Third Time Lucky? Yes.

Just wanted to post a quick blog to say that it was indeed third time lucky and I not only made it to Birmingham yesterday but there were no problems at the theatre and after a lunch at Pizza Express Rachel and I were able to see Dirty Dancing.

It was good!  It wasn’t what I was expecting and wasn’t the most musical like musical I’ve ever seen but I enjoyed it and I’m glad we went.  I’d say that I’m not adding the soundtrack to the vast collection of musical soundtracks that fills my iTunes library but I seem to remember saying that after another friend and I saw Shrek last year and then about six weeks later I did buy the soundtrack after listening to it on youtube a few times.  So I’ll just say I don’t think I’ll be buying the soundtrack.

And as always Birmingham Hippodrome was very accessible.  It’s so quick and easy to get to from New Street station too so I think we’ll probably go to something there again.

Hate isn’t Funny Part Three

It’s not really appropriate to call this post Hate Isn’t Funny part three because I don’t think it was really about hate just about clueless people not thinking things through properly.  But the two posts I wrote on the same subject in February were about hate and I called them Hate isn’t Funny so it feels right to use that title for this and continue the series even if it probably isn’t the best title for this particular anecdote. /end nonsensical ramble about blog titles.

Back in February I went to see Omid Djalili and his show was quite ableist and frankly in a couple of places full of hate.  I wrote about that in Hate isn’t Funny and then had some discussion with him via twitter which I wrote about in Hate isn’t Funny part two. That saga didn’t have the ending I wanted it to have but it had the best ending it was probably possible for it to have if that makes sense.

I’ve been to a couple of musicals since then and one comedy show which was funny and generally not noteworthy at all in terms of disability.

On Sunday my friend Angela and I went to see Showstopper – the improvised musical.  Generally I liked it.  For me personally it could have been better simply because they asked the audience to list several musicals which would influence the show.  The ones chosen by the audience were all older ones – none of which I’d seen and only one or two I’d heard of.  So several of the references went over my head which was a shame.  Angela said to me afterwards that one of the musicals she thought the cast didn’t know either. But the singing was good and I liked the improvised plot they came up with and how it ended up.

Every so often they would stop and ask how they should show they’d been influenced by  a particular musical and for one of the musicals (Tommy) someone shouted out a character should be blind.  So for the rest of the show one of the characters was pretending to be blind and frankly overkilling it and coming across and pretty damn ableist.  Amongst other things frequently nearly walking into the audience or props or whatever and having to be grabbed.  For about the first couple of minutes it was OK and then it got to be inappropriate and ridiculous.

Then it was the interval and they asked that people tweet them with suggestions of how the show should continue.  I tweeted:

 

This is somewhat made worse by the fact that a lady I didn’t know followed me and Angela into the lift to go down to the bar and heard me comment about the inappropriateness of the blind bit. She commented that she has a visual impairment and felt like she was being mocked. It’s not my disability so I didn’t feel I was being mocked personally but I thought it was a good description for what it seemed they were doing. We talked to her for a bit and did general interval stuff.

And then we went back in the show and they read various tweets out and continued on and it was mostly good but they really needed to kill the cripping up going on it the blind bit and kill it dead.

As we left and wandered out Angela’s route to her car and my route to my flat both taking us the same way for a couple of minutes I shared with her that I should probably blog about the incident and do something about it (more of a complaint) but I really couldn’t be bothered to. Because it felt like once again something I could fight and wouldn’t get anywhere and I’d waste energy on something unnecessary. Better to just decide that I didn’t want to see them again if they were going to be ableist was my thinking.

Then Monday afternoon I went on twitter and found this tweet in my mentions:

I tweeted them back to say thank you and I appreciated it. I included my email and a day or two later (I forget which day) I got an email from one of their team admitting that when they looked back at the show could see they got it wrong. They’re going to work on it in rehearsal I understand. I thanked them and made various comments including that it would have helped to just stopped the whole blind bit after a few minutes if they couldn’t include it in a more appropriate way.

This was never as bad as the situation I blogged about with Omid Djalili, it was always about someone working in a high pressure situation and getting it wrong and hurting people. And I’m more than pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I wouldn’t go and see The Showstoppers again anytime soon but I’ve taken them off my list of inappropriate shows and my list of shows I don’t want to see again – if they were back here in a year or two I might well go back.

There have been many times I’ve flagged up ableism in various circumstances and not got a good response or been fobbed off by token gestures after long complaints and huge effort. I’m really glad to see one small thing – one tweet – have a positive outcome. And even more glad to hear someone admit that yeah actually they did get it wrong.

But it also pisses me off.

Because why can’t more people do that?

Can you actually hear yourself?

Sometimes I think I should start carrying a dictaphone or similar around with me everywhere and recording my conversations.  Because just lately so many people have said things to me – people who I know – and have come across so ableist that I’ve been shocked.  And in a couple of the cases I’ve known what they’ve actually meant and suspected that if I made them listen back to what they said they may well realise how inappropriate their wording was.

In two of the three most recent cases I feel confident that the other person in the conversation didn’t mean to hurt me and was just wording things wrong (and in one case was trying to play devil’s advocate).  But that doesn’t take away the sting and the hurt in hearing people I have an ongoing relationship with (in most cases by necessity although they are friendly relationships built I thought on mutual respect and in at least one case I could maybe see actual friendship developing if we met in a different setting) say things which lessen my worth and discriminate against me because I’m disabled.  I’m not less but their careless comments suggest I am and show a thoughtlessness I didn’t expect from most of them.

Those comments hurt more than similar ones from complete strangers.  Because I’m not just a random girl in a wheelchair to them.  They know that I’m Emma.  And we don’t know each other well so they may well not know very much about Emma but in almost all cases they we’ve known each other a couple of years and we know enough about each other for them to have a pretty decent idea of who I am and what I believe in even if they don’t know all the ins and the outs of what makes me tick and my day to day life.  And those comments that hurt me aren’t being said by the stranger on the street or the woman in sainsburys but by someone I volunteer with. Or who I sail with or who goes to Thursday night crafts or the disability group I chair or the NaNo group I’m part of or whatever.

I can, often, come up with some snappy response that makes it clear it’s inappropriate and ableist.  But sometimes it’s not appropriate for me to do so.  Or I can’t because I’ll lose my shit completely if I do so.  and sometimes like one occasion this week I can’t actually respond properly because I’m just blindsided and left gaping that someone would have the sheer audacity to think that was acceptable. So I flail and try to say something but don’t actually manage to respond how I should. So I just get silently frustrated and wonder if they can actually hear what they’re saying?

And then I think how handy that mythical dictaphone may come in because if I could play it back and make them realise what they’ve said I probably wouldn’t need to say anything at all.

 

In which I get Ranty

(subtitle: and lose my shit all over the Internet.)

This is ridiculous. In fact It’s the most stupid thing ever and frankly I probably shouldn’t dignify it with a response but I can’t let it go.

There’s an American company called 3eLove. They sell a range of products with their logo on – the logo is a wheelchair symbol like you see on many different things but with the wheel replaced with a heart. It’s called the wheelchair heart.  I can’t remember if I’ve blogged about it before or not. Their products have a variety of slogans on as well as the wheelchair heart.  In 2012 my parents gave me a sum of money instead of a Christmas present asking I buy myself something special that I wouldn’t usually buy for myself.  I bought myself a wheelchair heart necklace and I really like it (prior to shit that went down yesterday I probably would have said I love it but…). If you look at the pictures of my brother’s wedding you can see I’m wearing it there (I’m not sure how clear it is though). A lot of my friends have quite a few 3elove products but the necklace is the only one I have. I’ve not seen anything else they do that really called to me like that did and made me feel paying postage from the US to here was worth it (seriously, yesterday a friend linked me to one of their tops and told me how much she was paying to get it shipped here and all I could think was “I could buy a second top for the cost of postage if I bought it from a UK place” But obviously that’s not the company’s fault).

So anyway I kept hearing that yesterday (20/01/2014) was going to be Day of Acceptance run by 3elove.  And this apparently was a Big Deal.

I’m not a fan of “awareness raising” and the like and days that do that because I’m not really sure that they achieve anything that can’t be achieved by just being seen and doing and living.  I’ve written about that several times before – here is one example and there is a link to more in that entry. So I was hearing a lot about it and I sent a couple of tweets.

I tweeted:

#dayofacceptance is really poor activism and a thinly veiled way for @3elove to market themselves. Don't Other me this way #Disability

— Emma (@FunkyFairy22) January 20, 2014

and then I sent some unrelated RTs and chatted a bit with a twitter friend about stuff including what I’d just tweeted.

Then I tweeted

I don't want or need a #dayofacceptance. I deserve seven. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. And Sunday. (@3elove)

— Emma (@FunkyFairy22) January 20, 2014

Here’s the thing: I don’t want one day a year where people go out of their way to accept me and my disability and make a big deal of it. I want to be accepted every single damn day there is and I want it to be normal. You know I don’t want people bothering to tell me that my having CP is acceptable to them.  By making a big deal of it it makes me different to those in the majority and Others me. (Othering is the process by which we use an action of similar to class particular people as different and “not one of us” see this link for more detail).

I suspect a big part of this comes from medical model versus social model and cultural differences. But lets just say that those two tweets which were just random thoughts didn’t go down very well.

By my last count I’ve had tweets disagreeing with me and telling me I’m wrong from four different people.  Two of whom decided to troll me and keep telling me I was wrong. The reason I was wrong? Well, basically because I didn’t agree with them and that was just wrong. I was missing the point. I was wrong. I’ve not been able to determine what the point I was missing was because explanations haven’t been forthcoming let alone ones that actually make sense. (I RT’d a few of them and several of my followers went “yeah… makes no sense.”). Never mind I was wrong, I was hurting my followers by being wrong, and bringing loads of people down.  And most importantly I was completely wrong.

I am more than happy to have these sort of discussions if people take the time to say “well to me I see this as XYZ why do you see it differently?”

It’s also been suggested by the trolls that I need to accept myself.  I don’t know how I can do that when I’ve been in a wheelchair my entire life, would hate to be anything but and would turn down a cure if one should magically appear. My wheelchair is a huge part of my identity as well as being a part of my body.

Acceptance. Dude, it’s a journey not a destination but I’m pretty much all ready there and have been my entire life. Just because I don’t like your day doesn’t mean I hate myself.

I am surrounded by people who love me, help me, support me, tell me off if I need it, wind me up, tease me, laugh with me, cry with me, knit with me, sail with me, and do all sorts of things for me and with me.  They accept me too.  I thank them often for what they do for me and I appreciate it and they thank and appreciate me when I do stuff for them.

But I don’t thank them for accepting me. Because I shouldn’t have to. I am a part of their lives and they are a part of my life because it’s what we want.

If people I have to deal with in a professional capacity (either theirs or mine through my unpaid voluntary work) have a problem with my disability then I would hope our interactions would drip into their brains and slowly bring change and I would focus on that. If people I don’t have to deal with have a similar problem I would still hope the same thing but frankly I’d give them a chance then cut them out of my life. I’ve not got time to change lives, I’ve got a life to live.

Yes I know attitude to disabilty aren’t what they could be.  But in my life time alone  I’ve seen huge changes for the better (and maybe one or two for the worse). That’s continuing.  It’s just more effective if we live our lives and celebrate who we are and our contributions. One day isn’t going to change it.  In fact I worry it’ll make people think “well they wanted me to do it on 20th Jan and I did so they can’t expect me to do it everyday.”

People might remember the old TV ads that used to be on in December time “A dog’s for life, not just for Christmas.”  Well, my disability is for life not just one day and I’d prefer people remember that.

(I’d also prefer people to remember that a post of twitter is just a tweet. It’s not an attack on their views, just a differing opinion and there is absolutely no need for shit like the trolling I had yesterday. But I think that’s probably wishful thinking.)

(first time comment moderation is enabled on my blog – if you haven’t commented before your comment will be held. This is standard to prevent spam).

Bored

I’m bored.
I’m bored of being seen only as the one in the wheelchair.
I’m bored of my disability being all people remember about me
I’m bored of being defined by my CP.
I’m bored of complete strangers demanding to know how long I’ve been in a wheelchair
Of them asking “what happened?” And then when that doesn’t get the answer they want demanding to know “what’s wrong with you?
I’m bored of fighting.
Of having my concerns ignored
Of asking for something and having it decided for me that something else will do.
I’m bored of saying that I need something and explaining why. Then having that explanation ignored because they know better and my anxiety diagnosis cited as the reason instead.
I’m bored of asking about access because I’m worried and being told I need to have more trust.
I’m bored of broken promises
Assumptions
People forgetting
Not thinking
I’m bored of going round the back
By the bins
Of waiting
Of sitting hoping while staff hunt for lost keys
I’m bored of being a scrounger
Ignored
Hated
I’m bored of being seen as a deserving case
Whilst others fight.
I’m bored of being lesser.
But then
I wouldn’t want to be anything more
Than what
I am
Because I’m me
But most of all
I’m bored of that
not being
What people see.

this post is meant to highlight some of the difficulties I face as a disabled person, there relentlessness and how it can make me feel. It’s my submission for Blogging Against Disablism Day 2013

Disability in the media

I’m paying a second visit over at Bea Magazine this month.  I wrote about the disability issues which were raised by the news that paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been arrested on suspicion of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

You can read it here:

Disability and the Reeva Steenkamp Murder

The coverage of disability in the media has always been problematic but I’m really hoping this might be the beginning of it changing. I suspect that it’s more likely that it will change the way violence against women is covered by the media than disability.  Still I hope.

Last year I was asked to speak to the local paper about my sailing group having some new equipment after fundraising for over 6 years and raising half a million pounds for it.  It was on the phone and I did tell them I was a wheelchair user because it was relevant (the equipment will mostly help wheelchair users and means I can be more independent).  I didn’t tell them that I had CP.  But in the article it said “Ms Crees who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair said…”  Because that’s what defines me in their eyes.

That and another experience a few years ago where something I said was taken slightly out of context to make it appear like a terrible disability thing in a news clip mean I would be very wary talking to the press again. Basically they obviously really wanted to me to answer yes to a question and wouldn’t stop asking me varients of it.  In the end I said along the lines of  yes it seems like that to you but…”  The final news clip had me just saying “yes it seems like that.”

And I’m just me.  A regular crippled girl who writes and likes to sail.  I’m not high profile at all.  The fact that Oscar Pistorius is high profile is a big part of the reason why there are so many issues relating to disability in the coverage of Reeva Steenkamp’s death but it’s not the only reason. Crimes are committed by disabled people every day.  People are murdered everyday, sometimes by those disabled criminals or by others.  That doesn’t always hit the news. This did and brought with it issues about disability magnified to a whole new level.

I didn’t think of this until after I wrote the piece for Bea but I suspect disability is why it’s getting so much coverage.  If a regular Olympian, say, Greg Rutherford (being only he was the first to come to my mind) was accused of the same crime it would be a big deal.  But I’m not sure it would be quite as big a deal with so many people shocked and talking about it as when it’s the so called “Disabled hero”

I’m not the only blogger who has been tackling these issues.  William Peace has also written about the problem of disability role models (in which he also covers Helen Keller) over on his blog Bad Cripple.

Tell A Feminist Thank You and Disability Mentors

Since this afternoon I keep seeing tweets pop up with #tellafeministthankyou (hashtag “tell a feminist thank you” for those who find those hard to read).

I got to thinking.  It would be good to have a similar thing for people who campaign on disability issues.  But what would you call it?

Feminism is generally considered to be a good thing and to have made amazing strides forward in rights for women both in this country and others.  The suffragette movement and the fact women in the UK can vote being just one example.  It’s the one that comes to mind because I just read The Children’s Book by AS Byatt and the votes for women movement plays a role in the book.

And I suspect that a lot of what has happened to improved disability rights and everything around it has a basis in the feminist movement.  Once you can get someone to change their mind on something it’s often easier to get them to begin to shift slightly on a different but related issue such as disability rights in my opinion.  The two issues are very different but they compliment each other and one can lay the groundwork for the other.  Although, obviously there are also times when to link the two issues together would be inappropriate just as there would be with any other “ism”

But going to the hashtag you could never have “tell an ableist thank you” (or disableist depending on your term of preference, mine I think is moving more towards ableism at the moment) because ableism is a bad thing and rightly so.

There are so many people who have been my disability mentors along this journey.  Not all of them have disabilities themselves but most of them do.   And one or two that most of what I took away from them was how not to be. Some I have thanked.  Many I have not and some I doubt I’ll ever get the chance too.

I considered sharing names and linking to blogs of some of the awesome people who’ve been that for me at different stages at my life.  But the fact of the matter is I could never list them all and I’d hate to miss someone off.

Most of them are people I either met through the internet or who I only know online.  I grew up knowing many others with CP and a few with other disabilities we wheeled or walked our path growing up disabled together but I’m not sure mentor is the term I’d use for those people.  Possibly because for me the path to true acceptance and being happy in my own skin didn’t come until I was 17 or so.

If you’ve played a role – any role – in mentoring me or in the fight over the years for the equal treatment and rights that I and others deserve as both a disabled person and as a women then Thank You.

That’s something I don’t think we say enough.

Happy Tears

I was asked to speak at an equality event today. About the access group (AFA) I’m chair of and a bit about my own story as a disabled person.

I think it well. I didn’t write a speech, I had a few ideas but wanted to just talk off the cuff. It helped that this is I think the third time I’ve explained to people what and why AFA is (although previously I’ve only done so in informal settings). The very first idea I’d thought of when thinking it over I forgot to use.

I talked about how I don’t suffer from CP because it’s all I’ve ever known. How just because me and another hypothetical person both use chairs doesn’t meant we have the same needs. And I talked about lots of other things. I can’t remember exactly, I wish I could.

One of the things I mentioned is how failing to provide access and inclusion doesn’t just mean I miss out. I shared the story of the Major Access Fail. Through that course I’ve made some new friends. But I’ve spent so much time fighting and arguing and being upset about that I feel like those new friends haven’t met me. They’ve met upset, depressed, fighter Em whose been made to feel worthless. They’ve not had the opportunity to meet happy, having a laugh Em who gets on with things, is confident, opinionated and loves life. Me.

After I finished speaking I went to the back of the room and the organiser leaned down and whispered to me “that was brilliant” so hopefully it worked. Next there were a few more speakers then time to mingle. During the mingling time I spoke to a few people and asked them if they thought it went ok. I was a little unsure I’d hit the brief. A few interesting comments, I think I might have got some people thinking.

Someone I vaguely know came over to chat. I think it was the third or forth time we’ve met. We did the usual “hi how are you?” bit and then telling me she’d liked my speech she burst into tears.

I froze and thought “oh shit”.

What I said was “I didn’t mean to make you cry.” hopefully she missed the panicked note in my voice

Through tears she shared why. She has a young granddaughter who has CP. Ever since the diagnosis she’s been upset about all the things her granddaughter wouldn’t do. Hearing me talk about my life gave her hope that things would be ok.

She told me the tears were happy tears, happy tears.

I gave her a hug and I must admit I had to fight off happy tears of my own.

I’m not sure what I said that helped, I never expected anything like that to happen. I’m not even really sure I did help, sharing struggles like that.

But…

If I can make one person think differently about how they approach disabled people I’ve succeeded in my talk.

Reaching someone else and helping the family of a toddler have hope that a CP diagnosis isn’t the end of the world is huge. I don’t have the words to explain what that means to me.

It doesn’t negate the bad experiences I’ve had. They still hurt, they still shouldn’t have happened but will again. And in the case of major access fail its still outrageous. But being able to use that in a positive way takes away most of the sting of the memory.

It’s not OK.

But it sure as hell helps.

♥ Emma

>The Fight Never Ends – #BADD2011

>Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD).  BADD started in 2006 I believe making this the 6th BADD.  When it was first set up I was a campaigner and an advocate but not as much as I am now.  I was really excited by the prospect of this day when we could all come together and work towards a common goal – the fight against disablism.

6 years later? Not so much.

Days like BADD and other events like One Month Before Heartbreak are wonderful at raising awareness.  And they take a lot of work to organise so I have big respect for The Goldfish from that point of view – I would rerun OMBH but I’d really rather not!  The downside of such events however is the fact that once they’re over the attention can fade.  No one can fight all the time and no one can pay attention to fights that continue endlessly.  Personally I am suffering somewhat from “campaign” burnout at the moment.  In a way I’d really rather ignore BADD this year but I know that I’d feel guilty if I did that.  But I’d like to ask everyone reading this to remember that whilst BADD is a once a year thing, disablism isn’t and so the fight against it never ends.  If you take nothing else away from this entry, please remember that.

Disablism happens every single day.  If not to me then to someone out there.  I can’t remember the last day I visited twitter and didn’t see at least one mention of it.  Maybe not by name but implied in the description of what happened, the hurt feelings, the abuse or the pain.

There are a lot of things which happen to me which I don’t consider disablism because they are my disability normal.  Some of them I deliberately choose not to blog about because in the grand scheme of things it’s not a big deal and it’s easier to move on.  But then I find that if I do tell friends about them, just mention it in passing sort of thing they can be surprised by what my life is really like and think things are terrible when to me they aren’t.  That’s absolutely ridiculous isn’t it?  The struggles of life with a disability, of disablism blatant or accidental are so normal to me that unless it’s huge I don’t always register it.  Truth is however I can’t go along thinking and focussing on the negatives in life and how terrible things are because I’m already on antidepressants and I’d need a whole lot more if I did that.  I can choose to wallow or I can choose to live life and fight despite my disability.  And I choose acceptance, a fight and lots of living.

Want to hear something else that’s totally ridiculous now I think of it?  I recently had a conversation with someone whose partner (an acquaintance of mine) had started using a wheelchair a couple of weeks before.  I think it was unexpected and by the sounds of things it’s not been very easy.  All of which I’m sure we can agree is totally understandable.  But as we were talking (this was just a brief chat) a couple of things they’d been finding difficult came up in conversation.  They were surprised by what those were.  I was surprised by their surprise.

That’s something that always happens when I talk to new or short term wheelies.  They talk about how outraged and shocked they are that they had to be lifted up a step into the cinema or the restaurant they’d been looking forward to going to didn’t have access when they got there.  And I sit there and think “welcome to my world” and their shock and surprise surprises me.  Because things like that are normal to me and if I’d not been somewhere before I’d check into it.  It’s rare that I can just head out the house and go somewhere new without some advance research and there’s always this little part of me that wonders at the fact that others don’t have to do that.

Disablism, problems with access and other disability related issues and obstacles no longer surprise me.  That’s gotten to be true to such an extent that when I went to the hairdressers (in a new premises) on Wednesday and they knew where their moveable ramp was, knew how to use it, it worked for me and there was no fuss whatsoever I was surprised.  (and so was my (nondisabled) Mum when I told her – she commented they must have been practising as they knew I was coming).  But the fact that’s the case? It’s totally ridiculous.  The fact that I talk to new wheelies about issues and the fire they still have surprises me?  Even more so.

But that’s what life is like for me.  It’s what life has been like for me.  Disablism, disability etc have all been a part of my life.  They will all continue to be a part of life for me as long as I live.  I hope however that as the years go by it will be much much less.  But must of all I have a hope for all the new wheelies and other disabled people out there.  Those who today have had accidents, or strokes.  The small children with CP just learning about their wheelchairs.  I hope that they never find disablism becomes “normal” to them.  I hope they never become as bitter as I am at times about it.  Because that, to me, is why we have events like BADD.  It’s why I am, and always will be, a fighter.  However reluctantly at times.

>Comedians and Disablist Jokes

>At the gig I went to tonight the headline comedian (Milton Jones) made a joke about people faking disabilities to get benefits. Which as you might imagine ruined my enjoyable of the rest of the show. I’m not going to share the joke here because I don’t want to give it “air time”. However I’ve since found an e-mail address for him and have let him know my thoughts on the matter. As it’s a subject which I don’t think gets the attention it should (Ricky Gervais, Frankie Boyle and Jim Davidson all being well known for doing the same but still popular) I thought I would share the e-mail here.

I was at your show in [place] tonight. I am a full time wheelchair user as I have a lifelong disability. I was very very disgusted by your joke about crutches and benefits. Completely unnecessary and you clearly haven’t researched it – DWP figures show that less than 1% of all claims for Disability Living Allowance are fraudulent. In fact, more people who apply are turned down but then appeal and receive it then receive it first time.

People such as yourself have an influence over the way people are treated. Last week a friend was the victim of a disability related hate crime by someone who assumed she was faking her disability (you can read this on her blog http://incurable-hippie.blogspot.com/2011/02/hate-from-government-hate-on-street.html) we live in different areas of the country and yet less than 24 hours later I also had abuse screamed at me in the street (details on my blog http://writerinawheelchair.blogspot.com/2011/02/you-can-hate-me-but-you-wont-break-me.html)

It might just be a cheap way to get a laugh and make some money to you but to people like me perpetuating that stereotype is causing a lot of hurt and making us feel unsafe to go out in the areas around our own homes.

Living on benefits I don’t have much money and a night out like that is an occasional special treat. It’s upsetting to hear something so hurtful to people like me used for laughs. I won’t come to one of your shows again, there are other comedians out there who manage to be just as funny without using disabled people as a subject for ridicule.

I’m sure you won’t read this and even if you do you won’t listen but can I please ask you to think long and hard about the power and influence you wield when speaking to large audiences. And consider whether your jokes are appropriate and in good taste before going ahead.