From Not Dead Yet: For More Info, Go Here…
On this day, April 27, 24 years ago, I was at a national disability rights conference in Dallas. ADAPT organizer Bob Kafka called out to me and said, “I’ve got a name for your group,” a group that increasingly seemed to be needed to combat the growing public sentiment that disabled people are better off dead (and society is better off without us). The name Bob suggested was “Not Dead Yet”, based on a running gag in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. On that day, over 40 disability leaders (Justin Dart, Judy Heumann, Marca Bristo and more) signed on to testimony I would give at a Congressional subcommittee hearing two days later. Not Dead Yet had begun.
Today, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the plague scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail hits painfully close to home, as an older man is thrown on a dead body cart, protesting he’s “not dead” – yet. Today, we’re seeing countless medical triage policies that would literally throw older and disabled people away. Never has the need to fight for our lives been more urgent.
Our name has a bit of humor as well as a bite to it. Sometimes disability humor can be dark. So, on NDY’s 24th Anniversary, we share the plague scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail and quote disability humorist John Callahan (1951 – 2010) who said, “Comedy is the main weapon we have against ‘The Horror.’ With it we can strike a blow against death itself.”
[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a medieval village during the Black Death, men in rags pushing a wooden cart through mud, as one man bangs a pot and calls “Bring out your dead!” Then a young man brings an older man, we assume his father, thrown over his shoulder, but the old man says “I’m not dead” – yet. After a back and forth, the pot banger clubs the old man in the head, and the young man throws him on the cart, and thanks the pot banger for his help.]