Don’t Know What to Make of This

First, please watch this CNN report (safe for work).

Are Matthew Campisi and Ellen Frankel victims? If their bios are presented half correctly, it appears not. But are they touting a kind of victim mentality? I’m not so sure they aren’t.

There’s much more at their link at NOSSA, including statements like “The bias towards tallness and against shortness is one of society’s most blatant and forgivable prejudices.” (attributed to economist and W.F. Buckley sparing partner John Kenneth Galbraith) and “[NOSSA w]orks toward demanding equal opportunity for short statured adults wherever obstacles and discrimination exist.”

They say

NOSSA does not promote a ‘victim mentality’. We encourage all of our members to take responsiblity for their own lives and remind them that although we can not always control our circumstances in life, we can always control our response.

Nice words, but I’m not convinced they believe this.

And although I’m having trouble putting this down clearly, my train of thought starts with a quote from Rand Simberg.

Suppose we find that there is something different about the brains of gay men and women (a proposition for which there’s already abundant and growing evidence). If we can come up with an affordable, painless therapy that “fixes” this and converts them from “gay” to “straight,” should we a) allow them to take advantage of it, or b) forbid them from doing so, or c) require them to? And should “straight” (i.e., exclusively heterosexual) people be allowed to become gay, or bi?

This is precisely the situation parents who are short find themselves in when they have a short-statured child.

The National Organization of Short Statured Adults is opposed to the use of human growth hormone for short but otherwise healthy children. “The growth hormone deficient child suffers from an underlying medical problem that affects the body’s health in different ways. The non-growth-hormone-deficient child has no underlying medical problem. They simply present as a variation on the norm with regard to height. The decision to medically intervene on the healthy child’s stature is socially based due to height discrimination and prejudice.” – Ellen Frankel

It is also the dilemma presented to deaf parents, some of whom have taken steps to have only deaf children.

Not to make too much of it, but my story is that I’m 5 inches shorter than Matthew Campisi. I also earned a black belt (2’nd Dan, actually) a couple of decades ago, have two masters degrees, married twice (both times to very lovely ladies), and even dated a couple of beauty queens in my college days (Miss Trenton, and runner-up to Miss N.J.). I played guitar in a rock-‘n-roll band, and am (still) a “rocket scientist” of sorts, even if I do spend way too much time on proposal work these days.

So, um, I’ve done alright with my life, even if I am only 5’0″. Not that I was always above complaining about my lack of dates when I was 20, mind you…

But I didn’t get drafted in the NBA. So for that, I should have a grudge? I don’t think so. I don’t think I’d try either to “save” a short child from his shortness, or forbid him to get tall, either. I think it’s strange that people would do either.

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2 Comments on “Don’t Know What to Make of This”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Two Masters? No offense, but that is hardly a measure of success – in astronomy, master degree is given to people who couldn’t cut it, and they are told “leave now, here is a consolation prize”.

  2. Joe Says:

    You’re quite right, anon. It was a consolation prize (and I don’t think I ever thought any different).
    But gaak! I really didn’t want to give the impression that I was bragging about my “accomplishments”.
    Far from it. With the exception of the astro-wife (a far better woman than anyone you’ve dated, bub! ;> ) what I’ve done are all pretty much run-of-the-mill type things for many people. The only ‘accomplishment’ in it, is finding the perseverance to see it through.
    Fortunately, it’s not a poker game. “I think you’re just holdin’ a puny pair of master’s there, cowpoke. I’ll call. See if’n you can beat this here straight, PhD high.”

    I think the main point I was trying to get across with all that was that a person has to play the cards he’s dealt as best he can (there’s that poker analogy again). And to this day, I’m having a hard time deciding of NOSSA is espousing that, or just playing some sort of victim card.


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