Friday, 22 May 2009

Tribute to A Different Denmark

Or: Cut off their legs and feed them heroin. They are embarrassing us!

Back in December 2008, I published an entry Some highly non-PC musings on sport at my style blog, from which I take an excerpt that seems now to be eerily clairvoyant regarding the current political climate.

I stated back then that I am more than just a bit sceptical about exclusive competitions for the disabled. I thought and I think they are abortive attempts at egalitarianism and a politically correct impertinence imposed on the sport-watching public. I want to know how fast the fastest of able-bodied men can run and I think it's a thrill to watch. I don't want to know how fast a man with one leg can run and I don't want to watch him at such an excrutiating exploit either. Besides, it creates virtual ghettoes and denies that handicapped people can, in certain sports, compete successfully against able-bodied competitors.

The medallists of the individual dressage: Lis HARTEL from Denmark on Jubilee, Silver, Henri SAINT CYR from Sweden on July, Gold, and Liselott LINSENHOFF from Germany on Adular, Bronze.
Credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections

On June 16, 1956 at Stockholm, Sweden, a woman from Denmark won the silver medal in Olympic dressage at the second Olympic Games where women were allowed to compete in this sport ever. Lis Hartel was paralysed by polio below the knees. Even though she could only walk with the aid of a stick and had to be helped on and off her horse, she won the silver medal and repeated her performance four years later at the Rome Olympics. Nowadays, she'd be confined to compete at freak shows for the sake of political correctness. Justice must prevail and we have gone a long way towards downlevelling equality.

My entry ended there. However, it is obvious, that there is still an even longer way to go ahead of us and we are all following it without demur.

Correction: Lis Hartel had won Silver 1952 in Helsinki already, so THIS was her repeat performance. My apologies for this mistake.