Naturalistic Neurodiversity

Exploring our differences through science.

Posts Tagged ‘Disabilities

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #60

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

Physical. Quad. No use of arms or legs.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

Yes. Transportation.

Response #60 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Written by The Nerd

June 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #54

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

No.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

Sort of.

I am a person with an able-body/mind, and my experience with the atheist community is limited mostly to the internet, but I do feel put-off and uncomfortable with the casual and rampant use of ableist language and comparisons.  Ableist slurs such as crazy, stupid, idiotic, witless/nitwit/fuckwit and various other things suffixed with -wit, crippled etc. are common.  Comparisons to mental illness, aneurotypicality, and lack of intelligence are also common.  I find these make me uncomfortable with involvement in atheist communities much as sexist remarks also makes me uncomfortable and unsupportive of specific atheist websites.

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

I think meetups should be ADA compliant as well as feature persons with disabilities as speakers (whether its on a broader topic or specifically on disability related issues–for example J.T. Eberhard often speaks on broader community issues, but has also done talks about his experience with mental illness).  I also think atheist communities should enforce policies that create inclusive and welcoming spaces for persons with disabilities and don’t treat them as undesirable, wrong, or cudgels to beat other commenters with whom they disagree. On Freethought Blogs there are policies by both the blog writers and commenters to in general stop, discount, and disuse any sexist slurs or similar dismissive constructions; I think a similar style should be used in regards to ableist language.

Any other thoughts about ableism and atheism?

I think ableism like any other axis of oppression should be denounced and fought against by the atheist community. General social justice and humanistic principles are important to the strength of the community and movement and foster more inclusivity and diversity both in terms of persons and discourse.

Also, in regards to whether certain words are ableist or count as slurs, I’d prefer to err on the side of caution. I am in a position of privilege, so I am unable to definitively make such a call, however, other (non-atheistic) blogs and communities I follow that deal with ableism do count crazy, insane, stupid, etc. as ableist slurs, and as such I adhere to that. On that point, I’d also argue that it would be difficult to make a case for them not being ableist as such arguments tend to simply be retreads of other arguments related to language in discussions of sexism or racism i.e. words change, intent, generic/equal use, being technically accurate, dictionary definition etc. None of which are convincing arguments. Further, there are other words and constructions that can be used to give the same general meaning without being ableist. For example, instead of crazy, use absurd or ridiculous.

I won’t go into much here, but there is also a general trend in atheist communities to treat religious persons, or certain arguers, as lacking in intelligence (using words such as stupid, idiotic, dumb). While the individuals they are arguing or responding to may be holding untenable, badly constructed ideas or be (willfully or not) ignorant, this is a much different thing than being lacking in intelligence or being “dumb.” I object to this not on a tone basis, but on a basis of it’s reductive and all or nothing view of intelligence that treats lack of knowledge as a lack of capability to ever know and thus subtly is engaging in ableist ideas about the worth of those who may be mentally retarded or have an intellectual disability.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on way too much–I apologize. I know how hard it is to remove ableist language and constructions from my speech so I am not expecting an overnight change, but I would be glad and much more comfortable if the atheist communities made such efforts. I hope this was helpful 🙂

Response #54 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #52

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

Mental, though I suppose it is not technically a disability: PTSD, which makes it very difficult for me to actually leave my house and interact with people, even people I know, but especially people I don’t know.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

There are other things, attitudes and behaviors of the community, which keep me from risking interaction, but not specifically because someone referenced my mental or physical ability.

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

For people like me, maybe online meeting options where I could participate from home? Live chat from conferences or streaming video?  I would think it would also be helpful for people who just live too far away and can’t afford to travel.

Response #52 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Written by The Nerd

June 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #51

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

No.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

No.

Any other thoughts about ableism and atheism?

I support efforts like this one to address unjust privilege—such as ableist privilege, male privilege, class privilege, and white privilege—in atheist communities. I have not witnessed ableism in atheist circles, but I’m well aware that that’s at best weak evidence to support the notion that it doesn’t exist here. I hope atheists who are concerned about ableism in our ranks continue to make their case openly and prominently.

Response #51 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Written by The Nerd

June 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #42

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

No.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

No.

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

have discussions about ableist terms and why they’re ableist; work to combat the stigma around mental illnesses and debunk myths about them

Any other thoughts about ableism and atheism?

I wish prominent atheists would stop calling people/ideas they disagree with “crazy.”

Response #42 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Written by The Nerd

May 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #16

with 7 comments

Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

No.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

No.

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

Your examples are EXclusive. How about, on a case by case basis, find out who will be there and arrange to have their needs met, without a blanket exclusionary policy? And recognize that some people’s needs just won’t be met under certain circumstances. My house has ramps, and I go out of my way to make people comfortable, but if your iron lung doesn’t fit through my door, sorry, that’s just too bad.

Any other thoughts about ableism and atheism?

Please don’t restrict language. That’s a really bad road to go down. Nobody should expect freedom from being offended.

The above is response #16 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

So let me get this straight: you are worried about “exclusionary” policy intended to include more people? Do you even know what an iron lung is? (And that only 30 people in the entire nation even use one?) Or are you just fretting about having to step outside of your able-bodied privilege for 5 seconds and realize that perhaps there’s a world of diverse experience that you’ve never even considered?

Also, while I respect your freedom to use whichever words you like, you likewise get to respect my freedom to kick you out of my group if you use a slur against any of the other members. Don’t like that? You also have the freedom to start a group for people who enjoy calling other people names.

Written by The Nerd

May 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #3

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

Psychological disability due to schizoaffective disorder (schizophrenia + major depressive disorder), Tourette’s, GAD, and OCD.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

No.

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

Make more educational videos, because I think a lot of people would rather watch a video than read a blog or article.  If there’s entertainment in it for them, they will be more receptive to the message.

Any other thoughts about ableism and atheism?

I have actually found that atheist/secular communities are far more inclusive to people with mental illnesses than religious communities, although I can’t really speak for how atheist/secular groups treat individuals with other disabilities, as my disabilities are “invisible.”

Response #3 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.