A music celebrity singles out two concert goers not standing and dancing. The concert stops and security is sent over. It turns out one was in a wheelchair and one an amputee. Satisfied the celebrity declares that it's okay then, and proceeds with the concert.
Where oh where to start?
I'm not even going to mention his name. It's all over social media at the moment and I've had my say over on my FB page. And in truth, his identity is irrelevant except to point out his incredible display of wankerism. I'm not even going to get into the argument that if you've spent your hard earned cash on a concert ticket and want to sit throughout, that it's your right to do so. But for me there is a bigger issue at play.
What this represents is yet another example of ableism and the persistent idea that disability is visible.
What if, like for many people there was no wheelchair, no cane, no prosthetic, no visible difference that signified genuine disability. What if the ailment that they live with is completely invisible and they look well to those who don't know them.
As Invisible Illness Week 2014 comes to it's conclusion we are shown a very public example of how many people envision acceptable disability.
Living with a disorder that is for the most part invisible it's hard not to imagine the singer's reaction to my sitting if I wasn't in my chair. Standing, particularly for an extended period, is incredibly difficult for those living with Dysautonomia. Standing up is said to require three times the energy required for those without autonomic dysfunction. The same issue occurs in multiple conditions. Prolonged standing for those with EDS, ME, COPD, CRPS and many other chronic and traditionally invisible conditions can be incredibly difficult.
Yet we may save up our limited energy to attend a concert. We may up our meds, rest for days, and book out days after to recover. We do all that we can to attend any events and as much as we'd like to stand and dance, we are simply stoked to be there sitting in a seat watching the singer of choice.
To be singled out and chastised for not getting up and dancing would be embarrassing to say the least. To then have to prove why you have the right to be sitting. To have a complete stranger who knows nothing about you decide that your disability is valid or not valid is dehumanising and out right rude.
Imagine if that person was only just coming to terms with their disability?
You have to stand:
"unless you got a handicap pass where you get special parking and s---,"
Ugh. Which bit of ignorance to start with?
Why should anyone have to prove disability? Especially to a complete entitled douche who thinks he has the right to both chastise and decide who can and cannot stand at his concert.
I am tired of others asking people to prove their disability. To prove that what they experience is real. That it is legitimate. I am tired that there is a continuing pervasive idea that only certain very visible issues are genuine or valid disabilities. I am over people who think that they have an instinctive right to judge the legitimacy of a person's disability. I am over people who have absolutely no expertise and no idea who suddenly feel they are experts in the field of disability and have developed some sort of superpower that enables them to identify disability at a single glance.
I don't wish this singer ill. I don't wish him to be in my position. I don't want him to spend a day in a wheelchair, after which he can just get up and go on with life. I don't want him to think that the only way to experience disability is to be in a wheelchair. A day or a week or a month living my life, will not give him true insight into my experience. I have been ill 24/7 for 8 years and I will continue to be ill and get worse. A day in a wheelchair will not expose him to all that entails. And frankly why should that be what is required to simply act like a decent human being.
You can have compassion without understanding. You can have decency without understanding. You don't need to know the intricacy of anothers life to treat them with respect due any human being.
Disability comes in so many shades. Some visible. Some not. Some physical. Some psychological. Some intellectual. Some in a combination of all of those. I don't wish pain, or nausea, of passing out, or anxiety, or depression, or any other issue upon him or anyone else.
But I do wish that people would pull their heads out of their arse and
a) get some perspective,
b) stop trying to judge others on false criteria
c) become educated,
d) just be a decent compassionate human being who realises that they cannot spot disability at a single glance
e) have absolutely no right to ask for proof
f) or judge in the first place.
Oh and did I mention pull their head out of their arse.