12 September 2014

The International Paralympic Committee are a disgrace

Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of the culpable homicide [manslaughter] of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The International Paralympic Committee's response?

"... if he wishes to resume his athletics career then we wouldn’t step in his way – we would allow him to compete again in the future.”

Source The Guardian

That's right. Kill your girlfriend and once your trial's over you'll get a fuzzy welcome back hug. Notice how Craig Spence from the IPC didn't even have the decency to use Reeva Steenkamp's name; the woman whose life was stolen by Pistorius? She doesn't matter because according to some other man at the IPC; Pistorius was a “fundamental ambassador” for London 2012.

There's this assumption that oppressed groups would be sympathetic to other oppressed groups. Given that disabled people like Francecca Hardwick, Olivia, Ben & Max Clarence, Alex Spourdalakis, and Caitlin Wentzel are routinely killed for being disabled, you'd think a body representing disabled people would have a bit of sympathy for another group of people routinely killed for existing: Women. In South Africa in 2009 a woman was killed by her partner or former partner every 8 hours. While in Britain a woman is killed by a man every 2.36 days.

But, no. I would say "most oppressed groups don't care about the oppressed groups that they don't belong to;" except the International Paralympic Committee works with disabled women too! Though it's noteworthy that the IPC is chaired by a man, and both spokespeople praising Pistorius today are men.

Most people would think of American Football as quite a brutal sport. Yet the governing body the NFL have banned Ray Rice indefinitely for knocking his partner out cold in a lift. Truly astonishing that they have more human decency than the IPC.

The most ridiculous thing is that the IPC routinely exclude disabled people from competition for having the wrong sort of impairment. If you've got any diagnosis other than:

* Cerebral palsy or a brain injury resulting in similar mobility impairment,
* Spina Bifida or other spinal cord damage,
* Missing limbs,
* Achondroplasia (many other forms of dwarfism like osteogenesis imperfecta are deemed unacceptable to the IPC),
* Visual impairment, or;
* One of the very few types of learning difficulty the IPC deems acceptable.

Then you will either be classified out of competition, or banned from competing entirely. If you have the wrong type of diagnosis; the IPC deem that a crime worthy of excluding you from sport. But if you take a woman's life you're perfectly welcome to compete.

Returning to Craig Spence's statement; he unbelievably said:

“Oscar’s done a great deal for the Paralympic movement. He’s been an inspiration to millions..."

Everything's inspiring when you're a cripple; from putting on your own underpants to taking someone's life. I'm sure he's inspired dozens more men to commit domestic violence now that they know they can shoot their partner repeatedly and get treated fairly lightly by a justice system geared for men.

For most of my adult life I've been deeply saddened that I was classified out of the Paralympics for the crime of having an impairment that the classifiers have taken a dislike to. But you know what? Today I'm fucking proud that the IPC aren't speaking for me when they say that he'd be welcomed back into the fold of the Paralympic movement.


  1. Great post, they're behaving disgracefully. Isn't he yet to be sentenced, anyway? Why is talk of his future career even happening at this stage?

  2. I've despised sport since I was a child, because it was usually the bigger children (especially boys), and usually the boys, who were best at it, and their violence never seemed to count against them when being recognised for sporting achievements. Many sports are violent in themselves, not only boxing but also the entire football group of games, and as a child you don't get a choice as to whether you want to stand in a field so someone can kick a ball in your face or grab your legs and drag you to the ground. Sport will carry on re-admitting people recently convicted for violent offences, or who are repeatedly in trouble for fights etc., until it develops an ethos that empty feats on the track, field or football pitch are worthless without strength of character, which means you don't use violence to get your own way or in response to petty slights. Whichever version of events one believes, Pistorius's action (and his prior record of violence and reckless gun use) shows he fails this test hands down. At the moment, they only exclude people whose offending is directly related to the game itself (e.g. doping).

    Is Pistorius even that much of an inspiration to disabled people, other than amputees, anyway? Are paraplegics that much inspired by an amputee runner when they couldn't even stand unaided, let alone run? I looked up the two Paralympic spokesmen you quoted, and couldn't find much biographical information about them. Are they even disabled? If they are just the usual non-disabled, middle-class men running a big-money sporting organisation, it may well explain why they think violence against women (or being a trigger-happy thug) is compatible with being a sportsman.