Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised

If people like Richard Littlejohn think that disabled people don’t have opinions on politics and current issues, Jody McIntyre has proved them very wrong.

Sarah Ismail writes for the Same Difference blog

Many people were shocked when they woke last Friday morning to find reports of a man being pulled out of his wheelchair by police at Thursday’s tuition fee protests circulating on Twitter and blogs. This video of the incident soon appeared on Youtube.

Watch it:

On Monday night, BBC News interviewed the man in question – Jody McIntyre, 20, a blogger and activist with Cerebral Palsy. Broadcaster Ben Brown was criticised by many people soon afterwards for asking Mr McIntyre ‘unfair’ questions – with others arguing that Brown simply treated Mr McIntyre as he would any other non-disabled interviewee.

However, on Tuesday morning, people were shocked to find Mr McIntyre being criticised in Richard Littlejohn’s latest column for the Daily Mail. Littlejohn compares Mr McIntyre to Andy, the wheelchair using character from Little Britain, saying that if McIntyre wanted to protest:

“… he should have kept a safe distance.”

This column has caused outrage among disabled and non-disabled people alike, and has led to the Press Complaints Commission receiving more than 500 complaints since its publication. Disabled people in particular are unhappy at the comparison to Andy, as the character does not actually have a disability.

Littlejohn, and Guardian blogger Roy Greenslade – who wrote an article this morning arguing for Littlejohn’s freedom of speech – have not considered Mr McIntyre’s right to freedom. Mr McIntyre had as much right as any other protestor to be at the protest. He, and his family and friends had as much right as anyone else to expect that he would come home unharmed.

Tory Councillor Phil Taylor also blogged yesterday on the case, saying that Mr McIntyre had walked up nine flights of stairs during a previous protest on November 30th. As Sunny Hundal rightly points out at Liberal Conspiracy, Taylor does not consider the fact that Mr McIntyre had support from friends and rails while walking up those stairs – or how long it took him to do so.

Many people who share Mr McIntyre’s disability, cerebral palsy, are able to walk with support – but they still need wheelchairs in crowds the size of ones at protests.

Most people agree that the police were very wrong to treat Mr McIntyre in that way, when he was simply expressing his opinion on the very important issue of tuition fees. If people like Littlejohn and Taylor think that disabled people don’t have opinions on politics and current issues, Mr McIntyre has proved them very wrong.

That is something for which he should be applauded, not criticised.

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20 Responses to “Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised”

  1. alan gillespie

    RT @leftfootfwd: Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised: http://bit.ly/gdI0Wc writes @SameDifference1

  2. Michael Bater

    RT @leftfootfwd: Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised: http://bit.ly/gdI0Wc writes @SameDifference1

  3. Crimson Crip

    RT @leftfootfwd: Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised: http://bit.ly/gdI0Wc writes @SameDifference1

  4. Dario Nahi

    RT @leftfootfwd: Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised: http://bit.ly/gdI0Wc writes @SameDifference1

  5. Martin Doyle

    RT @Plot31: RT @leftfootfwd: Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised http://bit.ly/gixmgi

  6. Steve Kelly

    Excellent article. I was one of those who complained about the BBC interview. I have not read Littlejohn’s piece but have heard about its denigrating tone.

  7. mark wright

    RT @leftfootfwd: Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised: http://bit.ly/gdI0Wc writes @SameDifference1

  8. Protestwatch.org.uk

    #Protest Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised: Many people were shocked when the… http://bit.ly/eP6pvo

  9. sarah ismail

    RT @markwrightuk88: RT @leftfootfwd: Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised: http://bit.ly/gdI0Wc writes @ …

  10. twupsies

    Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised – Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/i7CgWQ

  11. matthew fox

    I am surprised Jan Moir hasn’t chipped, it is her terrority.

    You don’t read a richard littlejohn article, you just colour in the characters.

  12. CoalitionBreakdown

    RT @leftfootfwd: Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised: http://bit.ly/gdI0Wc writes @SameDifference1

  13. Jacqui Alban

    RT @leftfootfwd: Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised: http://bit.ly/gdI0Wc writes @SameDifference1

  14. Mr. Sensible

    Not surprised, coming as it does from the Daily Mail…

    Whilst I do not condone the violence I think there are issues with the policing which should be addressed.

  15. Kevin Richards

    Is this action & media acceptable?RT @leftfootfwd: Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised http://bit.ly/gixmgi

  16. Now Jody McIntyre’s Being Attacked For His Views On Palestine « Same Difference

    […] I pointed out yesterday on Left foot Frward, McIntyre has simply shown the mainstream world that disabled people […]

  17. 13eastie

    “Littlejohn, and Guardian blogger Roy Greenslade – who wrote an article this morning arguing for Littlejohn’s freedom of speech – have not considered Mr McIntyre’s right to freedom.”

    McIntyre’s right to “freedom” does not trump that of others not to be subjected to crime.

    Does a wheel-chair give license to aggravated trespass at Millbank? Or the fact that he had some help from “handrails” and “friends”? What guff!

    LFF seems (conveniently) unable to discuss any of the events leading up to the incident, but it is clear that this man has engaged in criminal behaviour at the prior Millbank episode and had already had an angry confrontation with police earlier on the day: http://www.mitchell-images.com/#/jody-mcintyre/4546538655

    To suppose that there are no circumstances whatsoever under which any wheelchair user can be removed by the police is plain silly, but that is exactly what Sarah Ismail’s musings appear to do.

    Do all supposedly peaceful protesters have a right to endanger themselves and others by deliberately obstructing the police in their duties (for instance, by using an occupied wheel-chair to attempt to startle horses)?

    Or is it reasonable for the rest of us to expect them to protest within the law and to obey the police, irrespective of which mobility aids happen to be in their possession at the time?

    You can be sure that there is more to this story than McIntyre or LFF is willing to let on and that the suggestion here that McIntyre was merely “simply expressing his opinion” will be shown in the fullness of time to be rather an immodest fig-leaf.

    Just because no commentator (least of all LFF) seems currently to know the reasons for the police officers’ actions does not mean they don’t exist. McIntyre could, of course, bring a formal complaint against the police to make known the full circumstances…

    In the mean-time, a sceptic may reasonably suggest that McIntyre set out to use his wheel-chair rather than his brain to cause trouble rather than win any debate, and in so doing he got exactly the personal attention he sought, with no care for how much it would detract from the “argument” about education cuts (he used most of the BBC interview to talk about his wheel-chair and – very curiously – to accuse the organisation of pro-Israeli bias).

    There are plenty of disabled people who succeed in engaging in debate at all levels without resorting to militancy, law-breaking, or wrapping their “argument” in irrelevant disability issues (e.g. there is at least one sitting MP with cerebral palsy). Some of his fellow wheel-chair users might feel he has rather let the side down.

    That McIntyre has overcome massive adversity throughout his life is beyond doubt.

    That his approach to “peaceful” protest is valid (or even effective) is not.

  18. Jo Dooher

    RT @leftfootfwd: Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised: http://bit.ly/gdI0Wc writes @SameDifference1

  19. Chris

    Liked Mathew Fox’s comment: “You don’t read a richard littlejohn article, you just colour in the characters”. Having looked at the rather blurry video footage and the Jody McIntyre clips I have to wonder why the wheelchair protester was on their own in the middle of the road and was not with others. It seems that the police handled the situation OK and that rather than being “pulled out of his wheelchair” by police that he fell or slipped out of his own volition. Can anyone see him actually being pushed or pulled out? It looks as if the policec were trying to move him in his wheelchaior to the area where the other protestors were.

  20. Mordachai Peargut

    RT @leftfootfwd: Disabled protester Jody McIntyre should be applauded, not criticised http://bit.ly/gixmgi

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