Normally I manage my distaste for certain commentary or criticism.
On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, the editorial cartoon drawn by an “artist” from the Indianapolis Star pushed me way past my threshold.
I am disappointed at your editorial board’s insensitivity displayed by the apparent belief that this cartoon is at all funny or could provide any reflection of reality.
The cartoon depicts people waiting in a line labeled unemployment. A man in line asks what he will do when his benefits run out. The humorless clerk points to another line clerked by a smiling gent under a sign “disability.” The pointing clerk says “Forward,” using the logo of President Obama’s campaign.
As director of an agency that supports people with disabilities, it is deeply troubling to see anyone imply that one can easily – happily – leech off taxpayers simply by jumping lines from unemployment to claim disability.
The cartoonist is grossly uninformed about how and why people apply for and receive disability benefits, and how long the waiting lists are for even the most austere support. Disability benefits, when you can finally convince the bureaucracy that you’re eligible, are barely enough to pay rent, much less eat, stay clothed or pay for medicines and doctor visits. Only by cobbling together a patchwork of benefits and charity can many people with disabilities live near the poverty level.
One of our staff looked at the cartoon, sighed and said, “Just when you think we’ve gained a little in spreading awareness … “
This cartoon is a disgrace. The cartoonist should be ashamed of himself for insulting people with disabilities. He owes them and your readers an apology. His cartoon is an ugly propaganda ploy to make us angry at our neighbors and by extension our president while pretending these are comic situations.
I know, I know. Everybody knows somebody who is “taking advantage of the system,” but when you dig into those stories, you usually end up learning that they’re isolated examples, or something “I saw on TV.”
Many of our disabled neighbors are veterans. Would this cartoonist or your editorial board dare characterize them as a burden?
As someone who confronts these issues every day, I’m here to tell you that those scheming somebodies are the exception rather than the rule. Disability benefits are difficult to get, and do not provide anything like a plush lifestyle.
This cartoon is drawn to persuade us that we should cut these benefits. Making a joke out of it is a repulsive attempt to obscure the cruelty this cartoonist obviously embraces.
— Peter C. Ciancone
The WILL Center
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