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Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans

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Rick Fielding 24 Sep 99 - 11:35 AM
MMario 24 Sep 99 - 11:51 AM
Big Mick 24 Sep 99 - 11:59 AM
Magpie 24 Sep 99 - 12:00 PM
radriano 24 Sep 99 - 12:02 PM
Jon W. 24 Sep 99 - 12:17 PM
sophocleese 24 Sep 99 - 12:25 PM
Allan C. 24 Sep 99 - 12:36 PM
Jon Freeman 24 Sep 99 - 12:46 PM
Art Thieme 24 Sep 99 - 01:03 PM
Bill in Alabama 24 Sep 99 - 01:35 PM
Mudjack 24 Sep 99 - 01:51 PM
Max 24 Sep 99 - 02:13 PM
Jeri 24 Sep 99 - 02:19 PM
lamarca 24 Sep 99 - 03:32 PM
Mudjack 24 Sep 99 - 03:57 PM
Bert 24 Sep 99 - 03:57 PM
Jon Freeman 24 Sep 99 - 04:09 PM
folk1234 24 Sep 99 - 04:11 PM
charcloth@aol.com 24 Sep 99 - 05:40 PM
Margo 24 Sep 99 - 06:19 PM
Llanfair 24 Sep 99 - 06:47 PM
Susan A-R 24 Sep 99 - 08:43 PM
Rick Fielding 24 Sep 99 - 09:10 PM
harpgirl 24 Sep 99 - 09:20 PM
Margo 24 Sep 99 - 09:23 PM
Barry Finn 24 Sep 99 - 09:40 PM
catspaw49 24 Sep 99 - 11:24 PM
catspaw49 24 Sep 99 - 11:41 PM
katlaughing 24 Sep 99 - 11:46 PM
Jon Freeman 24 Sep 99 - 11:57 PM
catspaw49 25 Sep 99 - 12:26 AM
DonMeixner 25 Sep 99 - 12:40 AM
catspaw49 25 Sep 99 - 01:03 AM
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Barry Finn 25 Sep 99 - 08:02 AM
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poet 26 Sep 99 - 09:26 AM
Jeri 26 Sep 99 - 10:05 AM
Rick Fielding 26 Sep 99 - 01:59 PM
DonMeixner 26 Sep 99 - 05:16 PM
Dani 27 Sep 99 - 10:20 AM
katlaughing 27 Sep 99 - 11:08 AM
dick greenhaus 27 Sep 99 - 11:29 AM
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Subject: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:35 AM

Since there are a couple of threads currently running about "unwritten (and often ignored) rules" regarding courtesy in sessions, jams and song circles, I thought I might take a chance with this one. It's not easy, and I DON'T have the answers, but I'll relate it to you as it was told to Heather and I.

A person I know, let's call him "Davey," is an England-based singer, raconteur, and pretty emotional guy, was doing a concert in a theatre, and realised early on that a group of handicapped people (with social worker in tow) were front and centre in the audience. Some (or all, or just one) were making loud noises (involuntary whoops and squawks) on a regular basis. Davey is a pretty focused folkie, but he said that by the third song he was becoming totally unhinged, forgetting words, chords, introductions etc. At a certain point he took a very risky step and told the audience that this was intolerable and he couldn't continue unless the noisy ones left. The social worker gathered up his charges and exited with loud criticism towards Davey about being intolerant. The concert was ruined naturally, and some asked for their money back.

The next day the shit really hit the fan, with threats that other handicapped people would dog future Davey shows until the public got the message that "we are human beings too, and have the right to go out at night"!

Davey did a press conference and tried to explain that "I deal in words. They are my stock in trade, and I need quiet to be effective, and when people pay good money to...etc. etc. I don't remember how this ended, but I remember feeling almost sick to my stomach as he recalled this (years ago) incident to Heather and I. As a bleeding heart liberal commie pinko who has always tried to fight discrimination, this cut like a knife, and all I could do was pray that it would never happen to me.

I'd appreciate any feedback, negative or positive.

Rick
At Rick's request, I have changed the name of the person he's talking about, wherever the name appears in this thread.
If you have reason to ask who or why, please ask Rick about it by personal message. Thanks.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: MMario
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:51 AM

In my own opinion....

I would never have done what Davey did.

That is my choice. Everyone has to make their own. This is not to say I might not have been irratated, or that I wouldn't have been pissed that my performance was thrown off.

Performers have to remember, if they are going to do live shows, that audiences are PEOPLE. This means that there will be a certain percentage of rude, or innattentive, or loud, or obnoxious, or sleeping, or totally oblivious ...etc. BUT...without an audience...you wouldn't be there.

I have heard many performers interupted by OR drowned out by cheers and applause. Never heard any complaints about it. But if it had been someone booing, or yelling for popcorn?


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Big Mick
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:59 AM

Dammit Fielding, but you pose some difficult questions. I think that this was unfair to spring on the performer. I performed at a music shop in a town near here that has a large store and they have built a performance area inside the store. Great venue for intimate little shows. I played for a group that included a group of people just as you described. It was difficult, but I knew in advance that it was coming and was prepped for it. But if I had not been prepared for this, and the object was to perform intricate arrangements, and the venue was appropriate.............in other words, this is not a pub but a concert venue, it was wrong to spring that on the performer.

Having said that, your friend exercised some pretty poor judgement. I think I would have used a mental trick to shut out the audience and just sunk into myself and performed it. The show must go on, and all that. At the intermission, I certainly would have spoken to the management of the house on the matter. But I would never have vilified the "blessed ones" in the way that he did. Aside from the predictable outcome, I couldn't hurt them in that way. A thought comes to me as I am typing this. Perhaps a better way would have been to approach the Social Worker and explain the problem, and invite them backstage after and do a small private concert for them. I don't know, just a thought.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Magpie
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 12:00 PM

If it were me, I think I'd've taken a short break, taken the social worker aside, and politely told him that the noice was making me lose my concentration, and maybe asked him/her if it would be possible totake the noicy ones a little farther back, so that the noice wouldn't be so disturbing. Diplomacy has a tendency to work.

Magpie


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: radriano
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 12:02 PM

Being handicapped myself, this issue cuts deep. What Davey did was wrong, both to himself and to his audience. While I sympathize with him from the standpoint of performing the fact is that there will always be occasions where things just don't go the way you want them to. As a performer you just have to be ready for crowd disruptions - they are going to happen!

radriano


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Jon W.
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 12:17 PM

I think Magpie's answer was right on. I've attended from time to time a free lunchtime concert series in the city park that is frequented by a similar handicapped group. Some members like to get up and dance to the music, which is perfectly acceptable (as far as I'm concerned), as long as they don't get so close they are threatening to upset the equipment. Usually their social worker is able to maintain enough control that they don't disturb the performers. I like Big Mick's solution also.

Jon W.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: sophocleese
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 12:25 PM

I agree that there could have been some middle ground in this one. Then again your friend said that he was getting quite rattled by it and in such circumstances it is tricky be crreative and kind. On the other side I don't take children who are going to fidget and make a lot of noise to concerts where they are gong to disturb others. Its not a matter of my children having or not having the right to see the same performances, but that the rights of everybody in the audience to enjoy the performance must be considered. The social worker, I think, erred in placing noisy and disruptive people in the front row for this concert.

I have sung with a madrigal group in a home for mentally and physically handicapped children. They enjoyed hearing us and their enthusiasm was noisy. We were at first a little taken aback by their sheer volume but one of the sopranos asked us to sing quietly so we could hear them and let them join in. One boy starting howling, he had apparently not made a sound for the last two years. It was a Christmas concert and we felt that the angels had joined us. The same group of people in a concert hall would have been a different matter as the performer would have to start juggling the desires and enthusiasm of the one group with those of others in the audience and try not to get completely off track in the singing.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Allan C.
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 12:36 PM

I took a few moments to consult on this problem with the Special Needs Counselor here on campus. She agreed that this is a "real tuffy". Here is a summary of our discussion:

It is standard operating procedure in many auditoriums and concert halls to allow front-row-center seating for the physically challenged. This is partly to aid some of the sight impaired folks but also because many halls don't have anywhere else for wheelchair-bound people to sit. Armed with this knowledge, it would probably be wise to inquire before a show whether such accommodations have been made. This would at least eliminate the "Surprise!" aspect. If it is still seen as a potential problem, then perhaps the person in charge of the show could be persuaded to move the reserved seating for the group to a spot in the middle where they might not be quite so distracting (at least, to the performer). An explanation or even a retelling of the story above might help to overcome objections which might be voiced.

It would seem that for this, forewarned is forearmed to some degree.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 12:46 PM

If it was causing him that much of a problem, I suppose that he had to do something but we have got through occasional nights in a small folk club with very little in the way of amplification with a group of handicapped people who were noisy and would suspect (especially conidering that he is an experience performer) than in a theatre, his situation was rather easier to cope with.

I certainly believe that his way of dealing with the situation (assuming that he had genuinely realised that they were handicapped) was totaly out of order and I like Magpies suggestion. Again, I must point out that Davey should be experienced enough to handle that situation without resorting to the methods he did.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 01:03 PM

On occasion I've mentioned (jokingly with a smile) from the stage, only when people were disruptive, that playing here tonight is a bit like playing to a cage filled with gerbils & it sure would be nice it parents (or social workers) could try a bit harder to control their charges.I might even say good-naturedly "Hey good folks, if you could hold down the inappropriate sounds we'd all appreciate it." That way the rest of the audience would know I had them in mind too and not mind it too much when I'd shift gears and go into sing-alongs for the rest of my program. Things like "She'll Be Coming 'Round The Mountain" and "The Old Lady That Swallowed A Fly" where loud TOOT TOOTS might be apropriate.

In frustration I might even sing "The Boys Of Bedlam".

Art Thieme

When ya get lemons, make lemonade.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 01:35 PM

We're getting into a problem here in that we are confusing venues, and to a large extent responses to such circumstances may well be dictated by venue. A concert hall is not a folk club, and in a performance which combines singing with storytelling or other more-or-less scripted oral presentations --especially comedic presentations, requires much more structure and concentration (both audience and artist) than do some other performances; flow and timing can be extremely important aspects of a successful performance. Under the circumstances, Davey's concern was justified, even if his action was extreme and ill-advised. Mick's suggestion seems to me to be the most sensible.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Mudjack
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 01:51 PM

I like Magpies suggestion and have to bank that one in my memory file.
Mudjack


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Max
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 02:13 PM

Sounds just like an open mic for me. I have a sort of hobby where I go to Rock and Roll type college bars on open mic night, and throw down some old blues and folk tunes just to try to shake it up a little and add some culture to the joint. While I think the crowds moderately receptive to me, there is a great deal of crowd noise, talk, and general distraction. I am very used to this by now. Thinking in retrospect is easy, and I like what big mick said, but in that situation, at the time, I probably would have just played on. Just Play On.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Jeri
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 02:19 PM

The objection was not to handicapped people being at the show, it was to behavior. It doesn't matter who it comes from, constant loud noises are disruptive and annoy performers and other audience members. It would have been better if he'd taken an early break and spoken privately to the social worker. I think he was justified in deciding not to play if he couldn't concentrate.

I've been part of an audience and band at events attended by handicapped people and never noticed a problem. Folks with Tourette's can't help it, and I don't have a clue what I would do if a one or more of them were making noises. As an audience member, I think I'd be more able to ignore interference and not get mad because I'd know they were not being rude. But a performer has got the right to decide if he can perform under unexpected adverse conditions.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: lamarca
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 03:32 PM

I have a similar question from an audience perspective. We have an emotionally disturbed man here who is a "regular" at our Folklore Society events. During concerts, he will frequently turn 180° around in his seat and spend the entire set staring at me, my husband and/or other women. It makes me and the other women feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable, but we don't quite know what to do about it. There's no-one "in charge" who we can ask to intercede for us, and none of us wants to challenge this guy personally, in part because I don't know what his reaction might be and I find him a little scary. He usually leaves at the break, but I find myself spending the whole first half of the concert trying not to look in his direction, which I find distracts mightily from enjoying the music. I'm sure the performer doesn't appreciate it, either.

Any suggestions? If he happens to be reading this, you know who you are and I wish you'd please stop it...


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Mudjack
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 03:57 PM

Yes Lamarca, tell him to turn around and listen to the music. If he's a special person with special needs, he'll likely do as he's told. Of courswe we're doing it at the chance of interupting the artist. Timing is real important for this one.
One of my worst nightmare was going monthly to a song circle where this lady blind person would show up. She never prepared any of her songs and would elaborate for 5 min hopw she was'nt ready to do this song but would try and do regardless. But worse than that she always showed up late and noisely interupted the song circle with her obtrusive entrance. She always relied on this very tolerant friend to pick her up and drive her to the song circle. One time at break I cornered her driver and suggested she try to pick her friend up a little early, she said she was there in plenty of time and had to wait on her to get ready. But something came out of it. She must have(I'm guessing) insisted on her being on time or she was'nt going to wait on her, it worked and the blind lady got over her intrusiveness and was a good song sharer. I can still look back on those times, when she arrived , everyone grabbed their instruments and cuddled them like a mother protects her babies.When she entered a room, it was like, "look out, here I come"
Mudjack


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Bert
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 03:57 PM

I would say that the social worker was totally out of line. He brings a crowd of people in there and allows them to completely disrupt a performance.

It's OK for them to show their emotions as loudly as they please but not OK for the singer. Now THAT'S discrimination.

He should have arranged for the singer to perform for them in a less formal environment.

What reception would they have received had they disrupted a symphony concert?

I don't know how I would have handled the situation. I would have probably tried something like Art's approach. However, I would have most certainly spoken to that social worker (probably torn him a new one).

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 04:09 PM

I would question the actions/ responsibility of the social worker (and possibly the theatre staff) and agree with those who have suggested that the situation should not have occured in the first instance but I don't see how that justifies the way this performer reacted.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: folk1234
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 04:11 PM

Tough issue - many more bad courses of action than good. Let me tell about a different venue and a far different distraction. Earlier this year I went to the Big Muddy Folk Festival in Booneville, MO. On each of the 2 evenings, a concert was held in the old historic Thespian Hall. Many great performers were featured including Special Concensus, Otis Taylor, Gerry armstrong, Bok, Muir, & Trickett, Andy Cohen, Larkin Bryant, Bob Dyer, and of course Cathy Barton & Dave Para. Well during almost every performance the audience would instantaneously break out in short-lived murmur, stir, and giggle. The performers, except Cathy, Dave, & Bob, would very professionally continue their routine, but, nevertheless express a look of concern and bewilderment at the sudden burst of audience distraction. Well it was the famous Thespian Hall bats who were periodically making straffing runs over the heads of the unsuspecting musicians. After all this was there home.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: charcloth@aol.com
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 05:40 PM

just a question, would you handle unruly children any differently than the crowd previosly discribed?


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Margo
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 06:19 PM

After having had my two children with autism, I have begun to understand a LOT about people and their behaviors. It is true that for normal people (I mean people who have developed typically) there are some who need background noise, like the radio, to concentrate. Then there are some who need complete silence to be able to study, such as me. The performer, in this case, needed the silence of the audience to be able to perform. The audience to whom he was performing were incapable of containing their outbursts (a sort of tourette's syndrome offshoot).

It is easy for me to see why the performer acted as he did, as he probably lacked the understanding of how utterly compulsive and uncontrollable those outbursts are. Ironically, it is typical for a person with such a disability to have outbursts when excited, such as enjoying the live music.

I like Art's analogy, when you have lemons, make lemonade. I wouldn't have done what Davey did, but only because of my own understanding. I wonder what I'd have done before all this came to light for me?

Margarita


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Llanfair
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 06:47 PM

I'm glad you said that this happened a few years ago, because nowadays, the social worker would have been totally out of order. Group activities should be to benefit the members of the group and achieve acceptable goals....Discussion groups, creative groups, whatever. Activities involving ordinary venues, when the person has a disability that can attract undue attention should have individual support to ensure that everyone gets the most out of the experience. Did the people with disabilities want to be at a Davey concert? How did the worker plan on coping on his/her own if one person had needed the toilet or had a fit? This was obviously a badly planned "outing" and let's hope it doesn't happen like that any more.
The blind lady, and the starer need to have social skills explained to them. They obviously haven't picked up body language along the way, and need some education in how to behave, or just someone to TALK to them, you know, like real people. Hwyl, Bron. (who has been a social worker with people with learning disabilities for 25 years)


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Susan A-R
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 08:43 PM

A quiet conversation with the social worker (and if that meets with rudeness, with the social worker's boss) would be appropriate. Front row with a disruptive group doesn't really benefit anyone. It just builds resentment, and a compromise should have been possible. If not, the social worker was lookin' for a fight, and their supervisor would have been the person who needed to handle the situation.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 09:10 PM

Friends, I appreciate the feedback on this, but I think I have made my own grave mistake. I should NEVER have named the person involved in the situation. There were several mitigating circumstances that I didn't mention. (this was a long time ago, and a faulty memory doesn't help.) I think it's a good thread with no easy answers, since I believe the theatre (which usually booked music hall acts) often gave blocks of tickets to local hospitals, and perhaps should have understood that my friend was a very quiet solo performer who would not have been capable of revising his presentation as I and a number of us here would have been able to. I will start another thread with a similar theme, but I have asked Max to remove this if he can. It simply was not fair of me to use a specific name, and I apologize. I'd really appreciate it if no one would post further on this. Thanks.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: harpgirl
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 09:20 PM

Rick...haven't yet read the whole thread...read Art's post first of course, but it sounds to me like a group of Touretter's were with their social worker. If that were indeed true, a good social worker would have warned the performer in advance...but to refuse to play to a crowd like thatwould be pretty awful!
My very first public performance had a group of autistic children in the audience, down in front....I was entranced with their hand movements...and they were very forgiving!!! harpgirl


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Margo
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 09:23 PM

Rick, I can feel the regret gnawing at you! I know exactly what you mean. You put something up here and then want to take it back, but there it stays in black and white. If it helps, I certainly don't hold anything against what's his name! :o)

Bron, I'm glad you mentioned the work that goes into helping socially awkward people mix with the mainstream. It is a lot of work, and you're right, it is a consideration before going somewhere. We have to consider carefully before going somewhere with my kids.

Margarita


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Subject: Lyr Add: You Wouldn't Know It to Look at Me^^
From: Barry Finn
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 09:40 PM

Hi Rick, I do feel bad for Davey being in uncomfortable waters, BUT, I feel much more for them (the Blessed ones - very nice choice Mick) that saw his butt as he scorned them on his way out.:

Sometimes both my bad legs get sore & I just gotta sit & maybe rub them & cross & recross them, do you think Davey might've walked out on me because I couldn't walk out on him? Maybe my son wanted to come & catch him but he's a touretter, no outbursts because of med's but he'll still twitch, would that've been enough to get Davey in such a stir that he'd devastate my son by pointing (or singling out) out to everyone about his special difference. Granted, I probably now wouldn't go to see Davey knowing how distracted he'd be watching me fidget, I don't even think I'd place myself in the back, out of fear of what wrath Davey might bestow on me or mine. When we at work run upon an unforseen hicup, we get paid to deal with it & complete the tast not leave the building half finished by walking out. Davey had many directions to take, he choose the worst possible. He's a pro he should've acted like one. If this were to continue to happen & be dealt with in a like manner then we'd all be back in the last century locking them up in Bedlam. Mick, had one great solution, Art had another. My partner's daughter's sometimes comes to hear us. She asked a question of us while talking about some River songs being holy, "What's a Bible" most people laughed, she looks like everyone else. My partner just answered (heart broken) her just as he answered any of the other questions. Most people with special needs, sometimes CANNOT stop what they do without aids so they're life is people walking out on them & slamming the door in their face (good choice Harv). With a little understanding & tack, all can benifit. Give 'em this song to sing the next time he's in that situation.

You Wouldn't Know It To Look At Me (words;BarryFinn) (tune; Australian, Trad. "One Of The Has Beens")

"You're not listening to me are you deaf in both ears.
Don't you see what you've caused, have you been blind all these years.
Could you just give an answer, so I know you're not dumb.
For Christ's sake, you bird brain has a cat got your tongue"?

Chorus:

I'm as cute as any other kid,
I can run, jump & shout.
You wouldn't know it to look at me,
At times I can't work things out.
I'm not stupid, I'm not lazy, I try very hard.
With a little compassion I could go pretty far.

Well, school is a torture, the teasing won't quit.
My thoughts go off track and my aide has a fit.
There are some things I excel in, so much that I'm bored,
You wouldn't know it to look at me, it takes all that I'm worth.

The kids scorn & laugh at me, I don't have a friend.
You can feel my heart break, I wonder when this will end.
The mistreatment & abuse I take, it's really a crime,
But I'm told to ignore it, though it happens all of the time.

Chorus:

I know it's hard on my family, I can't change a thing.
The aunts & uncles blame it on my folks & say it's poor upbringing.
The love & affection others get all the time,
I only hear people yell at me, when I ask where is mine.

I never feel comfort, no shoulder, no hug.
A system to support me, was pulled out like a rug.
If you can't understand this, you may be worse off than me
But I won't hold it against you cause you're deaf & can't see.

Chorus:

I may be mildly autistic or just plain O.C.D.
I may twitch with Tourette's, or have A.D.D.
If you see me cross my eyes, instead of my T's
You wouldn't know it to look at me that I have special needs.

Chorus:

Copyright Barry Finn 1998


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:24 PM

Well.....Here we go............

Margarita and I have been corresponding some, sharing some thoughts and experiences, about our special kids. She has two, we have one, and we've had several others in foster care. I've also been dealing with caseworkers, school officials, therapists, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other psychobabble junkies in the "Do-Gooder" dodge for way too many years. At the risk of alienating everyone, I'll offer up an opinion.

I read somewhere that an airplane crash is never traceable to one specific error, but a long string of circumstances. Safety regs that come out after a crash generally address the entire chain to some extent. What happened at this concert cannot be blamed on any one thing or individual. Everyone involved has some culpability here and part of it can be blamed directly on the changing attitudes toward the mentally and physically challenged in our society, and what the "Psychobabble and Sociobabble" artists are portraying as the most desirable "treatment of the day." We are much freer in our dealings and much more understanding, but those who live and work with MRDD people can easily relate to Tom Cruise standing on the highway screaming while Dustin Hoffman keeps repeating "K-Mart,348 Walnut Street, Cincinnati,Ohio" as the answer to everything. We go through it everyday, many times a day, often many times an hour. To the chagrin of many, the plans and place choices made to take MRDD groups out are often made by supervisory folks and management types who are so locked-in to the latest treatment idea that they fail to see the reality of the situations. Parents, relatives, caseworkers and other caregivers have got to have the guts to take a stand and quelch some of the dumbass ideas that don't have a prayer of success. Someone up the thread asked if these folks actually wanted to see Davey to begin with. Probably not, but this type of outting is becoming increasingly popular with little if any thought given to selection of venue or group makeup. If anyone had asked the caregivers, they could have told them what the reaction would probably be from their person involved. Then the known "problems" would be provided with a different activity. None of this would have happened if ALL the responsible parties had shared in the decision of who to take and who to leave at home this time. Did they all stand up and shout? No. So if the one or two hadn't been there, likely as not there would have only been a random and easily controlled outburst.

When we are out we generally know what to expect and when, and we try to take steps we know will work to control behaviors that are offensive or disruptive. We don't do this at the expense of our other kids..they still go on about the business at hand. Dad or Mom fix up little Tris. Yeah, it gets old and frustrating, but the choice is and was ours. But this brings up the point that a lot of us, try as we might (some don't at all) have a difficult time with MRDD people since we really don't understand and they enter our "controlled space" as a wildcard. Believe me, I understand how hard it is for some to be around them. Reminds me of the adult fellow who used to ride the bus with Tris. I'd get on the bus to get Tris off and he'd jump in my face and yell, "APPLE PIE"....."JUICE"..."SHIT"..."APPLE PIE".......with a big smile all the time. You get used to it and I'd play it back yelling responses..."TWO PIECES"..."GIMMEE CLAM"..."NAH,DON'T HAVE TO"..."MAKE IT PEACH". I don't know how much Jack understands, but they live a couple blocks down and he always waves and yells to me. His Mom asked one day what I did that made him smile like that and I told her. She said that always worked for them too...and he's very sweet with Tris. I'm not exceptional or wonderful, just experienced. Two things: Many fine and wonderful people cannot "take" the behaviors because for whatever reason, and try as they might to the contrary, they are VERY uncomfortable in these situations. And second, would anyone with input and knowledge have allowed Jack to go to a concert at such a venue?

So now I've thrown crap on almost everyone involved and I could throw a lot more at those of us who are parents/caregivers for not taking a tough stand, at social workers for not doing the same, and then not really knowing how to manage their charges, at "Decision Makers" for being so uninvolved and living in some kind of wacky Ivory Towers, at damn near everyone....which brings me to the last point. (Finally)

As I said before, some of us are not comfortable with the MRDD population living in our midst. We try to be understanding. Truth is we can't understand and we can't "walk in their shoes." We truly have no idea what it's like to be in their shoes. Most of the folks at the 'Cat and folkies in general are of a liberal bent and refuse to be bigoted. Just ain't right is it? I imagine Davey may fit that desciption, maybe not. But what I'm saying is that on this issue, it's OK to be bigoted. Doesn't make you a bad person. But do yourself, me, and all those special folks, a big favor and be honest with your bigotry. It's understandable. And parents/caregivers like myself have a lot easier time in working with you if you'll just say, "Geez Pat, I don't want to insult you, but kids like your son make me uncomfortable and I really don't handle the situations too well." GREAT!!! We'll make adjustments. It beats the hell out of pretending to be nice or shunning away or commenting later. This is not like the bigotry of race. True, I can't fully understand the (fill in race/ethnic group here) experience, but I can educate myself through books or just being out and about. My son cannot tell me what it's like to be him. He will never be able to tell me what it's like to be him. He will never write a book, give a lecture, or guest on "Oprah." I love him. He's the most special thing Karen and I will ever have in our lives. Be polite, be kind, be courteous....but be honest. We'll work it out if I know how you feel. If he bugs you, tell me...and tell yourself. THAT is the ONLY way to gain any small piece of understanding.

BUGS YOU!?!?!? NO KIDDIN'!!! BUGS HELL OUT OF ME SOMETIMES TO!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's Okay.

Spaw-but in this case, Pat


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:41 PM

Sorry gang...I started that at about 9:00 and kept going back and forth..pick a little write a little. So...

TO BARRY FINN: I've said it all to you before my friend, and thanks once again.

TO MARGO: Great post.

TO HARPY: Lot of the hand stuff is really cool ain't it?

TO ART: You're far too predictable...LOL

TO RICK: I understand, but is it really so bad? On the plus side, the new Webster's will have your picture beside mine under the "faux pas" listing!!!LMAO Maybe they should use the one of the two of us with Cleigh.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:46 PM

Thank you, Pat. I love your honesty! I just want to add, first that apparently, Rick, nobody paid any attention at all when you asked everyone to not post to this again. Second, that often the caregivers who are out on these "field trips" are paid minimum wage, treated like shit, and as a consequence, don't really give a shit, as long as they *do* what they are told and get a paycheck. Add to that, the threat of losing their jobs if they dare to second guess a higher up's decision; lack of in-depth training & education; lack of enough employees to go along; and high employee turn over rate and you get someone who does not function up to the best fo standards as a caregiver.

I am NOT saying this is the way it is for everyone, but do have direct experience through a family member who had to deal, as an employee, wiht the above conditions. That STILL does not excuse the poor choices and the disruption.

kat


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:57 PM

Kat, not nobody paid attention, I think that the topic is worthy of discussion but I respect Rick's reasons for wnating to drop this thread and possibly start a new thread instead.

This sounds terrible: I am only posting to say that I respected Rick's request that there were to be no more posts!!!???

Jon


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 12:26 AM

Well kat, I know some great caseworkers and your point is well taken......Not exactly the best paid or supported profession. Also true of case aides and support staff. But unlike test pilots, there are a few "old, bold caseworkers." Not many I grant you, but some. I use the term "caregiver" to mean those outside of an agency, but directly involved in the life of the person. Parents, relatives, foster, etc.....THESE people have EVERYTHING to gain by standing up to the ridiculous crap that goes on and when they don't, they lose. And so does the person they love.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: DonMeixner
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 12:40 AM

Well I read the first dozen posts and skipped the rest. Not because I didn't want to read another of Catspaw's novels. Its just that once the fluff was scraped away either Davey was right, or he was wrong . We live in the age of tolerance at last. If not the age then perhaps the preamble to the age of tolerance. People with disabilities have the same rights that everyone else has. A equal chance. In America this chance is guarrantteed by truly ground breaking legislation called The Americans With Disabilities Act. This act is simplicity in its self. It states that all people have the same rights in the areas of transportation, Employment and public assembly. It doesn't, and shouldn't, diferentiate, between the age, ability, or mental capacity of the population. It simply levels the field. But with freedom comes responsibility. The responsibility of correct manners. The requirement that all people have the same right to a show that you have just paid for. Here in this age of tolerance we think nothing of singing past the crying baby to the Mom or Dad in whos arms this child may be. The parents, bless their hearts, almost always take the child out into the hall until little Frieda is asleep before they return. Everyone silently cheers the good sense of the parent and the concert is a success. In the case of the mentally disabled adult things are diferent. Because they are after all adults, merely of diminished capacity? They should know better? Maybe. But whether or not the disabled individual was autistic, Torette's over medicated or what ever, in the age of the mainstream that individual should be expected to behave. In appropriate actions should not be allowed because this person is disabled. To allow a person to interupt an evening of entertainment because they are disabled is a disservice to all involved. Especially the person with the disability. There needs to be consequences when socialization skills are being taught. Disabled or not you can't learn with out failure. By allowing one of a group be disruptive and get away with it the training of the other members of the group may well be compromised. In the matter of the case worker/social worker. They are not there for the concert. They are there to teach community living skills in a concert setting. Not get a free ticket to a show. They should have taken the offender(s) from the show before it became an issue. In the matter of Davey. he could have handled it better from a political stand point. But had he riveted a drunk or a heckler he would have been cheered by the same folks who wanted their money back. The notion of inclusion isn't a one way street. If you want inclusion for all, then you need to accept that the same consequences will aplly to all people evenly. (Mental capacity and the death sentence no withstanding) Thats the nature of the inclusion beast as is taught in the Human Service Not for Profit where I'm employeed. Expect to be treated fair not specially.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 01:03 AM

I'm not surprised we basically agree here Don. Once again though, I also fault the people who decided this individual(s) should have been included in the group or allowed it. As you say, it's a "learning experience" situation and someone who knows the person best needs to decide if they are up to that point yet. If it's believed they are, THEN it goes poorly, the worker or aide must step in quickly for the best interests of all.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: DonMeixner
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 01:28 AM

Pat,

I fault only the social worker and anyone in program management who felt that this was the time to integrate the individual mentioned into a concert setting.

Don


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 01:45 AM

Well Don, I agree as long as "program management" includes whomever it is that lives with the person 24/7. Too often, it does not.

Pat


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 01:48 AM

...and BTW, why are either of us up at this time of night?

Spaw

P.S. ....Sorry Rick!


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Barry Finn
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 08:02 AM

Don. when would you include them? When they no longer have their disability, when they can control what is the impossible to control, when they're to old to have any enegry left to enjoy the same things that you take for granted. I do think the care giver did not act in the best interests of any and the same goes for Davey but why not keep them confined to Bedlam until they learn to control themselves. Most caregivers, school officials, instatations, medical professionals are not schooled or don't care or lack the understanding to deal with special needs kids. It's very common that they go on for years without anyone knowing what's really up, except for the parents & their usually told that whatever it is, it's their fault. No money, no care, no understanding & no tolerance usually are main contributers. Davey's situtation could've been handled better by all but it was not at all any fault of the kids it's enough that they can get a breath of fresh air among those that walk the earth like they own it. Barry


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 08:47 AM

Geez, I just sent Rick a note apologizing for continuing this thread, but.............

Barry, I think what angers me, is when a Tris or a Jack is excluded or included in some activity without consulting the 24/7 people first. As you said, we're often treated as being at fault or whatever, and our thoughts on the subject are not taken into account in the decision making because we are not "trained professionals."

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: poet
Date: 26 Sep 99 - 09:26 AM

First . Davey should have been warned in advance that there would be special people in the audience. The responsibility comes down to the organisers and nowhere else.
it is very easy for an artist to make a mistake on stage as i am sure every live performer out there has at sometime or other wished he/she had never opened there mouth if you say it never happened to you then you are either lying or perfect..
I've known Davey for many years now (no i'm not a freind just an occasional employer) and i am sure he is horrified at what he said. and yes threader you should never have mentioned his name..
i personally would have made a bit of a fuss of them and sung something specially FOR them and then continued with my spot. they have a right to be there..
the wife says ive got to go so i'll check back later. Graham(Guernsey)


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Jeri
Date: 26 Sep 99 - 10:05 AM

I can understand Rick feeling bad about mentioning the person's name, but this is too good a thread to lose.

Perhaps Max or Joe could simply remove the person's name throughout the thread? After all, this is archived for life and available to everyone on the planet with access to the Internet. I don't much care for censorship, but the inclusion of the name doesn't really add anything to the discussion, and does take away from it.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 26 Sep 99 - 01:59 PM

I am completely dumbfounded. I would never have imagined that 16 posts would have followed my respectful request to the community. Obviously I had hoped that a long and valued friendship would not be put in jeopardy, by my careless indescretion, and hoped that the thread would die quickly, lessening the chances that Davey might be hurt by it. I wrote Max yesterday asking if anything could be done. I've not received a reply. To Graham in Guernsey: You said "Yes, threader, you should never have mentioned his name". Did I indicate anything OTHER than that? Or was this just something that needed to be said again?
Rick Fielding
Rick, see my comment under your initial message. I hope this solution is satisfactory. It IS a topic that warrants discussion, I think.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: DonMeixner
Date: 26 Sep 99 - 05:16 PM

Barry,

I think we need to understand who is disabled firstly. People with arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, amputations, hearing disorders, low vision, autism, bipolar disorders, downs syndrome... the list is endless. People who act out in public assemblies aren't always disabled. Some of them are just jerks. I would include people with disabilities from the start in a concert setting. Thats the nature of inclusion. Inclusion at it's best insists that everyone come to the show. But there in is the rub. The nature of inclusion has some how come to mean that some people deserve special and preferential treatment at the expense of others. This was not the intent of the whole inclusive movement or the ADA. The purpose of inclusion as well as the ADA is level the playing field so everyone has not just a chance but an equal chance. Being a part of the greater group means you live by the same rules as the group in so far as a resonable accomodation allows. A resonable accommodation may be a wheelchair ramp, close up parking for some, an FM ear plug for the people with low hearing, a sign language specialist or an interpreter (sp?). A resonable accomodation is not allowing one person to interfere with the enjoyment of an evening for a few dozen, a hundred people? This is contrary to common sense as well as the best educated training that a person with these special needs requires. I volunteer my performing time many times through a year to many organizations who support the disabled population of Central New York. I would never take my children to a performance that they could and would have interrupted until they reach an age and training level of personal responsibility. Thats the job of the community living specialist in the disabilities community. To help that population enter the world at large and they do an excellent job of it. My feeling was that in case mentioned the descision was made too soon in the case of the one individual. Its not the end of the world. Maybe a little more training and the next time is a charm. Here is where I speak serious treason with regards to my field of work. There some people who will never be able to be included. And for a variety of reasons. Uncotrollable tempers, extreme autism, uncontrollable schizophrenia, incredible allergies, too reliant on technical life support, and other list of endless possibility. But we don't forget them. If we can't bring them to the show, its our responsibility,the carring populations, to bring the show to them. Perhaps as a music community we need to come to terms ourselves as to how we as performers can best help in this effort. Either as designers of programs for going into schools and group homes to address the cultural needs of this population. Not to further shut them in but to offer the experience of live performance in a setting that is not hostile or distracting. Once the experience is made comfortable to people with disabilities then maybe the next move is to bring them to the concert hall. I'm willing to work on any project that promotes folk music for the whole communinty.

Don


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
From: Dani
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 10:20 AM

Hope we're OK to post now that Joe's sprinkled some fairy dust.

Pat, I love you. Would that everyone had your wisdom and insight. The honesty and love and affection you bring to the situation would be good medicine for so many like me who have not had to deal with this situation on a regular basis, yet would like to know how to treat people like your son with the dignity they deserve.

I learned some great lessons from Shirley Strobel, of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. She and her group have been working for parity in insurance coverage for mental illness. She did a talk entitled Parity in Compassion, about how easy it is to sympathize, empathize, care for someone with physical illness, and their family. And about how much more difficult it is to struggle along without that compassion when the'illness' involved is not as 'socially acceptable' as cancer or pneumonia or hepatitis.

And, in future, would it be so hard for us to honor a heartfelt request like Rick's and start another thread?!


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Subject: Ethical Question-Handicapped Fans-Two
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 11:08 AM

Should have done this when Rick asked. Sorry, Rick. Please everyone, if you have anything to add tot he discussion from the first thread, post it HERE, ON THIS THREAD.

It is an important subject, one I think we can all benefit from discussing, but we have all just been terrible cads for disrespecting Rick and not letting that one go. I know him to have a big & caring heart and that he would never mean to harm anyone through meanness, attitude, words, or actions.

Thank you,

katlaughing


Messages from multiple threads combined. This message and the ones below are from a new thread.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question-Handicapped Fans-Two
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 11:29 AM

What seemsa odd to me is that nobody seems to be concerned about the rest of the audience.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question-Handicapped Fans-Two
From: Margo
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 11:58 AM

Sorry Dick, I don't understand what you mean. Clarify?

Margarita


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question-Handicapped Fans-Two
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 12:57 PM

Ahh, good point Dick. There's a very symbiotic relationship between performer and audience. It takes on some weird forms at times. In the days that I was travelling the boondocks, I knew that I would be "challenged" in every small town I played in. The music that I provided would only be accepted as entertainment if I was able to survive the first night. Requests for songs took the form of "demands", and woe betide the musician who couldn't handle at least 4 out of every 5. After a few months of this however you could be reasonably certain what they were going to ask for, but it was always good to know ahead of time whether a song about the town had been written, and learn it - no matter how awful it was (and it usually was worse than awful).
Once you had survived the trial by fire, the audiences would often become protective and WANT you to succeed. This whole dynamic could happen over the course of just a couple of nights. After that, whenever some drunk would be hassling you, you could tell that the audience would get really nervous, and one of THEM would set the drunk straight. I never once saw the owner of a bar lend a hand to help out a performer who was being distracted to the point they couldn't do their job.
The situation my friend encountered came to an unsatisfactory conclusion because of several factors, none of which involved any "meanness" on his part. I doubt that any performer who had volunteered as much of his time over the years playing in hospitals (as have most folk musicians) would be anything but sympathetic to a handicapped person. He was thrown by the element of surprise in the concert hall, as I'm sure were most of the audience. The collective nervousness, combined with blown verses, and jokes, would make for a scary situation. I'm a bit sorry that some would equate kids, shuffling, and other pretty common occurences at a folk concert with what happened that night. I suspect it was a once in a career situation, and even with a huge amount of experience I'm not sure how I would have been able to handle it (short of changing my whole repertoire that night - which he would not have been able to do.) Sometimes when we try to do the right thing, it backfires.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question-Handicapped Fans-Two
From: Tony Burns
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 01:04 PM

I think what Dick means is that there is a whole group of people in this situation that have not (to my knowledge, but I haven't followed this thread in detail) been discussed. That is the other members of the audience.

The situation as originally described said that some people asked for their money back because the concert didn't continue. I'll take a chance and suggest that some other people would have asked for a refund had the concert continued due to the fact that the interuptions spoiled the experience.

The thing that makes this situation difficult is that the interuption is not controlable by the interupter.

Let's take the situation of 'talkative' audience members. When I am also in the audience I am irritated because it bothers me. It makes no difference whether it bothers the performer or not.

Aside:
When my mother was a child in Glasgow in the 30's they had children's matinees where the symphony orchestra performed. The conductor at that time would stop the entire orchestra if the audience wasn't quiet. I bet the adults those kids became never talk during a performance.


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question-Handicapped Fans-Two
From:
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 06:20 PM

I copied this over from the previous thread as a reply to Barry's question. I didn't realize there was a new thread at the time. Sorry all.

Barry,

I think we need to understand who is disabled firstly. Disability knows no single type or severity. Some people, many infact are profoundly involved and yet show no outward signs of disability. People with arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, amputations, hearing disorders, low vision, autism, bipolar disorders, downs syndrome... the list is endless. People who act out in public assemblies aren't always disabled. Some of them are just jerks.

I would include people with disabilities from the start in a concert setting. Thats the nature of inclusion. Inclusion at it's best insists that everyone come to the show. But there in is the rub. The nature of inclusion has some how come to mean that some people deserve special and preferential treatment at the expense of others. This was not the intent of the whole inclusive movement or the ADA. The purpose of inclusion as well as the ADA is level the playing field so everyone has not just a chance but an equal chance. Being a part of the greater group means you live by the same rules as the group in so far as a resonable accomodation allows. A resonable accommodation may be a wheelchair ramp, close up parking for some, an FM ear plug for the people with low hearing, a sign language specialist or an interpreter (sp?). A resonable accomodation is not allowing one person to interfere with the enjoyment of an evening for a few dozen, a hundred people? This is contrary to common sense as well as the best educated training that a person with these special needs requires. I volunteer my performing time many times through a year to many organizations who support the disabled population of Central New York. I would never take my children to a performance that they could and would have interrupted until they reach an age and training level of personal responsibility. Thats the job of the community living specialist in the disabilities community. To help that population enter the world at large and they do an excellent job of it. My feeling was that in case mentioned the descision was made too soon in the case of the one individual. Its not the end of the world. Maybe a little more training and the next time is a charm.

Here is where I speak serious treason with regards to my field of work. There some people who will never be able to be included. And for a variety of reasons. Uncotrollable tempers, extreme autism, uncontrollable schizophrenia, incredible allergies, too reliant on technical life support, and other list of endless possibility. But we don't forget them. If we can't bring them to the show, its our responsibility,the carring populations, to bring the show to them.

Perhaps as a music community we need to come to terms ourselves as to how we as performers can best help in this effort. Either as designers of programs for going into schools and group homes to address the cultural needs of this population. Not to further shut them in but to offer the experience of live performance in a setting that is not hostile or distracting. Once the experience is made comfortable to people with disabilities then maybe the next move is to bring them to the concert hall.

I'm willing to work on any project that promotes folk music for the whole communinty. Not just the generally accepted majority. Don


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Subject: RE: Ethical Question-Handicapped Fans-Two
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 06:40 PM

Well put Don. One of the Toronto Folk mainstays Beverlie Biderman, who suffered acute hearing loss, just wrote a fascinating book called "Wired For Sound". It's apparently quite controversial among folks in the "hearing loss" community, but I found it really helpful in trying to understand those issues.

Rick


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