Wide Ranging Impacts of Misguided Georgia Pharmacy Bill

CN: Addiction, mentions of overdose.

Bill SB 81 in Georgia has been proposed with the intention of making opioid pain medications less available in an attempt to fight opioid addiction in Georgia. It requires, among other things, that prescriptions for any Schedule II, III, IV, and V drugs have prescriptions limited to a five day supply at a time. People who use Schedule II medications to treat ADHD and related conditions quickly noticed that as written the law would require them to get a new prescription every five days for medications like Ritalin and Adderal. After reading the bill, it appears to me that this would also require people who use testosterone medications to get a new prescription every five days as well, since testosterone containing medications are Schedule III drugs.

These medications often already require the patient (or parent or caretaker) to carry a physical paper prescription into the pharmacy. The new regulations would require medical providers, patients, and pharmacies to do staggeringly more work and paperwork. Some of these medications are usually used for years or a lifetime, and certainly many patients would really struggle with getting to their doctor’s office and the pharmacy every week. Continue reading “Wide Ranging Impacts of Misguided Georgia Pharmacy Bill”

Wide Ranging Impacts of Misguided Georgia Pharmacy Bill
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Chaos and Volume: My Autistic Ears

Noise is really hard for me to deal with. Of all sensory input, hearing is definitely the one I struggle with the most day to day, far more than any other. I am easily irritated with noise, and in extreme situations it can overwhelm to the point of incoherence.

It’s easy for others who do not live in my head to guess that volume is the main problem here. After all, I often use earplugs to moderate noise and allow me to be in environments I would otherwise not function well in. Yes, volume is part of the problem, but it’s not the more significant one. What really bothers me is what I perceive as chaos.

Chaotic noise is the sound of multiple people talking at once, music that I’m not familiar with, or an unexpected Harley driving by. It is a radio show playing in one room while a TV show plays in the next. It is trying to have a conversation while others talk nearby. Is is the sensory hell of the laundromat, with machines turning, children crying, a TV blaring, a coin machine dispensing, and many conversations in every direction. Continue reading “Chaos and Volume: My Autistic Ears”

Chaos and Volume: My Autistic Ears

Meme Discussion, Grammar Edition

CN: Ableist and otherwise problematic meme, discussion of ableism, racism, classism.

A friend from outside of my social justice circles posted the meme below on their Facebook page. The background is an image of black text on white paper, with red pen circling a the word “you’re.” The overlaying text reads: “I don’t judge people based on race, creed, colour, or gender. I judge people based on spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure.”

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You know, I used to do this. Then I learned that what I was often judging people on was the quality of the schools they had access to growing up (and thus their childhood socio-economic level), their learning disabilities (dyslexia etc), and whether or not formal academic English is their first language (sometimes it turns out it is AAVE, another dialect, or a foreign language). I decided I did not want to judge people based on these things anymore.

Instead, I want to decide who I respect based on their values. One of my values is trying to recognize the ways in which my thinking oppresses other people, and trying to change my thinking to be less hurtful to people.

Ironically, as this meme is claiming to be a statement against racism and sexism, it has the risk of perpetuating racism in less blatant ways. Racism is not just judging people for their skin color – it also involves treating things that you associate with non-white people as bad. Judging people for using AAVE is racist. Judging people who speak and write more than one language, however imperfectly, is racist. Subtle racism, displayed in disdain for different communication styles, is racist and this meme perpetuates it.

Ableism is still one of those things that people don’t even think of when they create a list of prejudices they don’t want to hold. When this is pointed out, they will often recognize that they don’t want to judge people with physical disabilities, and further pressed they will recognize the need for empathy towards people with profound mental disabilities. But this work on lack of judgement rarely goes as far as recognizing the ways in which our biases may harm people with learning impairments, less visible disabilities, and mental illness.

I had access to pretty good schools growing up, and was taught formal grammar in classrooms that were mostly safe and mostly reasonably well funded. Not everyone has access to the kinds of schools I did. I have been inside schools that are not safe, that are not funded, and that are incredibly difficult to learn in. I had class on my side growing up, and not everyone did. This meme illustrates the classism that judges people for the access they have had.

I want my ideas to be understood by readers, so I make an effort to write in the clearest way that I know how. Often, but not always, this involves using formal and semi-formal English grammar, spelling, and punctuation. This tactic works for me, but it isn’t always best. There are situations in which I will forgo these conventions for language that is more appropriate for the situation, and I’m fairly fluent in speaking Internet, which is pretty clearly its own dialect. I recognize that others will use dialects they consider appropriate to the situation, and sometimes the intended audience is not me.

Meme Discussion, Grammar Edition

What My Boss Doesn’t Know

I work in hospitality. I’m the front desk guy you meet when you check in to your independently owned accommodation after midnight. The night owl behind a desk, giving you a key and instructions that you don’t listen to because you’re exhausted. I point you in the direction of the elevator so you can finally sleep.

I love my job. Many individual parts of it kind of suck, and the pay isn’t anything to write home about. But, I really like the property I work for, my co-workers, and my bosses. Seriously – I like my bosses. The assistant and general managers are genuinely nice guys. They keep us in the loop about things that are happening, and listen to suggestions from us. It’s honestly the only job I have ever had in which I felt like my boss thought my ideas could be helpful – and that includes the time I worked in a business of only 3 people.
Continue reading “What My Boss Doesn’t Know”

What My Boss Doesn’t Know

A Less Ableist Culture Could Help Businesses Too

CN: Ableism, capitalism

Businesses these days are highly dependent on good reviews. A positive score on Yelp, Amazon, or Trip Advisor can make or break a small business. For service industry businesses like restaurants, retail, and hospitality this can create some unique conflicts. Specifically, not everything people include in their reviews is easy for the business to control, and customers interactions with other customers can have an unexpectedly large impact on review scores.

When customers hold a business accountable for the behavior of other customers, this can have good impacts. It can help encourage a bar to kick out men who are overly creepy to women, or give a reason for a hotel to ask a very loud party group to be quiet or leave. When customer reviews help keep businesses from participating in oppression, or help them to keep rude people in check, this is great!

However, the expectations of customers can also carry bigotry of their own. Customers can, and do, let their own prejudices influence their view of a business, and can bring down the rating of businesses because the perceive them as having too many people of color, or too many queer people, or too many poor people. This can put pressure on a business to be more oppressive, rather than less.

This problem becomes particularly stark when businesses deal with customers who are disabled in various ways, especially those with mental illness or disabilities that make people behave in strange ways. As a result of cultural ableism, many people become incredibly uncomfortable when they encounter someone behaving strangely. If they check into a hotel, and there is someone pacing and talking to themselves, the customer’s whole experience is influenced by the discomfort they have with the possibly mentally ill person. When an autistic child makes noise in a theater, the rest of the audience has reactions to that, and most of those reactions are bad.

Different, disabled, and ill people should have access to businesses and experiences just like everyone else. That child has a right to attend the theater and the person talking to themselves has a right to stay in a hotel. If the general public becomes less ableist and more understanding of all disabilities, but especially those that are related to the kinds of behaviors that make neurotypical people uncomfortable, this will mean businesses will not suffer when they serve disabled customers. Businesses have a responsibility to serve all customers equally, and those that do so will be more successful when their customers recognize that.

I encourage service industry businesses to strive to serve disabled customers well, and also to work with disabled communities to decrease ableism in the general culture. It will help those businesses in the long run when all of their customers understand that we all have rights, even when our behavior may seem strange.

A Less Ableist Culture Could Help Businesses Too

Zootopia – A Physical Accessibility Near-Utopia

CN: Mild spoilers for the movie “Zootopia” (aka “Zootropolis” in some countries) but I don’t think they’ll ruin the movie for you at all.

I had the pleasure of seeing “Zootopia,” Disney’s new animated film, on the second day it was out. Spouse and I went with little knowledge of what the movie would be, primarily because it looked cute and had a bunny as the main character. I tend to really love animated family movies.

Much has already been written about the racial politics of this film. It’s excellent and really complex, working hard to tell a story about prejudice that’s far more complex than movies aimed at kids usually are. It explores prejudice, and overcoming it, on both the individual and systemic scale. It shows how structures of power can be corrupt and wrong, and how those in power can manipulate the prejudice of others to build their strength. I loved it.

Additionally, I noticed something else while watching this movie. The world “Zootopia” takes place in accommodates animal characters of a huge range of sizes and shapes. All of the characters are mammals (the scientist part of me appreciated that they acknowledge this in the script), but the mammal class is hugely varied.

“Zootopia” is both the name of the film, and the name of the capital city in which most of the movie takes place. The city comprises several ecosystems, recognizing that the same environment is not comfortable for both a savanna gazelle and a polar bear. All mammals can cross these ecosystem borders, and it seems clear that the immediate downtown area is where all species interact regularly.

As the main character, Judy Hopps, sees the city for the first time we get a beautiful sweeping view of all of the ways Zootopia recognizes the needs of its different citizens. Hippos in business suits come out of the water to blowdryers. A beverage stand sends a drink up a small lift for a giraffe. Hamsters (who apparently make good bureaucrats?) come from the small mammal part of the city via habitrails.

This scene is a stunning way of showing how a community could work to make public spaces accessible to people with varying needs too. The creativity put into making the city easy to use for such a diverse group is beautiful.

The team at Disney didn’t stop there. Once Judy is settled into the city and the shine wears off, the ways in which inaccessible design is used for institutional oppression become clear. There are certain places not everyone is welcome, and the spaces themselves show that. Judy runs up against this in her first moments on the job. This is something people with physical disabilities encounter constantly in our world. No ramp? You’re not welcome here. Reception desk too high to see over? This establishment isn’t really for people like YOU.

I applaud “Zootopia” both for displaying really creative ideas for accessibility and for recognizing the ways built environments can send messages of non-inclusion. I especially like that they included this in a broader story that’s mostly about race, displaying intersectionality in a way that perfectly melds with the world building and doesn’t feel preachy.

Edit notes: This post experienced minor editing on 3/17/2016 to fix a few small typos. Nothing of substance changed.

Zootopia – A Physical Accessibility Near-Utopia