e_moon60 (e_moon60) wrote,
e_moon60
e_moon60

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When somebody isn't somebody enough...

When is a man in a wheelchair no longer a person?

Try this: http://davehingsburger.blogspot.com/2009/03/elephant-disappears.html

Mr. Hingsburger is a disability-rights advocate, himself now disabled, from Canada, who was in the US giving workshops on abuse prevention to the disabled.   This is what happened at the airport on his way home.   (For more about his other activities, including the clues that this probably happened at the San Francisco airport, look at earlier posts.)

Leaving aside the sheer stupidity of thinking that a man in a wheelchair couldn't "attend" his own luggage, there's the clear violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act to consider (though, since airline passengers seem to lose ALL their rights by choosing to fly, maybe that doesn't count here.)   In fact, Mr. Hingsburger's actions, in noticing that his luggage was being taken, and objecting loudly to it, prove that he was "attending" it. 

Under the logic (!) that assumed Mr. Hingsburger wasn't  "attending" his luggage, a mother holding a baby with her carry-on at her feet also isn't "attending" her luggage.  The man and wife chatting in the airport food court while their carry-ons are on the floor aren't "attending" their luggage.  Anyone sitting in a chair working on a laptop or reading a book while their carry-on is on the floor beside them isn't "attending" their luggage.

I hope Mr. Hingsberger was able to identify the pilot involve sufficiently to commend him to his airline, but we cannot depend on passing pilots to intervene in all cases where TSA (or airport police or whoever) oversteps their authority.   The airport security system, as it is and has been, combines the worst aspects of "legal" oppression and ineffective "protection."   If you're going to have a protection racket, you should at least get what you pay for.

But (as reported some months back)  it is policy to let known terrorists fly (so they won't know they're known and can be "traced") while continuing to have citizens with *no* connection to terrorism remain on "no fly" lists, to their considerably embarrassment and inconvenience (and even job loss) because some terrorist had the same name.   The woman on a multi-day business trip (that would be me, among many others) cannot have in her carry-on those items she will need during the trip (that would be such grooming tools and clothing repair tools as sharp scissors, hangnail nippers, etc.) and must therefore have a check-through bag--which is now charged extra.   (It would be possible, I suppose, for a trained terrorist to murder someone with my hangnail nippers or tweezers, but as a weapon to terrorize a planeload of passengers....no.   Besides, how would the terrorist know they're there?)

This is one more example of abuse...which leads us back to Mr. Hingsburger, who lectures on abuse-prevention and how to respond to abuse, to other disabled persons.  From one of his earlier posts, I gather he talks about boundaries, about the right to refuse touch, and so on.   But sexual abuse is not (as I'm sure he knows, and probably lectures about) the only kind of abuse.  Abuse of power is abuse.  Defining someone as incompetent because they're in a wheelchair is abuse.  Stealing someone's possessions because you've defined them as incompetent is abuse. 

Mr. Hingsburger stood up to someone abusing him--treating him as less than human, stealing from him--and prevailed, with assistance.   I believe we need to reform the system so that these instances of abuse do not happen in the first place...and that we need to reconsider what "security" really is. 








Tags: disability, politics, travel
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