Sunday, January 25, 2009

No Slug-Bug Justice

I hate the game slug-bug. The rules are simple. Someone thumps you, hard; usually a family member friend or neighbor sharing a car ride with you. Why? It is because you failed to see a Volkswagen Bug before they did. The unwitting, unwilling individual attacked is hit on the arm, leg, shoulder, back, head; really, any body part is an eligible target for the attacker. The first indication that game is on is when the victim gets the twhack.

Simultaneously, the attacker shouts-- quickly-- as if the two sentences are one word, "SlugBugYellowNoHitBacks!) (or whatever the color of the bug happens to be). It is the "no hit backs" that renders the prey with few resources, but to sit there victimized.

I do not know one person who plays this game by giving me a gentle pat, which would make the game bearable. No, it is as if my attacker wields a blow coiled with decades of rejection and feelings of inadequacy. Seeing a VW bug is the spark that ignites powder keg of cathartic release into my very surprised body part.

Hate is actually too mild a term to describe my feelings about this game, obviously designed by some class bully. I abhor this loathsome, malevolent, repugnant venomous, hostile “game.”

There are still people think they can play this game with me. But not for long.

When attacked, I contemplate my choices. Over time, I concluded there are three choices to deal with a slug-bugger.

Strategy One
I could resign myself to being the occasional victim to the attacks. No one is actually trying to kill me, or anything close to it. I could choose to accept that will happen from time to time. Aside from an occasional bruise, it is a victimless crime. However, I could not and cannot choose this strategy. Did I mention I loathe the game? I am a woman dedicated to its destruction. Gandhi-esque, I am not.

Strategy Two
Play the game. Keep an eagle eye out for the next VW bug and deliver the punch and punchline with simultaneous aplomb. This strategy has definite drawbacks for me.

When I am in a car, I want to read or enjoy the scenery. On the other hand, I may want to be alone with my thoughts; or enjoy the company of my companions. I do not want to have the minivan equivalent of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within its confines. Besides, I previously I mentioned I abhor this useless pastime?

Strategy Three
This is the one I have chosen to use to bring about the destruction of this vile amusement. Unilaterally change the rules. Someone made these stupid rules; someone else can change them. I am that someone.

Now when the surprise attack happens to me, I turn to my attacker and hit them anywhere between 8-10 times and say, "I don't play fair." I have found that this has worked fairly well on all I know. It has been decades since anyone subjected me to it. My children, my husband, not even my parents, have tried to pull this car sport with me. They know that my reaction is out-of-bounds and not worth the fight.

I was wondering about using this strategy as a disability rights fight tactic. I am just not sure I am smart enough to know exactly how to change the rules to our favor.

What does it mean not to fight fairly against the threat of institutionalization, or unemployment, or access, or equality? What can we do to make the conditions so uncomfortable, so unbearable for the bullies that they lose their will to play and resign themselves to take the ride under the conditions we set forth?

Take the affordable accessible housing issue, for example. Not enough accessible housing? Slug-bug-thwap-no-hit-backs. Get on a waiting list. We can’t win with their rules.

We have to change them; take our blankets, urinals, and toothbrushes to that new housing authority office and use their lobby as a home. When that group gets cleared out, the next move in, then the next.

A few leaders, no matter how good, cannot negotiate for all the changes we need. This takes building a movement. We are all in it together.

Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a fight, it never has and never will.” Fight and the slug-bug rules will change.


Eric Guidish said...

I'm ready to move in!!

Terri said...

I agree, the 'pardon me, I seem to be standing under your foot' method of advocacy is NOT working!

Nancy said...

I have always taken the polite route so as not to inconvience anyone or make anyone uncomfortable. Frankly, it has not worked for me and ended up causing me a lot of serious heartache. When I had my son, I said goodbye to a lot of who I used to be. I am slowly learning that there is more than a little fight in me, and I am trying to harness it. I'm not so great at it yet, but it's nice to see I am not alone. P.S. Just reading about "Slug Bug" makes me shudder. :)

Patrick said...

I suppose the trick is convincing enough people to be hauled away. I agree that the powers that be will concede nothing without a fight, but how do we get a mass of people motivated, enough so so that they could actually challenge those powers?

Big Noise said...

My belief is the only way to be powerful enough is for all of us to work at a grassroots level. Look at any liberation movement, women, people of color, gay/lesbian... Women fought to change their roles at home and work; people stopped riding buses in Montgomery, people in Los Angeles' Castro district refused to let the rest of the world define them... they came out.

From those small movements, national ones grew. No organization, or agency, or lawmaker ever created the change. It always starts at the bottom.

Patrick said...

i totally agree. i guess i just wonder why it isnt happening already? do things have to get worse or is there some way to catalyze the process of grassroots organizing in the disability community?

Big Noise said...

I recently wrote about the "how" in a blog titled, "A Whiff of Hope"

I think we need leaders who will provide that whiff of hope to move the movement. Think of how Justin Dart and Ed Roberts made people feel... like they had a chance to control their lives. We need to be that for one another.