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Editorial: Remembering the importance of life 1 year after Sagamihara killings

Quote 1:
Uematsu, 27, has yet to go on trial over the killings, and central elements such as how he came to hold the irrational [sic]* motive for his crime -- that the disabled are not valuable enough to live -- have not yet been divulged.

Survivors of the attack are now living temporarily at a facility in Yokohama and elsewhere. Many of them are said to still suffer from the trauma of the horrendous incident.

(end quote)

Quote 2:
The prefectural government has now proposed opening new, smaller facilities in Sagamihara and Yokohama in four years' time. Building small, homely group facilities would open more options, officials say. Time will be spent on checking the opinions of disabled people to decide where they will live.

The group representing families has expressed firm resistance to this proposal**...

(end quote)



*Eugenics is morally wrong, but, given the bigotry we are all force-fed from birth, like a goose whose liver is destined to be pâté -- it can hardly be called "irrational."

**The government is not even proposing sending the survivors back to live with their families, only building new, smaller, group homes closer to their communities. ...And the residents' families are still protesting. What a nightmare to survive the horrors of that night, only to realize how much your own families do not want you.

...And next year, Tokyo will host the Paralympics.

...I feel slightly sick, right now.
capriuni: "This calls for CAKE" with plate and fork (Cake!)
This is my entry for the October, 2012 "Disability Blog Carnival," hosted by Dave Hingsburger at Rolling Around in My Head.

And because this entry is written with the intent of being part of a larger, cross-blog conversation, I am going to allow anonymous comments (though screened) for a short period (Short = my comfort level).

This video now has proper closed captions



Full text of the poem: click here )

Footnote #1 -- The Hospital Psychologist Story )

Footnote #2: The protest letter story )
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In the words of Dave Hingsburger, who proposed this day:

(Quote)
I wonder if we here, in this little community, can start something that might grow. I propose the 'International Day for Mourning And Memory of the Lives of People With Disabilities'. The day would be one of remembrance of those whose lives were not celebrated or remembered, the lives of those who were slaughtered by care providers or brutalized to death by bullies. It would also be a day to remember the entire disability community - the elders who came before and who made the world different and better. It would be a day where a moment was taken to pause and reflect and remember.
(Unquote)


Yesterday, I told myself that I would commemorate this day in the way I best can: by posting something in this journal. Today, I woke up stumped, and drawing a blank. I don't know of anyone in my family who was locked away in an Institution for difference (and that's kind of the point, isn't it?). It's very hard to remember an mourn anyone in the abstract -- people who are left out of history, and whose names are erased.

I know (based on my own vague, toddler-rooted, memories, filled in by stories my mother oft repeated), that I was almost among that number. But I grew up, by the good luck to be born to an iconoclast, mainstreamed, before (Quote/Unquote) "Mainstreaming" became codified and Institutionalized in its own way.

And then, I remembered this snippet from British Medieval History that I found and posted last October: from this website: The Sheredes Project: Spitalbrook Hospital):

(Quote)
The Living Dead

In the Middle Ages, if a person developed leprosy, they would be declared legally dead and lose all their possessions. They would have to leave their family, and go to live with other lepers in a place like the hospital at Spitalbrook. In Medieval times, this would have been outside the village of Hoddesdon.

Lepers were given special clothes, a begging bowl, and a bell or wooden clapper, so they could be clearly seen and to warn other people to keep their distance. They were given these in a ceremony that was modelled on the service for the burial of the dead and, in many places, the leper was actually required to stand in an open grave while the ritual, that marked them as outcasts from society, was performed above their head.
(Unquote)


And it occurred to me that this is what institutional life is like -- whether or not it's actually inside the brick and mortar walls of a "Facility."

'Special-Ed' students are taught under the same roof as 'normal' students, but they're segregated into 'Special' classrooms, and are 'exempt' from going to all-school assemblies. So they and the 'normal' students never cross paths.

Entire suburban developments are built where only the houses that wheelchair users live in are actually wheelchair accessible, and houses that have ramps are "improved" by having them dismantled.

Rather than make all public transit accessible, and properly train drivers, municipalities provide "para-transit" services, where wheelchair users have to call and schedule a ride days in advance, and they're only allowed one able-bodied companion each to ride with them, in the role of an aide.

----

In twenty-first century North America, we're no longer marked as outcasts by ritual and costume, the way we were in medieval England. But we're still outcasts -- still living in a parallel world, skimming along the edges of Public Life, and not fully a part of it. Like ghosts, or like Scrooge on his Christmas Eve travels, we observe and hear, but are neither seen nor heard.

Institutionalization is in the mind and the attitude, not within walls.
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So, in his honor, I'm reposting this memory of him (originally posted 2010-02-02, but it was behind a cut, in a list of randomness):

[Quote] My father's favorite moral directive was Immanual Kant's Categoracal Imperative. He said it was like Christianity's Golden Rule, but more evolved. He would quote his own paraphrase of the first formulation of that throughout my life, thusly: "Do only what you'd like to see become universal."

Speeding through this red light, at this moment, might be a good thing for you, now, but if everyone did that, all Hell would break lose. So don't do it.

He said it was more evolved than the Golden Rule, because the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you.) is still focused on your own, perhaps selfish, desires, and limited perspective. But Kant's Categorical Imperitive takes it to the next dimension, and takes other people's lives into account, and asks you to think about further implications of your actions. [unquote]
capriuni: Pencil sketch of a thought balloon in three-d, with the word "sigh" (Sigh)
Los Angeles Times Obituary

As someone who grew up in the environmental and peace movements, I was blessed with several opportunities to see her perform live. When she walked out on stage, she took over that space, whether it was an enclosed theater, or an outdoor stage at a festival, she owned that space. And she had the sweetest, richest, deepest, voice I've ever heard, both in terms of its timbre, and the things it had to say.

I was in the front row of an outdoor concert, when I heard her introduce an old folksong from the South this way (may be paraphrased by memory):

"There's a proverb in the South that says you should never trust a crowing hen, or a whilstling woman; *Whistles the tune of the song*"

{sigh}
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News Headline from last Tuesday's Washington Post:

Bleep! Bleep! George Carlin To Receive Mark Twain Humor Prize

"Carlin issued a statement saying, "Thank you Mr. Twain. Have your people call my people."


The article is a good overview of his career, too.

The ceremony was (is?) scheduled for November, to air on PBS in February. I imagine that it will still go forward, but as a memorial tribute, instead.

As a word nerd, I greatly appreciated his observations on language -- including, but not limited to, his list of seven words.

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