Welcome back to the Audacious Aspie! This week I will be talking about a subject that will coincide nicely with the little side project that I was working on a couple of weeks ago (ever notice that the word coincide sounds almost like the words insecticide and genocide? Perhaps maybe, many years ago in history, there used to be a concerted effort made by a government and/or peoples to massacre everyone named Cohen, but then years after once all living memory and documentation disappeared from existence, it just became another word that now means something else completely? Just a thought). Some of you may remember the pole that was put up asking about your views on the Autism Acceptance and Awareness campaign and a couple of other things, will this post well build on top of that, while also encouraging discussion. Namely: Has this ever happened to you? I will explain.
Everyone, please take a moment of silence for all the Cohen’s who may/maynot have died horribly many years ago in a tragic coincide. If you are a Cohen yourself, be thankful that the world is a safer place, to be named Cohen.
I am (or was, depending on when you read this, present or future) taking a class in university all about human rights, i.e torture, the U.N, NGOs (or BINGO,s, for the Big International ones) and the like. And it was continuously sold by all I talked to, of which they were also sold on it by all of whom they talked to, as a really good, popular class that would probably be a really good idea for all their students to take, and maybe some profs as well. The much vaunted Human Rights class (What better name for a class about human rights?). And in this class you were taught pretty much one human rights subject every week, like the ones mentioned above (it was a first year, or entry, course so we really did not get to vested in any one topic), along with a student discussion group after words to help you understand the topics of the week a little bit more. Sounds like a really great course right? Well, it would be, except for one little hitch.
It had nothing, literally nothing, to say about disability rights, at all. Which is weird for a class billing itself as an introductory course to all the issues of human rights to leave out one particular human rights issue that (at least where I am from) has recently has gotten a lot of attention of late. That is something that those of whom I spoke to about this neglected to tell me (though in fairness, I did discuss it with them some years back, so it is possible that the course took a step backwards in the intervening time). Rather an odd thing to leave out when your supposed to be giving a short rundown on human rights issues right? (see what I did there? How I rhymed right with right? Clever right? Whoops, looks like I did it again ;-)
See how clever I am, rhyming one word with another word? Supe’s clever. Don’t give me that look.
Now I heard of an argument for this: can’t you just learn about disability rights through other human rights issues, like the learning about the bullying of people with disabilities and/or autistic/aspie just because they have disabilities and/or autistic/aspie in the same light as bullying people because of their skin colour? Or what about the issue of lack of employment facing those with disabilities and/or autism/asperger’s in the same light as employers discriminating against people who are gender non-conforming or are attracted to people of the same sex? Will for sure we could.
But why not the other way around? Why can’t we learn about the bullying of people of different skin colours through discussing only the bullying of people with disabilities and the rest? Or learn about the issue of lack of employment for people who are gender non-conforming and such through the same problem facing people with disabilities? Why is it that we, the disabled/autistic/aspie community, have to learn about our rights issues through other peoples rights issues? Seems a little, disingenuous doesn't it? (not to mention confusing, you’d be basically saying “why not learn about racism through ableism? Or Ableism through sixism? They’re the same thing right?”)
Now obviously no one should have to try to tease information about human rights issues concerning their social demographic through the history of other social demographics (the rainbow community shouldn't have to learn about their history purely through the history of straight and cis-gendered folks). But why, in a class concerned entirely about human rights issues affecting pretty much almost the whole world, is it disability rights that are left out? Surely our history of fighting (and continuing to fight) for our human rights deserves to be looked at and discussed to, right? The message of excluding such a topic, to me at least, sends a rather negative message not only about the importance of our struggle, but also about our continued insistence of being seen as people who not only deserve love and respect like everyone else, but are also contributing members of our society.
Whew! That was a rather tense and personal bit or writing on my part! But one that I felt has to be discussed, especially, if I am right, that I am not the only one who has experienced something like this. Now don’t worry, next week I will be continuing the discussion of hollywood and it’s notorious habit of casting non-disabled actors to play disabled roles. But until then, if this does, or has/might happen to you, than I hope that you will encourage the discussion of disability rights, feminism or any other social struggle that has, without reason, been left out of the...well, discussion (especially if they ask “well can’t you learn about it through other people's struggles?” Why should you?).
It takes a lot to be the one to stand up and talk about something that not everyone may understand, or even agree with, but it is far better (and you will feel far better) to champion a cause that is important to you, than to stay silent.
It won’t always be easy (trust me, I know this. I tried multiple times to get my class and discussion group to discuss disability rights), but at least you can say to yourself that you have tried, and who knows. You might have moved other people to look into the seemingly secret history of struggle faced by you and those like you. And, lest I forget (happens more than I sometimes like, or remember, to admit), this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.