This isn’t a story, just a picture that reminded me of what we talked about today, stigma against mental disorders and also compared to the video with the ripping of the paper, to me this is more effective.
Skydiving is a huge feat for anyone. Skydiving onto Mt. Everest is even more impressive. I can see how a person with multiple sclerosis accomplishing such an incredible feat can be news-worthy, since happy and inspiring stories are usually hits with the readers. The audience is supposed to think hey, if this MS guy can do it, so can I! An unfortunate wording does appear in this story when the writer refers to the skydiver, Marc Kopp, in the caption of his picture as a “multiple sclerosis sufferer” and later in the story as “[one] who suffers from primary progressive multiple sclerosis”. Now, I don’t want to be too condescending of the story. It is a great one, and I love when Kopp is quoted saying, “I hope my action will inspire others living with this illness. I hope many more will follow in my footsteps.” I think how Kopp describes himself, as one “living with” MS, has such a more positive connotation than how the writer describes him. Kopp is a man who seems to be embracing all aspects of his life and following his dreams, as every human being should. Positive portrayals of people with disabilities have been mentioned numerous times throughout this class. I was happy to see this celebratory event among other NPR stories.
This class on disability culture and disability rights has caused me to think so much more about things that I used to simply accept. I encountered this story through Facebook. It had received multiple likes and comments such as “awww” and “so sweet.” Before this class I would have thought the same and kept scrolling down my news feed. But, since taking this class with Prof. Lukin, I saw this video and paused. I didn’t know what to think of it anymore. One thing that I’m pretty sure of is that this town and this football team had good intentions. They obviously wanted to make this teammate happy, and it seems as though they did! I do however, think that it is a shame this is his first and last time ever being on the football field during a game. And during the last quarter. Of a game that was already won. If the score were tied up or not in their favor, would they have risked a win to let their teammate play? In the story the news anchor states”his teammates said they wanted to repay him.” Sounds like a team meeting was held to discuss this boy’s participation. A team meeting that did not include one of the teammates. As the football game plays out we see the players delicately hand the ball to the former water boy and them walk paternally and defensively alongside him as he makes his touchdown. The opposing team doesn’t dare intervene. This is all out of the best intentions. And the autistic player looks happy he really does. But there were news cameras staring at the team the whole time. Would such camaraderie be shown if the cameras weren’t rolling? Who knows. I just wish that equal opportunity had been genuinely offered throughout this water boy’s whole career.
I was shocked to read about the problem of imposter service dogs mostly because I had never even thought that fake service dogs were walking among the real ones. I love my dog as much as the next person but I can’t seem to understand the need to bring ones dog everywhere, simply out of undying devotion to the pup. I can understand why Lauren Henderson feels fake service dog vests and certificates are damaging to the image of real service dogs. She should not feel threatened or ridiculed by others who believe her dog might be a fake. What disturbed me most about this article is how openly Tim Livingood, as owner of a bogus service dog certification agency, admitted to the falsehood of these certificates and his insistence that he is not breaking any laws. I am not sure how the likes of Tim Livingood (an ironic last name if you ask me) slipped through the cracks of the enforcement laws for service dogs. I hope that this issue is brought to legislators’ attention and that something is done to make sure that fake vests and certificates are no longer issued to unnecessary dog companions.