Cerebral Palsy

Comment: The Ugly Face of Disability Hate Crime

Following the documentary on BBC Three last night about disability “Hate Crime” I feel I must add my comments. Sorry this is a little long.

I hate the term “Hate Crime” Gene Hunt expresses this best.

How are we ever going to move on, live together and integrate as a society if crimes against any group of people are labelled in such an insane way. It’s justifying why someone committed a grievous act against someone else, reporting a “hate crime” produces two groups of people. Those who support the victim, and those who support the perpetrator as they agree with his or her politics. If a murder is reported as a “murder” one person killed another, we can all pull together and agree that that is a bad thing regardless of our backgrounds.

This approach removes the often incorrect assumption that “he only killed him because he was disabled/white/black/green/gay” No he got killed because he was sleeping with his wife/husband/girlfriend/mother/tortoise/guitar.

Last nights show was presented by Adam Pearson who has neurofibromatosis which causes excess growth of the skin. Which gives him a striking and unusual appearance like many disabled people. Now I like to think that when I’m sat down or propping up a bar I look pretty “normal” I don’t of course, the way I hold myself up, my movement that is both ponderous and jagged are both clear giveaways that I am “different”.

As kids we stare at “difference” it’s a survival technique present in most inhabitants of the earth. Don’t believe me? Walk slowly into a field of cows. They will all look at you, “Who are you? Will you feed us? Will you kill us? Where are your trousers?” If no-one batted an eyelid at things out of the ordinary we and the cows would get killed.

Of course we like to think we have evolved, it makes us feel superior and for the most part it helps us fit in and not be different as the environments we inhabit are largely about inclusion and acceptance, on the surface anyway.

A place where our true feelings are often is expressed is here on the internet. This very page has a comments section. Upon which you are free, with varying degrees of anonymity to call me whatever you like. The comments section can bring out the very worst in people and statements or poor attempts at humour can be misinterpreted.

One of Mr Pearsons TV interviews was posted on YouTube and seemed to be a significant part of the programme. One comment was nasty suggesting that he should have been burnt to death at birth. Harsh you have to say, but the comment was sent to YouTube who didn’t do anything about it. Mr Pearson mentioned “genocide” and I turned off.

It’s a comment on YouTube! The person who made it is probably 12 and as he accompanied his comment with “lol” he was hardly suggesting people hunt you down and burn you. So to suggest genocide is giving this comment much more credence than it deserves. Much better to laugh at it or reply back taking it further “Yeah hideous burns might improve my looks” Thus disarming any malice and perhaps leaving the commenter with a “See him there, he looks a bit weird but he’s alright” feeling winning him over and maybe stopping such comments in the future.

There are times in everyones life where we need to pack our thickest skin (no pun intended) regardless of which groups we align ourselves with. There will always be people who prey on easy targets or promote hatred but we should never underestimate the power of our response.

If you are in the UK or use a VPN (shh!) you can watch the program here.

Advertisements

Being WyW_URZ

Like many of my age (old) I started gaming on a Commodore 64. The games took ages to load and I was invariably rubbish at them. I remember Speed King which was a bike game, way over 30 mins to load just to see the pixelated arse of my rivals disappear into the distance never to return.

Spin forward 30 years and I’m still rubbish at games, they just look better. I have finally got to grips with shooter style games using the PS4 controller (as opposed to mouse and keyboard) but of course the lack of dexterity and co-ordination caused by my disability does not aid this.

Movement of a character on screen for the average player is a relatively sedentary affair, you sit, controller resting in hand, relaxing on the couch, occasionally venturing to edge of your seat for a “good bit” but in my observation average gamer uses the same amount of movement to bring down great empires via their console as they do doing up a shirt in the morning.

Not me.

Just simply moving my character involves me being sat correctly, properly supported. Fully concentrated. That’s just to start. Once I get into the game, kak handedly actually trying to shoot other players, my legs want to get involved and if I tense up cramp can get me down better than any headshot. Jump scares? I’ll throw the controller in the air. It can be incredibly frustrating at times, fighting yourself, before you can play a game. Sometimes I shout at myself, it’s just a game though right?

Gaming is part of my life. I am aware of my own limitations, nothing wrong with trying to push them or adapting my style of play to suit. I play for fun, when I’m not having fun I do something else.
I play to beat my top score not top the leader board.
I play to help my team, although sometimes I know I will hinder them.
I play because very occasionally things like this happen

Feel free to add me WyW_URZ on PSN.

Ill

I have a cold… I know poor me I hope you all have the violins of sympathy out. So I write this with a nose like a unseasonable Rudolph only capable of smelling one thing, the inside of my own nostrils. You know the deal no doubt, as you too will have joined the snot brigade.

Where it gets fun however is when you pair this with disability, for disability makes everything fun don’t you know. For your average Joe or Josephine a cold means going armed with tissues and lemsip to work if you don’t feel too bad. If you walk with crutches however the daily commute becomes an issue. Most people for example don’t have to choose between catching a sneeze and falling over. Being on the ground having your fall broken by a snotty face is no fun so, most of the time the sneeze loses out, caught well by my beard, thats what beards are for.

If you manage to sneeze and catch it without a trip to the floor, well done. However careful you don’t sneeze too hard. If you do you might put your neck out and be really stuck, unable to move and on your back for a while. Oh and make sure no-one is near your feet. Because they will get kicked and/or covered in snot (if your catching isn’t so good) no control options are available.

Then there is the aches. Flu will make muscles ache and spasm for everyone. Well firstly welcome to my world, secondly if you muscles are shit to begin with, the flu likes to fuck them over nicely. I managed to get out of bed yesterday (yay me) and go and try to make tea. (I may be ill but I am still British) My leg went into spasm causing me to stumble backwards and drop the milk all over the floor.

So there I am, nose dripping, tea stewing in a puddle of milk that of course has gone down behind the cooker and everywhere. Dignity.. mine took a trip on a Greyhound bus. Hardly superhuman.

Achoo

"Cover Coughs, Cover Sneezes" - NARA - 514081

Independence Day to Day

That is what is all comes down to, from a very early age everything was geared to being or becoming more independent. To your average Joe or Jane this means, getting a job, getting enough cash to move out from your parents house. To a disabled person however this independence can mean something most of the able bodied world takes for granted, like dressing yourself for example.

I am lucky I suppose my disability is by the standards of many quite mild, so I am able to function and live a “normal” life. I have a job, a handful of good friends, family and I live alone in my house where I pay full rent and have no assistance at all.

So as independent as one gets.

This year I have found I have become less mobile. Things are starting to hurt, or even worse just not work in the way of which I have become accustomed. (I’m not talking about issues that Viagra can fix here either) So where do I turn? Again the average Joe or Jane in the street seems to be under the impression that the disabled are either paralympians capable of bounding over buildings like the bionic man or so disabled that they cannot possibly function and have all the help and money to enable them to live out their days in comfort.

So in the view of the outsider, disabled people either, A don’t need more help or B have all the help they need.

Let me add my C to that list of options.

From a early age I was taught and pushed to be as independent as possible, to do things myself. This has brought me opportunities and allowed me to meet many wonderful people but it’s made me very single minded and set in my ways at at times a bastard to live with or be around. I haven’t needed help, so I have been off the radar. No huge social services file, no massive cash hand out that means I don’t have to work, no case worker I can ring up and get someone to help me.

In order for me to get assistance for anything, I have to be referred by a GP. The GP probably knows less than me about my disability and I have to wait along with everyone else to receive treatment from a guy who specialises in sporting injury. My sporting days are long gone!

Independence has for the most part been a very good thing for me. I just wish someone would have told me to ramp it back a little so that it would be easy to get support I need now. It seems the more you do, the less is offered, which when you think about it is very wrong. Only option to keep on going until you drop.

Still Happy 4th of July America from the old foe across the pond.

Lincoln Memorial July 4th 1.jpg
Lincoln Memorial July 4th 1” by J.W.Photography from AnnapolisFlickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

“You do have knees, right?”

“It’s hard to have a relationship in this business…it’s gonna take a very special woman…or a bunch of average ones.”

~Bill Hicks

Wow a surprise me starting a piece with a Bill Hicks quote. This is very true when disability is involved too. So to paraphrase.

“It’s hard to have a relationship if you have a disability…it’s gonna take a very special woman…or a bunch of average ones.”

Now in my experience the bunch of average ones don’t wanna know, or mores the point I don’t wanna know them. I know it’s never going to end well and I have never been one for the one night knee trembler, I’d fall down.

So that leaves it to the “very special woman” Now very special women are hard to find, I have had a few in my life and screwed things up with them royally. I am proof that disabled men are still men and as much as Channel 4 still try to paint us as Superhuman, we are prone to the same mistakes as the more able. We can be bastards at times.

One day however fuck ups aside, that special woman may come along. You know the one with low standards and no sense of smell. Hopefully you all live happily ever after in a castle with a access ramp. But in any relationship there are things that are negatives, things that you know make you less than her idea of perfection. Now in a “non disabled” relationship these issues can stay hidden for years, or at least swept under the carpet, suppressed and turned into a aneurysm.

The crutches or the wheelchair or the twitch or however a disability rears it’s head makes sure that for the disabled person these issues are in the forefront and must be discussed slap bang in the middle of the “look at me aren’t I great, I’m trying to impress you” phase. The last thing you want to do.

Two choices of course.
Lie: “I was in a accident/plane crash/Black Friday PS4 scrap”
This is good and if you do it well enough it could ensure that Mr Happy gets to play. Bad side of this is that if she is that special lady, what are you gonna do when your accident injuries don’t get better.

Truth: This could result in lots of talking, some stupid questions “You do have knees right?” it could also result in ridicule, turning your special woman into a heartless harlot in a few seconds. But if this happens you know that she wasn’t the one for you in the first place.

I read somewhere that 75% of people would not consider sex with a disabled person. I would count myself in that bracket it’s difficult enough when one of you can’t balance to manage a 64 let alone a 69. But the odds are stacked against you, especially when you consider the normal criteria and preferences.

In short. Disability one of the best cockblocks known to man
If you find anyone willing to jump that and then jump you cherish them, because they are a very special person indeed.

Sex-dolls

Some of the average ones

…..Let Me Fetch My “Hung Like a Field Mouse” T-Shirt

I’m off out.

I’m out on the town and looking for a good time, a few beers (for dutch courage) and then, game face on. Watch out ladies here I come. I have on my smart jeans, I’ve showered, I am sex on legs. Oh I didn’t mention my shirt.. (except in big letters in the title) Yes it’s a sign post.. highlighting my urrm short comings. I figure it’s best to let people know, up front. I got this shirt in a set.

  • “Will touch up your friend when drunk.”
  • “Mood Swings”
  • “No sense of Humour”
  • “Racist”

I think they are great. Unfortunately, not only am I drawing a blank with the ladies but I have been taken the piss out of numerous times and beaten up. I can’t think why..

ErrorwearBSOD

I’m not crashing I have Windows

OK, so who guessed that was bullshit. Hopefully all of you.

Imagine it though. Going out with a shirt declaring your shortcomings, personality defects or negative elements of your past. Whilst they could be informative, to the other clubbers or people in the pub, a bit like a penicillin allergy pendant, at best it’s likely to make people avoid you, at worst it might make you a target for emotional and physical abuse.

That is what is suggested very frequently to young disabled people. Wear a shirt or display a card proudly embossed with details of their disability. Now in a perfect world, this would be great. It would ensure that folks like me get doors held open, or people coping with high levels of pain will get cut a bit of slack when they shout at the checkout girl in Morrisons.

In reality what happens is that the disabled persons self esteem is damaged, they are actively encouraging disabled people to become the disability, instead of being a person, who happens to be disabled. Additionally the t-shirts are an invite for the bastards of the world to be horrible, because they are not even getting a chance to see a person. They see a label.

Personally I want people to find out more details about my disability the same way they would find out about my hatred of X-Factor and love of World Cinema (no not porn.. well that too) by communicating with me. If communication is not possible via the usual methods I’d still want people to want to find out about me, not read all about it.

You see, final reason why this doesn’t work. (promise) Even people with exactly the same disabilities can be affected by them in vastly different ways. For example I have a friend who’s speech is affected, mine is not. So if we both had a card saying “Cerebral Palsy: My speech is unclear” it would be wrong for one of us. The signs/shirts being offered are mass made remember.

I am not cerebral palsy, it is something that affects my life. Just like taxes, football and masturbation. I don’t wear a shirt telling people I’m a wanker… people have to get to know me (for at least five minutes) first.

(28DW) Jump!

How many times have you jumped so far this year? Not out of a plane or into a long jump pit but jumped out of surprise. You know the kind of “Oh my God Mark! What are you doing in my dress and stockings, it’s not Tuesday.” Kinda jump.

I bet you it’s less than me.

Yes as part of my continued quest to shine daylight on the magic that is disability, I bring you random jumping. Yes a wonderful effect of cerebral palsy means that should a sparrow fart when I’m not expecting it I jump, like a Magnum (the gun as opposed to the ice cream or Tom Selleck) has gone off in my ear. This might be fine, you might think, you’d surely get used to it. No. You don’t.

The reason why you don’t get used to it is the shear variety of ways it can effect you. Balloons are bastards, people popping said items, even when I know what is going to happen, I’m jumping more than a jack-in-the-box. Sometimes, jumping joins forces with the lack of balance with hilarious consequences, you jump and you fall down too. If I remade the video to “99 Red Balloons” I’d fill a whole Video Bloopers show all to myself.

School was a nightmare, especially the drama studio. Now I loved drama, wasn’t too good at it, but I enjoyed it. However we occasionally used to do these exercises, which involved laying down on the floor and getting as relaxed as possible, picturing we are off in a garden or something like that. Being a drama studio the room was largely empty, meaning the school bell signalling it’s “half period” warning was at it’s loudest. Couple this with my “relaxed” state and I jump up to the ceiling, to be laughed at by all, including the drama teacher.

The jump effect I hate most though. Is the tea / hot beverage jump. I love tea, drink it by the gallon. Carry it carefully from kitchen to lounge only for the phone to ring or something to fall down, do I keep composed? After all the tea is very hot. Do I fuck, I jump, tea flies through the air, usually close or over any expensive equipment I have. To top it all, it always seems to occur when I’m hankering after a cuppa the most. So I have to mop up and make another one.

Big deal you may say. But when this happens on a regular basis, you get tired of it. If I could change one thing about my disability it would be that. That over the not being able to walk, or being as dextrous as someone trying to pick up cooked pasta using only their arseholes. Yes those things I can live with, plan for, work around. What can I say, jumping catches me by surprise.


Please check out the work of my 28DW Comrades at The Resident Weeble and A Piece of Pandemonium