Thank you for a wonderfully balanced (or so it seems to me) rehearsal of
the background to what feels like a war zone at the moment.  As a relative
newbie to the list and to the field, I have been disheartened by the degree
of personal sniping of some of the posters.  While I now understand the
history, I still feel that such ad hominem attacks tend to get in the way of
good rhetoric--rhetorical theorists from Aristotle on up all agree that the ad
hominem is the lowest, least persuasive and least ethical mode of
argument.  I'm not against the use of emotions in posting--but there is a
difference between expressing emotions and launching attacks--
particularly when many of us don't have the same history and it seems
like some posters are simply rehearsing old wounds, perhaps continuing
fights (not arguments) that might better be conducted in private
correspondence.  No doubt I, in turn, will be dragged over the coals for this
posting.  Oh well.

In any case, I found m99m's acccount a really useful lesson in disability
studies history--one I'll save for when I prepare for my prelims (no irony

Thanks again,
Bruce Henderson
Professor of Speech Communication, Ithaca College
Ph.D. Student in Disability Studies, UIC

----- Original Message -----
From: m99m <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2004 8:09 pm
Subject: Casus Shelli Belli [?]

> Casus Shelli Belli [?]
> One reason for continuing unease and possibly 'aggressive'
> behaviour on
> this list is the perception that there are certain 'no-go' areas, i.e.
> topics of importance, that have been approached intermittently by
> variouscontributors over the past nine years, and from which they
> have been thrown
> back by vigorous, perhaps abreactive, force. And if some well-
> mannered and
> consensus-seeking lurkers think they have seen anything nasty
> recently, "they ain't seen nuttin" compared with the shenanigans that
> occurred much earlier!
> (Older denizens might recall a certain rabbi, whose habit during
> severalmonths on the list was to hammer his opponents into the
> ground with any
> available blunt instrument, then haul them out again by the hair
> in order
> to apologise for this treatment, and then hammer them in again to show
> there were no hard feelings. Some of his actual arguments were quite
> reasonable, or at least interesting; but the quality was often
> overlookedin the general panic when he was cleaving someone's head
> in twain).
> A longstanding hot topic has been the Social Model(s) of
> Disability, or
> SMODs. When this list started, it specified a particular interest
> in, or
> desire to serve, discussion among people working in or with the
> SMOD (which
> was, in that period, supposed to be one, rather than multiple).
> However,because the list took (or commandeered...) the title
> "Disability-Research",
> it was not always obvious that the space was expected to be used
> mainly by
> users of, or believers in, a SMOD or SMODs.
> Further, while the use of a particular model is hardly obnoxious
> in itself,
> on several occasions when questions were raised about SMODs, a
> polarisation appeared, because SMODs were being used basically in
> different ways by their adherents. Some participants were willing to
> discuss SMODs as models that could and should be used for doing
> research, more inclusive, participative and emancipatory research, as
> against various other models which they considered gave poor or false
> results because of the weak or superceded paradigm on which they were
> based. There were other list participants for whom the SMOD was
> not a model
> for research, but a battle cry, the slogan on their banner, the
> idea that
> had turned their life around, and was now a sacred dogma,
> definitely not up
> for discussion.
> The 'Believer' position could (though it never did, to my
> recollection)have drawn upon the historical fact that a central
> idea in SMODs has been
> around for some millennia in various parts of the world, i.e. the
> view that
> society, or the behaviour of a local community, or the (mis)design
> of the
> social environment, can play a significant part in generating
> disability.Believers could have taken comfort from the fact that
> the 'explanation'
> embodied in SMODs had proved enlightening to people in many places
> generations, so it was unlikely to be much harmed, or to
> disappear, merely
> through a little discussion in an academic research corner. (But
> Believerswho feel that someone is scratching their central plank
> are seldom easily
> comforted).
> On the other hand, there were (and are) people doing disability
> researchwho have felt uncomfortable with what has sometimes
> appeared to be the
> exaggerated importance attributed to SMODs, the elevation of
> Believers to
> become thought police, and the tendency to fence off large areas
> of life
> and declare it out of bounds to all research not approved by a small
> section of the research community. Normally-reasonable researchers
> can turn
> very stroppy when they see part of 'their' patch thus being
> sequestered or
> (mis)appropriated, and when they perceive that terminology is being
> manipulated in a way that ejects them smoothly down the trash chute.
> Further, significant changes have occurred during the past nine
> years, so
> that conflict over SMODs in 2004 is not identical to conflict in
> 1995. (But
> this is where it gets very difficult to give a fair and neutral
> account...)
> Five years ago, two major figures published views about SMODs.  Vic
> Finkelstein, long one of the most combative proponents of the
> British SMOD,
> denounced what he saw as a sneaky tendency to take the cutting
> edge off the
> SMOD and rectify it to fit comfortably into a society that was
> just as
> unfair and disabling as it had ever been. He saw the need to
> insist on the
> cutting edge, the need for radical restructuring of society.
> Meanwhile, the
> French philosopher and disability historian, Henri-Jacques Stiker,
> suggested that the British SMOD had served its turn and was now
> past its
> sell-by date - its particular construction belonged to a certain
> era, but
> the world was moving on. There was also a groundswell of voices
> complainingthat people's bodies were important, but they weren't
> being allowed to talk
> about them in ways they wanted to do, because some people feared
> that to do
> so would bore holes in the SMODship, and let the dreaded Medical
> Modellerscome pouring in again.
> Soon afterward, SMODs took some further jolts from researchers. From
> debates focused around ICIDH-2 revision (which was looking into
> ways of
> accommodating Disability Movement inputs, while not giving up the
> basicbiomedical paradigm), Jerome Bickenbach and colleagues
> suggested that SMODs
> had been useful as campaign slogans to achieve some Disability
> Movementobjectives, but the dyadic approach (Impairment /
> Disability) was not
> sufficient for describing the complex observed realities of people
> withimpairments as they undertook activities for themselves or
> attempted to
> participate in a social environment, nor was the SMOD
> operationalisable as
> a research tool. Tom Shakespeare, who had earlier engaged in vigorous
> defence of SMODs, did some rethinking, decided that there had been
> enoughexaggerated thesis / antithesis battles, and published an
> appeal for moving
> forward to positions that better represented the realities as now
> perceived.
> These last few paragraphs are grossly truncated as an overview --
> and I've
> omitted references, for the moment -- but anyhow, there seems to
> have been
> some significant shift of academic ground over a decade. Further,
> recentyears saw some shifts of emphasis among North American non-
> biomedicaldisability studies. I won't attempt any description -
> but it appears that
> the "British SMOD" c. 1970s to 1990s has had a rather modest
> impact on
> North American disability discourse, and that impact is hardly
> growing; it
> might be declining.
> These trends (which could be much more accurately described, and then
> heavily argued about, in 50,000 words rather than 500) have left
> quite a
> number of believers bruised and bloodied, and researchers
> uncertain how
> things are going to pan out, or how they ought to pan out. The
> trends have,
> however, had very little calm discussion on this list. There has
> only been
> some intermittent sniping, and an occasional flare-up.
> Mark Priestley, who really has spent a considerable part of the
> past decade
> tending to the more tedious aspects of keeping the list wheels
> turning,unjamming the technical glitches, assisting people who
> want to join, or
> leave, or get their dog registered, or whatever, posting good-humoured
> housekeeping notes, and very occasionally asking specific people
> either to
> cool it or to take a break and come back when they're feeling more
> cheerful, has (I think) no less right than anyone else to post
> information,as well as to express his personal views about
> disability and research, on
> the list he co-founded.
> Shelley Tremain has the advantage of being trained in philosophical
> argument and experienced in turning a radical gaze on disability
> research --
> but these assets have not seemed to find workable ground,
> traction or
> counterpart on this particular list recently. That's a pity. There
> havebeen earlier debates here, in which the input of a trained
> philosopher was
> badly needed to untangle things, point out the different usage of
> terms,drop some further ideas in and so on. We didn't always have
> a philosopher
> to hand, unless Anita Silvers spared the time for it.
> Participants out there may not agree that SMODs are at present in
> a phase
> of decline; but I think a lot of people would agree that there is
> turbulence in this area, and it is not easy to discuss. That is, I
> believe,a major factor behind the recent sniping and discomfort. I
> didn't achieve a
> neutral and balanced account above, but as some recent participants
> asked "what's going on?!", and I feel some empathy with both Mark and
> Shelley, I gave some sort of account.
> Feel free to disagree, either with the account, or with its
> pertinence to
> recent business!
> [But, as Mark sometimes pleads:  you don't have to take up
> bandwidth by
> repeating this over-long post underneath your further remarks!!]
> m99m
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