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Controversial Singer appearance Oct. 5 divides disability activists
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Oct. 2, 2001 -- This Friday, Oct. 5, bioethicist Peter Singer will appear at the fall conference of the New Hampshire Governor's Commission on Disability, facing such well-known disability rights figures as Wellesley bioethicist Adrienne Asch, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner Paul Steven Miller and's John Kemp, former head of VSA.

The fact that Singer is appearing at all -- the fact that he was invited -- has cause a rift within the disability rights movement, with those like Governor's Commission director Michael Jenkins insisting that it is time for the disability community to confront Singer arguing with those like Not Dead Yet members who insist that inviting Singer to what is a disability forum is no different than "the NAACP inviting a prominent representative of the Ku Klux Klan to debate at a civil rights conference."

In the first story on the protests, in the Aug. 24 New Hampshire Union-Leader, State House Bureau Chief Tom Fahey reported that "Not Dead Yet, a national activist group based in Forest Park, Ill., said the invitation to Singer was appalling." ( )

An Aug. 29 press conference on the controversy was reported by a number of news outlets; in a story appearing in the Concord (NH) Citizen, Associated Press writer Holly Ramer wrote that Commission director Michael Jenkins had issued a challenge to Singer that "You need to face the people whom you've chosen to degrade" (story online at The New Hampshire Union-Leader's coverage of the press conference is at

When the Concord Monitor published an Aug. 30 editorial supportive of Singer's appearance ("Let him speak," online at ), several letters protesting Singer's appearance followed, including a response from Not Dead Yet research director Stephen Drake (online at -- other letters are online at and ).

A long, un-bylined story in the Sunday, Sept. 23 Concord Monitor (online at interviews Singer and Wellesley bioethicist Adrienne Asch, one of the panelists who will confront Singer.

"Although Singer is best known for his work on animal liberation, it is important to understand the consequences of his ethical theories for people with disabilities," writes Ragged Edge contributor Cal Montgomery, "especially since he argues that our lives are not always worth protecting." (Read "A Defense of Genocide: The Views of Peter Singer," from the July/Aug. 1999 Ragged Edge, online at ) Read more about the long-running Peter Singer controversy within the disability rights movement at Inclusion Daily Express ( )

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