The likes of Peter Hitchens, Laurence Fox, Toby Young, Paul Embery and so many others aren’t just putting people’s lives at risk in the immediacy. The long term damage they are doing to disabled rights is incalculable.

First published in January 2021.

I didn’t realise “oxygen thief” was a legitimate reason for not wearing a mask.

I am autistic and asthmatic. I have PTSD and anxiety, and you know what? I still wear a mask. Douchebags like Laurence Fox enabling the spread of Covid-19 cause me far more anxiety than wearing a piece of cloth.

Obviously Fox is an attention seeking imbecile, but something which is more concerning is that Amazon is selling these in the first place.

Amazon UK

No problems with people who are genuinely exempt having to provide proof, but it should be more official than something you can buy online.

What really annoys me is how the Covid denier and anti-masker crew have co-opted the sunflower lanyard. They make a big deal about defending disabled people, but they are undermining a key thing many with hidden disabilities had to actually get some support.

I loath these people.

Amazon UK

Not all, but quite a large proportion of Covid denial, anti-masker ideology is rooted in arrogance and ego. The likes of Fox, Embery, Hitchens, Young, even complete non-entities like James “RT if you agree, like if you don’t” Melville, think they are superior to others.

They don’t care about those who actually relied on sunflower lanyards to just get even a modicum of help in a world where they are routinely ignored or told they are “faking it”. Their anti-mask rhetoric puts people’s lives at risk and demeans those who disabilities.

They claim that deaths are caused by “underlying conditions” as if that made it okay for people who were otherwise living their lives to die. Then, they say it’s about defending disabled people. The people they just wrote off as nothing.

I am lucky, for a given sense, that all those things I wrote at the beginning of this piece are formally diagnosed. For many autistic individuals a formal diagnosis is hard, and on occasion costly, to come by. They rely on self-diagnosis to find an answer for themselves as to who they are.

The sunflower lanyard. | Pixabay

Having been formally diagnosed and done the online self-diagnosis tests, personally I think that self-dxing is fine. The tests are pretty accurate. The thing though is it means genuinely autistic individuals are excluded from formal provisions. The sunflower lanyard gave them, among others, the chance to show that they had a hidden disability.

When the likes of Fox co-opt it they undermine how people perceive it and thereby make it less helpful to those who genuinely need it.

Anti-maskers believe they are “better” than others. Covid deniers believe that other lives mean “less than” theirs. They don’t care about anyone bar themselves.

They aren’t just hurting people in the immediacy with their idiocy though. The long term harm they are doing to those with genuine hidden disabilities, to those with underlying conditions, is incalculable. They have told the world that we mean less than others. That our lives, our deaths, are inconsequential. They have made us out to be nothing.

I will never forget, or forgive that. I will never understand it either. The self-serving arrogance of these pricks to think that other people’s lives are disposable. That our disabilities are something they can piggyback to actually harm us.

I despise them so much.   

Further Reading:

Dan Sohege, Human rights advocate, international refugee law specialist, immigration economist, charity fundraising professional and Director of Stand For All.

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 19 January 2021 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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