Monday, January 9, 2017

It's still mockery.

Last night, in her Golden Globe acceptance speech, Meryl Streep called out our ableist-elect, Donald Trump, for mocking reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has arthrogryposis.

The ever-classy DT dismissed the critique when he responded (via Twitter, naturally). So the cycle continues: one group of people are trying to hold Trump accountable for his behavior and words while another group of people (including Trump) insist that his behavior does not deserve the reprimand.

Here's Trump's defense of his actions:

For the 100th time, I never 'mocked' a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him "groveling" when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!

If I understand this defense correctly, DT is suggesting that he was criticizing Kovaleski's behavior and words through an impersonation of him. It doesn't count as mockery because he was not mocking the disability itself, just the person who has the disability.

That defense is bullshit.

DT can criticize reporters all he wants--which he does!--and having a disability does not exempt a reporter from criticism. But this behavior is not simply criticism. When DT "showed him," he imitated the physical limitations that characterize arthrogryposis, not just the words he claims Kovaleski said.

That's mockery. Here's a definition for "mock":

verb (used with object)
1. to attack or treat with ridicule, contempt, or derision.
2. to ridicule by mimicry of action or speech; mimic derisively.
3. to mimic, imitate, or counterfeit.

Trump and his supporters need to stop splitting hairs over this occurrence. I doubt that Trump will: if he owned up to what he did, he'd have to admit that he was wrong, and of course he can't do that. But for anyone else who is still defending this particular behavior, please step back and take a critical look. Put yourself in the position of a person who has this physical condition. Imagine watching the person who will soon become the president of the United States curling up his wrists and waving them in an imitation of you. Think about all the other adults and kids with arthrogryposis you've talked to in your life, all the other people with visible and invisible disabilities you know, and imagine them watching our next president behave like an insensitive school bully. Hell, put yourself in your own position and think about all the individuals with disabilities you know, and imagine how dumbstruck, how wounded, how angry they feel.

Can you stop splitting hairs now?

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