John Osterlind- The Mentally Handicapped Making Fun of The Physically Handicapped

Feb 4, 2010 by

So the other day there was evidently a protest on St. Charles Ave. A protest about the lack of disabled access for the streetcars. As should be no surprise many of the people out there were wheelchair bound, something I can relate to. You see I spent a good deal of my youth in leg braces, on crutches, and in a wheelchair. You might say I’m a bit invested in the issue even though I’ve been running around under my own power since Children’s Hospital fixed my legs.

John Osterlind could use a few weeks in a wheelchair. WRNO’s snarky little pundit delivered the following wonderful diatribe about the demonstration, so let’s start there:

So the streetcar is older than “handicapped people,” eh? That one is so stupid as to not even require a response.

“Give ’em a chain or rope and have them tie it to the back bumper, Brewster.” Charming, just charming.

Mr. Osterlind, your sort of primitive worldview is something New Orleans does not have any need of. Obviously you have no relatives that are wheelchair bound, nor do you seem to have any conception of what it entails to be disabled (physically that is, your mental handicaps are glaringly obvious).

It must be mighty freeing to have no sympathy for those less fortunate than yourself. I’m sure it takes an amazing weigh off of your shoulders. Of course it often seems that those who have not undergone trials in their lives are the ones with the least ability to empathize.

The view of the world while sitting in a wheelchair is radically different. The things that others take for granted often take a great deal of effort and are many times beyond your reach. People tend to grin nervously as they try to hide the fact that you make them uncomfortable.  Any trip beyond the house is fraught with extra logistics and concerns, and the time it takes is much longer. These are the little things, the day to day things that you get used to. Much like the places that you cannot go, which is why these protesters were mobilized.

Now I don’t pretend to know how possible it is to refit the streetcars, which are on the historic register and so cannot, in all probability, be changed. What I do know is that there is no venue appropriate for remarks like Osterlind’s. Frankly I don’t believe he should be on the air bloviating and spreading his bile, but it is a free country. By the same token you, dear readers, are also free. Free to call WRNO and let them know this is unacceptable. Free to blog about this hate speech and stir up the trouble Osterlind so richly deserves.

When I hear this tripe it makes me think back to the late 1970s,  to the year at Children’s Hospital where the only parade I saw was Toth (because they  go by the hospitals on their route). It makes me think of all the others who did not have the advantage of experimental surgery. It reminds me of when my life was like this:

Osterlind, you are a wonderful example of everything that is wrong with the ranting right these days.  May your career be short and end with scandal.

If you would like to tell this moron what you think of streetcars being older than handicapped people, or any of his other pithy comments please contact WRNO directly. I think complaints to the program director might be a good place to start…. [ EDIT: Paul Greenberg from Greenberg Rants suggests the following direct email addy for the station’s general manager: [email protected] -Loki]

-Loki,  HumidCity Founder

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  1. George! I will never, in my entire life, ever be able to bring anything but the picture of you and that cow, Elsie, into my mind when someone mentions you. Why does she have Sid Vicious chain and padlock on her head? Was she pre-punk? Did Sid steal her style?

  2. It was ’79 so no.

  3. “Now I don’t pretend to know how possible it is to refit the streetcars, which are on the historic register and so cannot, in all probability, be changed.”

    Perhaps it went unnoticed or ignored, but the protest involved a request to trade out a couple of Street Cars with the Canal Street line, which have handicap accessible lifts already in place.
    This would seem to be a rather easy fix.

    But then, New Orleans City Hall is a shit pile of thieves and pimps.
    On a good day.

    John Osterlind will no doubt be found murdered one day, his body riddled with wheel chair tracks & crutch marks of every description.

    Or maybe just tied to the Street Car tracks…

  4. i understand the protest and i can see where these folks are coming from. my oldest son was involved in a tragic snowboarding accident a month ago and lost half his leg. i’m sure he’ll have the same issues that these protesters have with the streetcars. what bothered me about this whole event were the folks who were riding the car and were held up because of it. they didn’t ask to be part of this, yet they had to sit there till it was all cleared. now this may sound petty, but if it were you and you had an appointment or somewhere important to go it may seem very different.
    all i’m saying is maybe the protesters should have given that some thought beforehand.

  5. EasyDog

    Just take a couple of the red cars and paint them green. It can’t be that hard.

    You’d think , after the events of 2005, we would have developed a better collective sense of empathy for our neighbors. This “shut up and die” attitude towards the handicapped is really disturbing.

  6. Yeah, David, its a pretty easy fix and there’s really no reason I can think of why it can’t be done. At very least its a reasonable request.

    And maybe I ‘m missing something here but isn’t there a better venue for getting this done? I mean, protesting is “so last century”. Is it that hard to get city council to address the issue? I think actually stopping the streetcars worked against the cause. It certainly made them appear less sympathetic and more intrusive. I was aware of the protest and the Elvi were encouraged to attend, but I didn’t know they were planning on shutting down the line. Maybe it was a last minute decision. I dunno.

  7. Since the Protest Organizer is also a very minor mayoral candidate and full time stand up comedian, perhaps these ‘protest’ decisions were rash, and not the best way to deal with a city government.
    And I agree Termite, that innocent people were largely inconvenienced, which kind of quashes any empathy for the protesters.

    It would also seem to me that switching out a couple of street cars (the protesters asked for two) would be required by the ADA.

    Again, we see the City of New Orleans miss a simple point of human decency, one well connected not only to our recovery, but in wooing all those tourist dollars we hear about so much.

    Perhaps they were busy finding legal precedent for Mayor Nagin to bill his Super Bowl Get Away to the city, meaning the taxpayers, meaning us.

    He is after all, going to be well over two years in to being Ex-Mayor Nagin by the time the NFL comes to visit in 2013.

    Does ESPN come to the federal penitentiary?

  8. To be honest I find protests to be fairly useless. What is usually needed is concerted effort not protest. That was not what I meant to address here, that’s all just more NOLA political theater we can disect later.

    It’s this feeble approximation of a man getting paid to spout this sort of crap on the air. How far is it from s certain sportscaster who got canned recently for using the phrase “nappy headed” ?

  9. It’s a given that John Osterlind is a bigoted moron.

    Didn’t this same station broadcast Limbaugh’s remarks about Katrina being handled very well by the Bush Administration, while New Orleanians were to blame for any ‘problems’?

    These people are now, and forever will be, cretinous assholes.

    I suggest shooting your AM Radio several times with a very large caliber weapon, and dancing around in a Saints Cheerleader’s outfit.

    Oh, wait….

  10. Actually, the St Charles Line was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 in order to prevent NOPSI from replacing it with a bus line. This means that whoever owns the Line (then NOPSI, now the RTA) must maintain it exactly as it was when added to the list. This is why the RTA refers all complaints about wheelchair access to the Department of the Interior.

    The sad truth is probably that the RTA doesn’t want to lose out on all that pretty green grant money and tax incentives if the NRHP decides that the new cars violate their criteria. See, it’s not the cars, but the entire Line which is on the Register. It’s a moronic stance by the RTA simply because they won’t even ask if the change can be made.

    Jonah Bascle’s plan is simplicity in itself. Move a few wheelchair accessible cars from the Canal and Riverfront Lines to the St Charles Line and presto!, zero-cost solution! The current WA cars are actually cars from the St Charles line which were re-fitted for ADA compliance on the newer Lines. The Willow Street barn does all the fabrication and upkeep so there’s no need for any new cars, contracts, hiring, etc. The only thing standing in the way is the RTA.

    And Loki, you know CH had nothing to do with your recovery. It was Elsie’s Magic Nose! (Note: That would have been much funnier and obscure had you not added the article. I still have my shirt!)

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