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When somebody isn't somebody enough... [Mar. 27th, 2009|06:15 pm]
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[Current Mood |outraged]

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. 


[User Picture]From: fair_witness
2009-03-28 02:04 am (UTC)
That's disgraceful.
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[User Picture]From: torrilin
2009-03-28 02:29 am (UTC)
I'm really grateful to people like Mr. Hingsburger. Most days, it's a passive sort of grateful for reminding me that I need to treat all people like humans. That includes listening to them so I understand how that particular person wants to be treated.

(not so long ago, it was a passionate thanks... I had a bad fall and hurt my knee badly enough that I needed crutches for a month, and a brace for another month. without grab rails, buses that get low, curb cuts and all the other stuff... I would have been housebound and helpless for 6 weeks without the hard work of disability advocates.)

I just wish the TSA would listen. People who are "helpless" are always the first to be treated badly, because it's easy to brush off their complaints.
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[User Picture]From: green_knight
2009-03-28 12:51 pm (UTC)
I think everybody profits from a period of limited mobility. For me it was a torn ligament, but you become so much more _aware_ of steps, and a restaurant with facilities up or down a flight of stairs? Forget it.

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[User Picture]From: guruwench
2009-03-28 09:42 pm (UTC)
I agree - here via an LJ-friend. I've been less than fully abled a few times, once due to a broken wrist (in a thumb-immobilizing cast for 3 months), several times due to asthma (I own a cane for those days), and most recently due to a traffic accident that left me with ribcage damage and off work for 2 months (I could walk, but with difficulty at first, and my shoulder still bothers me somewhat now).

I'm more aware than ever of things such as you mentioned, and have always made a point to treat people as people, not their disability.
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[User Picture]From: jenrose1
2009-03-28 02:45 am (UTC)
oh my god.
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[User Picture]From: ladyfox7oaks
2009-03-28 03:23 am (UTC)
I don't have many readers, Still- I'd like to post a link in my own journal to this entry and the gentleman's blog, May I?
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-03-28 04:29 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: ladyfox7oaks
2009-03-28 05:21 am (UTC)
Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: deliasherman
2009-03-28 03:38 am (UTC)
Oh, honey, you said a mouthful.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-03-28 04:29 am (UTC)
Keeping the mouthful printable was a bit of a struggle.
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[User Picture]From: bunny_m
2009-03-28 05:31 am (UTC)
Understandably so.

*is speechless with ragedisgustshockoutrage*
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[User Picture]From: mevennen
2009-03-28 09:13 am (UTC)
This is just horrifying. I'm very glad the pilot was there, but what a demeaning experience - and a weird one, too.

You know, if you can have a 2 way conversation with someone - they're probably a person.
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[User Picture]From: melissajm
2009-03-28 11:17 am (UTC)

Ok, I'm speechless...
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-03-28 02:41 pm (UTC)
Interesting that man in a wheel chair is not considered to have the ability to attend (secure) his possessions.

Though if it had been me I'd have either asked if he was going to load me on the cart next or thanked him for his help and given him directions on where to take my luggage.

The security was pretty clueless, makes me wonder what he's seen or done that lead him to his stance that the baggage was unattended.

Would never have happened in France. I remember seeing a dozen police and military surround a laptop bag that had been left unattended while waiting for the owner to return. I've also seen them evacuate a terminal and detonate an unattended bag because they couldn't find the owner. They would never move the bag themselves.
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[User Picture]From: greensilk
2009-03-28 05:49 pm (UTC)
That article.. infuriated me. And made me feel good at the same time. I bet it was a rent a cop...who had little or no training, and was overeager. At least I hope that was the case. That pilot should be given huge Kudos.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-03-28 11:51 pm (UTC)
I find it sad--no, appalling, actually--that someone would have to have training to treat an adult in a wheelchair like an adult human. That training should come by the age of ten, not in law-enforcement classes.

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[User Picture]From: guruwench
2009-03-28 09:43 pm (UTC)
Well said - here via a LJ-friend. I'm infuriated at the treatment Mr. Hingsburger received.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-03-28 11:52 pm (UTC)
Welcome to the space.
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[User Picture]From: firecat
2009-03-28 11:35 pm (UTC)
If you have the sanity points to spend you can read through the comments on Mr. Hingsburger's blog post until you get to the multiple anonymous comments about how this couldn't possibly have happened. Just another way of making disability invisible.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-03-28 11:49 pm (UTC)
I decided, about the fifth or tenth or so Anonymous comment that it never happened, that I was losing sanity points too fast, so I went to the rest of his blog, read more to get background and a feel for the man, then wrote this LJ essay.

Anonymous is a troll, or a troll and his attendant Hornets.
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[User Picture]From: kk1raven
2009-04-01 01:07 am (UTC)
Things like that should never, ever, ever happen. I lack the words to describe how disgusted that makes me feel. No one should be subjected to such treatment.

The TSA and airport security in general in the US make me feel less secure, not more. This is yet another example of how they're doing the wrong things. I just got back from spending a month in Australia. Domestic flights within Australia are so much easier to deal with than flights in the US. It is so nice to be able to freely take harmless things like liquids on flights. Unfortunately, the TSA seems to have imposed their rules on international flights that originate elsewhere. Flying home was rather aggravating. The airport in Sydney even has the gates used for flights to the US cordoned off with an extra set of security guards to check IDs. Once you enter the gate lounge, you can't leave.

Sadly, I had a conversation today with a friend who thinks it is fine to have to put up with what happens when flying because it is for the purpose of making us "secure". This is despite the fact that they give her grief over her artificial knees every time she flies.
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