Ellen L. Barton's article "Textual Practices of Erasure: Representations of Disability and the Founding of the United Way" has a very noble cause: unmask and denounce rhetoric that negatively alters our perceptions of the disabled. Barton says this rhetoric uses pity and fear to "evoke readers' feelings of good fortune, their suppressed fears of vulnerability, and their pride in American values and institutions" (195). Although campaigns operating this way (for example the United Way's) are most often successful, Barton cautions that it "regularly diminishes the experience of the people with disabilities and ultimately diminishes the understanding of disability by society at large" (195).
I absolutely agree with Barton in this respect; she provides a variety of campaign posters/articles that exaggerate the negative condition of the handicapped in order to amplify some effect on the reader.
The rhetoric used to obtain support and money for the disabled is done so in a degenerative way, rarely championing their self-respect and enduring personalities. HOWEVER, my disagreement with Barton concerns what degree this is wrong. Yes, exploiting a child with polio as a poster scare tactic is wrong; amplifying disability to a level that generates crass stereotypes is wrong. Yet.. at what cost? If the united way's tactics ultimately generate more money to help these individuals through this form of rhetoric, is it wrong? Being an american, and knowing the lax degree of concern most americans have for most causes, I feel campaigns that use pity and fear are a well needed kick in the ass to spur the apathetic to action. Much like our discussion concerning changing Truth's original dialogue, does ultimate honesty always yield the best results? In terms of "the beautiful lie" do the ends justify the means?