Smart Ass Cripple: Let Joe Biden Stutter

Until recently, I had no idea that Joe Biden stuttered. And that’s a shame.

Now I admit that I don’t pay much attention to Biden. Life is too short. I figure I’ve pretty much heard what he has to say, at least when it comes to politics. I consider him to be a corporate Democrat with a stale way of looking at things and I doubt I’m going to hear him say anything that will make me feel otherwise.

But it’s too bad that everyone who has heard Biden speak even in passing isn’t well aware that he stutters. It’s too bad that he can’t freely speak like he naturally speaks, without the stupid stigma that stutterers face.

Biden has spoken openly about his lifelong stutter previously. But a recent article about the former Vice President and his stuttering that appeared in The Atlantic has brought the issue to the forefront. In the profile, Biden talks about when he was in fifth grade and a nun mocked his stutter as he tried to recite sentences aloud in class. The shame he felt from this humiliation and others drove him to “overcome” his stutter by painstakingly mastering techniques and strategies to help him speak clearly. 

I feel sorry for Biden—not because he stutters, but because he’s had to waste so much time and energy throughout his life pretending like he doesn’t.

That’s what our culture does to people with disabilities in general. We are made to feel that if we want to be taken seriously, we have to do whatever we can to “overcome” our disabilities. In other words, we have to hide our disabilities as best as we can so that others won’t feel uncomfortable and will “accept” us as equals. We can’t be equal and disabled, too.

I feel sorry for Biden—not because he stutters,  but because he’s had to waste so much time and energy throughout his life pretending like he doesn’t.

Take the 2010 movie, The King’s Speech, which won the Oscar for best motion picture. It told the story of England’s Prince Albert, who unexpectedly became King George VI in 1936 after his brother suddenly abdicated the throne. George VI stutters, which is his central conflict in the movie because as king he has to do a lot of public speaking, including a crucial wartime radio broadcast on Britain’s declaration of war on Germany in 1939. The fate of the world relies on him not stuttering. But never fear: George VI works hard with a speech therapist and he nails the radio address.

It was important that the voice of the British citizens at this time be strong and resolute toward the enemy and inspire confidence in the British people. And no one who stuttered could do that.

That’s ridiculous. Just because George VI couldn’t express himself in a manner that was traditionally pleasing to the ear didn’t mean he wasn’t up for the job. But he wasn’t in a position to challenge the misconception that equates disability with weakness and incompetence by being who he was. So he had to acquiesce to stigma,  thus giving it the false credence that perpetuates it.

Biden’s story shows things haven’t changed much. Wouldn’t it be great if Biden could speak like he naturally speaks and we all took the time to listen? Then we could tune him out for the right reasons.

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Mike Ervin | Radio Free (2021-06-22T01:23:09+00:00) » Smart Ass Cripple: Let Joe Biden Stutter. Retrieved from https://www.radiofree.org/2020/01/29/smart-ass-cripple-let-joe-biden-stutter/.
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" » Smart Ass Cripple: Let Joe Biden Stutter." Mike Ervin | Radio Free - Accessed 2021-06-22T01:23:09+00:00. https://www.radiofree.org/2020/01/29/smart-ass-cripple-let-joe-biden-stutter/
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" » Smart Ass Cripple: Let Joe Biden Stutter." Mike Ervin | Radio Free [Online]. Available: https://www.radiofree.org/2020/01/29/smart-ass-cripple-let-joe-biden-stutter/. [Accessed: 2021-06-22T01:23:09+00:00]
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» Smart Ass Cripple: Let Joe Biden Stutter | Mike Ervin | Radio Free | https://www.radiofree.org/2020/01/29/smart-ass-cripple-let-joe-biden-stutter/ | 2021-06-22T01:23:09+00:00
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