Bullies prey on people they perceive as weak. That’s what they look for. … And they perceive you, or your loved ones who are disabled, as being weak.
What they don’t understand is you’re not.
Those words were spoken earlier this week by a man named Pete Werner during a weekly podcast he runs called DisUnplugged. It’s a podcast that discusses theme park news in the Orlando area, with its major focus being on Disney World.
Werner is a highly respected expert of the Disney community, having founded various Disney-related websites like WDWInfo.com, DisBoards.com and DisUnplugged.com. During last week’s episode, Werner and his crew discussed a lawsuit brought against the Walt Disney Co. by families of children with disabilities for the company’s new ride access policy for disabled guests. That discussion sparked hundreds of comments Werner saw on DisBoards.com and in his own email; comments that range from people with disabilities sharing their stories to other people vehemently opposing the rights of disabled park guests altogether.
It’s the latter that set Werner off and inspired his heart-felt, honest and angry rant in defense of autistic and disabled people.
I want you to do me a favor. … The next time they say ‘I wish I had an autistic child so I could get to the front of the line, too,’ say to them, ‘I wish you had an autistic child, too, so you can know what an amazing gift they are.’
Werner isn’t one to pull punches or mince words on issues and topics that he feels passionately about. For example, he once said some tough words about the annual Gay Days event at Disney World, which surprised many since Werner is gay. While it upset a lot of people, most of what Werner said hit home for gays and non-gays alike.
This recent issue, the one of non-disabled guests making rude and idiotic comments toward and about guests with disabilities, is something that can resonate with everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a theme park fan or Disney World goer. We’ve all heard and seen this kind of attitude at some point in our lives, and maybe we’ve even been the subject of it.
One thing Werner does is say what most of us have felt at one point or another. Like when he said, for a moment, he wished a disability would strike those people, just so they can see what it’s like. Or when Werner referred to those people as lacking basic human decency, saying something is “seriously, seriously” wrong with them.
It’s a shame there are people like that in the world, people who are rude and think people with disabilities shouldn’t be given the same access and rights as others.
But that just means there will always be the Pete Werners of the world, who stand up for others and for what is right.
And that’s something to smile about.
Watch the entire rant below, but be warned there is some language.