K Tempest Bradford (ktempest) wrote in indie_thinkers,
K Tempest Bradford

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Saw something interesting while I was watching an old episode of The Practice yesterday. The special guest star was Christopher Reeve and he apparently came up with the story.

In short: Chris is a paraplegic because, three years before, he was giving a driving lesson to his nephew and they had an accident. Nephew died, Chris is in a wheelchair. Chris' brother, the kid's father, blames Chris for the accident and won't help him out financially. Chris' wife is going a wee crazy caring for him and dealing with insurance companies and not getting any help and one day the brother ends up dead and the wife is blamed. The lawyers, as usual, figure out the truth - that Chris and his brother's wife plotted to have the brother killed. When they confront the two of them, Chris' character says something like: "But Eleanor, I'm in a wheelchair. People in wheelchairs are weak and helpless. People in wheelchairs are VICTIMS. We don't murder people."

Despite the fact that this particular episode came during the season when The Practice had seriously Jumped the Shark, I was really impressed with this story (as opposed to the other, stupid story going on at the same time). I thought the writing in that moment (which I did not capture well, I'm sure) was brilliant.

On to my point. Do victims really still have this sacred cow status? Do people really look at those in wheelchairs and think that they are weak, incapable, etc? Would it be really hard to prosecute a person in a wheelchair because of the wheelchair? Or because of anything else that might give them victim status?

How do you combat the scared cow?
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I think they do - the whole "they have a disability, they must be better in some other way" contribtues. Like that blind people have better hearing - apparently, they just pay more attention to the sounds they hear, they aren't better at it.

More on topic, yes we do look at them and think they are incapable. It would be hard: they jury would think "he's in a wheelchair, how could he kill someone?"
I saw a movie very much like that with Christopher Reeve (again) in a wheelchair...
The only way I know to combat a sacred cow is with a bunch of crazed Maenads.

I think it's two things. In the case of people with a disability, we think of them as somehow "broken" and incompetant. (Ever see the guys who yell at blind people?) We forget that they are still people. Usually, this is a disavantage to the disabled person: we don't think they can still work, take care of themselves or their children, etc.

For the victim issue, I think there's an lack of willingness to question our judgement. Victims evoke sympathy in us--which is a good thing. However, if someone for whom we have sympathy turns around and does something horrible, we get confused. Either we were wrong to have sympathy for them, or they couldn't have actually done this horrible thing. And how many people want to admit they are wrong? (Defense lawyers always try to get the jury's sympathy, because few people will convict people they feel sorry for.)

I think the problem is an all or nothing mentality. This person is either totally helpless, or normal. This person is either sympathetic, or cruel and viscous. But people are complex beings that can easily be helpless in one way and domineering in another. They can be sympathetic or even admirable in their public life and horrible at home.

I guess the sum of all this is "Bitches can be victims, too."