Marquis de Saydrah

Because I’ve moved from thinking, “I’ve GOT to blog that!” to doing it.

A Point is Made, Relating to My Good Neighbor, Jim August 12, 2008

This is the post where I make a point relating to my good neighbor, Jim, who has a disability. Do me a favor, particularly if you are a reader who is not familiar with the disability rights movement or the social model of disability: Recall my post about Jim, and think of a few words you would use to describe him. Okay, got a couple of adjectives?

 

Now, let me share two quotes from a forum. The person posting works in the prison system. Understand, she is not a bad person. She is a funny, snarky person who feels that she is doing a service to society through her work as a corrections officer, and she does, in fact, stand up for inmates’ rights if she sees them violated. Whether or not you agree with the US prisons system, she is an individual who believes in herself and her work, and she is a good person. These quotes do not reflect a complete person. They reflect a use of language by her, a person whom I like, that, in my opinion, was hurtful and shocking.

 

In the first, an excerpt from a transcribed conversation, the context is that an inmate has just endangered himself by doing something very reckless. “Me” is the person who posted this; “IM” is the inmate.

 

ME: Mr [Retard].
IM: Yeah.
ME: If you ever do that again, I will write you so many DR’s your children will do Seg time.

 

In the second quote, some inmates have been misbehaving by shooting spitballs.

 

The 2 cells I suspected were in the corner, so I watched them out of the corner of my eye. I asked the Porter (cellhouse janitor) if he’d noticed any retards throwing spitwads lately, and he said no, but he was tired of cleaning them up.

 

Would she– we’ll call her Sue– ever hurt my feelings, or the feelings of a person with a disability, intentionally? I don’t think so. I also don’t think she is aware that her words were hurtful. The forum I quoted these things from does not allow members to call other members out on their language.

 

The moderators require one to use a “report” button to report a post that is offensive. The moderators then make a decision amongst themselves about the complaint. I’ve reported similar posts for use of language in the past, and the decision has been that they will not take any stand against this word. In addition, I’m told that I’ll get an “infraction” for frivolously using the report button if I continue to report hurtful use of this word.

 

So, I can’t ask Sue if she would use that word to describe my neighbor. I can’t ask her if she would use that word within earshot of my friendly, gentlemanly neighbor, Jim. I can’t ask her if she understands that it’s a near-certainty that, at some point in his life, Jim has heard that word applied to him in a hurtful way.

 

That’s why I’m talking about it here, and why I asked you to think of a few words that describe Jim.

 

I think the point is made.

 

Thoughts on Funerals July 22, 2008

Filed under: thoughts — saydrah @ 6:02 pm
Tags: , ,

Some thoughts on funerals, not particularly organized, and making no particular point:

 

Cause and Effect: I’ve been sick to my stomach all day now. The chicken, or the egg? I felt unsettled and ill throughout the service, but was I sick to my stomach because of the funeral atmosphere, or unable to appreciate the service because of my nausea?

 

Confusing: Why black for funerals, when it’s tradition to send flowers? We don’t send black flowers or flowers covered in black fabric, so why are we to send ourselves draped in black? Are the guests to be mournful, and the decorations lively, to de-emphasize the importance of the living, to pay respect to the dead, or simply to indulge the mourners’ feelings, the grief that says, “You are not allowed to have fun, or be colorful, because someone you loved is dead and it would be wrong.” Oughtn’t guests wear the colors they feel reflect the departed’s impact on their lives? Black for a solid soul, a grounding force, but red for a firebrand who leapt into every project with force that left observers reeling.

 

Odd: Sad music is depressing when joyful, and uplifting when mournful.

 

Puzzling: Why, at every funeral, is there one person there who none of the mourners seem to know or recognize? They peer at photos of the deceased with interest and hug the surviving family tightly, but as they turn away, the family whispers, “Does anyone know her name?” or, “Have you seen him before?” Are they funeral-surfers?

 

Amusing: The brother of the deceased takes his seat in a pew, waiting to greet guests. His cell phone rings. Loudly, audible throughout the chapel, “We’re conducting market research. We’d like to send you two DVDs, free of charge… do you have a few moments for a survey?”

 

Amusing, again: The twenty-something grandson of the deceased invites a friend to the funeral. The friend arrives, dressed identically to the grandson, down to the cufflinks and hairstyle. The women in the family giggle, but the young men don’t notice until it’s pointed out to them.

 

Presumptuous: The pastor rails against families who eulogize their loved ones with tales of a love affair with a sports team, a favorite vacation, or a hobby. He says it’s more meaningful to live a life heaping affection on family members than to define one’s life by season ticket holdings. I wonder who’s sitting in a back pew, drying her eyes and feeling hurt as she remembers a departed sister or brother who bought season tickets, every year.

 

Giggling through tears: The flag presentation ceremony, performed by two older men and one younger, wearing crisply pressed uniforms, perfectly rehearsed in nearly every detail. The youngest soldier;s role is to assist in the folding of the flag, and he tucks the edge just a touch sloppily as he hands it back to the soldier a few years his senior. The experienced soldier holds the flag to his heart, observes the uncrisp edge, and delivers it back to the younger soldier, who tucks the edge perfectly on his second try. Not a word exchanged, eye contact unbroken, ten seconds at most, but a moment of normality and humanity in an otherwise starched and flawless ceremony.

 

Upsetting: The grandson is smoking again. Doubtless, quitting is difficult while grieving, but didn’t the deceased quit smoking some years ago, and impress the importance of that choice upon his grandkids? Hadn’t said grandson quit a while ago, gone maybe two years without a cigarette? Why sacrifice that?

 

Touching: She had a stroke some months ago. She arrives without her husband, whose chronic condition prevents much travel these days. She’s flanked by two sons, and her third son welcomes her to the chapel. He’s son-in-law to the deceased, and she has, though limited by hip replacement, stroke, and arthritis, come to support him and his family. She uses a cane, and sons and grandsons flutter around her, watching every step for a wobble, ready to catch her and set her back on her feet. She doesn’t wobble. After the service, two sons help her to her car. The third is behind the wheel.