Monday, February 23, 2009

Jerry Lewis Humanitarian

If it’s pity we’ll get some money. I’m just giving you the facts. Pity … if you don’t want to be pitied for being a cripple in a wheelchair, don’t come out of the house. - Jerry Lewis
May 20, 2001
Interview on CBS News Sunday Morning

I want to make it clear that I am not an angry advocate who is pissed off at the world and nit picks at every little thing an "abled bodied" person says or does; but I picture the humanitarian award given to someone like Mother Teresa or Bono. Jerry Lewis has brought his integrity into question by making some pretty discusting remarks about not only the disabled community but blacks and the gay community as well. To me a true humanitarian would not hold public contempt for certain groups of people but intead encourage the embracement of diversity and promote harmony.

Jerry Lewis, the longtime spokesman and fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award on Sunday evening for his tireless efforts on behalf of the group. During his 43 years as host of the group's Labor Day telethon, the organization has taken in almost two billion dollars.

Every year as a kid my family and I would gather around the television to watch the Jerry Lewis Telethon. I remember the knots of anger twisting in my stomach as Jerry would put his arm around a small child sitting in a wheelchair and talked about pity and mercy and giving. To me it was as shameful as a peddling preacher or greasy used car dealer trying to pawn his latest rust bucket on anyone gullible enough to drive off in it.

In the 70’s and early 80’s my family was fighting for my right to be in public school and for my civil rights to education and opportunities that should be given to everyone. It is hard to convince people that a “crippled” child can learn and grow into a fully functioning and contributing member of society; when the stereotype pictured that same “crippled” child as someone who is helpless and someone to be pitied.

Apparently my feelings on this issue are not alone as protesters gather to speak out against the award. Here is a video with more on the protest.

The Protest

… I realize my life is half, so I must learn to do things halfway. I just have to learn to try to be good at being a half a person… - Jerry Lewis
September 2, 1990
from Jerry Lewis’ article, “If I Had Muscular Dystrophy,” Parade magazine

We have come a long way since the days of Jerry Lewis and even the media has embraced the disability movement to demonstrate that we have a whole life not just a half of one. We have children and get married, we graduate colleges and get jobs, we play sports and dance; and we do it sitting down.

As Adidas Says Just Do It!
Watch:No Excuses

The 43 year run of the telethon raised 2 billion dollars, Jerry has been committed in his efforts and I believe his heart is involved with his convictions; but the telethon also embedded 43 years of pity into our society toward people with disabilities. I think we have all learned that disabled doesn’t necessarily mean limited. Having a disability is not a tragedy; the tragedy is buying into the lie that life is over when you get one.

For more information on the protest please visit the Trouble With Jerry Website.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I love to Hate Computers

laptop and coffeeI can't help it. I get up in the morning and the first thing I do is flip on the computer. As Ralph (my husband’s evil emachine) boots up I go in the kitchen and make me a cup of caffeine, sometimes coffee but most of the time it is tea (I like to pretend it is better for me) Then I race back to check my email and see what exciting things I have missed since I shut Ralph down the night before. I’ll admit it I have joined the culture of computerized socialization, diving into newsgroups and social networking sites and email and Googling every subject that ever crossed my curiosity.

Lately, my ritual has been disturbed by a worm that reeked havoc on my WinBook (Tabitha) from my daughter cruising myspace graphic sites while she is supposed to be working in her virtual classroom as she is home schooled. As Tabitha was crashing I hurriedly worked to retrieve as many documents and pictures as I could and transferred them to Ralph. I of course also transferred the virus. So Ralph crashed too. Luckily I keep everything backed up on Lacey (my external hard drive.) After a series of reformatting and calling for help and reformatting again I finally performed an F disc and managed to get Ralph back on track.

Tabitha was not so lucky, something happened during the F Disc and I could not get her to accept windows. Needless to say I accepted my rank as “Private” in the Tech Army and took it Tabitha to a higher ranked Tech for help. Maybe I should stick with photography, graphics and Googling. Anyway, I am informed that Tabitha is back in action and meanwhile Ralph is having conflicts with the new Yahoo Messenger, Chrome and Itunes I suspect either my video card or my processor (sigh)

The good news is we filed taxes today and new computers are in the plans. I am long over due for an upgrade that can handle today’s graphic programs like the Adobe CS3 suite that I have been pining for. By the end of the month I shall have a new computer to name that will be dedicated to my morning ritual and working.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Provisions For Americans With Disabilities Included in Stimulus Bill

This February 16, 2009, Presidents Day; the final version of the Stimulus Bill is expected to be complete and ready for President Obama’s signature. The Stimulus Bill is intended to give the economy a boost and increase job availability. In the latest draft, the stimulus bill includes several features that apply to people with disabilities.

Here is a list of some of the provisions as listed on the legislation page:

• Allocates $500 million to states for Vocational Rehabilitation grants to help people with disabilities prepare for gainful employment;
• Provides an immediate, temporary increase of $450 in individual Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits ($650 per couple) for 7.5 million seniors and people with disabilities;
• Allocates $7.5 billion for repairing public housing and making energy efficiency upgrades to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) -assisted housing, including a new program to improve emergency efficiency -- with new insulation, windows, and furnaces -- in low-income housing for disadvantaged groups, such as seniors and people with disabilities;
• Sets aside $13 billion in grants for schools for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, increasing the federal government's share of the costs of the special education law to 27 percent -- higher than at any time since the IDEA became law more than three decades ago;

• Provides $600 million to states to assist in making IDEA services available to children with disabilities who are two years of age or younger and their families; and

• Protects Medicaid health care coverage for millions of Americans, by providing an estimated $87 billion in additional federal matching funds over a two-year period to help states maintain their Medicaid programs in the face of massive state budget shortfalls. This could help offset cuts in 39 or more states that are facing budget shortfalls

Several changes are likely to happen before the bill finally becomes law.