Tibor Benke (benke@SFU.CA)
Wed, 4 Oct 1995 18:58:21 -0700

I apologize if this appears twice. The first time I sent this message, the
listserv replied: "Message not deliverable". I apologize for the tone as
well, but sometimes I cannot contain myself.

Mary Irving complained:

>Tibor Benk used that silly, condescending euphemism --differently
>abled-- that always makes my skin crawl and my hair stand on end.
>I am blind and I use the word blind and it's a perfectly good word.
>Just as deaf is also a good word. Remember the student strike at
>Gallaudet University in 1989 I think it was. The students called
>for a "deaf president" not a physically challenged president, or a
>differently abled president, but for a deaf president. The word is
>not such a bad word either. The Americans With Disabilities Act
>(ADA) is called just that, not the Differently Abled Americans Act
>(DAAA) or the Physically Challenged Americans Act (PCAA). See the
>problem is not in the name but in the attitude toward people who
>happen to be blind or deaf or disabled in some other way. How many
>colleges and universities have a blind faculty member? How many
>anthropology departments have ever helped a blind student get an
>internship? I am not singling out Tibor Benk; It just happened
>that his post caught my attention.

Please, the name is 'Benke'. Personally, (I am a fifty year old man with
Multiple Sclerosis, partial visual impairment, and some sort of learning
disability - not to mention the emotional problems derived from the way
pedagogical institutions dealt with my cognitive problems) I find
"differently abled" the most brief and precise way to discribe my
reality. If I wanted to be hardheaded about it, I could refer to myself as
"congenitaly lazy, crazy, stupid cripple". While "differently abled" may
have the ring of euphemism, for me it admirably points to my *abilities*
rather then my *disabilities*. In addition, it points to the
epistemological import of *perspective*, which happens to be the focus of
my academic interest.

Unfortunately, Canada does not have a Canadians with Disabilities act,
(CWDA?) or whatever and I wonder what good it would do me, if it did. A
guaranteed minimum income, based on a fixed fraction of per capita GDP
be a lot better - then no one would need an excuse. For now, I live on
welfare 'cause I can't spell or sell or program computers - and it took me
ten years of being kicked around until the authorities decided I qualified
to be a cripple. With Newtie and the gang, and the old law of 'the
falling rate of profit', your progressive legislation in the U.S. might
become a thing of the past soon. I congratulate you for having a condition
that after a couple of hundred years of struggle, has a respectable name.
Meanwhile, racism, sexism, ableism and, most of all, CAPITALISM continue
to progress toward the ultimate obliteration of all people who are 'other',
if not all lifeforms on our planet, while we bicker about language. Get a
life! I will be 'politically correct' precisely to the degree I choose to
be when I feel the need. If your skin crawls and hair stands on end,
perhaps you need to examine precisely what your problem is?

Best regards,

Tibor Benke
Graduate Student (MA program)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Simon Fraser University

Heraclitus was right: change is constant!
Heraclitus was wrong: change is variable!