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Letter to the Editor: Shame on those who mimic disabled

Sunday, October 29, 2006

To the editor:

I have been reading letters or articles regarding people with disabilities and the embryonic stem-cell debate that must be responded to. As an advocate for people with disabilities and a person who has lived with polio for 58 years, I am ashamed of those who indicate a person with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, polio or any other life-changing disability are playing the disabled card simply because we support embryonic stem-cell research along with adult stem-cell research.

We are not evil people, or uninformed, nor are we benefiting financially from our support of this research. We are optimistic realists who do not expect researchers to find cures overnight. What we do is care. Our benefit is in knowing that within the next decade or more, others who come after us may bear the fruits of our advocacy efforts on their behalf.

Disability symptoms are real. No acting is necessary. I know. I watched with disgust and disbelief as a talk-show host insensitively exaggerated and mimicked the movements of Michael J. Fox, who has progressive Parkinson's disease, while claiming that Fox was either acting or not taking his medication fact when the opposite is true. I am ashamed of any media representative who goes so far as to mean-spiritedly perpetuate misconceptions about people with disabilities, when he doesn't know what he's talking about. Regardless of circumstance, there is no justifiable excuse for this type of behavior from anyone.

MARYANN "MIKI" GUDERMUTH, Executive Director, SEMO Alliance for Disability Independence, Cape Girardeau