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Conversation back and forth, how courtesy and internal thoughts intersect

Jenny Jiang's picture

The NYT article about unspeakable conversation stood out to me in many aspects. One take-home message is that there is no exact evil/brightness in one's personality. Initially my perspective aligns perfectly with the protagonist and viewed Prof Singer as immoral/irrational. But as the article proceeds, Singer's behaviors did not quite match with one's expectation since he believed people with disability should have their life exterminated at early time to avoid suffering. Instead, he made sure that the walk in Princetown University is accessible for wheelchair users, with no steep scopes and acute turnings involved. And he also treated Harriert with respect, having an intellectual and interactive conversation with her using courteous and polite languages. I would say compare to many other people in the society, Singer did better in some extent. 

Another takeaway for me is how accessibility must be ensured with multiple party's effort at hand. The wheelchair issue could be avoided provided that the airline company treated the equipment with more attention (surely they would not risk other valuable products getting damaged during the trip, than why not electric wheelchair). Wheelchair has become an essential part of Harriet's identity, as it provided the mobility and thus subjectivity. For me it is intering how the same action can be framed differently using various perspective. The passive movement described by doctors involve activeness for Harriet, so the society should also put some focus on reframing the terms, to alter people's perception of the disabled community.

The ending part is intrigung, as we see Harriet's understanding of Peter Singer gravitating towards a more positive and humane figure. Although her peers think her irrational, it is true that through her interaction and debate with Singer, both Parties are less absolute as before their encounter. It shows us the charisma of communication and the art of persuation. We are not rocks, we have emotions, and these can be manipulated (not in a bad sense) if we hear with genuine patience.

I wonder how the readers' standpoint would change if the article is written in Peter Singer's narrative though. Since we are in the disability studies course, we naturally agree more with Harriert. But if we were to be in a economy class, or a class that promotes efficiency and resource allocation, would we believe more in the opponent's choice, even if it sounds immoral and not right to us?