I don’t watch much television, but most weeknights at 7:30 PM you can find me sitting in front of the tube shouting out the answers to Jeopardy. I also yell at the contestants when they miss what I would consider ridiculously easy questions (did anyone else witness the recent Final Jeopardy question about Dr. Seuss that NONE of the contestants answered correctly?!).
When Ken Jennings was having his run as champion, I cheered for his opponents. Something about him rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t like the stories he shared with Alex during the awkward “Jeopardy chat” segments of the show. I didn’t find his comments witty or endearing. When he finally lost to Nancy Zerg on a ridiculously easy question I cheered. Then I pretty much forgot about Ken, until the Battle of the Decades when I cheered as he lost to Brad Rutter.
Now Ken has entered my Twitter feed and not for good reasons. Monday night he sent a tweet that made my hair stand on end when I read it this morning.
“Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.”
Really Ken?! As an attractive woman who happens to use a wheelchair for 100% of her mobility, I can think of PLENTY of things that are sadder than that. Things like, having a platform and the opportunity to reach millions of people and using it to perpetuate the misguided view that having to use a wheelchair is a fate no “hot” person should endure. Or the ableism that continues to marginalize and exclude people with disabilities. Or perhaps being forced to live in an institution because you need physical assistance with personal care and the average wait in your state for access to the Medicaid Waiver program that would make it possible for you live in the community is nine years.
I know many other wheelchair users. I can’t speak for all of them, but most are like me – grateful for the technology that lets us engage and participate in the world. After all, without the ability to navigate the world using these chariots, our collective hotness would be wasted, withering away inside houses and institutions. I think I’ll go share my hotness with the television. It’s almost 7:30.