Thursday, March 23, 2006

A few words for ADAPT

As a concerned Tennessean, and as a person who has lived his entire life with a physical disability, I feel compelled to address the members of American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, known by the acronym ADAPT, who shut down our capitol to the general public because of their protest yesterday, supposedly protesting in favor of greater home care for disabled persons on TennCare/Medicaid:

Do your members not study legislative issues, voting records, and the positions of most of our Tennessee legislators? If you did, you would know that most of them favor some form of the kind of reform you are advocating because home care is generally cheaper than a nursing home-and believe me, our legislators are desperately looking for ways to cut the TennCare budget, so greater home care is on the table. If you actually gave a damn about what was happening in our State, you would know this.

In doing what you have done, you may have lost some marginal votes that would be necessary to pass a home care measure. Way to go, you hurt your cause, and the cause of all people with disabilities in Tennessee!

Just what is your goal here? Do you think that you will draw attention to the cause of people with disabilities by closing down the Capitol for public business? You've just closed the chambers of the House and Senate to the public. You have prevented people from having access to their elected representatives and to the affairs of State-you have angered the very people who can help you. In Tennessee, these kinds of tactics don't win battles, they lose them. You have succeeded only in further stereotyping people with disabilities as desperate parasites who suck from the government teat, as opposed to being independent, capable members of our society who possess and conduct themselves with real human dignity.

How many of you bothered to call your representatives and Senators about this issue? We have a part-time General Assembly here in Tennessee, and that means that your Representative or Senator is at home in his or her district for at least half the year. You have had ample opportunity to speak with him or her-did you try? Did you call his or her Nashville office, or visit him or her in the Capitol as you had an opportunity? How about meeting with your Representative or Senator as they tour the district to talk to constituents-or write a letter, or send an e-mail?

Then again, how many of you are actually from Tennessee? I don't know, but I'll bet if the Nashville Police Department or the THP did a check on all of you, a sizable number of you do not live here, and if that is the case, no wonder you didn't do any of the things that good citizens do to touch base with their legislators before resorting to desperate measures.

I have lived with a disability my entire life, and I have lived with the very real discrimination and stigma that comes with that-if I told you all of my stories I would be typing all night. You don't find me blocking the Capitol or acting like an idiot to get my point across, or behaving like a whiny child. I can get my point across in a civilized manner. Do you even know how?


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