Monday, June 20, 2011

Political Correctness Enters Discussion Of Special Needs Boy Who Fell Out Of The Rear Exit Of A School Bus In Salt Lake City

A mishap which could have been a fatal tragedy took place in Salt Lake City on June 20th, 2011, and we have some joker in the KSL comments section lecturing us on what words we should use to described disabled people. Amazing how political correctness can contaminate a discussion and obfuscate more important issues.

Here's what happened, gleaned from KSL and KSTU and the Salt Lake Tribune. A school bus carrying six special needs students and two adults was proceeding eastbound on I-80 near 2000 East. The students are enrolled in a four-week summer program at the Hartvigsen School for medically fragile and severely disabled students. Since the bus is not air-conditioned, all the windows were open, which increased traffic noise. As the bus was approaching the southbound I-215 turnoff, a 17-year-old boy attempted to exit through the back door. The buzzer sounded, but because of the traffic noise, the driver didn't hear it. The attendant heard the buzzer, but when she looked in that direction, the momentum of the bus turning onto I-215 had swung it shut again.

Suspicious nonetheless, the attendant walked toward the back to check on the boy, and found the door ajar -- and no boy. She immediately notified the driver, who pulled over straightaway. It's estimated the time interval from when teen fell to the time the bus pulled over was no more than 90 seconds at maximum.

Video Courtesy of

The boy had fallen out of the back of the bus onto a busy freeway. Miraculously, he was not struck by a vehicle; a motorist who spotted the boy in a travel lane on I-80 stopped and called 911 around 11:30 A.M. The boy suffered road rash and several lacerations, but no broken bones; he was taken to Primary Children's Medical Center.

Students riding on the bus are required to wear seat belts, either on seats or while in a wheelchair. As part of district policy, the bus driver and attendant have been put on leave pending the completion of the investigation, and the driver has also been tested for drugs.

Some good discussions have broken out in the comments section of the media sites. However, one person introduced political correctness into the discussion:

bradylk posted 12 hours ago:
This is a horible situation and my thoughts and prayers go out to the boy, the family of the boy and all others who were on the bus at the time. I would like to encourage everyone to use "People First" language, which means the person first and their disability second. In short, we should never identify someone by their disability, they should be identified as themself. Everyone deserves this respect and this rule applies for everything to include, gender, race, ethnic background and disability. Example: I have worked with children with disabilities for five years, rather than saying: I have worked with disabled children for five years. Another example: I have a son who is autistic rather than sayining I have an autistic son. Just another way we can educate others and share that deserved respect. Thank you.

Give me a break! A kid falls out of a speeding school bus, and this joker can only bother to lecture us on what we should call disabled kids? Do you think they really care what they're called, or do they care more about how they're treated? Besides, aren't we also taught that the three most critical attributes of communication are Accuracy, Brevity, and Clarity? "Children with disabilities" is three words; "disabled children" is two words.

People First of Utah does have a website, and yes, they're a full-blown cult with speech rules. They have an exhaustive list of words they don't want us to use to described disabled people. Some of the words they frown on, such as "cripple" and "mongoloid", probably shouldn't be used. But there's absolutely nothing wrong with the remaining words, and their suggested rules of use are utterly Talmudic.

What's really needed here is for the Granite School District to upgrade all their buses and make the rear exit alarms louder.

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