Thursday, January 22, 2009


My hope with Dick Cheney's use of a wheelchair was that it would draw attention to the lack of access, that someone who's been in a position of power, if not the media, would recognize and comment upon such issues. Not a chance. In fact, many people missed the point.

Those who denigrate Cheney for using a wheelchair also miss the fact that Obama's father-in-law used a wheelchair because of MS. Enjoy, for example, this lovely cartoon, depicting Cheney moving down an escalator or ramp and Obama moving up, while stating that the wheelchair is a metaphor:

The generalizations made equating the use of a wheelchair to his mistakes and evils are wrong in spirit. What if we used someone's gender or skin color as a metaphor for wrongdoing? Think about it. People have done so in the past--is this the level of prejudice you wish to reflect to the world?

I'm also tired of people saying he can't possibly have hurt his back enough by moving a box of books. I've been left bedridden by pulling a very small wheeling suitcase through an airport and then sitting in an airplane seat for a few hours, though I had help lifting the suitcase at all points. My pain was so severe then that I would have required a wheelchair to walk further than the bed to the bathroom. It took me quite a long time to get there.

But really, again, people miss the point. What business is it of ours how he hurt himself? Why do people think they have a right to know? Everyone has a right to medical privacy.

People let their politics override other ethics. Wheelchairs are not punishment. People who use them are not angels, as some stereotypes and media depictions would have it, nor demons. We are people.


Katja said...

Well put. It's hard dealing with a general public that has (mostly) not caught on even a tiny little bit.

BTW, Michelle Obama's father is deceased (presumably due to MS or its complications).

FridaWrites said...

Well, that shows some forgetfulness on my part--I'll put in a quick edit. Thank you!