I must admit that I've never really given much thought to the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon that airs each Labor Day weekend, but that has changed now that I've read Miss Crip Chick's latest post. In it, she calls for folks who care about ending ableism to blog in protest of the telethon. If you need help in understanding why, read her post and check out all of her links. I found the site for the documentary The Kids Are Alright and the Other Obnoxious Comments by Jerry Lewis on cripcommentary.com to be especially eye-opening.
This quote from the The Kids Are Alright page sums the issue up well:
"The telethon routinely implies that the source of the problems people with disabilities face is their medical conditions and the answer to their problems is curing them. Millions of viewers tune in every year and come away with the idea that people with disabilities need pity and charity rather than accessible public transportation and housing, employment opportunities and other civil rights that a democratic society should ensure for all its citizens. "
Anyone who is involved in any social justice or anti-oppression movement should be able to understand this. If able-bodied privilege is keeping you from wrapping your head around it, replace muscular dystrophy with any other condition of social marginatlization (sex, race, sexuality, sexual identity, etc.), and it becomes apparent. Can you imagine how you would feel if charities constantly drummed up pity for you based on the patronizing assumption that you are less than everyone else, and planted a clueless bigot in charge of the effort?