Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An Open Letter To Thirty-Nine Conscience Free Individuals

Note:  I've been since informed that Senator Mark Kirk has not yet officially returned to work, and if so I apologize for casting any aspersions. I am not changing the blog post title because it's already been retweeted etc.  I edited accordingly.

To the Republican Senators who voted against the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:

All thirty-eight of you who voted no are morally bankrupt.

Allow me to refresh your memory about the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The ADA was signed into law
by President George H. W. Bush, a Republican. The amendment to this law, the ADA Amendments Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush, another Republican.  The original law was passed by overwhelming majorities in both the House and the Senate.  That means, ladies and gentlemen, that Republicans joined Democrats in passing the ADA.  While this law is far from perfect, they are steps in the right direction in ending discrimination against disabled people.

The ADA and the CRPD, senators, are both meant to protect disabled people, and give them opportunities they otherwise wouldn't have. Some of you bandied about terms like sovereignty, homeschooling and religious freedom to shore up your flimsy excuses.You use these terms to rile up your base to whom you feed misinformation in order to control them.

Never has any outside body interfered with parents choosing to homeschool their disabled children.  Many of those who voted for you believe you when you tell them this will affect their freedom of religion. You can hide behind your fearmongering, but the fact is this treaty would not impact these parents at all.  This treaty is to ensure that the rest of the world would come up to the standard we in the US have practiced since 1990.

In explaining his no vote, Senator Inhofe said,  “However, I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society.”

I am uncertain, senators, whether your no votes reflect hypocrisy or mere cluelessness.  Certainly Anderson Cooper's interview with Senator Mike Lee makes him look foolish.

Bruinkid, a diarist at Daily Kos, provides a transcript and video of Jon Stewart's reaction to the treaty vote:

Oh my God.  It's official, Republicans hate the United Nations more than they like helping people in wheelchairs.

I would like to ask Senators Inhofe and Lee and  all the other Republicans who voted no, since when are values such as equality, fairness and dignity anti-American biases? Since when did laws providing protection for disabled people become an infringement on American society?    

In March 2011 I wrote  Landscaper! There's a Weed in My Sod: Why We Need Inclusion in Classrooms and Community  In this blog post I included the video, In My Language made by autism advocate, Amanda Baggs.  At the end of the video she states:

"Only when the many shapes of personhood are recognized will justice and human rights be possible."

What that means, senators, is that unless we recognize and celebrate the many subtle and varied hues  of humanity, we cannot move forward as a civil society. When we place self interests above the rights of all others, we end up the more impoverished for it.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what your no vote does:

Your no vote denies equality, fairness and dignity to my daughter and all other disabled individuals.  
Your no vote diminishes disabled people like my wheelchair bound daughter. Your no vote negates 
not just the disabled among us but our collective humanity.   

What your no vote does not do is break her spirit.  What your no vote does not do is make her less determined to live a full life as independently as possible.  What your no vote does not do is kick my daughter's wheelchair out from underneath her. 

My daughter speaks through her eyes. If you could look into her eyes there would be no denying her humanity. My daughter does not suffer fools gladly. Her smoldering auburn eyes speak volumes, senators.  They would speak of her disapproval.  They would express her outrage.  Then she would take a deep breath.  And then she would laugh.  She would laugh as she always does at the absurdity of people like you thinking you have any real power over her or anyone else.  Even as you place obstacles in her
way, my daughter, the unsinkable Kid O,will day truly speak for herself some day.  And when she does, I assure you, senators, she will very elegantly put you in your place.  


  1. I don't understand what these senators gained politically by taking thi stance. Do you think they are posturing or they really believe that the UN would somehow gain control over US sovereignty?

  2. May be some of each. Most I think are posturing. At least some of them are up in 2014. Interesting to note all are men save for one. One of the Republican women who voted yes, however, is Olympia Snowe, and so perhaps she doesn't feel a need to posture. Or pander.

  3. Thank you for the post. I think you hit it with "morally bankrupt". Venal politicians following their own interests in riding a wave of "anti- United Nations" have complete disregard for the fact that words have consequences.

    "Your no vote denies equality, fairness and dignity to my daughter and all other disabled individuals.
    Your no vote diminishes disabled people like my wheelchair bound daughter. Your no vote negates
    not just the disabled among us but our collective humanity."

    And their no vote further pollutes the public discourse. Perhaps, just perhaps, Romney was the inflection point. Never has a politician in my lifetime had such disregard for his words and contempt for the electorate. As John Stewart might say "Exactly how stupid do you think voters are?'

    It was pretty clear Romney took his hedge fund salesman experience and brought it to politics. Obvious to enough it was bullshit. You might want to take a look at On Bullshit by Henry Frankfort

    " Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant."

    Thank you for your post

  4. Thank you for your comment.

    They are morally bankrupt, otherwise they could not have filed past Bob Dole as they did and then vote no.

    You are right about polluting public discourse. Seems to me that is what they are intent on doing. Muddying the waters, as it were. How they think they gain by such divisiveness is beyond me. Short-term gains.

    My impulse is to say, "Hope you're happy." But the responsibility is for all of us to rise above that and create civil society despite that.

    Thank you for the link. You always give me good stuff.

  5. Thank you for this post. As a CRPD supporter, of course I share your anger about this vote. I am angry that so many senators caved in to pressure from a small but vocal minority who didn't even have any of their facts straights instead of listening to more accurate information about the CRPD and the hundreds of disability and veterans' organizations asking them to vote yes. And I am determined to be one of the people helping see to it that the senate votes on it again in 2013 with a better outcome. (Visit for campaign updates.)

    I just wanted to note that where Senator Kirk is concerned, the reason he didn't vote is because he couldn't, not because he was choosing to abstain. He had a stroke a year ago and has been off work since then, so he couldn't even come to the floor to participate. This means we simply don't know what choice he would have made. Unless he has made some kind of statement about it that I've missed, which is possible.

    Info about his health situation, and his anticipated return to senate this January 3, at

    Andrea S.

    1. Thank you, Andrea, for the clarification about Senator Kirk. I had read more than one place that he had abstained. Perhaps I am also biased against him. He is one of my senators, and I am skeptical of him. I had been aware that he had suffered a stroke, but my impression was that he had returned at least in a limited capacity. Perhaps he will do the right thing come January.

      I will be visiting your site. Thank you for the links.

  6. Great post Debbie...sorry it took so long for me to read it. I will be tweeting this out a bunch of times. :)