Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Disability and Voting

This is the Voting Rights Restoration project. People with disabilities want to vote! They need more and better protections.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Roundup: Shame and Glory

The week began, for me, with the Pope's new encyclical. That story has been buried in the US beneath the wave of big news stories involving violence here and abroad, SCOTUS decisions, and flags.
  • I posted  a wonderful guest essay from historian Ellen Arnold on the ways in which medieval ideas about the environment are consistent with Pope Francis' vision. Arnold says - "The capacity to imagine a “whole earth”—fragile, surrounded by emptiness, is not ours alone."
I am always open to guest posts from regular readers who want to share their expertise and analysis here. See my email from the About Me page

I returned to The Atlantic this week, writing a piece on the same-sex marriage decision, Obergefell v Hodges, and the way this new right was grounded in history. In my blog post, I offered a few comments on Justice Roberts' bizarre dissent from Anise Strong, one of the historians I interviewed for the piece. Carthago delenda est!

Other pieces:
I am travelling to DC briefly to work on a big project on which I'm collaborating (reveal coming in a few weeks). Then I'm going to Harvard to participate in a workshop about fighting misogyny on the internet. That event is being held under Chatham House Rule, which means I can talk about what I';m doing, and I can talk generally about what is said, but not reveal names or participants.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Obergefell v Hodges in the Scope of History

I have a new piece up with The Atlantic on the historic decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. It argues that the history of marriage supports, even mandates, change as societies change.

We're ready. History is with us. Love wins.

Here's the piece, with thanks to Anise Strong and Ruth Karras.

---

UPDATE - Anise Strong gave me permission to repost these comments on Roberts' dissent:
Roberts: "As a result, the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians
and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?"
Strong Writes:
Just for the record:
The Kalahari !Kung or San people (Bushmen being a frequently pejorative term) practice a limited form of same-sex marriage for inheritance purposes and probably have for tens of thousands of years. Also, their marriages are generally open with regard to sexual intercourse and can be freely and frequently divorced by either party.
The Han Chinese frequently practiced polygynous marriage and the primary functional practical relationship is mostly mother-in-law/daughter-in-law.
We don't know much of anything about the Carthaginian practice of marriage or family life, except that there's increasing evidence that they did sacrifice babies.
Aztec nobles were polygynous; Aztecs may have also practiced a form of same-sex marriage involving third-sex (intersex or "two-spirit)) individuals. Furthermore, Aztec wives had far more property and individual rights than most European and Asian women in the last 5000 years.
Or in other words: do your research.
And that is why I interviewed her for my piece.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Disability and Policing - My Front Porch

The front screen door opened and then closed. I thought it was a package. But then I heard male voices on my porch. Was the delivery man saying hi to a neighbor? After a few minutes, when they continued, I opened the door to find a police officer on my porch, another on the sidewalk in front of the house, and my neighbor - a man maybe in his late 50s or early 60s (he's a Vietnam war vet) next to him.

In the rocking chair, just to the left of the door, sat my neighbor's mother, G. She said, sweetly, "I just came up to your porch to sit." Then she told me that these men wanted to take her away, that they were stupids. The police officer, very calmly, replied directly to her that he was there to help, that she had been wandering, but that because she said she was going to throw herself in front of a car, he had to take that seriously.

G asked me if she could come inside, but I demurred, offering instead to help walk her to where she needed to go. She asked me to walk her back to her house, and I carefully helped her down the stairs. As we got down the block a bit, an ambulance pulled up, and without real complaint (but much insulting commentary directed at the police), we walked towards the curb as the paramedics got out. Once she was well in their hands, she more or less dismissed me, and 10-15 more minutes elapsed as step-by-step they got her to the back of the ambulance, onto the gurney, and into the vehicle.

I chatted with the second officer about the unexpected arrival of my subject field - police interactions with people with disabilities - on my front porch. And I complimented their patience and thoughtfulness in handling it.

It's going to be a rough period for G and her son, but I'm pleased to see the police are ready to both take threats of self-harm seriously and to respond so patiently and calmly. Both G and the officers are welcome on my porch any time.

Voluntary Wellness Programs are Neither Voluntary nor Promote Wellness.

Many work wellness programs work like this - get regular checkups, hit various benchmarks of health, get money! It's a way for business to lower their health care costs by rewarding people for making healthy choices.

Except that according to the ACLU, these bonuses are basically closed to people with disabilities. Moreover, there's no real evidence that they make people healthier - instead, it's a bonus for people who are already, luckily, healthy. As Susan Mizner of the ACLU said - voluntary wellness programs are neither.

Here's Claudia Center:
Voluntary wellness programs at work can provide benefits to employees, but employers are increasingly adopting “voluntary” wellness programs that unfairly burden workers with disabilities the most of all. Worse, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission seems to think that’s okay, undermining core antidiscrimination protections it used to defend.
Here’s why.
Imagine a woman living with rheumatoid arthritis and severe depression who, under doctor’s care, has finally returned to work. Her medications — a corticosteroid and an antidepressant — have triggered weight gain. Now imagine this woman facing her employer’s “wellness activities:” She is instructed to fill out a detailed questionnaire about her medical conditions; she is weighed and pronounced overweight; she is told to lose weight. Oh, and the program is voluntary — but if she doesn’t comply, she will have to pay hundreds of dollars more in annual health care premiums.
Comment period at the EEOC is now closed (I shared this widely on social media when it came out), but I wanted to circle back to it and just take a look at the logic. The pressure on the disabled body to be measured and assessed by normative rubrics forces various types of compliance.

So to review:

Voluntary wellness programs are not voluntary.
Voluntary wellness programs do not produce wellness.
Voluntary wellness programs discriminate against the disabled.

Finally - Voluntary wellness programs are a kind of corporate reification of the medical model of the body. Which isn't surprising, because medical model has come to embody all kinds of neoliberal principles.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Language and Power - Philosophy and Propaganda

David Johnson is my main editor at Al Jazeera America, so to the extent you appreciate the pieces I write there, you have him to thank (along with several brilliant assistant editors). All mistakes, of course, are my own!

But he's also a philosopher and what one might call an "alt-academic," someone who took his academic training and made a career in journalism. After sending him so much of my writing over the past year, it was a pleasure to read this essay by him on propaganda and philosophy.

In the piece, Johnson uses a book review of How Propaganda Works, by Jason Stanley (prof at Yale, also columnist at "The Stone," the philosophy blog at the Times), to talk about the power of language, idea, and image, but also his own career and the role of philosophy in public discourse. He writes:
The 9/11 attacks occurred the week I had to defend my dissertation in philosophy. I took my first tenure-track job (yes, such a thing existed back then) during the launch of our now fourteen-year-old “war on terror.” As I made my way in academia in the midst of George W. Bush’s presidency, my new colleagues and I would inevitably discuss the authoritarian and distorting turn of American public discourse. How could so many be so cowed and so misled into supporting such an obvious misadventure as the Iraq war? How could our leading institutions—and especially the media—fail so miserably to underline the immorality of torture and question the claims as to Saddam Hussein’s threat to national security? This dismal time raised the specter of propaganda, and posed the questions of how the false alibis of power could hold such sway in a liberal democracy and what could be done about it.
In 2004–2005, I was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Michigan. By then, I had become so radicalized by the American political situation and so frustrated by the restrictive horizons of my research—my specialty was ancient Greek philosophy—that I felt I had to make a choice. On the one hand, I might continue on the academic track and try to speak out where I could. (Like many of my peers, I was an active extramural blogger.) On the other, I could leave the ivory tower behind and plunge into journalism.
As someone who has a "diversified academic career," as we're calling it, attempting to remain in academia and yet plunge into journalism, as well as an author of a string of essays about public engagement, I naturally found this narrative interesting.

Johnson then plunges into the book itself. And that, too, seemed important to me, because language undeniably has power and any state exercising that power can be accused of propaganda. So is there good propaganda and bad propaganda? How do we tell? Is it always subjective?

I haven't read the book yet, but Johnson suggests that these questions are not satisfactorily answered.
So what, in the end, makes the propaganda that launched the Iraq war or attempted to end the “death tax” bad but other instances of propaganda—such as the campaigns that launched FDR’s war against Fascism, economic royalists, and want—good, or at least tolerable?
I wouldn’t want to go so far as to say the ends justify the means, but Stanley is surely onto something when he claims that the most productive role for propaganda in a liberal democracy is to shore up liberal-democratic ideals. In this view of things, the cure for the problem of propaganda isn’t to make less of it, per se, but to harness it into the service of undergirding the core values of our political system: reasonableness, pluralism, and equality.
I left academia to fight for these values. Although journalism is not propaganda, Stanley’s book clarifies what’s at stake when journalists fail to see how the propaganda of our liberal democracy is functioning.
One thing that's clear - the reason David is a good, demanding, editor is that he's a good, thoughtful, writer and thinker.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Making Books Accessible - And Tone Policing Accommodation Request

I like books! I wrote a book (and think we need to reconfigure how they work professionally).

Books are, however, notoriously inaccessible to people with certain kinds of disabilities, whether it's because of vision issues of various sorts, motor control, etc.

A group of disability studies scholars have published a letter on making books accessible, written for other scholars to use as a template for discussions with publishers who want their work. You can read the letter here in a word doc. Here's a sample:
As a scholar working in disability studies, I am dedicated to publishing work that is accessible to all scholars, including anyone with print-reading disabilities. For this reason, it is imperative that before agreeing to publish with [name of publisher], I have written assurance that materials will be available in accessible formats at the same time as any print copies.
Then the letter moves into how to make that happen.
The technical specifications: Materials must be in EPUB 3.0 or later format... 
Currently the program “Adobe InDesign” - the program used by most large book designers - has built-in features for checking accessibility...
It is important to remember that many charts and graphs are also unrecognizable to screen-reading software...
Ideally, images, maps, and figures appearing in books should also be visually described...
It's a good letter. I did not visually describe the images and maps in my book and I wish I had.

Here's the problem - Inside Higher Ed's Carl Straumsheim tone-policed the authors of this letter for not being nice about this list of reasonable accommodations. He wrote: The guidelines, a one-page template letter, read a little like an ultimatum.

Asking for the accommodations you need; asking to make your work universally accessible, is not now and never will be an ultimatum. This kind of tone policing is simple not acceptable.

Update 1 - Some readers have interesting things to say about "tone police" has a useless phrase. I'll write more about this in the future. I think they are right, and I'm using it as a lazy shorthand for language that replicates and reinforces hierarchy and prejudice (rather than undermines it).

Update 2 - Here is the response from the reporter, to a third party. It's the usual, "Not my intention." The good apology is - I see how the words I used were damaging and I'll do better in the future.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pope Francis and the Traditions of Medieval Environmentalism

This is a guest post written by Ellen Arnold, PhD. Arnold is Assistant Professor of History at Ohio Wesleyan University and author of  Negotiating the Landscape: Environment and Monastic Identity in the Medieval Ardennes. Follow her on Twitter. Read more of her work on this site here.

The capacity to imagine a “whole earth”—fragile, surrounded by emptiness, is not ours alone


Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change has caught the world’s attention. Here in the US, this has brought new attention to the role of the church in science and the legitimacy of faith leaders engaging with economic and ecological issues. This has put the Catholic Church’s relationship with environmentalism in the news—but that relationship is nothing new.

As many will undoubtedly point out in the coming days, Pope Francis named himself after a medieval saint closely associated with environmentalism. Yet too much attention on this tie, and on St. Francis himself, may be a bad thing. Our modern conversations about St. Francis of Assisi make him seem exceptional—he is a proto-hippie and proto-ecologist. He has become the lone medieval lover of nature (the Johnny Appleseed of the Middle Ages)—mythologized out of his context.

This clouds the ways that almost all medieval saints were connected to local environments and to the protection of God’s creation. Medieval saints, scholars, and everyday Christians cared about nature, wrote about nature, and thought deeply about their environment. They recognized the fragility of the earth and valued nature as God’s creation. The history of ties between the medieval church and care for the natural world is deeper and richer than we imagine. As we engage with Francis’ encyclical, we need to recognize that the Catholic Church is not new to the table on this, and that older ideas are worth revisiting and revising as we look to chart a way forward.

In many ways, the way we live in and with nature is radically different from that of the past—we have created new problems (acid rain, ozone depletion, and artificial toxins). We use resources on massively different scales, and have radically altered our energy regime (extractive and non-renewable materials dominate global energy landscapes). We have also overcome many things that used to endanger human survival (the eradication of smallpox and the invention of plastic have saved millions of human lives).

Yet though the scale of our interactions with nature might have changed, we share with medieval people (and the medieval church) more common environmental concerns than we might expect. Medieval people did not live in an Edenic “balance” with nature—they, like us, practiced large-scale, profit-driven agriculture, stretched land beyond its limits, over-exploited fuel resources (such as peat and coal), and developed complex and fragile food systems to feed expanding cities. Yet they also (like us) believed that people could alter their environments in ways that made them more “useful” or “healthful” for human communities. They planted orchards, created massive systems for diverting water resources to run sewage systems, raised fish in artificial ponds to keep steady food supplies, and regulated urban pollution to protect the health of both rivers and people.

Medieval people were also not ignorant of environmental risk—they were aware that land was limited, that droughts could hit, and that forests could disappear. Medieval land managers developed practices to expand the longevity of natural resources, and to protect the resources they controlled. Almost every medieval forest, for example, had large sections that were “coppiced”—a practice in which people harvest the branches and shoots of a tree and then wait for them to regrow. Medieval kings also established Europe’s first “national parks” when they created protected forest zones that privileged wildlife habitat.

Finally, the capacity to imagine a “whole earth”—fragile, surrounded by emptiness, is not ours alone.
Gautier de Metz’s Image du Monde
(BL MS Harley 334)
Ancient and medieval thinkers knew that the earth was both round and finite. Medieval monks, scientists, and theologians alike recognized that it was also fragile, and unique. Today, we express that uniqueness by evoking Earthrise (for example in this article)--in the past, they expressed this through stories of creation, and images of the world as made and then protected by God. Medieval representations of the earth (1) show it as not simply bestowed upon humanity alone, but, quite literally, in the hands of God (2).

Today, we tend to view life in the Middle Ages as nasty, brutish, and short. We assume that nature was the adversary, that there was no sense of the beauty of nature and little appreciation for abstract contemplation of nature. But medieval people noticed birdsong, commented on the marvelous ranges of colors and smells of wildflowers, cultivated ornamental trees and plants, and kept exotic birds and animals. They saw in the colors of flowers, the behavior of animals, and the qualities of birds signs about God’s creation and moral lessons to instruct people on the right ways of living in the world. Though medieval people might not have talked about the value of nature in quite the same ways we do, they did have an appreciation for nature’s bounty and balance, and an awareness of how easily disrupted both were.

Many may be surprised to learn that Pope Francis has a Master’s degree in Chemistry, because of the American assumption of not only a separation of church and state, but also of church and science. But that assumption is a false one, one, largely a cultural and historical construct produced in the 18th and 19th centuries. The medieval church championed science, actively managed resources, and thought about how human work impacts nature. Medieval monastic scholars preserved, read, and wrote extensive commentaries on the scientific works of antiquity. They also produced their own.

Bishop Isidore of Seville wrote the world’s first encyclopedia. The 7th-8th century saint and scholar Bede wrote biblical commentaries and also “On the Reckoning of Time” and “On the Nature of Things,” as well as compiling precise tide-tables. Bestiaries from the twelfth century, famous today for their fantastical animals, were compendiums of natural history and strove to explain the web of human and animal life. Monastic communities throughout Europe were at the forefront of agricultural technologies and engineering advancements. They maintained agricultural production and managed lands across vast territories and across centuries. They also developed the modern university, pursuing knowledge of the seven liberal arts and working to better understand and value God’s creation.

In the Christian faith (modern and medieval), failure and the recognition of our responsibility for failure is a necessary step to salvation. Human knowledge of the Fall is necessary for salvation, just like awareness of the natural limits of resources is necessary for ideas of sustainability to develop. But as Pope Francis writes, faith (and progressive action on global climate change) requires more than blame and guilt: “Faith likewise offers the possibility of forgiveness, which so often demands time and effort, patience and commitment.” (3)

If, encouraged by Francis, we work “to respect nature all the more, and to discern in it a grammar written by the hand of God and a dwelling place entrusted to our protection and care,” we may be able to ally science and faith more fully. If we can step beyond a modern understanding of the isolation of scientific inquiry to a sphere separate from faith and history, more people may understand and embrace the purpose and value of science. If we can drop our restricted (and negative) view of the deep relationship between Christianity and ecology, we may be able to yield more converts to conservation and ecological concern, and help heal our communities, or souls, and our environment.

Notes:

(1) Fifteenth-century manuscript of Gautier de Metz’s Image du Monde (BL MS Harley 334)

(2) Codex Vindenbonensis 2554, 12th cent. Bible Moralisee

(3) Pope Francis: quotes (6/29/13, no. 55) http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/upload/pope-francis-quotes.pdf








Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Roundup: #FathersDay and Working Dad Edition

Happy Father's Day! Let's fight the patriarchy. Here's just one issue out of many in a new piece from Al Jazeera America.
I am hardly alone in needing to find a way to make a lot of moving parts fit together. Working dads are so normal that we don’t even talk about it. A Google search for “working mom” or mother versus “working dad” or father comes out at a 10:1 ratio. Bing turns up a 20:1 ratio. A Google books search for “working mom” shows at least 15 times more results than “working dad,” and “working mother” breaks the chart.

Our silence on issues facing working dads is bad for men. It’s worse for women, because the idea that women are the default parents leads to all kinds of discrimination. In fact, it affects all caregivers, not just parents, but also those caring for spouses, parents, or a sick loved one. It’s even bad for people without children. Fundamentally, the “working-dad problem” is about patriarchy. Men and women get confined to definite gender roles and punished, or at least pushed back, whenever they transgress or transcend those norms. On the one hand, working dads lack the vocabulary to talk about the challenges of work-life fit. There is no neat, culturally accepted, set of norms from which working dads can integrate the various aspects of their lives. Often we’re just workers, not dads.
I have been thinking about this essay for awhile and tracking these stats. Basically, no change in the last two years.

Two other published pieces this week:

And then these blog posts:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Public Shaming Has a Body Count - Confirming vs Reinforcing Hierarchies

As I watched the finale of Game of Thrones, I spent a lot of time thinking about sexualized shame. We're in a kind of ongoing conversation about internet shame lately, with much of the drama focused on white people who feel really uncomfortable being taken to task by historically marginalized groups (people of color). The status quo is so worried about these white folks that Jon Ronson wrote a whole book about them, and keeps taking to the internet to tone police us.

Me, I'm worried about when shame interacts with power, rather than when people without power collectively use shame. One way is to think about punching up/punching down, but first of all - I don't like punching. Second, I think the simple verticality of power spectra is almost never clear (this is true for comedy).

Instead, I recommend thinking about whether a given situation undermines hierarchies and stereotypes or replicates them. When Tim Hunt is called out for his sexism, the collective action undermines hierarchies. When Adria Richards was harassed out of her job, the collective action replicates and reinforces hierarchies.

Recently, Jeb Bush's 1995 call for more public shaming came to light. His actions as a governor reinforcing that shaming mentality did likewise. In fact, the public shaming of women for their sexual choices has a long history and remains a fully modern aspect of our society today.

In Salon, I wrote about the 13-year-old girl Izabel Laxamana, who killed herself after her father shamed her for sending a selfie. I wrote about Jeb Bush. I used Cersei Lannister as a jumping off point, because too many responses to that pointed at the scene as a kind of thing "other people" do. It's not. It's us.
And then we come to Bush’s anti-choice credentials. At its core, the discourse of anti-choicers embraces the need to shame women for their sexual choices, functioning as what Amanda Marcotte calls “the sex police.” For single women in particular, the anti-choice movement wants their decision to have sex visible to the world, a warning sign to others. And Bush’s anti-choice credentials — again, drawing from his history as governor — are severe. In 2003, Bush declared himself the “most pro-life governor in modern times.” He fought to keep an intellectually disabled rape victimand, in 2005, a 13-year-old rape victim, from having abortions. He now says he is willing to consider a rape and incest exception to a ban on abortion, but that’s it. For all other women, in the views of Bush, the decision to have sex is a public matter.
Shame is a powerful tool. It can be used to shed light on prejudice and injustice, but the power dynamic between a state and a woman being shamed by the state is inherently abusive. When we take a scene like Cersei’s walk and justify it as a dramatic re-creation of a bygone era, or the kind of thing that only happens in other places, we miss the ways such dynamics continue to play out in our society. That’s not a criticism of “Game of Thrones,” but a criticism of us.
The public shaming of women in order to control female sexuality is not a medieval throwback or a fictional problem, but a major part of our culture today. It killed Izzy Laxamana. And it’s still being perpetuated by at least one man seeking to become the most powerful person in the world.
Public shaming has a body count.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mental Illness and Charleston

By now you know about the massacre in Charleston, perpetrated by someone reported to be adorned with white supremacist symbols [Update: It's clear that the killer was not wearing such symbols at the church, but on a separate occasion].

The temptation, especially from racism apologists, will be to explain away the violence by focusing on mental illness.

Let me say this - I don't care about the killer's diagnosis. I care about who inspired him to act. Who got him the weapon (we know this I believe). Who suspected and said nothing. And what we're going to do next. Meanwhile, the confederate flag flies high as a  symbol of South Carolina.

There may come a day to discuss the disability lens of this story. Today is not that day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Neurodiversity, Colonialism, and the Cult of Compliance

Neurodiversity is a powerful concept, taking the ideas of intellectual and psychiatric disability and wrestling them into the diversity narratives. In the diversity narratives, we don't try to cure or fix, but to accept, understand, accommodate, assist, and hopefully eventually move to a place where we recognize same-ness in our differences. Bringing disability into the diversity conversation is good for disability rights movement, but it's better for the diversity movement, as disability is a universal aspect of the human condition. As my friend K. says - disability isn't a niche group; it's us.

Which brings me to this essay by Sean Donohue on neurodiversity (and pagan thought).
My senses take in torrents of information that sometimes overwhelm my capacity to process them, making me miss things that would seem obvious to most, but at other times (and sometimes simultaneously) make me aware of subtle presences in the world that elude others’ attention. My brain process processes information in non-linear ways that make it easy for me to perceive patterns and connections in the world but difficult to complete a step-by-step process like paying the electrical bill. I have a complex relationship with language — sometimes loquacious and poetic, other times completely non-verbal. When I speak in metaphor, people tend to take me literally, and when I speak literally people often assume that I am speaking metaphorically, because my baseline assumptions about the world differ from those of the vast majority of people around me, and they always have.
What this essay then does is explore the ways that colonialism attacks neurodiversity, what's threatening about autistic thought to the colonial mindset, and how to work against it. I think the writing is excellent and it's a very different approach to what I've been calling the cult of compliance.

Compliance is an important word in autistic discourse, because of a huge, and controversial, therapeutic emphasis on compliance training (finding ways to force autistic people into certain kinds of typical behavior). More on that another day. For now, it's focus on colonialism (I think you could write similarly about neoliberalism).
It follows that the remaking of the world requires a remaking of language — something the colonizers understood. Capitalism depends on commodification, the process of turning parts of the world into objects which can be traded in the marketplace. But you can’t commodify a forest or a mountain if people call it by a name which recognizes it as alive. Patriarchy depends on the enforcement of gender roles. But you can’t enforce patriarchal gender roles within a culture that has no words that denote gender, such as the Tlingit, unless you rob people of their language.
So the process of colonization requires either a process of forced conversion and inculturation — the liberal alternative — or a process of eradication. In both Ireland and North America, British capitalism, engaged in both. But forced inculturation was more cost efficient than mass slaughter and also left the colonizers with a labor force to extract value from stolen land.
 Worth reading, I think.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It's Too Easy for Special Education to Turn into Babysitting

I have a new piece up at Al Jazeera America about barriers to inclusions in US schools for children with disabilities.
I am in regular conversation with parents across the U.S. who are struggling through much more difficult situations, whether from abuse, mockery or just general resistance to meeting a child’s needs. Sometimes school districts are resistant to change, claiming they are not required to provide the best option for students, instead opting to offer the bare minimum to students with disabilities. It’s too easy for special education to turn into baby-sitting.
I talk about our experiences, the experiences of other parents, and the the history of inclusion in US schools. I finish with this powerful quote from a friend:
But schools too often balk at real inclusion. Despite evidence that inclusion enhances the quality of education for all kids, many schools offer only integration. “Integration works from the premise that, for the most part, it is the student with disability that needs to fit in,” Cátia Malaquias, an Australian inclusive education advocate and writer, said in a recent email. “Inclusion requires systemic change to accommodate all learners — that is, a system based on the methodology of universal design for learning, differentiated instruction and adapted curriculum.”
 In order to build a truly inclusive society, we have to break the idea that inclusion is something that can be measured out in percentages or limited numbers of hours per day. Inclusion requires total commitment and a radical shifting of mindset from policy makers, teachers, parents and all adults. And then we can make sure we teach it to our children.
So let's keep working.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Death of Jermaine McBean - #CultOfCompliance and Hearing Loss

Police violence against people with hearing loss is a far too common occurrence and serves as a central evidence for the cult of compliance. These people are being killed not for being threats, but for not following commands promptly.

I am also interested in the ways that ear buds, cell phones, and those around other loud noises experience similar problems in police presence. Not because wearing ear buds are the same as those with hearing loss, but that in the moment of a police encounter, the function is similar. It's a way that the menace of the cult of compliance extends from the disabled to all of society, and making that argument is important, if we want change.

I wrote about the Deaf woodcarver, John T WilliamsPearl Pearson, a Deaf black man driving (the ACLU wrote about this case too). A Deaf boy tasered in Connecticut.  I wondered whether Andy Lopez was killed for wearing headphones (this was a case of a fake gun that looked real).

And then this longer post on three people - A Deaf Man, a man on a phone, and a man with earbuds, all killed within a few weeks of each other.

Here's a new story. "Earbuds, BB Gun at Play in Fatal Police Shooting in Florida" [my emphasis]
Broward Sheriff's Office deputies quickly arrived, saw McBean at the apartment complex and yelled for him to put the gun down. At first he didn't react — perhaps he couldn't hear because of his earbuds — then, as he began to turn around, he was fatally shot by Deputy Peter Peraza.
Now, nearly two years later, a Florida grand jury will investigate the McBean shooting. Homicide detectives have completed their investigation and turned the case over the prosecutors, who will soon present it to the grand jury. It's not exactly clear when those jurors will get the case, nor why it has taken two years, though in Florida police shooting investigations can often take years to complete.
The McBean shooting generated only modest interest in 2013 but is getting renewed attention because of a wrongful death lawsuit his family filed and the national conversation about how police treat blacks. McBean was black and Peraza is Hispanic.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said his detectives have done a "thorough and complete investigation" and he believes the shooting was justified. His officers even received a prestigious award for their actions that day, even though they haven't been cleared yet.
McBean's mother accuses Peraza and the sheriff of seeking to cover up the facts surrounding McBean's death, including lying about whether McBean was wearing earbuds, according to a wrongful death lawsuit she filed in federal court in May. The family's lawyer, David Schoen, said the deputies would have "beyond any question" noticed the earbuds after the shooting.
There will be more deaths like this.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Roundup - TV Writing and Inclusion

This spring I unexpectedly became a TV writer for Vice.com

I've am trained as a critic, but had been writing mostly about hard news for CNN and Al Jazeera, and higher ed for the Chronicle. Still, I did think and write a lot about medievalism in modern media (news and entertainment) as well as representations of disability in culture, which put me on the path.

Last fall, when Marco Polo was announced by Netflix, I sent out pitches as presumably the only person with significant journalistic experience and scholarly expertise in 13th-century Venice, resulting in my first piece for Vice. Then Game of Thrones came back, and I had things to say about its medievalism and Braavos as Venice, then disability in Daredevil, feminism in Mad Max (and gender/comics for Salon). What had been a minor component of my writing career - cultural criticism -  has taken up a lot of my time this spring and summer. I hope you've enjoyed the results.

I had two Game of Thrones pieces published in the last few days. I'll have another one on Monday morning.
I also had my first Washington Post article this week - On inclusion. It all started with a flyer sent home reading, "Come one! Come all." Except that Nico was going to "participate as an audience member. Honestly, I'm still furious - for his behalf, but also for all the other kids who learn that exclusion is ok.
More to come on inclusion next week too, along with something special for Father's Day, and perhaps the history of marriage. There are some potential big projects on the horizon, too.

Here are blog posts from the week:
Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Work/Life Fit, Gender, Parenting - Some search results

This is a resource post for an upcoming piece about work/life fit and our gendered discourse. I believe these results are a problem for everyone and will discuss it more fully. In the meantime, you too can open a search window and replicate my results. All searches from 6/12/15.

112000 results for "working dad."

134000 results for "working father."

920000 results for "working mom."

1040000 results for "working mother." Also no images here for reasons I can't explain.
Bing's results are even starker. a 20:1 ratio.

90200 results for working dad.

85100 results for working father.

2040000 results for working mom

1950000 results for working mother.
General thesis: Men can't integrate; women can't separate. It's more of a problem for women, but it's a problem for everyone.



Speaking In, Speaking Out - Inclusion and Nico

Yesterday I wrote my first piece for the Washington Post  on a bad experience we've had with Nico and inclusion. It's not a terrible experience, but I worry a lot about kids whose families don't know how to advocate for their children, or those who do but feel alone.
“Nico will get to participate as an audience member.”
With those words, the teacher explained why my son, a second-grader with Down syndrome, wouldn’t be part of the end of the year performances. These were just little informal plays that emerged from reading groups, groups in which my son was supposed to be included. But the teacher had announced these end-of-the-year events with a flier cheerfully titled, “Come One, Come All.” There were 23 names on the flier, detailing who was in each play on a given day. Nico’s name was conspicuously absent.
Yesterday, my social media world featured an outpouring of support from the disability world in particular. It was, importantly, inter-disability, in that it came from people with both physical and intellectual disabilities, from parents, from educators, from caregivers, and so on. This kind of coalition building hasn't always been the case in our community - parents ride roughshod over the ID/DD discourse. People with physical disabilities want to make it clear that being in a wheelchair doesn't mean they are developmentally delayed but are "normal." Scarce funding makes us compete.

The intersectional approach to disability, like so much else, is the only way through the mire.

When I publish in high-visibility places like Washington Post, I'm hoping to reach beyond our communities, and to provide language to people in similar situations or a quick article they can print out and share. Especially because of this paragraph (written after I describe a great party):
But for how long? How many times does an authority figure have to signal that Nico is just audience, not participant, before the kids stop seeing him as a peer? How many times do parents have to decide to exclude Nico from social functions? He has been invited to exactly zero play dates by other parents this year. He has been invited to only two birthday parties. By the time he’s in high school, will he no longer be welcome in the loving community of peers that I witnessed last weekend?
That's what worries me. Not the teacher, but the other students and Nico himself too. We can't keep sending the message that Nico doesn't belong as a full member of the community.

Note to self: Next August, write - So you've got a child with disabilities in the classroom with your typical kid. Here's how to help.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

More on the New York Times Opinion Page and Higher Education

Last month, I wrote a widely-read blog post on what I found when reading 2 months worth of opinion essays on higher ed at the New York Times. I've been trying to get a publication interested having me write up what I find when reading a years' worth of essays, but so far no dice. It's a very inside-the-media sort of piece, perhaps without wider appeal. Still, I was troubled:
Over the past two months, there have been nine opinion essays published by the Times directly on Higher Ed that I've seen. A few Room for Debates have addressed higher-ed issues, and of course lots and lots of professors have written opinion essays during that time. I made a quick skim of two months of all the opinion essays with the word "professor" in them. I saw zero by community college or lower-status teaching school profs, zero by branch campus public profs, and a handful by top liberal arts schools (Smith, Dickinson) or lower-tier R1 publics (Colorado State, South Carolina). A friend (here's the tweet with the data, with permission) found about 300 mentions of community colleges to 12000 for just Harvard alone. It's a problem.
Today, over at Inside Higher Education, Macalester President Brian Rosenberg (note: I worked at Mac for one year as a visiting professor) wrote on a number of recent essays about college costs. Rosenberg writes:
The editorial pages of The New York Times seem to have become the destination of choice for people who want to say uninformed things about American higher education. Let me rephrase that slightly: They have become the destination of choice for people who want to say uninformed things that are designed to get readers angry at American higher education, which I presume is why The Times keeps them coming. In today’s America, anger sells.
I believe that the New York Times matters. It matters to people who have power, who read it every day, who especially read the editorials and opinion columns. It has a cultural impact, the power to shape conversations, that few other publications in the world can match. And so we have to pay attention.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dear Academia: We're All Labor

Today over at Inside Higher Education, John Warner has a great piece on "After Wisconsin." He writes: 
The erosion, or worse, destruction of tenure is very bad news for contingent faculty[1].
The forces that seek to erode tenure are the exact same ones that are the root causes of the adjunctification of the professorate, shrinking public support of higher education and the increasing influence of corporate and political interests in governing the public sphere.
Regardless of what happens[2] in Wisconsin, these issues aren’t going away. Indeed, as evidenced by the adjunctification of faculty, they’ve already been with us for many years.
Apparently, it takes crises like Wisconsin’s to make us pay attention.
Since many of us are presently paying attention, I’m hoping we can take this opportunity to broaden the discussion a bit.
I think the professorate is perhaps reluctant to see itself as labor, but these events make it clear that we are indeed workers like any other (contingent know this well as we are consistently reminded that we are fungible), and as such, we need to examine our work as part of the larger systems in which we operate.
All of labor is in an age of percarity [sic].
Warner is, in part (he said on Twitter), inspired by Kelly Baker's outstanding essay on tenure, which everyone should read. Baker talks about the purpose of tenure and the ways it was supposed to be linked to what professors do (teach, research, publish, communicate) rather than what kind of job they have. She says:
I don’t think this current exploitative tenure system is our only option. There are ways to improve the working conditions of contingent faculty if we are willing to do so. Tenure, and all of its securities, can be expanded to contingent laborers. Those who teach most of the classes need security and support. They need both academic freedom and economic security. This does not require a reimagining of what tenure is and who it should protect, but rather a return to the AAUP’s original conception of tenure for all of those who teach in Higher Ed. Can we please make tenure a right of many, not a privilege of the few? This is the only way tenure and justice can rest easily beside one another. It is the only way I’ll ever support tenure.
More on Baker in a moment, because she suggests some pathways forward, but first I want to revisit two pieces I wrote about a year ago. I have tenure. I try to practice good ethics personally within my department and globally as a journalist on higher-education issues. I also believe that, as Warner says, the issues pushing contingency directly threaten my livelihood and job security too, so I have  a personal stake. In my writing, I've been wondering what it might take to get other tenure-stream professors to realize this.

Last April (2014), I started writing for the relatively new space Chronicle Vitae, a sub-set of the Chronicle of Higher Education. In my first piece, I pondered why so many adjunct activists use the language of sharecropper, migrant worker, and slave to describe their position - rather than simply calling themselves exploited temps/contingent workers. I suggested that the fault was because tenure-stream faculty didn't care without such incendiary metaphors. I wrote:
The issue here is not that writers are loosely deploying hyperbolic metaphors. The real problem is that adjuncts and their advocates believe the rest of us aren’t on their side.
We tut-tut and say it’s too bad, but then throw up our hands, blame the budgets, and let the system continue. Civil rights, slavery, sharecropping, migrant laborers—these are terms that evoke sympathy and demand action within the neoliberal world of higher education in ways that just calling adjuncts “temps” does not.
So let’s not be too quick to blame adjunct advocates for invoking historical inequities when trying to change the system. Instead, let’s question why such metaphors seem necessary. I propose that the plight of the adjunct lies squarely alongside that of a long-recognized historically oppressed group: the working class. Why are faculty so resistant to seeing themselves as labor who need to act in solidarity with the exploited adjuncts?
N.B. Also read Tressie McMillan Cottom's response to the use of the slavery metaphor, if you're not persuaded this is a problem.

In my next piece, I argued that when tenure-stream faculty embrace the identity of labor, great things can happen. Alas, our professional rhetoric is designed around avoiding identifying with labor, talking instead about passion, meritocracy, and artisanal craftsmanship. I wrote:
Many academics, especially those in the tenure track, just resist seeing themselves as laborers. Academics, even many adjuncts, continue to think they belong to a loosely meritocratic system in which the best work rises to the top, peer review remains the optimal way to judge the quality of work, and if you work hard enough, you’ll be fine.
Fail to get a tenure-track job? Work harder. Keep your nose to the grindstone, stick with it, and you’ll find a home. Get stuck in a bad position? Publish your way out of it! Worried about tenure? Just say yes to everything, work over 100 hours a week for a few years or more, and you’ll be fine.
We believe this despite all the evidence and anecdotes to the contrary. Everyone in academia knows good people stuck in terrible jobs, or jobless, or burned out, or stricken with serious mental-health issues from the pressure of trying to compete in an irrational system. It’s not their fault.
We're not special.
I suggest we can think even bigger rhetorically, if not necessarily in practice. A recent article in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune talked about adjuncts as “temp workers.” That may not be as good at inducing sympathy as “slaves,” “sharecroppers,” or “migrant workers,” but this isn’t about sympathy. We need to recognize that what’s happening to our universities is happening across the North American labor market (and beyond), and that we’re not special. Other highly-trained, specialized industries have turned to contingency work. Higher ed is no different. In fact, we could learn from the industries that increasingly argue that one must treat contingent workers as full members of the community
But once we embrace this, then what? What do we do? Fortunately, Kelly Baker has answers:
Confront your own privilege. Understand how you are implicated in the academic system. Make a stand. Treat the contingent laborers in your departments and institutions fairly. Find ways to make their jobs better, not worse. Recognize that landing on the tenure track is a privilege and that you can wield it to help others. Don’t support tenure to save yourself. (Who knows how much longer it will last?) Create a tenure system that will save all of us. Don’t be silent. Don’t look away. Be better. Be brave. And then, maybe we’ll have equity.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Racists on Twitter vs Racists at Public Pools

So my morning on Twitter was interesting.  Apparently, one of the racist women at the pool in violent incident in McKinney TX has been identified, and there's a Facebook page calling on people to call her employer and get her fired.

I am a little skeptical about the ethics of public shaming. At the same time, I understand that for the historically marginalized, public shaming is often literally the only tool they have to effect social change, and to impose penalties on people who perpetuate racism and sexism. As a journalist, I expect at some point to make a mistake, to be shamed for it, and to try to make amends.

That said, Jon Ronson wrote a widely publicized book, including this New York Times Magazine piece he got to write, on not shaming people on the internet. So I wondered: Now that this woman has been identified, what would he have us do about it?

He didn't answer. Instead, he said that this woman is nothing like the people he talked about. Here's a storify of the tweets that followed.

I asked him - how can you tell who is the "real" racist and who is a fake racist (or sexist, as in Mr. Donglegate)? He didn't answer, but spent some time in a huff on his timeline subtweeting me. I suspect I've been muted.

But again - I'd like to know. What's the difference between saying something racist online and saying something racist at a public pool? To me, the answer is - nothing.

Update: I forgot about this fantastic review from Jacqui Shine. Read it!
Ronson’s right, of course, that each of us is a “mass of vulnerabilities,” and we shouldn’t have to face a gauntlet of shame when we make mistakes. But we’re also subjects of wildly disproportionate privileges and privations. In a world where people who have historically been powerless have a new means with which to fight back — or at least make their voices heard — it’s important to notice when this empowerment is made out to be dangerous.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Rules for Online Teaching

I like this Jonathan Rees post about rules for online teaching. At Dominican, we've had many conversations about how to teach online while preserving our relationship-centered mentality. Rees is, similarly, thinking about how to make online teaching more than just a different delivery system.

Here are some best practices he's extracted:
1) They do not try to duplicate the face-to-face experience. Instead, these courses try to emphasize the kinds of online experiences that can only be done online.
2) They make sparing (if any) use of learning management systems. Instead, these instructors have tried to find tools on the open web that will help them teach the kinds of skills that they want them to learn.
3) These courses are very labor-intensive. Rather than use the online experience as a way to automate tasks that face-to-face instructors must do themselves already, the best online instructors actually make work for themselves.
4) These classes are relatively small. Why? See 3) above.
A fine place to start.  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday Roundup - Autism Speaks Didn't Speak to Me

I had three published essays and five blog posts this week.

One of them was on the problems with Autism Speaks, published in the New York Times - Motherlode Parenting section. It was important to me to put this piece in a high profile, high prestige, publication. I keep meeting smart, well-intentioned, people who do not know the controversies surrounding Autism Speaks. So I wrote:
Autism Speaks is a charity which describes itself as dedicated to helping people who “struggle” with autism, funding research into “prevention, treatments and a possible cure.” They have been criticized for their mission, their rhetoric, the makeup of their leadership, and the way they use their funds. To me, the most important criticisms come from autistic individuals, who see the charity as “eliminationist” – seeking to eliminate autistic people. The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network has adopted the motto “nothing about us without us,” in part to criticize the lack of autistic leadership in Autism Speaks. Some autistic bloggers condemn the “light it up blue” campaign for “autism awareness” that takes place every April, because they want acceptance, not awareness. I am unable to find an answer from Autism Speaks to those criticisms; when invited to comment for this piece and given ample time to do so, they did not respond.
Autism Speaks is welcome to respond at any time. I sent an email on 5/21, a few hours after talking to a VP who said he'd offer a comment. I'll publish their response in full. If they believe in their mission, they should believe it strongly enough to publicly debate.

One issue is that they define autism in such a way to exclude any autistic person who contests their definition of autism.

I also wrote a piece for Al Jazeera America on "Inspiration Porn."
In 2014, a disabled woman named Stella Young took the stage at TEDx in Sydney and introduced the audience to the concept of inspiration porn. She explained that disabled people are most commonly seen only in stories and images that pornographically “objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people.” She had been writing and speaking about this topic for a while, exploring the various ways that disabled people were used to make other folks think mostly of themselves. For example, inspiration porn sometimes shames the viewer by showing a disabled person overcoming basic obstacles, implying that anyone less disabled has no excuse. Another variant focuses on individuals helping people with disabilities, suggesting that others should help too, centering attention on the helper, not the recipient. In all cases, disabled humans get treated as props.
I also wrote a blog post about  Reading Inspiration Porn Through the Social Model. I think that's going to be a useful tool down the road.

Finally, I wrote another Game of Thrones review for Vice: On Jon Snow as Hero. These are fun to write and I'll do another late next week, before the final episode.

Other posts:

Saturday, June 6, 2015

History and Memory: Crusades Imagery


Wow. "Crusade" continues to evoke such a powerful set of memorializing impulses around the Judeo-Christian-Islamic world.

Update: Mustafa was kind enough to translate for me.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Be Not Afraid (Liberal Professor)

I haven't had time to write about the Vox piece of "Liberal professor scared of liberal students." But I'm pleased to say that Amanda Taub, at Vox, has rebutted the piece published by Vox.

Big websites like Vox are formed of independent turfs, with lots of people having access to the "publish" button (with a process going through edits and fact checks and so forth). So maybe whoever cleared the first piece (I'm not linking to it. Go read Amanda's first, then go back to it if you've missed it).

I find Taub's argument entirely convincing. It echoes my own about the real meaning of student complaints. I also find her critique of the first piece effective: lack of evidence and lack of understanding both drag down the viral first essay.

So why publish it? Who at VOX gave the go ahead? Did they not notice the flaws?


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Reading Inspiration Porn Through the Social Model of Disability

I have a new piece out at Al Jazeera America on the concept of inspiration porn.
Inspiration porn still dominates depictions of disability in the news, so her work continues. In the last few weeks, three stories about disability have gone viral. A high school quarterback in Pennsylvania took a girl with Down syndrome to prom, fulfilling a promise he made to her when they were in the fourth grade. A Qdoba employee in Kentucky was filmed feeding a customer with physical disabilities. Madeline Stuart, an Australian woman with Down syndrome, lost weight and became a model.
Each of these stories has been reproduced on news outlets and shared on social media around the world in multiple languages. They all feature people doing good things. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the content of these stories, of course, but the way they’re told conceals the real issues faced by the disability community. We need stories that illuminate instead.
I talk about Stella Young, the terrible idea that TEDxSydney had to honor her (and now they've flubbed the apology too - READ THIS), and three inspiration porn stories making the rounds lately. At the end, and the part I really like, I re-read the three stories through the lens of the social model of disability.
At its core, inspiration porn demonstrates the need for a broader engagement with the social model of disability. People typically view disability through the medical model, in which diagnosed conditions present obstacles to be cured or overcome. But according the social model, while many people may have all kinds of medical conditions, people are disabled by the lack of accessibility in our society.
Reread these three stories through the lens of the social model. Moser and Lapkowicz are news because stigma makes it hard for people with disabilities to have close friends, especially with someone as iconic as a high school quarterback. The stigma disables.
Stuart is an exception to the social norms that view disabled bodies as unattractive, and she gets to be that exception only by conforming to specific body norms. The perception of disabled bodies as nonsexy is disabling, not the bodies themselves. The anonymous woman in Qdoba is disabled not by her wheelchair but by restaurants that lack automated doors and a society that doesn’t provide sufficient community-supported assistance.
I think this is a useful approach and I'm going to use it when I address such stories in the future. When you see an inspiration porn story, ask yourself - what would the social model say about this?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Accessible Conferences - Learning from Fandom Cons

I am working on a piece about accessible academic conferences and am, intentionally, focusing on academia. But there are two speculative fiction conventions that deserve mention.

Convergence holds a special place in my heart. I've never been deeply involved with it, but have gone and performed there many times, especially in the early years before it exploded and became one of the premier cons in the country (to my mind). I'm pretty sure one of my bands (Tramps and Hawkers, maybe?) played the very first Convergence fundraiser.

Here's their policy. It's excellent overall, while acknowledging that some barrier remain.

WisCon, the feminist speculative fiction convention in Madison, has even stronger language.
Universal Design: Disability Access at WisCon
The Disability Inclusion Services offered by WisCon are informed by universal design and disability rights activism. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities, by making schedules, communications, and the physical environment usable by as many people as possible. We strive to create an event that works for members in all our physical and mental variety. We must balance that goal against limited fiscal resources, the paradox that sometimes one member's accommodation is another member's barrier, and an entirely volunteer work force. We always welcome discussion exploring how we can better accommodate our members.
Outstanding things.

1. Embrace of universal design.
2. Acknowledgement of challenges and the "paradox."
3. Desire to always find ways to improve.

Everyone else hosting any kind of professional and/or fan gathering anywhere could learn from this.

More to come!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Why Bother Developing Down Syndrome Tests?

Yesterday I wrote about Peter Singer, my least favorite bioethicist.

Today, here's a bioethicist asking a new question - do we actually need more and more sensitive Down syndrome tests? Chris Kaposy writes:
There is an inconsistency between the lived experience of people who have Down syndrome and the corporate arms race to develop new and better means for identifying fetuses with Down syndrome. Few people who live and work with those who have Down syndrome would describe it as a serious disability. The arms race to develop these tests is not being driven by the needs of people with Down syndrome or the needs of their families. Of course, a great deal of scientific ingenuity is needed to create novel tests, like the one Dr. Iles and his colleagues have recently described. For this reason, creating these tests might require a lifetime’s work. But the social utility of these tests is incommensurate with the effort needed to create them. In contrast to the scientist who devotes her life to the treatment of cancer, Dr. Iles’s devotion to create a test that helps parents to avoid the birth of people who tend to enjoy their lives seems somehow less ambitious, or off the mark.
Worth a full read.

Monday, June 1, 2015

In which Peter Singer Fails to Look in the Mirror

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Peter Singer. He's a eugencist. Start here with Harriet McBride Johnson. For more recent context, perhaps read this press release from the National Council on Disability.

What may be less clear is that I'm not bothered by him. The world is full of terrible people saying terrible things, and this eugenicist is no worse than Holocaust Deniers, Islamophobes, Antisemites, KKK members, and other kinds of horrific bigots. It's just that most of the other folks don't get big fancy jobs at Princeton in part on the basis of their bigotry. They don't get called "controversial" but treated as if they belong in polite company. They don't get profiled and interviews all around the world. The philosophy and bioethics community, writ large (I know lots of individuals who object), are responsible for the propagation of Singer's deadly views.

I'm not actually going to debate anyone about Singer's views today. Much as I won't debate with white supremacists or Islamophobes.

Last week Singer was interviewed in the New York Times. He said, among other things:
Why do racism, sexism and discrimination against people with disabilities still exist, despite the widespread acceptance that they are wrong? There are several reasons, but surely one is that many people act unthinkingly on the basis of their emotional impulses, without reflecting on the ethics of what they are doing.
So if I get this right, Singer suggests that discrimination against people with disabilities in part continues because people don't think about ethics; if they do think about ethics, on the other hand, says the world's most famous ethicist, we realize it's ok to kill babies with disabilities. And that will solve discrimination.

If Peter Singer really wants to answer why such discrimination exists, he must, in part, look in a mirror. And so must everyone who gives him a favorable platform.