Is this the end of the Huffington Post revolution?

It is incredible to believe it has been five years since I was blogging for the Huffington Post on a weekly and even twice weekly basis on the topics I wanted to talk about. The way the Huffington Post allowed so many people with different viewpoints on so many different issues to have voice felt like a revolution in free speech and citizen based democracy.

My blogs were almost as controversial as they are now and many other ‘disabled’ activists were outraged the Huffington Post gave me a voice, there was even a small petition demanding I was banned from their website. But I was just one of many views on impairment-related issues the site allowed. If people were capable, they could write their own articles to be published challenging the views I had.

I believe it was about two years ago that my relationship with the Huffington Post began to change in two ways. I was becoming more confident in my viewpoints as well as my political understanding. My awareness that I was an independent and honest activist meant that I wanted to be able to say what I really meant and the Huffington Post would reject posts that it found uncomfortable.

On my own blog, I could publish whatever I wanted as I indeed did. I now had my own large twitter base and I was considering what exactly was the Huffington Post offering me at this stage of my development, the answer was nothing. If I was truly independent, it was time for me to blog as an independent and honest activist on my own blog.

At the same time, the Huffington Post was recognising its growth and standing, and felt the need to better organise itself, shifting it into the central-left liberal competitor to the Guardian it is today. This included taking a tighter control of its material related to people with impairments stories, going for safe and comfortable feel good stories that offered no room for the intellectual challenges I offered.

The new look Huffington Post was one that called for all people with impairments to accept their role as victims of society, wonder that is victims of welfare forms, and people who have failed to have the perfect middle class lifestyle they feel they deserve. A classless significantly impaired independent and honest activist like myself, with a level of intelligence and confidence comparable to Sherlock Holmes, certainly did not fit into the direction of the Huffington Post,  and hence our silent divorce was only a matter of time.

The Huffington Post like the Guardian and BBC have shown how liberalism and political correctness has been turned into a veil and vile acceptance of the ideology of the left. In terms of people with impairments, this means accepting people with impairments are second-class citizens although wrapping it up as human rights, equality, compassion and fairness. The Huffington Post has moved from a platform of free speech, to a typical left wing puppet designed to keep people with impairments disempowered for the benefit of the industries that profit from this.

Maybe the Huffington Post experiment on true free speech was too successful or maybe the will of advertisers and executives took priority, the fact is still that the revolution of free speech promised by the Huffington Post is over as it takes its role as a direct competitor to the Guardian and a traitor to the meaningful inclusion of people with impairments.


Why does the media treat disability like a fetish?

Did you see the documentary about ‘the boys with 3 eyes’? No? Well I made it up so very unlikely you did see it, but documentaries about extreme impairments, with titles very similar to the one I have just made up, have been produced for television since before I can remember. While the traditional freak show has disappeared a long time ago, it still exists in these types of documentaries.

I believe that in many ways and on many platforms that the media industry generally treats the issue of disability as a fetish for its readers to gaze at, and I believe it has got worse as disability has become more fashionable. The welfare reforms opened up the voice and focus on people with minor (relatively) long term conditions, inviting practically everyone and anyone to define themselves as a disabled person, and enjoy self-indulgent media about them, based on pity and otherness, the idea that they are not a part of normal society.

Parents of disabled children of any age, and I mean any age, are invited to discuss and write about the intimate details of their disabled ‘loved ones’ in a manner which is frankly abusive. We had Katie Price casually saying on ITV’s Loose Women that she plans to buy her autistic son, Harvey, a prostitute for his 18th Birthday, as he is never going to get it the normal way!

Social media encourages people who define themselves as too sick to work to show they can work by writing ten thousand word blogs describing how the world hates them, especially assessment assessors, how awful any moment of their life is,, and how life, the universe and everything is some big neo-liberal American Insurance conspiracy. These feeling based fact free blogs, genuine as a moment of feeling on their wider journey of recovery, are collated by anti-inclusion left wing activists and presented to the United Nations has evidence of government wrong-doing, which the pity-driven organisation accepts at face value.

The Huffington Post is a perfect example of how disability is treated as a fetish. Until recently it enabled activists from all sides of the disability field to have a voice, including myself. This year it started a series called ‘Life less ordinary’ which aimed to better control its disability content as the fetish it readers and advertisers crave as a liberal focused news provider. First to go was the acceptance of my articles because who wants to hear the truth from someone who admits the emperor has not been wearing clothes for many years! Instead, the Huff celebrated a mixture of sob stories, triumph over tragedy stories and parental voyeurism of their children. So cutting edge free speech on disability has been replaced with a standardise fetishism on disability as every aspect of our lives is termed into entertainment and profiteering.

The need by the media to treat disability as a fetish is going to get worse in these wild west days of social media freedom before it will get better, and once again shows the daily prejudices I face as a disabled person.

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The media has to take its share of the blame for benefit suicides

The welfare reforms has had a lot of criticism, but the harshest has been the accusation that the work capacity assessment has resulted in some people committing suicide. Activists and the media have highlighted a number of cases they believe shows the government is responsible and want the government to be made accountable for them.

My first reaction is wariness of the implications of these accusations. Suicide is a complex and sensitive issue where at the end of the day, even with a suicide note, no one else really knows what was in someone’s head when they took the action when they take the decision to end their lives. Receiving a letter to inform them their benefit has stopped, for reasons that may or may not be correct, may indeed have been the final straw, but there is likely to be many other factors that has caused someone to reach that point.

Politicising suicides is a dangerous game and one that I am very uncomfortable with. If we accept the government is ‘to blame’ for these death to the point that criminal proceedings for corporate manslaughter could be brought, what does this mean for other reasons of suicide? It could be that if anyone sends any person any form of communication material, email or letter, that becomes the last straw in causing them committing suicide, the sender could find themselves in prison! This would bring a new meaning to Dear John letters.

Activists have called for a public inquiry into the so-called benefit suicides, and I would welcome this myself, but not for the same reasons. I believe any inquiry would acknowledge that there are many factors involved in these deaths, and I would like to give evidence that the media has had a big part to play in pushing people towards a situation of hopelessness and despair, and towards suicide.

I am not suggesting in this instance the media has deliberately and knowingly pushed anyone on disability benefits to commit suicide. I am however suggesting they have created a contextual backdrop where the public’s and therefore claimants’ understanding of how the benefit assessment system works as been corrupted with deliberately misleading information for political reasons, particularly in the ability to receive a fair assessment.

Many activists now pride themselves on making the benefit assessment system toxic and unworkable, and the media has played a big part in this. There has been almost daily articles for a number of years on how people with impairments have been wrongly or unfairly found fit for work, whether that is correct or not, based on a culture of pity towards people with impairments. This bias reporting, that has not been balanced with positive cases, can only fill claimants with dread, causing them to experience unnecessary anxiety and so providing the foundations for suicidal desires.

So when people’s only defence to Labour’s appalling bigoted policies towards people with impairments is the uninformed quip that the government kills people with impairments, my response is that it is more likely to be the fault of the media. Not only that, but the media’s actions have so far been unchallenged by activists, other political parties, charities and organisations made up of people with impairments, making it a conspiracy as they all have something politically to gain from these suicides they blame the government for.

If you are going to use suicide as a political weapon, it is important to understand it is a dangerous and potentially immoral exercise. In blaming the government for so-called benefit suicides, activists and the media may have unwittingly revealed the blame actually lies with them.

They assume unemployability

I fear that when the media, especially the middle class media, talks about disabled people especially in terms of the welfare reforms, they assume disabled people are unemployable. I know I keep returning to this issue but until people get it, it is important to understand.

I hate the pity which is trusted upon disabled people and now demanded by a vocal minority of disabled people, portraying themselves as activists. They argue that the welfare reforms are an attack on the most vulnerable section of society. This makes us look sub-humans, sub-normal.

When they talk about the WCA and being declared ‘fit for work’, it is on an big disgraceful assumption that is it absolutely wrong to believe disabled people can at all work. It is deeply worrying when this is the view of people like the editor of “Disability Now”, a previously leading publication and Scope’s mouthpiece, who is personally outraged people with learning difficulties and those with mental health issues are deemed able to work as shown here. As someone who claims to be the voice of all disabled people, his views are shocking.

The last few years are not helped the inclusion of real disabled people at all. I believe as I will say again and again, everyone is able to “work” in some way or another and it is about having a positive attitude, especially when we are under attack from the media and people who claim to represent us!
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Hate speech or just telling the truth?

I am becoming increasing concerned that the focus of hate crime has turned into an attack of telling the truth in terms of disability issues and specially the amount of people who are taking unfair advantage of the benefit system by using their impairment as an excuse not to work or take responsibility for their actions.

Questioning or challenging social policy in relation to disability in not hate speech and that style of questioning will depend of the style of the newspaper or other media outlet. By this I mean The Sun newspaper is a stupid newspaper and will say stupid things which may still accurate.

For me, the real hate speech comes from many disability activists to use a never ending list of sob stories to undermine the value of disabled people as they portray themselves, and therefore myself, as vulnerable victims of society in a desperate attempt to stop the welfare reforms, ensuring the dependency of disabled people.

If you like what I say, have a look at my website at or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

End of Free Speech?

While I agree with some level of press regulation, there are some aspects of the Leveson report I am concerned about. One of these will be to enable “3rd parties” to make complaints on the so-called accuracy of news reports. By 3rd party, this makes any organisation who claims to have the authority to represent a section on the population as unelected unaccountable bodies.

The disability hate crime lobby has already make it very clear  they indeed to use any new law to control what is said about disability and force newspaper to print their propaganda and lies, and nothing else. This is worrying as the aim of the lobby is to disempower and exclude disabled people for the profit of user led charities by creating unnecessary fear and a new generation of victims. 

They are also using hate crime to squash any public debate in the meaning of impairment and disability as they try to ban free speech in their attempt to allow anyone who wants to be disabled to get money without question, at the cost and insult of real disabled people. This is apparent when they use hate crime as an excuse for families to murder their disabled children.

True inclusion is about allowing the public to better understand impairment and disability by being allowed to ask questions and debate issues. If this is going to be turned a crime by this end of free speech, disabled people will never be fully included as hate crime is used to oppress us.

If you like what I say, have a look at my website at or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

The right to defend myself

Before anyone panics I must make it clear this blog has nothing to do with having a gun and shooting people in my own home, but rather the right to intellectually defend my belief system when I believe they are being attacked by others in the news and on blogs.

I have reached a point in my life which I am happy to challenge politeness if it means I am forced to bottle things up. Better in than out is a truthful phrase on many levels and I believe if someone has written something I find personally offensive, I have a responsibility and right to tell that person what I think in the same way people have that right with the stuff I write.

Often all I need to do is explain to people how I read what they are saying and to clarify if that is really what they meant. If someone is happy with what they write than they should be proud to defend it in the way I am however controversial it may be.

I refuse to be silenced because what I believe, like the social model, has gone out of fashion! 

If you like what I say, have a look at my website at or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

Reclaiming the term ‘Spaz’

Spaz is slang for spastic and can be seen as a derogatory term in by major of cases but for some people with cerebral palsy, including myself, it can be a term to be reclaimed as a part of our identity.

I often called me a proud spaz or the Proud Spaz because it embraces the freak side of my nature and how society sees me. By using the term I am making it clear I know I make some people uncomfortable and that I am taking control of the situation in the way black people use nigger and gay people use queer. I am not saying it is a publicly acceptable term but that it is a term I use and take responsibility for, as I expect a reaction.

I believe this is what Ian Dury wanted when he wrote the song “I’m Spazticus”, a reaction to make people think. And this is what the comedy of the same name also wanted, for tv shock value more than anything else. Those ‘disabled people’ who find Spaz inappropriate are most likely those who do not relate to it as language is a personal choice.

The right to judge

Regardless of what people say, we all have the right to make  judgements on how we perceive situations so long as we understand others will take our judgements in the context of their own understanding of issues. A judgement has to be considered on what we think based on our own knowledge, expertise and experience rather than any declaration of absolute truth.

We need to make judgements on a whole range of things everyday in order to function like how we want for breakfast? whether we can trust specific people and so on? We may not get it right but we have the right to misjudge things so long as we take responsibility for our actions. So while we may judge a book by its cover we may understand it is not the best thing to do.

While I am very quick in making judgements, my thinking process is throughout and I am very happy to stand by my judgements which they can only crucially and acknowledge when I have misjudged things. It is however better to be wrong rather than not make judgements and be a passive watcher of life. 

Bloggers are arrogant

A found it very interesting when a fellow blogger called my arrogant and this is what the point of being a blogger, any blogger? When I mean is a blog is a public statement of how one individual sees a specific issue with the hope they may not be the only person in the world with their view. I believe arrogance comes from a reader finding offence in the writer’s viewpoint, especially when it is a confidence viewpoint, because it is does not take into account their viewpoint or those the reader feels the writer must respect.

I personally find what this fellow blogger writes arrogant as it is written from my perspective as the middle class perspective of someone looking at the problems of society from afar and making misinformed liberal political statement from what he reads rather than he experiences. I understand if he feels to understand my thinking and how I feel it is based on experience rather than academic ideology and the newspapers, he will believe I am arrogant and that is his problem not mine.

I am confident in what say in my blogs and if that makes me appear arrogant to some people, than so be it, that is all part of creating change!