid hacks were their willing bullyboys in seeking to demonize and victimize a minority who had done nothing other than have the misfortune to be disabled in a frequently disablist society. So when the News of the World editor complains that he and his current employees are the innocent victims of this affair, forgive me for feeling more than a little bit of schadenfreude*, and viewing him with increased contempt, not sympathy, The current generation of hacks have been actively and consciously disabilist, whipping up hatred against us, because they know latent jealousy and ignorance about disability benefits mean the public can be easily manipulated into a frothing lynch mob, eager for yet more tales of disabled people daring to be too sick to work,. or to sacrifice their mobility allowance for a decent car that's actually big enough to hold a wheelchair. If the sin they are being sacrificed for might not be their own, then in no way should we assume that they are innocent of any crime, or worthy of our sympathy. They have spent years savaging disabled people who can't find jobs in our openly disablist employment regime and if they now face hunting for jobs themselves, then that's just the karma coming home to roost.

There are rumours that the corruption extends far further, into other tabloids from other stables, perhaps even into the broadsheets, and my schadenfreude hopes that that is the case, because after the way disabled people have been hounded by these rags there's only one thing you can call one closed tabloid -- a start.

* Schadenfreude - joy in the discomfiture of others.  
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
 
I was quoted in the Observer (the Sunday edition of the Guardian), in two different versions(?!) of the same article, here and here. I like the first better because it preserves my line "I feel more under threat of violence than for years due to the 'jihad' waged against us by the government.", the second version, presumably the one in the print edition, had the last half chopped off :(

Unfortunately the journalist made a complete hash of explaining disability benefits, when confusing people about them is a big part of the government strategy the article is attacking - d'oh!

Disability Living Allowance - covers extra costs of disability whether in work, out of work, or still a child. Not an out-of-work benefit, despite what the Observer says, that's precisely the confusion the government are trying to create as people then see someone working and getting benefit and presume they're a fraud. The government policy also taps into the widespread jealousy over the Motability scheme, which is linked with DLA and widely misunderstood to consist of the government giving free cars to disabled people, whereas at a minimum they're paying £40+/week. I don't get this - though I've had close colleagues assume my car was free - I wish!

Incapacity Benefit - the old benefit for people unable to work due to disability, closed to new applicants in 2008. The government are busy mis-managing the migration of IB recipients to its replacement. I don't get this either.

Employment and Support Allowance - the new benefit for people unable to work due to disability, with much harsher acceptance criteria -- the widely hated WCA. I do get this, but it's the only one the Observer didn't mention at all!

Being targeted for discrimination by your own government is a hell of a way to get your 15 seconds of fame!
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Crutches 1)
Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2011

 

It’s Blogging Against Disablism Day, a day for writers to turn their skills against the disablism that makes living with disability so much more difficult than necessary. I’ve already written a piece for Where’s The Benefit, but my conclusions there started me thinking.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, felt able last week to launch a hate-filled attack on disabled benefit claimants whose disabilities happen to make them subject to addiction or obesity. Never mind it would be disability related harassment under the Equality Act if addressed to an individual (and I would like to see the case for generic harassment addressed in court – I certainly felt attacked and threatened, no matter my disability being something else entirely), never mind that it was in clear breach of Articles 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13, 16, 19, 22, 27 and 28 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, never mind that it is certain to exacerbate the already worrying rise in disability benefit related hate crime (‘he’s disabled, he must be on benefit, he must be faking his disability, get him!’ – logic isn’t the bigot’s strong point), there he was on national news, confidently spouting his bile with that arrogant smile of his, saying how he was sure that the little man would agree with him.

The attack, and the sycophantic repetition in the press, stretching even onto the BBC,  drew plenty of condemnation from disability groups and individuals -  we had three different responses on WTB alone, but the best Labour could manage as the flagship party of Opposition was Stephen Timms, the Shadow Employment Secretary, wetly agreeing with him. That is, unfortunately, not too surprising, there has been a deafening silence from Labour over the onslaught on disability benefits and the demonization of disabled people as benefit frauds, possibly because those attacks started under our last, Labour, government, and possibly because all the new ideas and policies, even the ludicrous ‘imaginary wheelchair*’ are ones that were planned while Labour were in government. So the Government are confident that there is nothing to be lost in demonizing disabled people, the Opposition were confident that there was nothing to be lost in demonizing disabled people, and the right-wing press are absolutely overjoyed to have a new minority group they are positively encouraged to torment now that the Moslem thing is growing old.

The politicians don’t think it will lose them votes, the press don’t think it will lose them sales, the only conclusion you can draw is that open disablism has become socially acceptable, that it is so widespread in our society that the people who will take offence can simply be discounted. And that is why I think that there is something very wrong with contemporary British society.

 

* The ‘imaginary wheelchair’ is a proposed new tool for assessing mobility disability: if you are a person with a mobility disability and an assessor decides, potentially in direct contradiction to the opinion of your specialists, that using a manual wheelchair (and whether you have or can afford one or not -- hence 'imaginary') you could self-propel for 50m, then you won’t be eligible for mobility benefits, one of which is the disabled parking 'blue badge' that a wheelchair user would need to actually get into town in the first place - logic really isn't the strong point here. 
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
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Self-defence, certainly.

The last time was the yob who decided to attack me for Walking While Disabled. Unfortunately for him, whispering into his mate's ear while giving me calculating looks wasn't exactly the subtlest plan ever. I let him grab me, used that for added impetus and hit him straight in the ribs with my crutch. At that point he decided discretion was the better part of bigotry.

Regrets? Not remotely.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
I've just spell-checked a comment in which I was talking about how society is in denial about disablism -- discrimination on the grounds of disability -- and thought it was terribly ironic to be presented with the following options for 'correcting' my spelling:



disablism: diabolism, disables, tribalism

disablist:   disables, disability, disabled, dismalest, disabused, stablest, disability's



I know that the US uses 'ablism' for the same construct, but when even the speel-chucker is in denial it  sort of sums up just how far we have to go. You could even say the situation is diabolical <sigh>...

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