Explaining the Significantly Other
by Lucy Gwin

Four Forces In History Explaining the Significantly Other

This row: When stature is short Gargoyle from Notre Dame. General Tom Thumb, a famous circus midget of the 1800's. Medical picture of naked lady drawf exibited with baby born by Ceasarian.  
As seen by Religion Commerce Science Charity
This row: when learning is slow Carving of mythological creature. Pinhead circa 1910. Skull of a 25 year old idiot. Charity advertisement of lifetime "help" for the mentally handicapped.

We are the corpse at the cocktail party. Guests step over us at first, politely pretending not to notice. But our presence, both shocking and significant, requires an explanation.

Whoever is host for the century circulates among the guests and soon a theological, or commercial, or scientific, or charitable explanation makes the conversational rounds. Socially dead, we do not speak but meet scrutiny with silence and a nervous smile. Meanwhile, our hosts allay the public fears.

"Itís only natural to feel that way," guests are assured. "Just turn them over to us. We know their special needs."

Too this, not enough that. As they always say, they really wouldnít know what to say. Social authorities of the era shrink-wrap us in a label or pass a law, or build walls -- whatever magic spell will remove us from the party. Promising to protect us, they become the lords of our exile.

There has been a long chain of explanations, lords, exiles.

Exceptional bodies are what mark some for social death. So-called invisible disabilities, once outed, are only slightly less damning than the rest. Exile, real or perhaps only social, soon follows.

And so it is that when the living dead get together, some of us pretend, politely, not to notice the corpses at our own cocktail party...