Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Today's rant

First, read here.

Now on with the rant:

A few years back, Dick Clark voiced himself in the first episode of the cartoon show Futurama. To quote one of my favorite Futurama lines, after reading some of the comments otherwise intelligent people are making about Clark's appearance New Year's Eve, "I'm literally angry with rage!"

When a celebrity recovers from any other accident or horrific illness sufficiently to make a public appearance, he or she is hailed for bravery. No one would have dreamed of saying about the genuinely heroic Christopher Reeve, "he should stay out of sight until he can walk, or at least talk without the respirator." Anyone who said such a thing would rightly be deplored. But when it comes to surviving a stroke, it seems like anything goes.

I think what's going on here is that a lot of people are just plain terrified of strokes -- they strike without warning, often for no apparent reason, and can happen to anyone. This isn't something you can avoid by not smoking or avoiding risky activities like horseback riding. And in such terrible fear, people are willing to say "Just keep those poor victims out of sight! I don't want to be reminded that this can happen! Let them stay shut up inside someplace until they get better!"

Well, look, the thing is, stroke survivors get better by working at it, by returning to their lives, and by relearning the skills their bodies have forgotten how to do. What kind of message does it send to the millions of regular folks who aren't celebrities and have suffered strokes, when columnists feel free to treat a stroke as if it's something for the victim to be ashamed of?

I've seen stroke survivors quoted as saying they thought Clark's appearance was brave and even inspiring. I'm with them. I'm sorry if seeing someone doing a splendid job of recovery, speaking intelligibly with a clear mind, makes some newspaper guy squirm because he doesn't like to be reminded that sometimes bad things happen to people. That's just too damn bad.

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