Article out in Junkee on Stephen Hawking

I wrote an article for Junkee about Stephen Hawking and the media reception of his death. You can read it here.

Excerpt:

Stephen Hawking died two days ago. He was an extraordinary and uncommon academic, a scientist with a deep sense of artistry and a wicked sense of humour. And he was a bright fire in the lonely sky of disabled academia.

I am not a scientist. But I am a wheelchair-using academic, and I have a lot of feelings about space; my thesis has “cosmogonies” in the title. Hawking’s work was a joy and his presence in the world was a comforting reminder that people like me belong in academia just as much as any abled person does.

So it is disappointing, and deeply hurtful, to see how abled people are handling the news of Hawking’s death.

Many abled people have created artistic depictions where Hawking’s spirit is seen standing or walking away from his wheelchair. Leaving aside the fact that Hawking was a staunch atheist who described the idea of an afterlife as a “fairy story”, this fundamentally misunderstands the function of a wheelchair in a disabled person’s life.

Hawking is not “finally free” of his wheelchair now that he is dead. His wheelchair is the thing that gave him freedom during his life. The only time he ever envisioned himself mystically floating away into a sparkly cosmos, it was with his chair: go ahead and watch his cover of Monty Python’s ‘Galaxy Song’ if you want to see for yourself.

Read the full article on Junkee here.

 

 

 

MELANCHOLIA

I have a blackout poem out in Streetcake Magazine today!

It uses the text of Robert Burton’s Last Will and Testament, contained in the front matter of The Anatomy of Melancholy, What it is: With all the Kinds, Causes, Symptomes, Prognostickes, and Several Cures of it. In Three Maine Partitions with their several Sections, Members, and Subsections. Philosophically, Medicinally, Historically, Opened and Cut Up, first published 1621.

The poem and its transcription are reproduced below.

 

melancholia


 

Cui vitam dedit et mortem

Melancholia

 

Azure                   a crescent

death,                 following

casualties to which our life is subject

our                   unsettled states

have

perfect

adventure     of which I am ignorant

First

whensoever

I make

Legacies out of

specified

life                             Lady

if he be not

of the Ground                 I give

equally

other

days                                                                   I

long   to

bestow

purpose

to the

grave

perpetual

 

to redeem

my

remembrance

I desire

to be

where she is buried

besides                         I die

till then

 

Disability Day of Mourning fundraiser

fight

Image: a black shirt with text in light blue and bright red, reading MOURN FOR THE DEAD, FIGHT LIKE HELL FOR THE LIVING, a quote from Mother Jones.

I’m volunteering as Sydney site coordinator for the Disability Day of Mourning again this year, but I need some help to cover the costs of venue hire, public liability insurance, and printing event materials.

If you can, please consider buying a shirt (or a hoodie, sweatshirt, or tank top) to help cover the costs involved. There’s an option to add a donation to the cost of the shirt if you’re feeling especially kind. They come in black, charcoal, navy, indigo, and purple.

Link to the Bonfire campaign here: Disability Day of Mourning

Alternatively, if you hate wearing clothes but would still like to help out, you can send $$ via paypal.me/robinmarceline.

Crip love & solidarity 

In the past five years, over 550 disabled people have been murdered by their parents, relatives or caregivers.

On Thursday, March 1st, disability communities in Sydney and around the world will gather to remember the disabled victims of filicide – disabled people murdered by their family members or caregivers.

In the year since our last vigil, our community has lost 100 more people to filicide. These are just the cases that we are aware of – since we began monitoring this issue, we learn about more murders every week. The total number of deaths is likely higher than the amount that reach the media. This problem is made worse by irresponsible news coverage which presents these murders as the sympathetic acts of loving and desperate parents, by a justice system which often gives a lighter sentence to a parent who kills a disabled child, and by the dangerous cultural prejudice that says a disabled life is not worth living.

Media coverage and public discourse about disability filicides frequently justifies them as “understandable” and sometimes “merciful”, rather than appropriately condemning the crimes and those who commit them. If the parent or caregiver stands trial, they are given sympathy and comparatively lighter sentences, if they are sentenced at all. The victims are disregarded, blamed for their own murder at the hands of people they should have been able to trust, and ultimately forgotten. And then the cycle repeats.

But it doesn’t have to.

For the last six years, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, ADAPT, Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and other disability rights organisations worldwide have come together to send a clear message that disability is not a justification for violence. We read the victims’ names, see their photographs, and gather what information we can about their lives.

We hold the Day of Mourning vigils to draw attention to the violent injustice faced by disabled people, to commemorate the lives of victims of filicide, and demand justice and equal protection under the law for all people with disabilities.

Find your local vigil site here: Day of Mourning Vigil Sites

View the online Disability Memorial here: Disability Memorial

NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US