Tuesday, January 17, 2006

CC looks into "not Dead Yet"

In the comments section on my Assisted Suicide post, LaReinaCobre suggested I check out Not Dead Yet, a disability advocacy group that has objections to assisted sucide

Having looked, I really don't trust that website.

Firstly, only 208 people have actually used assisted suicide under the law since 1997. That's roughly 25 per year and I'll wager that they really were the sickest of the sick. For Not Dead Yet to drag in the criteria for Oregon having a high level of elder suicides and not mention that they don't actually stem from this law seems weird. Actually, it doesn't seem weird. It seems like a Michael Moorish "I'm sure nobody will notice if I take my facts out of contest" manuever one uses on people one doesn't think are as smart as one is.

And having done my share of Grandmother Duty over the past six months I do take exception to their wording that implies that it is wrong that people who are disabled feel like burdens. My experience is that they are burdens. Which is not to say that the family members who love them can't bear the burdens with dignity and love.

Were I in that position, I'm sure my husband and family would do so, never letting me know the complaints that are whispered in hospital hallways. That said, if there is no hope of saving me and I can save myself some pain and them a lot of money, I plan to do so.

"Sorry, Little Timmy, we can't send you to college because we bankrupted ourselves keeping Aunt CC alive and in pain for an extra six months" is not the legacy I want.

Knowing that you are a burden is not always a bad thing. I was clinically depressed for my first few months of grad school and the day I figured out that listening to me going on about how depressed I was actually sort of bored my friends was the day I actually left my apartment and did something about it. Since then, I've become much more aware of the effect my moods have on other people and it has made me a much better and more grateful person.

Secondly, I was checking out their site and clicked on Journalists Hall of Shame.

The second entry from that page:
Our first offering is this article by Susan Wloszczyna, published on January 23 in USA Today.

'Million Dollar' Mystery discusses the fact that Million Dollar Baby has a surprise ending. The author praises the movie and suggests people hurry and see it before the "twist" at the end of the movie is revealed to them. She then names and labels conservative commentators who have revealed the end of the movie, including the appearance of one person on "The 700 Club."

But she stops naming names when she gets here:

"One organization, whose name would be a form of a spoiler itself, issued a statement last week decrying what they see as a "vendetta" executed by Eastwood and his film."

The organization quoted here is the National Spinal Cord Injury Association. Why is it that she can list and name conservative commentators with abandon but can't reveal that at least two disability organizations blasted the movie, "spoiling" it in the process?

Obviously, we can't answer that question, but it's obvious that anyone reading this article will come away with the impression that the only people making noise about this movie are Christian conservatives.

This isn't reporting the news, it's shaping the news.

Welcome, Ms. Wloszczyna, to our "Hall of Shame."

What they were pretending not to know, was that Million Dollar Baby was marketed as a movie about a lady boxer and that the euthanasia bit really was a surprise twist. My boss at the time, who had big time religious objections to assisted suicide, saw it having no idea that there was anything involving assisted sucide or disability in it. I saw the preview and remember deciding there was no way I was going to a boxing movie, even one that would make me feel empowered.

So, yes, revealing that an organization involved with spinal cord injuries had objected to the movie would indeed have revealed a plot twist that people who hadn't seen the movie didn't know about and the USA Today writer was very reasonable in the way she put things.

Christian conservatives issue objections to all kids of movies. From "Dogma" to "Starship Troopers." If the Christian groups object, there could be occult stuff in your movie, a girl-on-girl kiss, a molesting priest, heck, a breast. There are so many options that to report that Christians object says effectively nothing about the content of the movie.

If a spinal cord group objects, somebody hurts their spine and then something nasty happens to them.

That alone convinces me that this group is full of the sorts of activists that chuck critical thinking completely aside because they are so very in love with their cause.

The last thing that got my goat was that they pointed out in their press release on the assisted suicide law that killing oneself is legal in every state, it's just for really sick handicapped people that they legislate assisted suicide. This is framed as a discrimination issue, which strikes me as moronic.

I don't know how many people in the advanced stages of terminal illness these terminal illness activists have been around, but a lot of really sick handicapped people CAN'T LEAVE THEIR BEDS and in some cases CAN'T MOVE. (Such as the chick in the much-maligned Million Dollar Baby, who wasn't terminally ill, but was fully paralyzed.)

I'm sorry, if you need assistance to wipe your ass, it seems a little disingenous of them to claim that you could kill yourself any time you wanted to.

who thinks any advocacy group run by people without the condition they are advocating for, who wants to TAKE AWAY rights from those they are advocating for, really has a problem.

Ps. TheCSO points out that SUCCESSFUL suicide is not illegal in any states, but ATTEMPTED suicide is illegal all sorts of places. Another attempt by these guys to pull a Michael Moore.


Steven Rowe said...

"The last thing that got my goat was that they pointed out in their press release on the assisted suicide law that killing oneself is legal in every state"

did they really say that?!?
-- killing oneself is illegal in my state - and as far as I know most states.... Is this a typo, or did they really make that claim? odd....

LaReinaCobre said...

I have a meeting at church to attend shortly, so only time for 2 brief responses:

The first is that one of the things that Greenstein talked about in the presentation/workshop on ableism that I attended was the differencse between chronic illness and permanent injury and terminal illness. Many able-bodied folks do not understand the difference - or view them as one and the same. One thing that was talked about was the attitudes people have about injury, e.g. "I'd rather die than be a parapalegic." The presentation strongly challenged the notions I'd unknowingly held about the value of life = would I have value if I were "unproductive?" Additionally, what are the questions we are asking? Why are people who are suffering not from terminal cancer, but from a chronic illness or permanent injury that renders them unable to care for themselves in their own homes, offered (more often than not) the option of either nursing homes (that have appalling death rates) or killing themselves?

For me it was a radical shift in thinking: the idea that WHOA - why do I live in a society where you rarely if ever see sick or disabled people LIVING with dignity - but always trying to die with dignity? It is something I am still thinking about and trying to grapple with.

The second thing is that Not Dead Yet was founded by a woman with disabilities:

Coleman is a person with significant disabilities who has used a motorized wheelchair since the age of eleven. Since 1982, she has served on the governing boards of numerous national, state and local disability-related organizations and policy-related committees, has authored numerous articles on disability-related topics and spoken extensively on topics pertaining to disability rights and health care issues. Beginning in 1987, she volunteered as an organizer for the American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT).

Their primary researcher also has a disability. I do not know about the rest of the board, but that is just from the information available on the website.

More at website: http://www.notdeadyet.org/docs/colemanbio.html

LaReinaCobre said...

Clarification: my note about seeing people trying to die with dignity pertains to film and literary depictions. I am referring to our popular public imagination about what is possible for people who become disabled.

Oh must go - running late!