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Bipolar News

January 30, 2005

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COLUMN: Mild drip guy

University Wire; 1/28/2005; Michael Giardina

(The California Aggie) (U-WIRE) DAVIS, Calif. -- At four in the afternoon, Mild Drip Guy would come into Starbucks and proclaim, "The coffee has been brewing too long. Brew me a new pot." I tell him we brew new pots every hour and he begins yelling, "I won't have it!" I concede, but he leaves quickly and returns 20 minutes later, roaring, "the coffee was brewing for 17 minutes. Brew me another pot, now!"

Working with the public can be a nightmare. You will meet the most disrespectful, inconsiderate, and genuinely atrocious individuals in society.

In the middle of the store, Mild Drip Guy would rub his back end with his chubby hand, while looking at pornography. Oftentimes he would refuse to pay for his coffee, claiming that he already paid five hours ago. Right. I threatened to call the police once and he said, "Go ahead! I want you to call. I will sue Starbucks for all they own. I'm also going to sue you as a person."

I just laughed. While the idea of being sued as a person was humorous enough, I couldn't get over how utterly obnoxious he was. I felt sorry for his wife. Those grumpy, narcissistic men think that the world revolves around them. Unfortunately, it never does, giving them a reason to hate everyone, all the time.

I filed a complaint against Mild Drip Guy and he was banned from all stores nationwide. Apparently he was causing problems at stores all over the city. There were even reports of him trying to run over employees in his car.

Here is the point: Anyone who gets banned from a national chain of stores really has some work to do on the whole "self-actualization" thing. His kind spoils this world.

So, who is Dennis? Dennis, a Starbucks patron, is a sufferer of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and -- equally troublesome on the body -- poverty. He talks to himself and apologizes profusely, often telling me about his depression, his love life, his jail time, his religion, anything he could think of.

Sometimes he was a nuisance, but he inspired me. He was respectful, caring, even loving. He would ask about my life, my passions, and my dreams. He would say, "I'm really lonely. I'm bipolar, did you know that? You always come around to talk during my times of need. I think you are here by divine placement to help me."

He even offered me gifts: money, coupons for a free dinner, a Bible. A man that has absolutely nothing was offering anything he could and he never asked for anything. "I love kids," he said once, "Parents tell their kids not to talk to strangers, but I never hurt anybody. Kids don't hate you. They are so honest and open-minded."

One day, I told a barista the story of Mild Drip Guy, how I got him banned from all stores nationwide. Without missing a beat, the guy responds, "You think that's bad? You should see this guy who comes in every day named Dennis. Customers refuse to come in when he is here; we have to ask him to leave." I walked out of the store without my drink. Dennis was never Mild Drip Guy.

It irks me that anybody could place Dennis and Mild Drip Guy in the same category. Sure, Dennis was by no means "normal," but he was an admirable human being. Mild Drip Guy, on the other hand, was "normal," but a complete jerk, rude and obnoxious by nature. Dennis didn't fit into society because of his mental disorders, his circumstance. Take a little time to get to know someone before you judge, otherwise you might be chopping down a fine man with an axe way sharper than deserved.

(C) 2005 The California Aggie via U-WIRE

Not neglecting human rights for disabled persons

University Wire; 1/28/2005; Meg Burd

(Rocky Mountain Collegian) (U-WIRE) FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- A special committee has been called at the United Nations this week to discuss the protection of rights of a group of people who are often overlooked. While often marginalized and sadly forgotten in the larger discussions of human rights, the more than 600 million people with disabilities worldwide must no longer find their basic rights pushed to the side or ignored any more.

"We must attend to the needs of a segment of the world population which, in spite of disability, gives us a lesson for living and overcoming adversities," Ambassador Luis Gallegos Chiriboga of Ecuador told the U.N. at a recent session, and he is right.

For those of us challenging countries around the world and here at home to ensure basic human rights, we must no longer neglect or forget persons with disabilities in our call for proper treatment and dignity for all people.

Worldwide, persons with disabilities of all sorts face not only a variety of everyday challenges, but also the horrific challenge of living in places in which their basic human rights are often not protected or else blatantly violated by laws and practices.

Indeed, looking around the world (and even here at home) at some of the atrocious and discriminatory laws proves why a stronger emphasis on ensuring the rights for the disabled is needed so desperately.

The National Council on Disability, in a paper published for a conference in 2002, reported a variety of scenarios in which discrimination against persons with disabilities was systemic and legalized. In Thailand, for instance, the Council notes that the Constitutional Court banned people with disabilities from becoming judicial officials. In Honduras, laws prevent persons with disabilities from teaching. In Germany, after a court awarded money to complainants who said sharing a hotel with disabled guests ruined their holiday, hotels are now leery to book disabled travelers.

Amnesty International reported last year that in Albania, a Family Code amendment was passed that barred marriage rights to people with certain mental or physical disabilities. Under this law, people suffering from schizophrenia, manic-depression (bipolar disorder), or congenital blood diseases (amongst other things) are not allowed to marry. This law even extends to people suffering from HIV/AIDS. In order to marry, says Amnesty International, medical certificates proving that potential spouses do not suffer from any of the particular disabilities must be presented. In many places, voting rights are denied to persons with disabilities, as are employment rights.

Beside denial of rights such as these, in many places persons with disabilities are declared incompetent to take care of themselves by the law and shuttled off to inadequate and often inhumane facilities to "keep them out of the way."

In Bulgaria, for instance, Irene Khan of Amnesty International found just such a situation, in which residents were little more than prisoners, held in long, dank corridors with little care. The rooms of disabled children were locked down, and they weren't even provided with toys. The restrooms at one facility detailed by Khan had not been cleaned for a long period of time, and indeed neither had any of the residents received hygienic treatment. With laws regarding the rights of disabled persons as they are (particularly the mentally disabled in Bulgaria) many of the people in the facility Khan visited had been "abandoned by society with nothing to do and nothing to hope for... excluded from society on a basis of a diagnosis which are questionable, founded on assumptions which are outdated and seldom reassessed," Khan quotes a consulting psychiatrist as saying.

As America struggles to fulfill the promises made by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which the National Council on Disabilities considers woefully slow and ill-defended by law, we must work to ensure that the human rights of persons with disabilities are no longer put on the backburner or ignored in the larger debate. Persons with disabilities should not be made to suffer degrading treatment, discrimination, exclusion or any other affront to their basic human dignity. As the U.N. committee meets on this important topic this week, we should work to raise our voices and remind everyone that human rights for disabled persons is an essential topic.

As Justin Dart said during the National Council of Disability's 2002 convention, "we must give up business as usual and fight as if the lives of billions depended on it, because they do."

(C) 2005 Rocky Mountain Collegian via U-WIRE

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