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Tag Archives: politics

It’s not just about DeVos

7 Feb

Betsy DeVos – now famous for, well, grizzly attacks on public schools – has become Education Secretary. Barely. With no education background, she is now in charge of our public school system, and all the laws about education. Some of which she finds “confusing”.

Let me repeat – the woman in charge of upholding education laws doesn’t understand education laws.

And upon her confirmation, parents of kids in special ed collectively cursed, shook their heads, and rolled up their sleeves. See, we’re used to having to fight for our kids.

I’ve been watching the new administration before it was a new administration. Trump has been quoted saying he’d like to get rid of the Dept. of Education altogether. So wanting DeVos as Education Secretary isn’t that huge of a surprise. Nor is the almost instant news of abolishing the Dept of Education that headlined today after the confirmation.

But it’s more than education that’s caught my eye.

First, we have a nominee for Attorney General who also doesn’t support IDEA –

In May 2000, Sessions took to the senate floor to make a lengthy speech on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, arguing that federal protections for students with disabilities was a reason U.S. public schools were failing. – HuffPo

Meanwhile, we have a nominee for SCOTUS who sides with schools over students when it comes to IDEA –

In a second disability rights case, an impartial hearing officer, an administrative law judge, and a federal district court judge all agreed that a young autistic boy, Luke, needed placement in a residential school program due to his total lack of progress in “generalizing” skills — applying skills learned at school to other environments. Judge Gorsuch wrote the opinion reversing. He found that because Luke was making “some progress” toward his education goals in the public school — even though it was undisputed there was no progress outside of school –the school district had met its obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). But Congress had made it clear that the IDEA should help students make progress toward independent living. Generally, not just in school. The narrow and outdated standard used by Judge Gorsuch is now under review in the U.S. Supreme Court. –        (source:ACLU)

 

And then you add up things like the ACA and all it’s handy little bits like insurances can’t deny you if you have pre-existing conditions, attempts to slash Medicaid, etc…

…and you begin to fashion a hat out of tinfoil. Because it all starts feeling like a giant conspiracy against people with disabilities.

Seriously – if we can’t get educations or health care for people of all ages with disabilities, then what? We can’t move to Canada – they don’t take people with disabilities, despite how warm and fuzzy Justin Trudeau appears. Besides, aren’t we, as Americans, supposed to be better than that? Isn’t America the place where everyone gets a chance to succeed in life? Or is that now only limited to the able-bodied?

No, this isn’t just about Betsy DeVos and her lack of understanding about special education laws. This is more. This is about an administration who not only seems to not care about disability rights, they seem almost determined to make things harder for people with disabilities. What’s next? Repealing the Americans with Disabilities Act because it costs too much to put a wheelchair ramp in a public building and it’s “bad for business”?

Again, maybe I’m just fashioning myself a tinfoil hat. But these days, it seems anything goes. We now have a Education Secretary who thinks there should be guns at schools in case of grizzly attacks.

No one saw that coming, not even the bears.

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Don’t be like Barb

23 Jan

Yes, I understand that this presidential election has been especially contentious. And yes, I also understand that we are very divided by our choices.

But when it comes to name calling, can we leave some things out of it?

See, yesterday, I was scrolling through Facebook when one of those “Your friend commented on a public page’s post” thing. The post was about Ashley Judd’s slam poetry performance at the Women’s March. I watched it before, it was interesting. Slam poetry isn’t really my thing, but this one held my interest.

It held a lot of people’s interest.

It was reposted by some Facebook page with some name that gave its political leanings. There were a lot of “OMG she’s trash” and “I will never watch her again!” type comments. People didn’t understand that it was slam poetry, so without that tidbit of info, I can get why they thought she was just randomly ranting.

Now, I don’t usually comment on such things, because as we all know, posting an opposing opinion on such a thread means you get 78 notifications about how you must be stupid, and are most definitely wrong.

But my friend posted, which put it in  my feed. And the comment she posted on caught my eye.

A woman named Barb (Not My Friend) posted this – She sounds like schizophrenics I’ve met doing service projects in locked mental wards.

And my face went like this

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My friend pointed out that it was slam poetry. Me? My hackles got up. And I said this – Maybe you should rethink doing service projects in mental wards if you’re going to use schizophrenia as an insult.

My friend backed me up – so much yaaaaas 

Not My Friend Barb tried to defend herself –  Schizophrenia is a medical condition. It is not an insult, that I’m aware of.

And I was like

pope ohnoz

Then I responded with – and yet the way you use it IS meant to be insulting.

A woman reading slam poetry that you disagree with is not the same as schizophrenia. Comparing one to the other is insulting and shows lack of compassion.

Barb deleted her comment. I know, because another cool friend of mine commented on it, and I was notified of it, but when I went to read it…poof…all gone.

But let me reiterate what I was saying to Barb –

When you use a medical condition in an insulting manner, it is STILL insulting.

We all know the famous one – calling someone “retarded” (and yes, you can still find the words “mental retardation” in medical files. Ask me how I know.)

But calling someone schizophrenic, bi-polar, autistic, etc, as a put down, it’s insulting. When you use it as a negative comparison, it’s insulting. Plain and simple.

And when someone says “Wow, what you said is insulting.”….do me a favor…don’t say “No it’s not.” Instead, put your listening ears on, and maybe ask “Why?”

Case in point –

Years ago, I was on a message forum for parents of children with special needs. The needs were varying, as were the parents. One day, one mom said something about “spazzing out”. Another mom stepped in and said “Please don’t use that term, it’s a derogatory term that comes from “spastic” and it’s insulting to my child, who is actually spastic.”

The first mom didn’t say “Well I didn’t meant it like THAT.” No, the first mom said “Oh my gosh! I’m sorry! I never thought of it that way. Thank you for letting me know!”

And the other mom was like “Okay, we cool. Thanks for listening.”

Because you know what? There are words and terms that were once, or still are, insults. I don’t claim to be perfect on them all either, but I’m willing to listen and try to do better next time.

I get it. These are trying times. We should all take the high road, but we don’t. We support our cause vehemently, and sometimes, without being thoughtful. Yet we need to sometimes take a step back and think before typing – or maybe decide not to type at all.

I don’t know if Barb got what I was saying. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t – she ended our conversation before I could find out.

What I do know is that Barb should probably find a new service project because she doesn’t seem to have enough compassion for the people she’s been working with to not use their diagnosis in an insulting manner.

Maybe she could clean toilets.You can do a lot of thinking while cleaning toilets.

 

 

 

Taking back the internet, one word at a time

18 Jan

This word has popped up into my world recently.

Libtard

In case it’s not glaringly obvious to you, it is a combination of the words “liberal” and “retard” – as in, you’re SO liberal, you must be retarded.

Libtard.

And if that isn’t bad enough, there is also the companion word – Conservatard.

As my one friend says “I’m sorry, but what year do we live in?”  Even more than that, how mature is society at this point, that people who are technically adults are creating words like “libtard” to fling when political discussions don’t go their way?  Just how old are we anyway, that this is the best we can do in debates?

I spent a good portion of yesterday debating the use of words like “retard” and “libtard” on Facebook, on a friend’s page (with her blessing.)  Two grown men kept defending the right of usage for these words – even after they stated “Oh, I’d NEVER use them myself…but…”

But what?  Please, explain to me so I can understand. (That didn’t happen.)

At one point of the conversation, one person said that since the word “libtard” was out there on the internet, there was nothing we could do about it.  That there is no way we could stop the word from being used.  I told him if he stood by and did nothing to call people out on this sort of thing, then he himself was part of the problem.

Why are we so quick to accept bad behavior when it’s on the internet?  Why do we go “Well, it’s there, nothing we can do about it?”  or “Oh, just leave it be.” Why is it allowed?

If a group of kids were kicking one kid on the playground, would we stand by going “Well, it’s started, there’s nothing we can do now.” ?  No.  We’d stop it.

So why can’t we call people out on their bad behavior online?

Why we do allow snarky people to use words like “libtard” and get away with it?

It’s not about freedom of speech.  I’m not here to take away anyone’s rights.  It’s about common courtesy, respect, and better word choices.

For a country with so much access to education, surely we have better vocabularies than “libtard” and “conservatard”.  Surely we can have more inspired political debates than stooping to junior high-ish name calling?  Surely there is a better insult out there than some form of “retard”?

Because let me tell you, for me and my friends (who are from all walks of life, with all sorts of voting records) – if you use a “tard” name to describe someone, your argument becomes invalid.   If you have to stoop to boorish name-calling, then we shall assume that your argument cannot possibly be a compelling one.

And again I shall say – when you use the word retard/libtard/conservatard, the only person who looks stupid is yourself.

As for those who don’t use these words, do me a favor – if you hear a word like this being used, call the person out on it.  Stop the conversation and say “Excuse me? No.”   Be part of the solution.  Take your internet world back.  Expect positive behavior from people.   Make the internet a better place.

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