Sarah Palin, useless advocate

There's an article in the Daily Beast about how Sarah Palin is letting down disability advocates. Um, yeah.

Listen, just because she has a disabled child does not mean she is obliged to agitate for every tenet generally held dear by disability advocates. Lord knows, I don't. I'm not even all that familiar with what they are advocating for (although I hope to learn more about that soon). But she promised that families with special needs kids would have a "friend and advocate" in her. So far her advocacy seems to consist in two things:

1) Discussing her decision not to abort despite a diagnosis of Down syndrome, and implicitly urging others in a similar situation to do likewise.

2) Getting angry about use of the word "retarded."

Besides her tendency to be polarizing, as many disability advocates quoted in the article mentioned, there are a few problems with this:

a) To many people, she is the face of special needs parenting. Perhaps there's Jenny McCarthy for autism, but no person who has a child with mental retardation is better known than she. And it was in her most widely-seen public appearance to date that she designated herself an advocate. So most people associate her with the cause. What she says about the cause becomes what the majority of people think special-needs parents are most upset about.

b) It may well be the right thing not to abort a fetus with a diagnosis of Down syndrome. I leave that aside. As a parent of a special needs kid, I am neither helped nor hurt if any other parent decides to have a kid with Down syndrome or other disease. And I don't think I am at all hurt, or perhaps trivially hurt, by anyone using the word "retarded." She is advocating nothing of any use to a special needs family.

c) As the article mentioned, most people view her unfavorably.

This is an opportunity. Not only is she squandering it. She is distorting it, and misleading people as to what's important.

Those who advocate not getting an abortion - if you are really interested in making sure kids with genetic disorders do not get aborted, you can repeatedly yell or sneer at people whose moral intuitions differ from yours. Or you can make life as easy as possible for those who have special needs kids. If you absolutely insist that money cannot come from goernment (who I thinkis the only entity able to bear the cost), then start a charity.

Might I suggest some ideas for issues to get behind:
i) Improved Medicaid. My son, who is 5 months old, already has medical bills well into the seven figures. Having a baby with a genetic defect, with no government help, is the ruin of the family.
ii) Respite care
iii) early intervention services that do not vary widely from county to county
iv) more daycare for the medically fragile
v) humane residential option that encourage family involvement
vi) bullying

1 comment:

  1. I would just as soon not talk about the nitwit from the North, but am perfectly happy to get behind you on your suggestions (though I don't think the Google executives should have been convicted, the a-hole kids, absolutely)