Mouth Off

letters to Mouth from web wanderers

April 2000

updated April 19,2000


photo of a lone goldfish looking out of his bowl

Today, April 17, a letter came by U.S. mail that we will soon frame and treasure forever. Here's what it said:

Dear Mouth,

It was so cool to read your magazine and see the fact that my anger is the truth, not something I should just deal with or be ashamed of.

Thank you for announcing the truth, and reminding me why I fight everyday


Naomi Ortiz
Tucson, Arizona



photo of a sexy, half-naked disabled man
This is a photo of Neil Marcus, actor and playwright, by Brenda Prager, copyright 1995

From: "thornyrose" <>
To: <>
Subject: Mouth on the net
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 08:00:49 -0400

Hi, Thanks a lot for putting your magazine on the net. A friend from a pain forum referred it to me & our Forum. Our forum had a big to-do over your SEX page - most of them are 'devout' Christians & screamed PORNOGRAPHY like pigs. I loved it!! And I like the mag as well. Love the militant attitude.

I am a disabled RN so your stand on "do-gooders" bothers me some but something had to! Believe me, I was a militant nurse rocking that medical shit boat while I was able to work!

Please hang in there and keep it on the net. (I've referred ppl to it). Hopefully it will help you grow & expand in whatever direction you would like.

Linda Bloxsom


Here's Tom Olin's photograph of a bureaucrat escaping
from a state office building to take his first step on the
long road to recovery

Subject: I just checked out your website - Wow!

I finally had a chance to visit your site after hearing so much about it from others (including Josie Byzek). I love your frankness and the brutal honesty of your stories. I will check back often, and I am glad that an alternate resource like yours exists.
I have to admit - some of the pieces on your mag's site really got me thinking - as most often happens when one is suddenly hit head-on with a ton of bricks. I have only been working in the non-profit field for a few years (writing grants and setting up programs, no less) and I often stop and ponder WHY I should be the one to decide what others who are "less fortunate" than I need in their lives. Quite often, I admit, my hunches are WRONG.
<I feel ashamed-sigh>
I really love Mouth's writing style, and the unapologetic tone of the articles - there just isn't enough of that out there, so pile it on!
Kristi O'Connell Myers
(writing from work, although expressing only my personal opinion)

Kristi and other readers may (or may not) be pleased to hear that Mouth will soon publish an issue on Transition Plans for Professionals. Recovering professionals, many of whom subscribe to Mouth, will be writing about how they help other staffers and professional do-gooders take their first transitional step into the real world. Stay tuned for that.




I am glad I found your website... Now I can be edisabled!!!

Robert Rhodes
(Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality disabled and worker comp case pending since 1991)









illustration of a man with a cane stuck to the bottom of a rich charity's shoe


Shown here, above and below, two Bruce Faw cartoons
about dancing with the charities...

















To link to the terrible things we said about disability charity, click here.


illustration of two illustrious and wealthy ducks, dancing at a charity ball

Letter in answer to our call to hear about good charities:

I've got a good charity for you. F S M A (Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy) started 15 years ago because the MDA sucks. The lady who started it gets no salary. It's a 100% volunteer organization that now has 2500 members. 85% of it's funds go directly to research to find a cure for S M A, most of the rest goes to equipment for kids, a newsletter to keep everyone together, etc. It's based out of a lady's kitchen table, and they have made more noise in finding a cure for S M A than any other organization to date. Hope that warmed your cold little hearts. :)

Laura Stants.

Our editor wrote back to her as follows:

Thanks, Laura, and it does warm my cold little heart. There's this niggling worry I have, tho. MDA's "scientists" long ago concluded that there is no cure, that only prevention can serve to end "the agony of MDA." Prevention means birth prevention. That translates into "genetic counseling" and consequent pressures -- some mild, some very hard-line especially if you're on Medicaid -- to abort. Health care administrators have long since figured out that we're cheaper dead than alive.
Let's be clear: I'm not anti-abortion on religious grounds. But when (as in partial birth abortion) the only fetuses selected are the ones with "birth defects," it begins to look like the genocide of people with disabilities. Since Gloria Steinem, who's on the board of the Gleitsman Foundation,voted to award Jack Kevorkian the Gleitsman "Humanitarian of the Year Award" -- when I consider him a serial crip killer... If Dr. K had killed only black people, because they could not be whitened, or if partial birth abortion targeted female fetuses, we'd hear a very different roar: not of applause but of a lynch mob.
Lucy Gwin, editor.

Laura replied:

I share your concerns 100% with about everything you said. I believe Jack Kevorkian is a serial killer as well. If I personally wanted to choose to die, I would choose to do so-but I do not wish to put that power into politics and into other individual's hands. I want the right to choose to die if I wish, but I do not want to impart the power of life over death into another individual's hands. We all know where it will go, as history does indeed repeat itself.

I personally feel that partial birth abortions are one of the most horrible things of which I have ever heard. I believe aborting fetuses because of disabilities is not only an outrage to disabled individuals in general, but also robs in a myriad of ways from the non-disabled community.

I do not interact with the MDA as I am disgusted with the amount of money that does NOT get into the hands of people who need it. However, the FS M A does not advocate or counsel abortions because of the genetic disease S M A. There is no pressure to choose this--as a matter of fact it has been a matter of huge debate from the members in the past as to what the "right thing to do" is, with no input from the organization other than "Each parent must do what they feel is right for them and their families".

There are some parents who do choose to abort because of S M A (pre-natal testing is available at 10 weeks gestation) and some who do not choose to test and/or abort if the test returns positive for S M A. In general the people who DO choose to abort because of S M A do so because the child has Type I S M A, which is 100% fatal, usually by the age of 1. The child becomes completely paralyzed as a baby, needs a g-tube to eat, and quickly help of some kind to breathe. There is no cure so many parents don't want to put a baby who has no chance or understanding of what is happening through that. Some just can't handle it themselves. I have lost two sons to S M A Type I, one at 13 months and one at birth.

The MDA scientists are mistaken...there is indeed a cure on the way, and it is coming quickly. Scientists just cured S M A in mice and now only need to translate that to humans. S M A is basically a protein deletion in an otherwise "normal" gene. Researchers cured the S M A in mice in utero and after birth by adding this protein (called SMN2) directly to the mice. Adding this protein replaced what was missing in the S M A mice, and they not only were then born perfectly healthy, but the mice who were affected and not injected until after birth saw a reversal of symptoms all the way back to "normal". So it is exciting.

It's not gene replacement therapy (which thus far hasn't worked in anything), but basic protein replacement. Interesting stuff! They feel they will have this in 1-5 years. I wonder if they will change their tune during their genetic counseling sessions when that comes to fruition.

Other than the occasional appearance of politics, I have been pleased with the FS M A as a "charity" organization these last two years.

I've started websites for people specifically with S M A, and one section is "S M A Inspirations" which targets people with S M A who go on to do inspirational things. I don't mean going out for a beer, I mean the woman who is 28 years old now, outliving her original diagnosis by 20 years, and is a singer with 2 CD's out contrary to what every doctor ever told her about her ability to breathe, let alone sing. That kind of stuff. So if you hear of any others, would you pass it on?

Thank you,

Laura Stants

cartoon shows a teacher of Disabled Etiquette telling a kid, "Never call an invalid an invalid."



*Scott Chambers, cartoonist and visionary, may be reached via email at Mouth bought the rights to use the cartoon shown above first, but Scott holds the copyright to it. For reprint permissions or to commission your own cartoons, address him directly.








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We think you'd be surprised how few people pick a fight with us. Come on everybody -- bring it on!

Just got my first issue, on contaminated help. As a parent, I understand better what my child has been trying to express about her experiences.

We learned a long time ago that if we thought she needed help, we should ask if she needed it, raised hell at the school (which still doesn't get it) when they tried to tell her what she was capable and incapable of doing, and listened to the patronizing crowd at the all-star basketball tournement congratulate us on her courage.

And my reply? "She takes my breath away." Not because of what she does, because of who she is. She understands that to others she is missing a hand and "she just makes the best of it, 'because she has never known any different, she was born that way.'" She knows for herself that she has to continue to play basketball when she breaks two of her fingers, and play even better, just to be considered "as good," to stay on the team and play the sports that she loves. She knows that every time she is on the sports field, at physical education class, or just "hanging out" she is judged by what she can do (compared to the Normal kids) as well as who she is. She knows that if one time she gives in, if one time she says she needs a break, the next time the expectation will be that she cannot do "it". When will the world let her be twelve instead of superhuman?

She takes my breath away. She is her own person, intelligent, strong, gentle, kind, thoughtful, and has a great empathy for those who mistakenly think that she is living a life that is less than their own. She knows that she is more, so much more. And she lives that way.

Thank you for the "in your face" magazine that her family can share. Thank you for shining a light on my attitudes, and thank you for a forum to support our family support this child. Thank you for creating the road map abolish victimhood.
Diane Davis