Mocking PWDs is not cool
"Treat everyone as you would like to be treated."
In this day of social media, followers, and likes, it’s cool to go viral, but not for the wrong reasons, as a group of young people discovered to their dismay. A video was posted recently of ‘Zar’ in a wheelchair, making grimaces and uttering guttural sounds, obviously making fun of a person with a speech or cognitive disability. A girl was pushing him, another was walking close beside them taking video. There were a couple of other people also filming. All were laughing at Zar’s antics. Many netizens, some of them non-Filipinos, were indignant, and rightfully so. @MokaToot empathized in her tweet: “Never pa ako nakakaencounter ng taong may ganitong disability pero I know kung gaano kahirap yung pinagdaanan nung pwd at parents nun. Mocking them isn't a way to make people laugh.” Others pointed to Zar’s companions as equally culpable. “Don’t forget to cancel his friends too,” said @TaeWill20. “They just as guilty for taking part and laughing.” Zar and his friends might not have expected the number of negative comments they received, but what’s worse is that they were doxxed and apparently messages were sent to their places of work, urging that they be fired. Messages were sent to Zar’s parents as well, along the lines of ‘we know you didn’t raise him to be that way.’ As a consequence of Zar and friends’ behavior, the internet response was harsh. But that is how the internet calls out and shames violators of social norms. This isn’t the only recent case of netizens poking fun at the disabled. The other day a PWD’s graduation photo was being jeered at online. Disparaging and hurtful comments were made about his appearance. This person graduated from a public university in Mindanao with a degree in secondary education major in Mathematics and is probably smarter than many of his detractors, who wouldn’t know what a quadratic equation was if it bit them in the leg. The right of PWDs to live free of hurtful derision is protected by Republic Act No. 9442 (amending RA 7277, the Magna Carta of Disabled Persons). It provides against public ridicule, which it defines as “an act of making fun or contemptuous imitating or making mockery of persons with disability whether in writing, or in words, or in action due to their impairment/s.”