Monday, November 05, 2007

Rumor campaign against Kathy Podgers

Friends of a friend who saw City Council candidate Kathy Podgers on Sunday's CCTV debate called her to say they were impressed. Kathy was solid on the issues, thoughtful, and she didn't seem like a "nut case."

Where could they have gotten the idea she was a "nut case"?

This is the rumor the bad guys have been spreading about Kathy.

It repeats the slander against her at the Cambridge City Council meeting a year ago when city officials mocked, threatened, and publicly humiliated her to try to silence her and get her out of the Council chamber.

They violated her civil rights to attend and participate in the Council meeting as a person with a physical disability accompanied by her service animal. The Mass. Commission Against Discrimination found "Probable Cause" to believe city officials (including two candidates for re-election) discriminated against her as she said. The persons named in Kathy's complaint are encouraged to resolve the problem before a public hearing set for December 12.

In attempting to dismiss Kathy as a "nut case," anyone spreading this rumor simply confirms his or her own bias against persons with disabilities. Would a rumor using the "N word" about a candidate spread without revealing the rumor-mongers as bigots?

On the one hand we read that mental illness is a true disability, that its sufferers have a right to respect and dignity. On the other we have people right here in Cambridge using the designation to indicate a person can be ignored or abused with impunity. Whether they apply this or other derogatory terms to a person with mental illness or a person with a physical disability, like Kathy, it is bigotry, and it plays to bigotry.

Who, and what, is sick here?

Marilyn Wellons