NOT AS USUAL?
BENT's March editorial
"Citizen Crip, Citizen
Queer," discussed how being queer in America bears on the rights
and responsibilities of citizenship and wondered why BENT writers
don't choose to address overtly political topics. It concluded with
the power wielded by queers as men and women uniquely positioned
to criticize and remake society has emerged largely from our outsider
status; some claim that that power is vanishing as mainstream
culture absorbs homosexuality, as homosexuals themselves fight
hard to be "just like everybody else."
we the New Strangers? Have gimps and queer gimps fallen heir to
the outsider status enjoyed by the once-proud legion of Dykes
and Faggots and Fairies and Queens?
we have anything to say for ourselves?
we speak up, here or anywhere else?
Well, four BENT readers
(and writers, as it happens) did choose to speak up. We thought
you would like to hear what they had to say. The transcript is still
openwe'd like to hear from you, too.
March editorial seems particularly relevant for me right now, because
I'm concerned with current events as never before. However, in these
sensitive times, I've tried to avoid controversy on Disagaytalk
[Bent's online discussion group] and, by extension, in BENT. On
a personal and immediate level, the current priority of death and
destruction over life and health, is impacting us. Bruce, my partner,
has been taken off the clinical trial for Copaxone/or/placebo because
his MS has been worsening steadily. His neurologist wants him on
BetaSeron, to the tune of $1000.00 per month.
we all know, Medicare doesn't cover meds. There just isn't money
in the budget for that, but to bomb the crap out of everyone, now
that's a worthy expense. At the
same time we're brokering peace to the same folks to whom we provide
weapons and telling them, in all instances, to do as we say and
not as we do. We play by a different and ever-changing set of rules.
Doesn't the hypocrisy rankle just a bit?
if you need more evidence of the political temper of the times,
note the recent "town hall" meeting hosted by Ted Koppel, where
an appalling number of participants supported the use of torture
on whomever this administration designates the evil-doers du jour.
up for a march on Washington...well maybe more of a Lurch on Washington.
that BENT is already "politically active." For many of us, the physical
effort to live our lives with our disabilities takes most of our
energy, resolve, and attention. Being politically active can be
just as all-consuming. Many of us simply don't have the support
systems that we would need in order to become activists.
not forget that a lot of the gains of the disabilty movement came
from formerly-abled people who had experienced themselves as powerful,
an experience many of us have been denied.
the question is not why are BENT writers unpolitical, but why is
everyone so unpoliticaleven
antipolitical? There is a small number of politically engaged people,
but that small number is not represented in the media because the
media goes after the fattest, juiciest demographic. If you are a
politically engaged citizen (nonprofessional),this means that your
media portrayal falls into one of two categories:a member of the
Silent Majority, rubber stamping whatever the White House Resident
wants for his "war," or some kind of fire-breathing freak who probably
eats drugs and doesn't bathe a lot. There are thoughtful people
who care about politics, I know some of them, and I don't think
they are freaks. They are a minority, but they are not freaks.
does BENT not have more political articles? I'm not sure. There
are the practical issues: I suspect that the challenges for the
typical BENT writer are even greater than that of the nondisabled
citizen who tries to muster up the resolve and time management skills
required for political activity. But for BENT writers there is also
the issue of sussing your audience. Perhaps they fear they would
be preaching to the choir. Perhaps they are so thrilled to have
a voice, and access to BENT's readership, that they want to speak
of issues closest to home. Or maybe they are simply shy of claiming
to speak for anyone else; each crip's experience is so specific
to the individual and God help the poor S.O.B. who tries to generalize.
tell you one thing. I work in the software industry, with a bunch
of TABs who wouldn't know Eleanor Roosevelt if she rapped them on
the knuckles. I am practicing disability politics all day long,
by which I mean I am proving myself as an older worker and a disabled
worker to be twice as smart and twice as productive as the TABs
who surround me. It's a long day, and then I come home, take off
my braces, and flop onto the couch. This is the attitude from which
you will rouse me to power-up the PC and read BENT.
want to talk about how we will change the world or show all those
TABs a thing or two. I want to listen in on the conversation of
other disabled people, drop in on their lives, look at their apartments,
peek inside their psyches. There seems to be a lot going on there.
By comparison the political sphere seems pretty limited.
we still surprised that our government can find money for bombs
but not for the medicine that people need? Are you scared that the
government might tap into the SS fund? I am. I could not live without
your stance on Israel, doesn't it strike you funny that our government
is telling Israel to show restraint?
I'm not surprised at any of this. Candidates are voted in and then
we express surprise at what they do, when all they're doing is being
true to their platforms.
is not doing anything that contradicts what he claimed to stand
for, and neither will Mayor Bloomberg in NYC. So really, why the