24 November, 2016

Hate speech and disability

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Category: Disabilities, Discrimination
Community Manager
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116181-78e1073c-eabb-11e2-85cf-48de1cc8c7cdWritten by Marijeta Mojašević

It is so strange to be double isolated from society, but it is more than possible in many occasions. I know it, because I’ve been there. As young person with just acquired disabilities I was rejected by many of my old and new acquaintances and so called friends and I was at the same time someone who was object of hate speech.

And I know now that it was strongly connected. But at that time I could not get the whole picture. Too many bad things happened to me in less than a year. And so many people, some of them very good, just fell on exam of stereotypes and those who I met for the first time could not handle with prejudices. And those who were simply evil hated me because I was different.

Could not handle my reality at that time. I was recovering from bad brain injury, I lost some of physical and sensor functions for a short time and trying to regain them as soon as possible. I was very good pupil before accident, so I tried to be same again, even it was not possible. It was constant battle of stress and me. And I did not have a chance to win it.

And people around me…well, most of those who knew me before just could not understand me and my new needs and they started to avoid me. And for new high school colleagues it was too much to spend time with a girl who was a subject of many stories full of compassion and mercy.  Very few spent time with me. And one guy, who was rough and rude to most of us, particularly could not stand me. At the first time, I could not realize what the problem was but I was never a type of person who is willing to be object of bulling, so I confronted him in few occasions. At the same time, I started to lose my hair as a consequence of operation and consequence was boldness of part of my head I was trying to cover with rest of my hair. He noticed it and tried to mock me in one situation. My stress reached its maximum. I asked for a help of homeroom teacher who tried to help, but my bulling classmate found a way to express his hate speech in most precise way: he hit me in my head with a ball several times during physical education class. And I will never know did those punches affected repetition of traumatic brain injury that followed or it was just inevitable because of the nature of congenital disease, but I know that it was the beginning of the end of my teenager life. I had to skip it and to be grown up because in front of me was long and hard way of rehabilitation. And early signs of beginning of my battle against hate speech in any kind of field, especially disability issue. Because hate speech always comes before real act of violence and extremist behavior. Later, when I got back to school, after long rehabilitation, my classmate tried to express his hate through non direct hate speech and by making noise (I have to avoid noise). This time, we reached for other solution: we had a conversation with his parents, school administration and psychologists. After that, I did not have problems anymore. But, I wonder sometimes: did hate expire or it is still in him and is he bulling now someone?

After that hard time there were other situations when I heard hate speech, even from a doctor. And that act of inhuman behavior hurts me more than anything: when well educated people, good students in humanistic sciences are showing their other side. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe that is their real side.

As a person with disabilities, I can say just this: fight hate speech by raising your voice against it, making free and open society and explaining your reasons. Say your story, give your arguments. I needed 13 years to do it, but it is never too late for true and useful story.

International Disability Day – 3 Decemberidpd-logo-rev-4-300


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