Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Know You're Trying to be Nice . . .

I know this guy online (possible band name alert) who is disabled. He was in a car accident years ago and after much physical therapy he is able to walk, climb stairs, etc. He does not do any of these activities easily, or quickly, but he does them.

Three times this week people have, without permission or even warning, grabbed him while he was climbing stairs in order to "help" him. Each time, when he loudly informed them that it was not acceptable to touch him and that he didn't need their help, they became offended and offered "I was just trying to help . . ." as an excuse. As if he were the rude one*.

I wouldn't think it would be necessary to say this, but touching people without their permission is assault and battery. It's a freakin' crime, people. I'm sorry some of us aren't fast enough or graceful enough for you, but that's your fucking problem, not ours. I'm sorry I'm ruining your day with my slow climb up the stairs, but just wait, okay?

*I know, the disabled are expected to be unfailingly, unflappably pleasant at all times. I'm sorry, but Forrest Gump is not a documentary. Possibly the worst movie I've ever seen, but not a documentary.


  1. On the other hand, I know a mother of a disabled child who was stuck in the snow with him and his wheelchair and no one even offered to help. She's not even mad about it. That's grace. I wish I had some.

  2. I'm sorry, but Forrest Gump is not a documentary. Possibly the worst movie I've ever seen, but not a documentary.

    - Word! Best scene in the movie is when Forrest is hit in the head with a rock as a kid. A friend and I watched that scene several times over and in slow motion.

    My Girlfriend and her daughter live with me, her daughter is autistic. It is a learning process of what I can do to help and what I can't do to help, but letting someone with a handicap do what they can without assistance is really good for them. When she is determined to do something on her own, I let her until she asks for help.

  3. I’m kinda surprised by the vehemence in this post, to be honest. I don’t agree with spontaneously grabbing people to help them up and such unless they specifically ask for help, but on the other hand, snarling at those who do it with pure intentions (ie. they do honestly want to help and do good, not to babysit the person or anything) seems a bit … well, mean, frankly. Firmly push them away and tell them you don’t need their help and not to just grab you, sure, but don’t yell at them as though they they were attacking you or something. That just seems unfair.

    Also, I have to strongly disagree with your claim that grabbing someone uninvitedly with the intention of helping them constitutes “assault and battery”. No offense, but … that’s really stupid. Any legal definition I’ve found defines assault as: “a threat or attempt to inflict offensive physical contact or bodily harm on a person (as by lifting a fist in a threatening manner) that puts the person in immediate danger of or in apprehension of such harm or contact”.

    And for battery, the proper definition is “a : the act of battering or beating b : an offensive touching or use of force on a person without the person's consent”.

    A friendly (in intention) move to try and help someone up or whatever, even if such an act is unwanted by the one being grabbed, in no imaginable way constitutes either an attempt or move to threaten or harm someone, nor to touch them with force against their consent. Claiming so is just as stupid as saying taking a picture of a naked child in a bathtub is child pornography, or that trying to fix a crooked sign is vandalism. Really, some judgment must be used, and the person’s intentions must be taken into account. If they’re being a jerk, sure, blast them. But when they just wanna help, even if misguidedly, then just tell them so.

    And finally … what’s this guff about Forrest Gump!? ’Tis one of my favorite movies, it is! *fanboy glare*

    (Though, humor aside, what the heck do you mean by its supposed characterization of crippled people as “unfailingly, unflappably pleasant”? Maybe we didn’t see the same person here, but the two “crippled” people in there were Forrest when he was a kid with leg braces (he wasn’t gloomy simply because he probably didn’t have the awareness to be, to be honest), and Lt. Dan, who sure as hell was fucking pissed about losing his legs for a very long time. Unless you meant Forrest’s mental retardation, in which case it’s not bad enough so that he’s really “crippled”, and he’s just a good-natured fellow. Those exist in real life, too.)

  4. … I always impress myself with how such simple ideas and single sentences in my mind can suddenly morph into freakin’ novellas. My apologies and all that.

  5. I have to side with Joe McKen on this one, Forever in hell.

  6. as a disabled person -

    ANY TOUCH *IS* assult on me.
    why? beyond the fact that, except in very, very narrowly defined circumstance, "offensive touch" is also known as UNWANTED touch. if you touch someone WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION, you are doing something wrong.

    but also; people don't get to touch me without my permission BECAUSE IT FUCKING HURTS.

    i mean it is PHYSICALLY PAINFUL.

    that yelling aside [and dear fucking GODS am i sick of telling the same fucking people over and over and OVER AGAIN "no, i'm sorry, please stop that hurts. no, REALLY, that hurts. please stop touching me you are hurting me" and INVARIABLY the person being nice? fucking IGNORES me being nice back and NICELY asking them to stop and they WON'T STOP until i am yelling.]

    my boyfriend, on the other hand, handles it really, really well. we live in a basement apartment. once inside, there are 9 steps to the bottom. and he's always two steps in front of me, then he turns and *offers* his arm if i need help.
    and he literally has permission to touch me whenever he wants [but he does always check to make sure it won't hurt. it's not that he doesn't sometimes accidentally hurt me, but that he always ACTIVELY TRIES to not hurt me.] which random stranger on the stairwell isn't gonna know about, and for fuck's sake DO NOT TOUCH A PERSON WITHOUT PERMISSION UNLESS THEY ARE BLEEDING PROFUSELY]

  7. As someone who spent years working for disabled people, all I can say is, it depends. Some people can use help and appreciate it, others not. I almost always ask before touching someone, but sometimes it's obviously unnecessary to ask. So far, no one has accused me of assault.


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