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WHEELS – a medieval instrument of torture or a vehicle for personal mobility. title
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THINKING - May 2011

I’ve been trying to stay apolitical lately about the government, spending cuts and disability issues: I get too worked up about things I can do nothing about so, better to stay out of it, I figure. Oh, I still read and sign petitions and re-tweet particularly pertinent points but unemotional objectivity is where I want to be at, and then …

First, I read: Attitudes more suited to 100 years ago… by CrimsonCrip and practically fell off my wheelchair at the overt (and illegal) disability discrimination described therein.

Second, I listened to You and Yours on Radio 4, 10 May, 2011: Are disabled people really 'The Hardest Hit' by cuts? Many of the assertions made by the participants were so frighteningly ill-informed and unrealistic as to be beyond belief, and if anyone else says that ‘if Stephen Hawking can work, so can any disabled person’…

For the record, Stephen Hawking is a world-renowned scientist with a brain the size of a planet. Pretty unique in many ways. People rush to pay the £000’s needed to support him, his equipment and his army of carers/assistants and wait upon his words. Most of the rest of us are administrators, accountants, lawyers etc. like any other ‘normal’ person – not so well-funded in our work, nor quite so valued and easily replaced by ANO able-body!

And, thirdly and finally, on the day of protest by thousands of disabled people, I read Disabled People are Marching for our Lives by Sue Marsh in The Guardian’s Comment is Free pages. In the comments section below this article, some of the views expressed are astonishing.

I really do feel at a complete loss about this. Where does this aggression and hostility come from? Yes, I know many able-bodied people have little exposure to, or experience of, disability; I know they find disability and illness scary and a horrible reminder of their own frailty; I understand these are uncertain times and people are fearful for their own economic future; clearly the government’s media campaign to stigmatise benefit and disability claimants as ‘skivers’ and ‘scroungers’ doesn’t help any but what has happened to our humanity, compassion and sense of justice here?

switching off
The hostility reminds of a
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