Evangelicals vs. Persons With Disabilities: The real dangers of fighting against imaginary monsters

President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law in 1990, and he remains deservedly proud of having done so.

That American law came to be seen internationally as a model for other countries, and Bush’s son, President George W. Bush, helped to negotiate a treaty formally encouraging other nations to adopt for themselves the standards and reforms that Americans enshrined in the ADA.

Jesus isn’t fooled by this crafty ruse. He knows this is just a ploy to promote legal abortion and the Antichrist’s one-world government.

President Barack Obama signed the treaty — the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities — in 2009. The treaty has already been ratified by 126 countries. And, finally this week, the U.S. Senate voted on its ratification.

The treaty had the support of organizations that represent the disabled, veterans and business. It had the support of every living president from either party, and was endorsed by former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, who sat in a wheelchair in the Capitol this week to rally his party and his former colleagues in support of the treaty.

And then the Senate voted against the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.

Treaties must be ratified with a two-thirds majority in the Senate, but 38 Republican senators voted against ratifying this convention.

Because of abortion and because of the Antichrist.

Did this treaty have anything at all to do with abortion or the Antichrist? No. Nothing at all to do with either of those, but American evangelicals aren’t going to let a little thing like reality get in the way of some oh-so-enjoyable self-righteous masturbation.

So evangelical Christians led the fight against this treaty. They lobbied against it, helped prevent its ratification, and then celebrated their triumph against abortion and the Antichrist even though in reality it was actually a “triumph” against the rights of persons with disabilities all over the world.

Tim Fernholz tries to explain the inexplicable in a report titled, “Why the US just rejected a treaty based on its own laws“:

Here’s a lesson in America’s weird political institutions: How Christian conservatives led the Republican party to reject a treaty that endorsed existing American law.

The US Senate voted today on ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People 61-38, but the majority fell short of the 66 votes needed for ratification. The 38 votes against came from Republican senators, most of whom signed a letter promising not to support the bill. The letter was organized by Senator Mike Lee of Utah, who said the treaty threatened US sovereignty and could force the parents of disabled children to send them to public schools. It drew the support of home-schoolers who also fretted that the treaty was, among other things, a sly way to force America to adopt laws enshrining “abortion rights, homosexual rights, and demands the complete disarmament of all people.”

… The UN treaty is based on the Americans with Disabilities Act, enacted 22 years ago, and if it were ratified, no US laws would have to change. It was negotiated by the previous Republican president, George W. Bush, and is supported by prominent conservatives like Senator John McCain and former Senate majority leader Bob Dole (both of whom, thanks to war wounds, are Americans with disabilities). The US Chamber of Commerce supported the treaty, since it would help level the international playing field for American companies who already comply with the act, and potentially open foreign markets to US disabilities technology.

That’s a symbolic slap in the face to the 19 million Americans with disabilities, and an insult to all who love them.

The Republican senators’ weird rejection of this treaty won’t have much tangible effect on anyone here in the U.S., since the ADA is already the law of the land here. But this refusal to support the rights of the disabled internationally will tangibly harm people in other countries where such reforms and legal protections remain a distant dream.

This vote also harms America’s leadership, influence and reputation in the world. It makes America look ignorant, petty and spiteful. It makes us look that way because 38 Republican senators caused America to be ignorant, petty and spiteful.

And this ugly, harmful stupidity is all based on fantasy — based on nothing more than evangelicals’ preoccupation with pretending that they’re waging a heroic battle against Satanic baby-killer abortionists and against the one-world government of the Antichrist.

These monsters do not exist. But evangelicals’ fantasy role-playing battles against their favorite imaginary monsters has, once again, led them to behave monstrously.

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  • EllieMurasaki

    That’s what I thought. Nice comic.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So he’s saying a contradictory mush, like I thought he was, and the only right bits in it are that among the multiple factors affecting the wage gap are hours worked by gender and jobs taken by gender and a few similar ones.
    Still not clear on how he thinks whatever his philosophy is is going to be any improvement on the gender-equality front over the philosophy where the core belief is that the genders are and should be equal.

  • Asterix and Tintin were my favorite when I was younger :P (I still enjoy Captain Haddock’s many variegated curses :P )

  • If I had to guess, I’d guess that when he talks about “feminism” he isn’t referring to the belief that genders are/should be equal, but rather to something else.

    I’m not clear on what exactly that something-else is, though, or what philosophy he’s proposing instead, or how that philosophy reduces the discrepancies in gender employment, or what discrepancies in gender employment he thinks ought to be reduced, or on what basis he selects those.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Let’s see, republicans have managed to alienate African Americans, Latinos, immigrants, gay people, young women, Muslims (and all other non-evangelicals), and the poor. So they must have realized that people with disabilities were the only group left who they hadn’t harmed with their scorched earth policies.

    Except that people with disabilities are disproportionately poor and female, aside from belonging to all the other groups named in equal measure. But it’s important to recognise that if you do something to hurt poor people, you are ipso facto hurting people with disabilities.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Also, our wealth currently affords us with the option to accommodate the disabled, but as with the tale of the prodigal son we as a nation have been spending our inheritance freely and with little regard to our long term future.

    What the hell does that mean?

  • I think it means that rather than spend our wealth to accommodate disabled people who live today, who are unimportant, we should hold onto it and give it to more important presumably-able-bodied people who will live in the future instead.

    I also think it means that disabled people are not as capable of creating wealth as the more important presumably-able-bodied people, so accommodating them is a net loss of wealth rather than an investment in future wealth.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Bryan Fischer says, “Disabled newborn babies in the UK are being put, oftentimes overriding the wishes of parents, on this death pathway where no matter what the parents want the doctors say this kid cannot live, severely disabled, too many congenital deformities, we think the best thing for this kid is just to be starved and dehydrated to death.”Does anyone have any idea what he’s referring to?

    Sometimes when a baby is extremely premature and/or suffering from profound insurmountable disabilities, many people think that maintaining a heartbeat at all costs is not necessarily the most humane, loving thing to do. So in such cases families may be counselled about their options, which include removing radical interventions and letting their child die, if it comes to that. I can’t speak with 100% confidence about UK laws and practice, but I’d be surprised if they departed much from local practice I know of:* medical staff CAN NOT override the parents’ wishes* babies in such circumstances are NOT left to die by starvation or dehydration. They are given perinatal palliative care, which is a discipline that few people are aware exists.My father died a few days after having radical interventions withdrawn when he suffered severe hypoxic brain injury, at the family’s request. He was in a coma and almost certainly had no ability to perceive sensations, let alone sentience. Even then the medical staff advised that they would continue giving him morphine and intravenous feeding until he died, because they do not let people starve.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    One day the US empire will end, just as the other world empires have ended (Spain, France, British Empire) and we will have to once again learn to live within our means.

    Interestingly, despite their empires ending the people of Spain, France and Britain have managed to survive without leaving people with disabilities chained up in the basement. They did stop invading other countries every five minutes, so maybe’s there’s a tip there.

  • Lori

    Oh for pete’s sake.

  • Lori


    I’d no idea such transfers were possible!   

    It depends entirely on the job. Some employers will allow it and have a mechanism in place for it. Others do not.

    I think it’s good that people have the desire to help, but overall the whole business just makes me angry because it highlights how terrible most people’s benefit plans are. Getting enough leave time for one person should not require other people to give up theirs. Leave should be adequate for all but extremely rare cases without needing to take up a time donation from other workers. The fact that a coworker has a baby or an illness lasting more than a week A) is not some wild, unforeseeable situation and B) does not mean that said person’s coworkers don’t need their vacation time.

  • Lori


    As someone who once worked in a three-story library with two basement
    levels, I have to ask: WTF? How did your staff move cartloads of books
    between floors without an elevator?  

    The old library in the town where I used to live had what amounted to a large dumbwaiter.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Public service announcement: old threads containing drawn out fights remain open indefinitely, so everyone involved may feel free to continue them in place instead of dragging them around like a rusty bike whose chain is tangled in the leg of your pants.

  • Jenny Islander

    It’s horrible when people dig into the actual facts behind your assertions, isn’t it?

    A blog that allows just anybody to come along and post, including members of the groups you have identified as a blight upon the empire, is such a toxic environment.  We are just existing so loudly in your universe, obstinately imposing our desire to go on living on your neatly ordered life!

    How dare we self-righteously dispute your assertion that in order for this country to survive some people including some of us must be thrown under the bus.

    And we compulsively dishonestly insist on logic, fact checking, and clarity of debate!  An honest bunch of posters would just tell you how right you are!  The nerve of us!

    Also, wailing that you hate yourself and you want to die because you can’t win a debate is a tactic for nine-year-olds.  If you are seriously in mental pain, please find help.  If you’re posturing, quit being tacky.

  • guest

    I wasn’t going to bother to explain the joke, but then remembered a few people have told me they’ve found it a small but occasionally handy tool in their universal design toolboxes, so I’ll share it in case anyone here might want to add it to theirs.

    Thoughtful Person considering level access requirements:  ‘Although level access requirements were originally devised to help ensure that wheelchair users can get access to the built infrastructure, they have turned out to be beneficial to many people who aren’t wheelchair users; in fact, it’s made the lives of anyone operating or accompanied by a wheeled object (trolley, pushchair, wheeled luggage, walker) much easier.’  

    Humorous Old Man:  ‘Yes, level access is extremely useful!  It means I can ride my bicycle all over [accessible place]!’

    TP:  laughs at physical impossibility and social inappropriateness of HOM riding his bicycle all over a hospital/train station/crowded city street, and later recalls the amusing image when assessing level access either in a new design or in existing infrastructure.

  • Carstonio

    In the situations I’m familiar with, the donations are primarily of sick leave, and many of the illnesses require far more than a week. Often the folks who need the donations have been working there only a couple of years and haven’t accumulated sufficient sick leave.

  • EllieMurasaki

    We have to donate sick and annual leave in equal measure. I haven’t asked what happens with people who want to donate but have run out of one or the other.

  • The notion of people even having to donate leave they may need themselves one day is a rather particularly nasty bit of artificial zero-sum constraint coupled to the perverse feel-goodism it generates when someone from HR does a whip-around drumming up support for a co-worker. (-_-)

  • EllieMurasaki

    It’s better than the only currently extant alternative, which is people who’ve run out of leave not getting paid at all for any further time off due to baby/illness/injury.

  • Jared Bascomb

     >>How he made his living. The attorney in question was disbarred for being, based on my readings, about as crooked as a tower in Pisa.
    “Oh, but a crooked attorney who breaks the law can get away with causing a lot of harm before he gets caught because of this law” is a roughly equally compelling argument against the ADA as it is against ANY LAW WHATEVER.<<
    Thanks for the update. I couldn't remember what finally happened to him but I knew that the courts weren't real happy with his extortionate and frivolous lawsuits.
    Oh, and I wasn't supporting him or opposing the ADA in any way – just pointing out an example of someone who did abuse the law to his own personal advantage.

  • P J Evans

    “ferret out mom & pop camps and inns who have not installed these cranes so that they can shake them down”

    There are actually people who do that kind of thing: someone in a wheelchair visits small businesses and threatens to sue for every ‘violation’  they can find (or invent), and does file complaints by the dozen. It’s bad enough in some areas that it’s being treated as a form of harassment.

  • P J Evans

    I’m pretty sure obesity? Not a disability.

    In its extreme form it is. Can’t use cars, can’t do stairs, most chairs are too small…. (Think 300 pounds and up.)

  • P J Evans

     He;’s ignoring that people can be abled one day and disabled the next. (Think of strokes.)
    My father was actually disabled by one and (a) had my brother get the pieces and build grab bars in the bathroom for him, and (b) ordered and himself installed a chair lift for the stairs to the basement (which he actually used, sometimes – and it was great forgetting the bags of water softener salt downstairs).

  • Or having sensible and flexible leave policies. At  my uni, people routinely take a year off when they get pregnant and can come back to their old jobs if they want.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sometimes, yeah. Not always.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I said ‘currently extant alternative’, not ‘ideal-world situation’.

  • P J Evans

     An armload at a time. Really.

  • P J Evans

     I donated vacation time once to a co-worker who had used all their own time due to illness, and then their spouse died. It wasn’t a problem for me.

  • Lori

    Yes, many illnesses require far more than a week. Illnesses requiring more than a week are not freakish occurrences and coping with them should be built into the system. The onus for accommodating them should not be on the person’s coworkers, requiring them to give up leave time that they may need at some point in the future or their (already inadequate) vacation time.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    My school district offers full time certified staff* 11 leave days per contract year. These days can be used at any time, no questions asked (not the case in most districts) and roll over from year to year into a person sick leave bank that can only be used for illness, and only after normal annual leave is used up. At the beginning of their first year, new hires are asked (we can opt out) to donate 1 leave day to the district wide sick leave bank. If an employee has expended all leave time during an extended illness, they can draw from that bank. They can continue to do so until they qualify for state disability. The bank currently sits at some 2000 days, and has never gone below 1000 days. Continuing employees have never been asked to donate further to the bank, though the CBA does provide for the district to ask for voluntary donations, should the bank drop below 300 days. 

    I suppose this system is either a cynical piece of accounting hand-waving,or an example of humane fiscal responsibility, or yet another example of lazy, greedy teachers’ unions, depending on where you sit.
    *I believe classified staff get leave based on average hours worked. Administration, being a 12-month position, get 15.

  • Lori

    The issue isn’t whether or not the donations are a problem for any particular donor coworker. The issue is that you shouldn’t have had to do it because the system should be set up to deal with the fact that sometimes shit happens.

  • Darkrose

    I stand corrected then.

    However, I’m still not sure that a few instances of that justify pointing to the ADA as a whole as “bad for business”.

  • Darkrose

    Last year I ruptured my Achilles tendon. I was out of work for six weeks. I had enough time accumulated to cover about 10 days of that, and my short-term-disability insurance didn’t kick in for 30 days. I asked about leave donations because I’d donated in the past, but by the time I would have gotten all of the paperwork done, I’d have been back at work,

    Fortunately, I had money in savings, and when the ST disability did kick in, I got paid retroactively for the 30 day waiting period. What I did get a crash course in, though, was how screwed up the system is, because the onus is on the sick person to deal with insurance companies, hospitals, and HR. Navigating Kinkos to make copies of stuff when I was on crutches didn’t help what was already a less than pleasant experience.

  • Lindenharp

     So did the library where I work, until it was expanded and remodelled and an elevator was installed.  The dumbwaiter was very annoying to use, and the wide gap between it and the floor sometimes caused an overloaded cart to topple over.

  • Carstonio

    While I’ve never heard of anyone being required to donate sick leave, you have a valid point. What alternatives would you suggest? Perhaps a common pool of longer-term sick leave provided directly by the employer, to supplement the sick leave that the employees earn regularly, with the pool replenished yearly. My understanding is that most donors choose sick leave rather than vacation leave.

  • Maniraptor

    Reasonable amounts of sick leave for everybody so that nobody has to sacrifice their own so that other people can be treated like human beings?

  •  > What alternatives would you suggest?

    Short-term disability insurance that kicks in when an illness or other medical procedure consumes all of my sick leave worked pretty well for me.

  • Jenny Islander

    Is it just a U.S. thing, that the amount of sick leave people get even from “good” jobs is always less than the amount a doctor recommends that they take?  One case of the flu will eat all of the sick leave from the average “good” job.  If your employer will even permit you to take unpaid leave after that so that you can stay away until you are no longer infectious, that’s–unpaid leave.  As in, no money coming in.  In not-so-good jobs, staying off work while sick if you are out of sick leave time can get you written up or fired.  So you drag yourself to work, hacking and spraying germs, and everybody else catches it.  If you didn’t catch it from them first.  And somehow this is supposed to increase workplace performance or save money or something.

  • Darkrose

    Sick leave–in jobs that even have it–is generally inadequate. I get one day per month, which seems generous until you realize that I can count on 1-2 days out per month due to migraines (fun with perimenopause!). At least working for the state means that I was able to have it count under the Family and Medical Leave Act, so they can’t fire me for being sick. In a lot of jobs if you take what they consider to be “too many” sick days, you’re subject to disciplinary action, I guess because they assume you’re not really sick.

    And even if you have sick time and don’t get officially penalized for using it, there’s a strong sense that taking a couple of sick days makes you “not a team player”. Sitting at your desk hacking and coughing and infecting the rest of the office is shows that you care about your job. Staying home and doing the things you need to do to get better means you’re malingering.

  • Darkrose

    Short term disability insurance is great, but there’s one catch: the waiting period. The shorter the waiting period you choose, the more expensive it gets, and in most cases, the waiting period can’t be decreased without having a physical. 

  • Yup, absolutely.

    To be a viable alternative to the kind of sick-day-pooling under discussion, short-term disability insurance needs to kick in when an illness or other medical procedure consumes all of my sick leave, as I proposed. Having it kick in days or weeks later is better than nothing, but not quite good enough.

    I was fortunate enough when I had my stroke to have it more or less work out the way it ought to… I consumed my outstanding sick leave, switched to short-term disability when that ran out, and to long-term disability after three months. Everyone involved was actually very helpful, including the insurance agencies.

    I wish everyone were so fortunate. Illness and recovery are difficult enough to deal with even with support.

  • Also? The concept of having to give up vacation days to a sick leave bank is incomprehensible. In all Canadian provinces the minimum weeks of vacation is fixed by law at two weeks (three in Saskatchewan) and may not be “eaten into” for sick days.

  • B

    I’ve worked at places that lumped sick and vacation time together as “paid leave”. 

    I personally don’t care for that practice.  I get that they want to avoid the whole problem of people calling in sick when they’re not, and at the time it worked to my benefit: The new “paid leave” was less than the combined vacation and sick leave we had gotten previously, but it was more than the vacation leave had been.  Back in those days I was almost never sick, and thus almost never used my sick leave, so the net effect was to increase my overall vacation time.

    But it also gives people an incentive to come into work sick so as not to use up a day that could otherwise be used for vacation, and coming into work sick is a practice that I don’t think should be incentivized.  Seriously, where did we get this cultural notion that coming in to work sick is virtuous behavior that should be encouraged?  When people are sick they should STAY HOME so they don’t spread their illness to everyone in the freaking office.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Same place we got most of our ideas. A paid day off is money out of the boss’s pocket; a paid work day, while the same amount of money out of the boss’s pocket, brings money into the boss’s pocket too. And who cares if the peons all die of diphtheria, as long as they die on the clock and don’t infect the boss; peons are easily replaced.

  • PurpleGirl

     Actually John Birch did not start the eponymously named society. John Birch was a missionary in China who was killed by the Communists.  The Joohn Birch Society was started by Robert Welch and Fred Koch (the Brothers’ father) among other people. Something else we can blame on the Koch Brothers.

  •  They put signs on all the doors during flu season telling people to stay home if they’re sick, and please for the love of god, don’t be a hero and infect the office.

    And then you get in and they say ‘Yeah. you should absolutely go home if you’re sick… But we do really really need this done today…”

  • Makabit

    You know, some day the sun will supernova, and the Earth will be swallowed in its fiery death throes, but I still think I should buy fire insurance.

    I’m really not comfortable deciding that we can’t afford to provide for the disabled because some day our empire will crumble. The Brits already had that happen, and they seem to be coping and putting in ramps and shit like that.

  • Makabit

     “Not necessarily the people in the wheelchairs holding us back so much as lack of provisions for not following the rules when the rules don’t make sense. ”
    Something being more expensive does not make it ‘not make sense’.

    It’s cheaper not to have retrofitting to make buildings earthquake-safe. Much cheaper, and much easier. However, having retrofitting is the difference between San Francisco in 1989, and Haiti in 2010.

    Rebar saves lives. Safe building practice saves lives. Saving lives ‘makes sense’, no matter how much moolah people could make if we didn’t require such things.

    In fact, even if the whole of Western civilization crumbled tomorrow, those well-made buildings would go on saving lives for a long time anyway. 

    So we do it, and we don’t make ‘exceptions’ for when the ‘rules don’t make sense’, ie, would cost someone some money.

  • Makabit

    Someday the world will be different.

    That’s not actually a reason not to install ramps.

  • Makabit

    “If you’re a Christian, remember that Jesus told us to pray for our daily bread for this day, not for enough resources to keep the zombie hordes at bay for the next seven generations.”
    I’m not a Christian, and this is still completely fabulous.