Typically, Callahan's humor was judged against the backdrop of his disability -- he was, in effect, given a pass for what would be considered tasteless if done by anyone else. He objected to that, and for good reason. Callahan's genius -- and it was genius -- may have been informed by his disability, but it was not dependent on it or beholden to it; Callahan's work needed no special accommodation for the handicapped, and to suggest it did is a disservice to him and to humor itself. Callahan's crippled characters were stand-ins for all of us; he saw all of humanity as being lame -- disabled by prejudice, by sanctimony, by vainglory, by small-mindedness, by self-absorption.That may be so, but to move beyond Weingarten characterizing Callahan as "fearless," I think the best word for his art would be "fierce." For all his troubles, each nicely listed for those who would care to criticize, I admired that most about him: his fierceness.
Too often people with disabilities -- at least the sort that make us dependent on other people for the simple tasks that keep us alive -- must navigate their way through the world with a cynical, self-serving blend of guile, hypocrisy, and calculated good manners. We must be better than our true selves simply out of self-preservation.
I may be wrong, but I don't think Callahan did that, allowed that compromise, that accommodation into his world. His cartoons -- let's identify his work instead as his commentary -- was too ferocious.