Following on from the perceived protests by Team GB at the opening of the paras and the actual protests at the Closing of ATOS Ceremony by DPAC and UK Uncut it seems relevant to demand the truth.
Was there a protest or not? Could it be that Team GB were the only team that could not cope with wearing lanyards in the wind? Was there a sudden pandemic of collective amnesia within the ranks? Are we the only nation on earth that doesn't know how to dress properly?
It certainly appears that Team GB Officials want and expect us to believe that proud achievers, who are committed to the uniform of the patriot want us to believe the pathetic excuses being peddled out. Does this undermine the team? Does this explain our slow start in climbing the medals table (we were fifth when i wrote this - way below expectations). Are team administrators largely non disabled? Is there a glass ceiling that frustrates our team?
If there was a protest does this even point to immaturity within the olympic/paralympic movement in insisting on contracts that prevents the expression of political opinion and a lack of freedom both within speech and movement. Are the authorities impairing rights through the design of organisational barriers. If so isn't this an attack on the very hope that we are encouraged to believe in, that attitudes towards disability will change. Do the authorities patronise us to the extent that they keep us in the position of children who it is ok to see but not to hear?
In the aftermath of this it comes as no surprise that an official spokesperson for an apparent democratic government (one not voted for) says; "It's disappointing that a small number of organisations are protesting against sponsorship of the paralympic games". The word 'small' indicating the lack of importance attached to disabled people's opinions. And does it come as any surprise that the arch pragmatist that is Lord Coe should turn yet another covered eye to a perceived problem by stating; "I am pleased they (ATOS) are here. They are helping us".
Indeed in a strange twist of fate the only respectors of protest are ATOS who quite rightly say; "we fully respect people's right to peacefully protest and we understand this" (the legalised impoverishment of a large minority group), "is a highly emotive issue".
I therefore unilaterally demand that we free our athletes by seeking to unearth the truth. Toachieve this I call on the royal/celebrity perogative and call on friends of the athletes to talk to the press.
I boycotted the Olympics because of the involvementof ATOS. I was going to boycott the Paras for the same reason only listening to friends and adding my own prejudices I added Dow, McDonalds and Coca Cola to the mix.
Then I started to change my mind. Someone said the fourth principle of the Paras is equality. I can support that. Then articles on access started to appear in the press and media. Even Disabled People Against Cuts and other activists groups began to get a mention. I can go with all this. Maybe the paras were going to be a good thing after all.
My vacillation on this point took another turn. The Paras were going to change attitudes towards Disabled People forever. I felt uneasy with that. Certainly the promotion of the Super Human wasn't to my taste. It chimed with the other thing that the fourth estate had been so careful to avoid but which had now started to ring out loud and clear. Specialness, bravery, courage, overcoming tragedy, extraordinary achievement in the face of insurmountable odds, were all mentioned as luvvies took to the stage. What's David Beckham doing on that advert? What's all that about? Suddenly the tragedy model was - the old way of seeing Disabled People - the ingrained attitude; had become prominent again.
I'm turning away from the Paras again now but i'm hoping for better stuff still. What will swing it for me one way or the other. I went out last night to see a movie. I missed most of the opening ceremony but i was up for catching what was left of it at a friends house where a party to watch the ceremony was in full swing. I arrived in time for the march of the athletes - a boring parade of waving, fist pumping, gurning Crips that received the following comments from the gathered flippant, jovial guests:
- "Who let that one out?
- What's that one going to do? They certainly won't be doing the hop, skip and juimp without legs
- Look at that
- What a shame
- What a mong
- Spot the looney"
Except there are not going to be any Mental Health Service Users. They do not participate in the games. If i recall the history of the Paras correctly, People with Learning Disabilities were banned because of the ease with which non Disabled People iinvaded this category and left countries open to accusations of cheating. And what of Deaf People?
So, now i'm feeling Super Human my backside. This is no more than the passage of the Super Freak - an elite determined by an eligibility of criteria based on impairment - 'the deserving disabled'.
What could possibly be worse than this but the sudden appearance of David Cameron, sitting close to Wills whose brother had nominated a carrier of the torch because of heroics in Afganistan (still potentially an illegal war that goes about its daily grind of impairing people). Yes that Cameron, the one who had appointed ATOS to get Disabled People off benefits, the one who fails to take action against ideas expressed on all sides of the house and on all sides of the media that Disabled People are really no better than work shy scoungers who really need to be left without an income until they find a job in a society that freely discriminates against us. The same Cameron who is cutting services to Disabled People. Only on this day hadn't I advocated for someone who had her care provision cut from 210 hours per week to 35.
Now my mind is made up. I'm with DPAC, Black Triangle, UK Uncut, Social Welfare Union. These games are not going to change attitudes. They are going to reinforce them. Get a job Scounger. The Super Humans can do this. Why can't you do that?