I want to take a different angle to the Sun’s disgusting reporting of Gordon Brown’s handwriting. Applying what is called the Social Model of disability, this really does highlight the engrained stigmatisation and discrimination that disabled people have in society. The endemic nature of discrimination may lead many to ask why I am even talking about disability in relation to Brown’s letter. Well a disability, using the Social Model’s definition, is when society itself is what disables the individual. It is not the actual impairment, so in this case, Gordon Brown’s handwriting, is not the disability per se, instead, it is the societal actions and stigmatisation in society that has lead it to becoming a disability.
I myself suffer from extremely bad handwriting, so bad that I have to use a computer for my exams so I have experience of what discrimination in relation to your handwriting feels like. However, if Brown had used a computer when writing the very personal letter then I am sure there would have been complaints that he was not person enough. The mother of the solider who complained to The Sun states that she questions whether the Prime Minister even really cared when writing it, and instead saw it as part of his duty. Well if he really didn’t care, then why doesn’t he send out a computerised automated round robin letter to all the relatives of soldiers killed at War? Of course he cares. I really can’t believe the level of criticism that Brown has faced, mainly from The Sun, for simply having bad handwriting and for simply being a human being.
This links to something I have blogged about recently in relation to Europe, in how The Sun appears to be increasing losing its credibility. They claim for example, Brown:
“COMMITTED four other spelling mistakes: Greats for greatest, condolencs for condolences, you instead of your, and colleagus for colleagues”
Do they even take into account that he has poor handwriting, so what they perceive to be spelling mistakes may actually just be illegibility? Do they take into account his poor eyesight when writing this? Well the answer to the latter is yes, but highlights how the media can use disability to question the legitimacy of the worker – as shown by their use of the following Brown quote:
“I have had very serious problems with my eye and it has been very difficult over the years. But you can do a job, you can work hard.” (my emphasis)
It is an obvious attempt, as the last sentence of the article, to make people question whether Brown is competent to do the job. What this highlights is the ingrained stigmatisation within the media around disability issues. Disability issues are both physical and mental, as shown by the debates surrounding whether Brown was taking pills. It is very depressing when you see human beings being treat as though they are robots with no problems, there needs to be a fundamental change to the culture of our society, as this is just simply wrong.