Jonathan hara’s Weblog

Week 13
December 11, 2008, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

As my final post, ill sort of give a brief and broad time line of some events that have relevance to disabilities and how they impact or are impacted by society.

As early as the BC era, there has been discrimination against people with disabilities. “Marcus Sergius, a Roman general who led his legion against Carthage (presently Tunis) in the Second Punic War, sustained 23 injuries and a right arm amputation. An iron hand was fashioned to hold his shield and he was able to go back to battle. He was denied a chance to be a priest because one needed two normal hands” ( Jumping into more recent history, the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind was authorized by U.S. congress to grant college degrees in 1864. The Institution was the first college in the world established for people with disabilities. Though this was a great step forward for those individuals, the name of the institution itself still portrayed society’s view of these individuals. Between the years of 1910 and 1924, there were many publications put out that talked about disability, immorality, and their links to genetics ( Two pieces, The Kallikak Family, by Henry Goddard, and a pamphlet titled The Threat of the Feeble Minded stirred up a lot of commotion in the community that provided fuel for the eugenics movement.

In 1924, “The Commonwealth of Virginia passed a state law that allowed for sterilization (without consent) of individuals found to be “feebleminded, insane, depressed, mentally handicapped, epileptic and other.” Alcoholics, criminals and drug addicts were also sterilized” ( As discussed in my disability studies class, eugenics can be practiced in many ways including, but not limited to, life segregation, sterilization, restrictive marriage, and eugenic education. Though this practice was met with both support and rejection, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of activity regarding protesting its use despite the severity of these practices and the fact that they were both unethical and uncivil. What solidified eugenic practices was “The Buck v. Bell Supreme Court decision ruled that forced sterilization of people with disabilities was not a violation of their constitutional rights. This decision removed all restraints for eugenicists” ( According to Fleisher, The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Commonwealth of Virginia eugenic laws as constitutional. “Supreme court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes equated sterilization to vaccination, and Nationally, twenty-seven states began wholesale sterilization of “undesirables.”

Another big event in history was World War II. In 1939, Hitler began his own program of eugenics. He “ordered widespread mercy killing of the sick and disabled. The Nazi euthanasia program (code name Aktion T-4) was instituted to eliminate “life unworthy of life”” ( Hitler later suspended the Aktion T4 program that killed nearly one hundred thousand people. Though the widespread eugenics and genocide of the Jews had been slowed, euthanasia continued to run rampant through the use of drugs and starvation instead of gassings.

A momentous period in history for disability rights and overall civil rights was the rightly named “Civil Rights Movement” of the 1950’s through 60’s. The historical even that got the ball rolling was the Brown v. Board of education decision in 1954. Through these decades, civil rights, disability rights, and many other rights were fought and pressed for. In 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act which “prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin and creed (gender was added later). This Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of race in public accommodations and employment as well as in federally assisted programs” (Fleischer).

Though these events made great strides, a lot of damage was already done, and although the discrimination of people with disabilities had slowed, by the 1970s, over 60,000 disabled people were sterilized without their consent.

We now jump to more recent news. 1990 was also a momentous year for people with disabilities. “The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed by George W. Bush. The Act provided comprehensive civil rights protection for people with disabilities. Closely modeled after the Civil Rights Act and Section 504, the law was the most sweeping disability rights legislation in history. It mandated that local, state and federal governments and programs be accessible, that businesses with more than 15 employees make “reasonable accommodations” for disabled workers and that public accommodations such as restaurants and stores make “reasonable modifications” to ensure access for disabled members of the public. The act also mandated access in public transportation, communication, and in other areas of public life” ( Though the ADA has had its fair share of complaints, and has been criticized for not being specific enough, it was a major milestone in gaining rights for people with disabilities.

Though we still have a long way to go in creating equality in society for people with disabilities, there are sections of society which have made much improvement to the view of people with disabilities and often this effect has trickled down into more mainstream events. Take the movie industry as an example. Looking at Disney’s Peter Pan, in which Captain Hook is displayed as a revenge seeking elderly dupe in which Peter Pan can continually make a fool of, we see that back in the 1950’s, this movie pushed strong stereotypes about people with disabilities. Step into the new millennium and we see a movie like Finding Nemo. This movie is an excellent example of the progress that some areas of society have made over the years. Many of the characters in this picture possessed disabilities, yet they were all confident, strong willed and highly motivated. Compared to the normally negative images portrayed by the media of people with disabilities, this movie totally switched this role and gave a lot of empowering and inspirational life to the characters with disabilities.

Obviously the public and societal opinion over the years has changed, and is moving in a positive direction. However, the quotes from Johnson stating “…it isn’t what we don’t know that frightens us, it’s what we think we do know.” , and
“Most of what we experience as ‘real’ is a cultural creation.” Show that the socialization of the world is what really will determine the future of society’s view of people with disabilities.

If you’ve made it through my long and boring post, congratulations…you’re a trooper. Hope everyone had a good semester, and good luck with finals.


Fleischer, Doris Zames and Frieda Zames. The Disability Rights Movement. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001.

Johnson, Mary. Make Them Go Away : Clint Eastwood, Christopher Reeve and the Case Against Disability Rights. New York: Advocado P, Incorporated, The, 2003.

Smart, Julie. Disability,Society and the Individual. Danbury: PRO-ED, Incorporated, 2005.


Week 12
December 8, 2008, 12:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

As evident in our day-to-day lives, there is often stigma associated with people with disabilities. In examining the subject more, i found that Julie Smart, author of Disability, Society, and the Individual states that she finds people to have two different hierarchies of stigma.

The first is based on the cause of the disability, while the other pertains to the stigma attached to the different categories of disabilities. Smart argues, “The perceived cause of the disability can influence the degree of stigma directed toward the individual” (Smart, 108). Smart also goes on to state that disabilities that are acquired during noble and honorable acts such as in representing your country in war, or an injury that occurred in the workplace are regarded as the least stigmatized type of disability, while those with congenital disabilities are stigmatized to a higher degree. This is so because people perceive them to be responsible for their disability, or the person did not take the required steps to prevent their disability. Smart explains why this happens, and it frequently translates into more money and other benefits, like a disabled war veteran would receive more money for his/her disability than any other given civilian. I can honestly say that i am guilty of this practice, and as bad as it is, I am quite sure many others share the same view as me whether they like it or not. Society, its movies, news, etc has always taught us to be sympathetic and grateful for those who have served, yet push it upon us in movies, TV, and literature, that others with “non-noble”disabilities are of “different”(to say the least) status.

The other stigma Smart notes relates to the type of disability. Physical disabilities receive the least amount of stigma, followed by cognitive disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and lastly, mental disabilities receive the most stigma. The reason physical disabilities are the least stigmatized is because people have a better understanding of them. Smart states that “the cause, onset, the course, and the limitations are easier for most people to comprehend” (Smart, 118). Again, after reading about her observations, i found myself thinking to myself “wow, that’s exactly how i percieve things also” (again, whether i like it or not). Another argument was made stating that the human tendency to blame the individual for their disability is to protect ourselves from the “randomness of disabilities”. There is also the fact that if we can believe that the individual caused his/her disability themselves, we can comfort ourselves by being conscious and aware of the fact to not allow ourselves to make that same mistake.

I found this information quite interesting not only because of how easy they were to identify, but how quickly i could see myself doing these exact things at many given times. Our society has evolved into a “monster” so to speak, brainwashing us, and filling our heads with nonsense that we negatively project on others, and life just goes on. This doesn’t only pertain to people with disabilities too…its everywhere, and in everything, yet its become the sad norm for the standard way of thinking.

The book referenced:
Smart, Julie. Disability,Society and the Individual. Danbury: PRO-ED, Incorporated, 2005.

Week 10
November 17, 2008, 12:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


The writer starts her post with a quote from Cheryl Marie’s “On Edge” located here: “On Edge” that states:

“God forbid we human beings should ever have to get up close and personal with our unwieldy, messy, smelly humanness. In every way possible, this culture’s rules and values distance us from the realities of our own bodies in all their glorious imperfection. Just flick on the TV any time of the day or night and you’ll be bombarded with messages about the necessity of looking perfect and smelling better. It’s presented not as an option, but an obligation. Of course we want to hasten death; of course we want to make it easier for Cripples to die. Out damn spot. Out.
I don’t think it’s just coincidence that this urgent, zealous drive to give us more ways to opt out of life comes at a time when more and more of us are visible, living in community, being “in the face”, so to speak, of able-bodied assumptions about normal. And not just the us that can almost pass as AB, but those of us whose bodies are wildly uncontrollable, we of the drooling, spazzing, claw-handed variety of Cripple. And instead of trying to fade into the nooks and crannies as good Cripples of the past were taught to do, we blast down the main streets in full view, we sit slobbering at the table of your favorite restaurant, we insist on sharing your classroom, your workplace, your theater, your everything. The comfort of keeping us out of sight and out of mind behind institutional walls is being taken away. And because there is no way for good people to admit just how bloody uncomfortable they are with us, they distance themselves from their fears by devising new ways to erase us from the human landscape, all the while deluding themselves that it is for our benefit”.

It appears that the blog owner herself is a person with a disability, and i found it interesting to read through a blog on disabilities written by an individual who sees and deals with these occurrences daily. Marie and the author both share the consensus that the public is so involved with themselves, and trying to be perfect, that people with disabilities, as usual, are pushed aside. In many cases, where people with disabilities are being included, and have greater access to the many opportunities that non-disabled people have, those who wish to push them aside, take the act even further by either wiping them from the earth, or pushing to have it done legally as quickly as possible. Even with the great strides that we have made over the years with research and education on the topic of disability, it is still widely known and observed that there is a strong, and defined divide between “normal” and “disabled” people.

Week 9
November 17, 2008, 12:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Marshall Mitchell
Many may know Professor Marshall Mitchell, and many may not, but he is a very active, and great example of a person with a disability here in our very own Pullman, Washington. Professor Mitchell teaches the Disability Studies courses, one of which i am enrolled in at the moment. Disability Studes 489 can fulfill both Tier III and [D] diversity requirements required for graduation. I chose to take the course to kill two birds with one stone, and figured that I would just take it, do the work, and be done with it. Honestly, my expectations for the class weren’t very high, but after completing most of the semester with him, I have been pleasantly surprised at what I have learned and gained from the course. Professor Mitchell is a wheelchair user himself, and gives great first hand information and insight in many of the topics that we have covered throughout the course.
In my opinion, the most important features of the course were its focus on positive terminology so as not to offend those with disabiities, and educating to understand, and overcome the stereotypes often associated with people with disabilities.
As a general rule of terminology, you always want to “put the person first”. People with disabilities are not just things or creatures, but are people just like everyone else. To help combat the negative stigma often associated with these individuals, and to battle that segregation and hierarchy that often results, we “put the person first”.
The following are some examples as shown in class.
Note that N = negative terminology, and P = positive terminology.

• N=Crippled, lame, gimp, paralytic, handicap
• P=Person with a mobility impairment or a physical disability

• N=Epileptic, spastic
• P=Person with epilepsy

• N=Confined to a wheelchair, wheelchair-bound
• P=Wheelchair user, person who uses a wheelchair

• N=Deaf-mute, deaf and dumb
• P=Person with a hearing impairment or a person who is deaf

• N=Blind person
• P=Person with a visual impairment or a person who is blind

• N=Retard
• P=Person who is mentally impaired or a person who is
developmentally developed

• N = midget
• P = dwarf, little person

• N = birth defect
• P = person born with a disability

• N = suffers from, afflicted, stricken. Invalid, victim
• P = a person with a disability

There are countless stereotypes that i entered the class with, and although nobody will ever be able to overcome all stereotypes, I was able to learn a lot, and see through some very basic stereotypes i once had. First off, one major stereotype that I held at the beginning of the class was that all people with disabilities would want things differently. Essentially, I thought that if a person had a disability, they would want to have it cured if given the chance, to be a “normal” person. I have learned through class lectures, assignments, and movies, that this is not always true with people with disabilities.
Another stereotype that I had is that all people with disabilities need some sort of assistance whether it be minor or major, physical, or by some other means, to be successful in their everyday life. I quickly learned that this too, is not always the case. There are many individuals with disabilities that are able to be completely free and unbound of restriction, and independent in their everyday life.
I also thought that people with disabilities had it pretty well made, with all of the regulations and opportunities given to them through different laws and acts put in place on their behalf. I surely made a big assumption in thinking this, and have found out through our debate assignments and class meetings that the laws may even make some individuals worse off in some instances.

Overall, the Disability Studes course is a very interesting and informative class. I applaud Professor Mitchell on designing the course, picking out interesting movies, and forcing us to do endless readings and research, for in the end, it really has made a big impact on reshaping my thoughts on disability and people with disability.

Week 8
November 9, 2008, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The most recent newsletter produced by the Americans with Disabilities Act organization found here:ADA posts a brief story about a housing developer being charged with disability-based housing discrimination. The story goes as follows:


On September 29, 2008, Murphy Development, LLC, was sued by the Department in federal court in Nashville, Tennessee, for failing to provide required accessible features for people with disabilities at seven Nashville-area multi-family housing developments, as required by the federal Fair Housing Act. The complexes, which together have more than 375 ground floor units covered by the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements, are Meadowcreek Apartments, Miller Town Apartments, 17th Street Apartments, Forest View Apartments, Swiss Ridge Apartments, Lakeside Apartments, and Stonebridge Apartments.

“The Fair Housing Act requires multi-family housing to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “When design professionals and builders fail to design and construct homes without the required accessibility features, we will vigorously enforce the law.”

According to the complaint, these developments lack some walkways needed to connect covered dwelling units to public and common use areas, and, where walkways are provided, they are too steeply sloped to be accessible to people who have mobility disabilities. In addition, the exterior doors to covered dwellings have handles that require tight grasping and twisting of the wrist, making the apartments inaccessible to people who have limited dexterity or grasping ability, and the complexes have non-protected stairways and other protruding objects that pose a danger to people are blind or have low vision.

The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the defendants to modify the complexes to bring them into compliance with federal law and prohibiting future discrimination. It also seeks monetary damages to compensate victims of discrimination and a civil penalty to be paid to the government to vindicate the public interest.

After examining the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Acts, which strive to promote equal treatment for people with disabilities, it is clear that the developer of the apartment complexes is in violation of compliance laws that have been implemented to help create a better environment for those with disabilities. Though there is no guarantee that people with disabilities will ever live, work, or visit the facility, the chances of those occurrences are very high. The ADA will protect employees and patrons of the facility, including, but not limited to future and present residents. In this day and age, there is no excuse for non-compliance with the laws, rules, and regulations that strive to create a positive, and equally accessible environment for those with disabilities. People with disabilities have been segregated in the case of “us and them” for too long, and have come too far to be ignored and disrespected in this fashion. I understand that if you don’t have a disability, or haven’t really examined the topic in a whole lot of detail, that it can be quite easy to overlook things, and make assumptions on issues that we as normal able-bodied people take for granted all the time. However, in a project of this magnitude, it is selfish and very unprofessional to have to deal with issues like this. Not only is this issue bad for the developer, his associates, and anyone else that has been working with them, but it is disrespectful and sad to see that they would ignore such a huge part of the population. More so, it is inevitable that everyone will someday have some sort of disability, and although it may or may not be as extreme as examples and instances we see of people needing assistive care and/or special accomodations, mistakes such as this should not be tolerated in facilities and/or establishments that will be around for years to come.
Surprisingly, there was another incident back in August very similar to this.

The August incident:


On August 13, 2008, the developers and architects of Avalon Chrystie Place, a 361-unit residential apartment complex in Manhattan, New York City, were sued by the Department in federal court in Manhattan for failing to design and construct Avalon Chrystie Place to be accessible to people with disabilities, as required by the federal Fair Housing Act. The complaint charges CVP I, LLC, Downtown Manhattan Residential LLC, Chrystie Venture Partners, LLC, Avalon Bay Communities, Inc., and SLCE Architects LLP with violations of the Act. This is the Department’s first lawsuit in Manhattan alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act in the design and construction of multi-family housing.

“Housing must be available to all Americans without regard to disability,” said Michael J. Garcia, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “We will continue to pursue those who fail to design and construct accessible housing as required by federal law.”

According to the complaint, Avalon Chrystie Place, located at 229 Chrystie Place just below Houston Street in Manhattan, has public and common areas which are not readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. The complex also lacks accessible routes into and through dwellings, lacks reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow the installation of grab bars, and has kitchens and bathrooms that are not usable by a person who uses a wheelchair.

The complaint seeks a court order requiring the defendants to bring the complex into compliance with the Fair Housing Act and prohibiting them from designing or constructing multi-family housing in the future that does not contain the accessibility features required by federal law. It also seeks monetary damages to compensate victims of discrimination and a civil penalty to be paid to the government to vindicate the public interest.

Week 7
November 2, 2008, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

continuing from ideas in my previous post, i think that the prosthetic advancements made for people with disabilities is great, however i dont know if mixing “natural” athletes and “special” athletes is totally fair. As pointed out in the video, these “blades” may have more spring than a human leg. Add to that the fact that they are probably lighter than the bottoms of a human leg, and the fact that there are no muscles to exhaust blood oxygen supplies and increase lactic acid production, leading to increased levels of fatigue, i can see where there is some advantage to be had by using these. I’m no expert on the blades or exactly how Oscar’s disability affects him, but these are just speculations on my uneducated behalf. with further, extensive testing, i would gladly like to see all athletes compete together, because there is no doubt about the fact that they are just as deserving with all of their hard work and determination to be a part of the olympics too.

Week 6
October 26, 2008, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

James Medhurst is the author of this blog i came across, and presents his material in the perspective of an individual with autism.

The specific blog i am analyzing, called “Nowhere to run” can be found here: and his general blog page, “A different way of thinking” is here:

James’ points don’t really focus on Oscar himself, rather he tries to convey to his readers that disabled or not, we can’t always have sympathy and let people with disabilities be included in everything they wish. Sure, people have been focusing on giving members of humanity equal rights for a long time, but we can’t compare apples to oranges here. The fight for equality and being accepted and integrated into society encompasses the fact that people with disabilities should be treated equally with people without disabilities. The issue in question here is whether Oscar’s “blades”, which replace the bottom halves of his two legs have the possibility of giving him an unfair advantage over other athletes. We are striving for equality in treatment, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that in the end, things must be equal, especially with something as prestigous as the subject at hand.
Oscar was vying for a spot to compete in this past year’s 2008 summer olympics in Beijing. Even if there were some way to provide solid evidence that Oscar’s blades provide no physical advantages, there will always be questions and speculation. Though i would love to see people with disabilities be able to compete in the Olympics, i would personally question the fairness of having man and machine together as one competing against natural born humans. All of these elements, combined with Oscar’s stubborn attitude may eventually prove to be the end of his career, as James points out by saying, “The tragedy of Oscar Pistorius is that he would prefer to be fiftieth in the world and seen as the same as everyone else rather than being the best in the world and seen as different. The irony is that his blades may also be banned from the Paralympics because his rivals cannot afford them but he apparently refuses to switch to standard blades in order to be allowed to compete. His firm rejection of disability sport may prematurely end his career”.