Tuesday, August 14, 2012

First day of school, "libtards," Ayn Rand, and Other ramblings

It's the first day of school for Sophie, but she's at home, sleeping off Diastat that I had to give her on Sunday night after a day of six gigantic seizures. I haven't the foggiest idea why she had so many seizures -- was it the heat? was it the moon? was her brain taking a riff off the flurry of small earthquakes we had? I'll never know, and neither will you. In any case, I left her at home with The Husband so that I could bring her paperwork to school, the boxes of educational stuff and her wheelchair and other accouterments. I was overjoyed that the aide assigned to her will be Millie, the same fantastic person who accompanied her to Communicamp the last two summers. It's almost too good to be true. It might even be a great year.

I walked the halls of the giant high school, tried not to wince at the boy with those giant earlobe stretcher thingamabobs who walked past me, or his friend who wore a black tee-shirt with giant white lettering that spelled out: LEGALIZED POT GANG or something like that. They had backpacks on and skate shoes and were laughing together, typical teenagers despite their off-kilter appearance. I am glad that I only wince when I see this and am not affronted, but I have no idea why this is so.

The other day, I stupidly engaged with a person who goes by the name Skunkfeathers when he comments on a conservative blog that I periodically check on to see what's up in that otherland. Skunkfeathers likes to refer to people of the liberal or left persuasion as libtards, of which I am one, and when I objected to the term, he kept at it. In the ensuing exchange, he claimed You may call the term 'libtard' an attack on a class of handicapped; you're free to do so. A person with a condition from birth, I don't consider 'retarded'. They have a disability. Many of which overcome it with hard work and guts. I promptly told him that his comment was not factual and, actually, ignorant, but the last sentence is the one that I've been perseverating on for nearly a week. Many of which overcome it with hard work and guts. I think it's the word overcome that stops me short and helps me to make the segue to the vast space, ever increasing, between those on the "left," and those on the "right," those that think the recent appointment of Paul Ryan as VP contender is depressing as hell and those that think his government-slashing, Ayn Randian group-think is the answer to the question of the legion of lazy, shiftless folks, including the disabled, who persist in exhausting government monies and leeching from what really matters: a powerful military and the promulgation of American exceptionalism, shoved down the throats of those who just don't know better. Sophie's seizures began for no apparent reason shortly after her initial vaccinations at two months of age. When the seizures didn't stop, her development sputtered along with periodic plateaus, and despite hard work and guts for over seventeen years, she can't talk, can only walk with assistance, wears diapers and must be fed. The other night, when I snapped off the plastic top of the syringe that holds the Valium, dipped it into the foil packet of lubricant, lay Sophie gently on her side and inserted the drug into her rectum, I wondered if she -- and I -- worked hard enough and had guts enough to keep going.

I won't pretend to understand the finer points of Ryan's famous budget proposal, but I do know that if enacted, it will decimate, completely, the already weak supports that people like Sophie and her family (The Husband, me, Henry, Oliver) and other libtards -- as well as conservatives -- depend upon to give our lives a modicum of sanity.  At best, I'm thinking this potential decimination is due to ignorance and fear of The Other, and I'm not sure what to do about it other than keep bleating when I can.

When I told Oliver about the Republican operative in Pennsylvania and his comments about the retarded, Oliver burst into tears. He then uttered the F word, which, I'm certain, some might call an example of the deteriorating values of our young people. I told Oliver that he shouldn't use that kind of language although it might, perhaps, be fitting in this particular circumstance. I then told him that people are ignorant and afraid of what they don't understand. Sometimes, I told him, they're just stupid.


  1. I've been thinking about all of these things a lot lately and who among us hasn't? But what I am starting to think is that we "liberals" (and go ahead and call me a libtard because it fuels my anger and thus my energy) simply have the capacity to empathize with others whereas the Ayn Randian bent right-wingers simply do not. "I have mine and I deserve it and you do not and that is the way it obviously should be." That seems to be their philosophy and it simply must come from an inability to put oneself into another's situation.

    Either that or they're really just big old honking assholes.

  2. I don't remember where right now, but I just read something that quoted some studies on brain waves and right and left politically thinking people really do have different brain construction. The most significant of which was a lack of empathy in the right wing thinkers brains...so now we have proof.

    Maybe we should call them conservtards...poor things. Although I don't like labels....but gosh, stupid does work. Doesn't it?

    And that darling Oliver, tender little saint. Thank god for Oliver's.

  3. Sometimes only the F word will suffice. And in this case, definitely so. Sometimes anger is just and I have no doubt your boys will put it to good use when they are older.

  4. First the backpack. Darling and Caitlin said she thinks that the cute little keychain/pouch is a Gwen Stefani design. So cute.

    As for Ryan. I do not pretend to be political, especially in my knowledge on the top trending issues but please. I just about diesd when they broke into Olympic coverage with red alert " 3 different sources have confirmed ..." blah , blah, blah and that was the news??

    I actually might think that THAT was worse then the thwarted terrorist attack I though they were so dramatically going to announce.

    We, our children, are in big trouble if that ticket happens. Big

  5. "If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject."
    Ayn Rand

    Now THAT would cause me drop repeated F-bombs all over....

  6. Sometimes the F word is perfect. That was one of those occasions.

  7. Thanks to Ms. Moon, I'm adopting the acronym B.O.H.A.s!

    I hope that you find it easy to explain to Sophie that the two of your just need to work harder. Such a simple solution.


  8. I am so everlastingly thankful that you, your voice, is in the mix.

  9. I believe the term for Skunkfeathers would be "contard."

    Unfortunately it is not just fear of the Other but a visceral aversion.

  10. I'm with Oliver. That whole thing is just effed up. And that man is stupid. Stupid is not a word we say in our house but here it fits. And I hate that he thinks that that explanation was reasonable. We don't say "hate" either but again, it's the right word.

    Sometimes you have to give a pass on certain words when others in the lexicon don't fit.

  11. Elizabeth - I thank you for teaching us about and sharing Sophie and your experiences of you and your family. your story touches me deeply because you deal with your circumstances with dignity and grace without hiding the stark reality of what it takes to persevere, I would not know as much or feel as much without reading your blog as I do not personally know anyone with this type of disability - one that is so severe and it's impact on the family. I don't feel I am articulate about expressing my thoughts and feelings but I hope you write that book someday because the world needs it. The world needs you. sweet Jo

  12. His comments about "overcoming" disability show a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be challenged with something you can't control. Conservatives have this "pull yourselves up by your bootstraps" mentality that fails to recognize there are people who can't compensate for certain circumstances -- childhood poverty or disability or abuse -- through hard work. They need help! What's so wrong about that?!

    The altruism quote from Ayn Rand left by one of your commenters is telling. And so many conservatives call themselves Christians! WWJD?

  13. to be sure, if he had a child with a disability he might feel completely different and, perhaps, would not be able to overcome. empathy, in this day and age, seems to be a hard thing to come by—it seems to me—particularly from the right.

  14. Just don't stop bleating, Elizabeth...and I won't either. I am disabled due to an industrial accident 11 years ago. Worked all my life and paid into these "entitlement" programs all that time. And had to fight for 5 years to get Social Security disability, which does not pay all my medical bills or any prescription medications, and is not enough money to live on.

    Those bastards can go screw themselves. I am scared about this country.

    But you know, I saw the First Lady Obama on tv yesterday and burst into tears. She is a magnificent human being and so is her husband, and for the first time in years (I am almost60) I am so proud of my President and First Lady that I could sing.

    SO, please--don't stop bleating.

  15. I love Sophie's new backpack too, and I'm so glad she will have the fantastic Millie as her aide, this year. I do hope it will be a great year for her!

    The other stuff - the name-calling and the bitterness, makes me sad. I wish we could all work together - try to understand each other and really work together to lift each other up instead of always tearing down. That probably sounds trite, but I still wish it.

  16. My God, the world is full of aggravating folks. It makes me grateful for someone like you - sound and soulful and thoughtful and thank God raising children who will be wonderful members of this society. Skunkfeathers or whatever (btw, what kind of name is THAT?!), politics aside, is a sad case of ignorance in the true definition of the word.

  17. Steve Reed, I couldn't have said it better.

  18. Looking out for the good of all seems to have been forgotten by those who have more than most. They have theirs and to hell with the rest. What a sad way to live.

  19. 1. You work harder than anyone I know. I suspect that Skunkfeathers has no notion of what it really means to work hard at something that means so very much.

    2. I have come to the conclusion that the reason many right-wingers have no empathy is because of the wall they have built around them to protect themselves. Having been raised by a very strong, right-wing Marine, I know that it was his fear that led him to try to protect himself with phrases like, "if you just work hard enough..." It was only when he was faced with something that he couldn't control and didn't ask for (lung cancer as a result of three tours of duty in Vietnam), that he stopped to consider that he was just like everyone else and, thus, subject to difficulties and challenges despite working hard.

    3. The stretchy earlobe thingies freak me out. I saw a waiter the other day who didn't have his in and I swear my ten year old could have grabbed ahold of his earlobe and swung from it like a monkey. I wonder what happens when you hit middle age and realize there's no going back. Maybe the plastic surgeons will have a field day sewing the holes closed on an entire generation of folks who didn't think ahead...

    4. Love to you and Sophie and Oliver and Henry and The Husband. Just love.

  20. Elizabeth, you should check out this brilliant column from the St. Pete Times -- it addresses some of the issues you're talking about.


    I left it for Ms. Moon, too!

  21. Oh, Elizabeth. Tell Oliver this post made me cry.
    You are strong. Oliver is strong. Sophie is strong. Your whole family is strong. Love is strong. Empathy and understanding are strong.

  22. I am so grateful for your voice on your blog - and in any forum. I appreciate your courage and your willingness to just keep going. You are a role model for all of us who read you, and when I think of the kind of mother you are to your three children, I am humbled almost to tears. There are many many assholes in the world, and I believe there are many many more people like you and your readers - and me! - who lead with love. Thank you for speaking out and speaking out and speaking out.

  23. I have been catching up on your posts...

    Hard work? I was a special needs child who is now a late middle aged adult. I watched my mother face crap about me from doctors who did not understand what they were talking about, fight to get me into "regular" school in the days before any laws existed, then send me off to college where I faced discrimination and stupidity in various venues (pre-1990 and pre-ADA). Despite all of that and living in a thoroughly backward state, I managed to work and create a professional life not applying for Social Security until medical changes (disability changes as one ages, something doctors are just discovering as more people with disabilities live normal life spans) forced my hand. My social security is not enough to live on by itself, and though I have Medicare, it does not cover everything. My medigap policy costs me twice what it costs a non-disabled person. Despite having a drug plan, I pay out of pocket to the tune of $200 plus per month for medical needs and prescriptions. I also pay for transportation, maintain an apartment and do most daily life tasks unaided. I do have a cleaner who comes in two times per month, but I maintain my place between visits, another expense a lot of able-bodied persons either take for granted or cannot afford that I need and pay for. Additionally, I use a wheelchair and everything associated with that is expensive. I am sitting on a cushion that costs in excess of $300 to replace, with a $70 cover. I have shopped around, and those are the best prices I could find. The prices for wheelchairs and accessories can be mind-blowing for the uninitiated.

    I don't think our politicians have a clue, nor do they seem to care and I despair for the future of this country if the proponents of Ayn Rand dismantle our already tattered safety net and further screw up our medical and other systems.



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