Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama, Bowling, and the Special Olympics

President Obama stuck his impolitic verbal foot in his mouth while appearing on the Jay Leno show last night. He attempted to use the Special Olympics as a comedy foil in discussing his own poor bowling scores.



Obama seems to be getting a pass from most people in the disability rights movement, at least when a person might imagine Cheney or Bush offering such a commparison.

Personally, I think the remark is similar to those inappropriate things we all think but rarely say.

We humans are all less than perfect in language and in behavior, and there's no reason that Obama should be different. He apologized. If he learned -- or if he became introspective over a knee-jerk reaction to use disability as humor -- that's all the better.

What's interesting to me is how deeply ingrained the "negative naming," the "fear and rejection factor," the "less than me" element has evolved into the human psyche.

Decades ago when I was more ignorant I thought those African-Americans who spoke out about the negative connotations of the word "black" were over-reacting, exaggerating the influence of "naming."

As I've grown older and despaired more over the Darwinist utilitarian trends in modern society, I have come to believe that element of our psyches, the element that perceives weakness in the herd and turns upon it -- resides as close to the lizard brain as does our capacity for violence.
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