Editor's Column - September 2008

The documentary, “Offense Taken,” is again highlighted in Access Press. The collaboration involved in creating and distributing this documentary has proven to be phenomenal. I think of myself as a pretty aware person with respect to recognizing discrimination. But “Offense Taken” opened my eyes to the hurtful language that I use in my communications. That’s one measure of the importance of this film—that even those of us who think of ourselves as pretty well-informed on what hurtful language is, get a wake-up call. I know that everyone who sees this documentary will re-examine their language and how they use it, and what thoughts lie behind it. But the other power I see in this film is how it demonstrates what a few people committed to create change can accomplish. Best of all, it was put together by folks “in our own backyard,” and many of you will recognize them. By next month, Access Press will offer a way for you to see the documentary on your own—it will change the way you think about a lot of things. I’d like to thank everyone who was involved in creating this documentary, and for allowing Access Press to be involved. Great job!

Also, don’t miss Access Press assistant editor, Jane McClure, whose article, “Hall of Shame,” appears in this issue. McClure has put together a summary of several prominent films that have reflected badly on the disability community. If you have any more films to add, or if you’d like to comment on any of the films that Jane writes about here, please send in your comments and your suggestions. Unfortunately, we expect that the Hall of Shame will expand.

Mai Thor is sharing with us her journey to parenthood. Mai is due to give birth to her and her partner’s first child. Many of you may know Mai, and those of you who do, will recognize her voice in her journal. If you don’t yet know Mai, I urge you to read her journal and get to know a pretty fabulous woman and her sharp wit and in-your-face attitude about life. I know you’ll enjoy reading about something that isn’t written about much: disability and pregnancy. I want to thank Mai Thor for sharing this intimate part of her life and we wish her and her child the greatest joy on his or her birth day.

Our Congressional survey responses are very interesting; please take the time to read them, as they were written for the readers of Access Press. As for any of the candidates who did not reply, you can contact them or the Secretary of State’s office to ask them what their responses are to your own questions (and maybe why they didn’t respond to the disability community newspaper). If we receive any late responses, we’ll post them on our web site. We appreciate very much the responsiveness of the candidates that replied: thank you!

In the middle of September, an International Code Convention (ICC) will be held in the Twin Cities. I know what you’re thinking: What’s the ICC? Well, read and you’ll see the proposed changes on the degree of slope being suggested for the residential ramps of the future. I was at a recent demonstration on the different angles of ramps, and I invited two of my good friends, Bill and Joen Overby. They’re a retired couple in very good health. Bill plays softball on a regular basis, and Joen is an avid walker. They both had a very difficult time pushing one another up and down these proposed new ramp slopes. Thanks to all the folks involved for bringing this to our attention.

As for the political conventions, all the fun is over and both major parties now have nominees. The Republican National Convention was held here in St. Paul and many journalists, including Amy Goodman from “Democracy Now,” were arrested. I don’t know how to defend the Police Department for the arrests. In fact, I don’t want to defend them. They were wrong! St Paul, Minneapolis, and Minnesota came off well in the eyes of the national media, and that’s a great thing. We do live in a wonderful place. But the media didn’t give enough attention to the ways in which people’s legal rights to demonstrate were quashed—from the planning phases right through to being rounded up on bridges and being arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We can do better than that.