Speaking as someone who studies anxieties about malingering and their connections to health, disability, & social policy, the framing of this NYT article is enormously problematic.


The Man Who Filed More Than 180 Disability Lawsuits nytimes.com/2021/07/21/mag…
The article is well-written, but it leaves out an enormous amount of context. Most importantly, ADA and disability law violations are de rigeur. They are common, frequent, every day occurrences. Ask people w/ mobility impairments how airlines handle their wheelchairs.

Ask hearing-impaired or Deaf people about the availability of SL-fluent interpreters in public accommodations. And on and on and on. It's endless.

As w/ most forms of civil rights and antidiscrimination laws in the US, the rules are observed in the breach.

Beginning in early 1990s, federal courts issued decision after decision that essentially stripped the ADA of any real enforcement power. It got so bad that that notoriously progressive legislative body -- US Congress! -- had to step in in the late 2000s to restore some teeth.

In addition to which, we want to think deeply about the staggering history of epistemic injustice against disabled people in the West in general. Suspicion, disbelief, and doubt about disabled people are baked into the very foundations of social policy in US in particular.

(Watch this space for a @JLME_ASLME Symposium Issue that will explore this theme in wonderful detail). But our beliefs that disabled people are deceptive and are after personal enrichment are literally foundational to social policy in the US.

NOT coincidentally at all, scope of that social policy is staggeringly thin & (Ethical Claim 🚨) utterly deficient in the US. There are important intersectional implications here as well when we consider the profound effects of structural racism in weakening social welfare.

(Thus we had states in the US South opposing Medicare in the 1960s b/c they knew that the program would desegregate hospitals. They preferred everyone in their states live shorter, sicker lives than end segregation)

We want to consider what @DorfmanDoron is writing and teaching us about what is termed the "fear of the disability con." It's rampant in the NYT article. To wit:

9/ screenshot of portion of article asking whether the disabled
Finally, we want to consider the role of public health litigation in filling the enormous policy vacuums left by our incredibly weak and insufficient social policy regime. In a better-designed system, we'd have robust social policies w/ staffing, resources, implementation

& enforcement resources needed to create accessible spaces for people of all functionings & capacities (#UniversalDesign 🚨). B/c we have as a society abdicated these responsibilities, private actors are left to try & fill these civil rights gaps through tort liability.

IMO, very few experts in #PHLaw believe that by design, we should have a system for promoting, protecting, and ensuring antidiscrimination and civil rights provisions that relies heavily on private actors using the tort liability system.

Yet, as a society, we have virtually ensured its occurrence by closing off almost every superior policy avenue for growing and nurturing antidiscrimination and ensuring disabled people can access public resources and accommodations.

Maybe it is unfair to ask the article to explain some or even any of this. But it's critical context that is missing. Without this background, the framing of the article imposes a crude dichotomy that does not adequately account for any of the structural forces that

Impose such devastating costs on disabled people and make it so much harder for so many disabled people to live meaningful, flourishing lives in this country.

As ever in the US, we ignore structure and focus so much on the individual level.

This isn't about the individual plaintiffs filing the lawsuits in these cases. This is really about much higher-level stigma against disabled people -- which is itself centuries old -- & structural forces that undermine attempts to relieve discrimination via social policy.


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More from @prof_goldberg

25 May
Look, I'm angry, so I am just going to say it:

I really, really wish that non-Jews would immediately cease trying to define Jewish identity on here. It's transgressive and a basic violation of any commitment to antiracist and anti-oppressive praxis.

Jewish identity, like many other social identities, is extraordinarily complex. Jewish people who live it often passionately disagree with each other on identity. If you don't live it, the odds that you're going to get anywhere close to the mark are vanishingly small.

The odds that you are going to screw it up and perpetuate one of the most vicious and enduring racisms on the planet is a heckuva lot higher than you think.

Read 9 tweets
20 Dec 20
I would just like to point out that Nate Silver's nonsense today didn't merely insult public health scientists, epidemiologists, and officials.

It also insulted public health ethicists, implying that it takes no special expertise or training to unpack and offer guidance

On the deep and fraught complexities in vaccine allocation and prioritization.

I have noted in @AMJPublicHealth that public health ethics is fundamentally about priority-setting:


Some of us have spent years working on exactly these kinds of probs.

@AMJPublicHealth The idea that you can just barge into the subject with no training in either public health or applied ethics, wave a gatdang magic wand, and "solve" all of these problems is so absurd I've been wanting to #Hulksmash all day

Read 11 tweets

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