Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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23 Responses

  1. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    It’s the latest version of “He’s a credit to his race.”

    That said, there is something inspiring about disabled people getting out there and competing. Maybe, seen from within, disabled people aren’t so special. Nobody wants pity or false admiration, that much is true. But anyone who has the grit and determination to transcend their limitations will always have my admiration: we’re all limited by something. Either you come to terms with your limitations and succeed or you curl up in a ball and slowly die of self-pity: disabled people and not-disabled people. If pity is contemptible, how much more self-pity?Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Well, you can say the same thing about anybody getting out there and competing, right?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        Well sure. That was my point. The Buddha said “All composite entities are subject to decay. Strive with diligence.” So you might lack a few parts – you work with what you’ve got. You strive with diligence. And why shouldn’t the Paralympic athletes have the same joy of striving as other athletes? Gives them a forum for all that diligent striving, on their own terms.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        I came to say the same thing. How it works is that people who are disabled and competing become representative all all disabled people.

        Sadly, we do this sort of thing frequently, and typically to groups of people we’re unfamiliar with or discomforted by in the role we’re witnessing. Some examples:

        I think he got sick and tired of seeing his co-workers and peers respected for their accomplishments while he was held up as a ‘credit to his race,’ as a representative not of himself, but of all blacks. Because he’s black, and held up as an example of all blacks, he must be an affirmative action case, or so I guess his perceptions might flow.

        So the successful CEO of a Fortune 500 who’s a woman becomes a symbol of all women in business. Or think of Sally Ride; was she an astronaut first, or ‘the first American woman in space?’ In her life, she was, I’d guess, the an astronaut and physicist first.

        We also do the inverse; pity sympathy. We hear about a kid who’s been sexually molested, for instance, and in sympathy, we say stuff like, “Oh, poor thing, his life is ruined.” Well, it’s sure been set on a different path. But ruined? Give the kid a break.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to BlaiseP says:

      I think the basic issue is that people underestimate human adaptability. They think that if they were similarly afflicted, their lives would be ruined and they’d just sit around sulking all day. And that happens, for a while, but most people eventually get over it and go on living. To people who haven’t actually gone through it, this may seem extraordinary.Report

      • “They think that if they were similarly afflicted, their lives would be ruined and they’d just sit around sulking all day.”

        I think this is very true. People, as you point out, are resilient, but a lot of us think that we couldn’t handle it.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Yeah, that piece was inspiring.


  3. Avatar Stillwater says:

    The guy doesn’t want to be viewed as an inspiration to “able bodied” people because it’s “othering.” I get that. Maybe this is a phase on the way to what he thinks of as normalizing. Being viewed as an inspiration isn’t the worst thing out there even if not ideal.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Stillwater says:

      Oh. He’s one of those people.

      The ones who use “other” as a verb, I mean.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        And now I see that you’re one of those people.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Chris says:

          Someone who rolls his eyes at the shibboleths of left-wing identity politics? Well, yeah. Was I not clear on that point before?Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            Oh, this is beautiful:
            s.e. smith is a writer, agitator, and commentator based in Northern California. Ou focuses on social issues, particularly gender, prison reform, disability rights, environmental justice, queerness, class, and the intersections thereof, and has a special interest in rural subjects. smith delights in amplifying the voices of those who are often silenced and challenging dominant ideas about justice, equality, and liberation. smith’s international publication credits include work for the Sydney Sun-Herald, The Guardian, and AlterNet, among many other progressive news outlets and magazines. Ou is most happy when ou has an opportunity to rile people up while also informing them about ongoing issues in the world around them, and adores any opportunity to discuss pop culture. Assisted by Loki the cat and a flock of roaming chickens, smith lives in Fort Bragg, California.

            Amazing how much of that can be inferred based just on “ou’s” use of that one word.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            I’ve always thought there was an irony to the extreme opposition to “identity politics,” in that it always involves something that looks a lot like identity politics.Report

  4. Avatar James Hanley says:

    It’s a great essay. The other night I was watching American Idol, and this one guy who was auditioning was maybe 4 1/2 feet tall, apparently because of some kind of physical/health issue. He had a great voice, too. And in their rush to praise his singing, the judges kept gushing over how awesome he was, and how in their eyes he was tall, emphasizing how much his disability didn’t matter.

    It was excruciating. My 15 year old groaned, “just shut up,” and I wanted to yell through the tv, “if you really want to demonstrate that his height doesn’t matter, stop talking about it–talk about his voice and nothing but his voice.”Report

  5. At the top of the linked to article–which is excellent, by the way–there’s a link to another article, called “Dear Middle Class People: You Are Not Actually ‘Poor.'” That also is a good article. The link is:

  6. Ahem.

    That’s not a wrench. It’s a pair of blunt-nosed pliers.Report