Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wheelchair tipping?!?!

In not one, but two, countries, intentionally tipping someone's wheelchair has come up in the news lately. What's the deal? In the London Times in January, Rod Liddle suggested in an opinion piece that
"Next time you see a young person in a wheelchair, tip it over and drag the occupant to the nearest job centre, lecturing him or her all the while on the dignity of labour."
Because the only reason a young person would use a wheelchair is to avoid employment, right? (Liddle has a long record of horrid statements about disability, but this one explicitly incites violence against disabled people, an escalation on his part.)

Moving across the Atlantic, the idea is already being put into practice--by one deputy sheriff in Hillsborough Co., Florida. Brian Sterner, a quad, was stopped on a traffic violation on 29 January and taken to the station for booking. Deputy Charlotte Marshall Jones didn't believe he was really paralyzed, so she dumped his wheelchair forwards, and he (surprise!) fell to the ground. The incident was caught on the office surveillance camera (video here, but be warned--it's distressing to see), and she has been suspended without pay. Brian Sterner, it turns out, is the former director of the Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center, based in Tampa. He plays wheelchair rugby with the Tampa Generals, and he's working on a PhD.

So, to recap, some young people use wheelchairs AND work AND drive. And throwing someone to the ground is a dangerously stupid way to prove anything.

18 comments:

lilwatchergirl said...

I'm so glad someone from the other side of the 'pond' is highlighting Rod Liddle's statements, as well as the event in Florida. A small number of members of the disabled community in the UK have been trying to point out to the newspaper in question, and the Press Complaints Commission, that his statements are appalling and that he needs to be disciplined and possibly charged with some form of incitement* as a result. But no one appears to be listening.

BTW - it's not called the London Times. It's just The Times - a national UK paper.

And thank you again for highlighting this.


*Note: there's no such crime as 'incitement to disablist hate crime' in the UK. Finding this out was rather a shock, as other minority groups have this important legal protection.

FridaWrites said...

Not only is suggesting violence against people with disabilities completely wrongheaded in the wake of the Brent Martin case and wheelchair tipping incidents in the UK are a problem (http://www.disabilitynow.org.uk/the-hate-crime-dossier), but there are a lot of underlying assumptions to Liddle's statements that are wrong. First, why is he assuming that people with disabilities don't work? Second, why is he assuming that all people with disabilities are able to work? Some aren't. Third, why is he assuming that employers will readily hire people with disabilities?

Anonymous said...

what we should do is tie his legs together and make him live in a wheelchair for month
and tip it over and see how he likes it be really has no idea how hard it is for someone who is disabled to find a job

Jan said...

There are SO many people who are in wheelchairs that work harder to do everyday things that many who walk around do with ease and do effortlessly. As far as employment...with the barriers removed and access provided, many people are working productively from wheel chairs. I believe there are more people who are not disabled that are unemployed than capable disabled people.

I'm glad that those who were in the area who watched (and did nothing)the man get dumped out of his wheelchair to be searched will also be held accountable.

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