“Political Correctness” - Enough, Already!

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O.K. I admit it. Sometimes all this political correctness about disability cranks my tractor. I'm a regular guy, and yeah, I'm in touch with my sensitive side. My eyes tear up in sad movies or lately, when I hear the Star-Spangled Banner. So don't get me wrong here. I just don't see why we need to label people like we are part of some human ISO 9000 plan. I've seen the full range of sensitivity: like when people say to me, "It must be really hard being handicapped." I just look around like I don't know who they are talking about and say, "Yeah, must be." On the other end of the scale, there was this guy who passed me during a marathon I ran and said, "Bummer about your leg, man." When I passed him at the 24-mile point where he was rubbing out a leg cramp, I just said, "Bummer about your leg, man." He got the message.

I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt when they say something others might consider "politically incorrect." I figure it's a lack of education, not insensitivity. Folks generally try to avoid conflict, so they might ask, "What should I call you?" What they are really saying is, "How would you like me to describe the fact that you have a prosthesis, have had an amputation, or have something missing?"

It's really just that simple. I am an amputee. I have had my leg amputated. I wear a prosthesis or artificial leg. I am a person with a disability. No, I am not "Disabled"; that means "not functioning," like a truck with a busted radiator hose. I'm not "Handicapped." I don't stand on the corner with my "cap in hand," begging for coins. While we are at it, please don't use gut grabbers like "differently enabled," "physically challenged," or "mobility impaired." In turn, I won't describe you as "noticeably normal," "basically boring," or "politically passive."

Oh, I admit it-as an amputee I've done a few politically incorrect things. No, really they were just downright mean (in a fun sort of way). Like the time I asked an unsuspecting fishing buddy to help me pull my boot off. I pushed the button, letting my prosthesis come off in his hands. He screamed, dropped the leg, turned around, and ran right through the campfire into the woods.

I also played the "old loose foot bolt" trick on an unsuspecting member of the ski patrol, turning the ski boot around 360 degrees and saying, "Do you think it's broken?" The bottom line is-disabilities are not something most people deal with every day like some of us. It's not insensitivity; it's a lack of awareness and education. So those of us who are aware and educated on the subject owe it to the rest of them to impart a little knowledge and understanding about disabilities. Remember "ignorant" starts with "ignore."

Well, that's just what I think. Then again, last week my best dog ran off, and my truck threw a rod. Maybe that has me a little on edge.

Anyway, sign me:
O&P EDGY

Editor's Note: "EDGY," as you might guess, is an amputee who works in the O&P industry. You can e-mail your Edgy comments and stories to him at OandPedgy@aol.com