Disability and Language: a NY Times Article Review

This comment was left on a post by William Peace on his blog, Bad Cripple.   Therextras wrote " Thank you for an excellent expose of a typical media dissemination of
language and attitudes we would like not only to reform but squelch. I
hope you sent some response directly to the newspaper." 

Team [with]tv would like to second that remark.

Here is an excerpt from William’s post. 

Monday, May 12, 2008

Disability and Language

Yesterday a long article appeared in the New York Times entitled
"Taking a Chance on a Second Child". The article was written by Michael
Winerip, a Pulitzer Prize wining writer. Mr. Winerip is a seasoned
reporter, graduate of Harvard University and a gifted writer. Yet a day
later I remain stunned and outraged by the language Winerip used. The
article in question is about Jordana Holovach, her son Jacob who is
severely disabled, and her decision to have a second "healthy" child.

tone of Winerip’s article is shocking. Each and every mention of
disability is overwhelmingly negative. The language is antiquated,
insulting, and devalues the life of a child and by extension all
disabled children and adults. Among the snippets I found particularly
appalling include the following:

In referring to Ms. Holovach’s son: "And as much as she loves that boy
and as hard as she’s worked to make him whole…she felt snake bit"

Ms. Holovach’s son is "confined to a wheelchair".

Holovach’s son was responsible for her divorce: "Her first marriage
ended in divorce under the strain" and "Jacob was a big reason".

Before Ms. Holovach’s son was born "they were successful people" (note tense).

Oh don’t stop here.  Keep reading, there is more….

Then stop by Patricia E Bauer’s blog for this additional link.

Cross-posted on Blog [with]tv

On Today’s Op Ed Piece in the NY Times

Good morning. I am privileged to have been asked to write an Op Ed piece for the NY Times concerning the ascendancy of David A. Paterson who will be sworn in as the nation’s first blind governor on Monday. You can follow this link to read the piece.

I wish that the Times hadn’t called the editorial “The Vision Thing” since I hate to be associated with George Herbert Walker Bush or his progeny. But they didn’t ask me.

Still, the success of David Paterson is something that all people with disabilities can celebrate!


Professor Stephen Kuusisto
Department of English
The University of Iowa
308 EPB
Iowa City, IA 52242


What It Means to be New York’s First Legally Blind Governor
Who Is David Paterson?
Read All About It!
Thanks Blue Girl
The Vision Thing Brigit Abstract
The first legally blind governor  Thanks Heather
David Paterson to Become First Legally Blind Governor of NY on Monday  Thanks Anne
Rhetoric about blindness begins in paterson coverage Thanks BA Haller
Kuusisto on David Paterson Thanks Ken
Building the Internal World Thanks Jean Marie
Blind elected officials  Interesting! Thanks Penny
He’s Blind. I’m Deaf. What Do I Have in Common with New York State Governor David Paterson? Thanks David
NY Times Op Ed on David Paterson Thanks, Ruth