Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

RIP Harriet McBride Johnson

Sad news. Harriet McBride Johnson, attorney, author, and disability rights activists, has died at the age of 50. Like many people, I was familiar with Ms. Johnson mainly through her writings. Her book, Too Late to Die Young, is a wonderful collection of essays about various events in her life: protesting Reagan and Jerry Lewis, arguing with Peter Singer about whether it ought to be legal to kill people like her, running for City Counsel in Charleston, South Carolina on a platform of gun control, abortion rights, and the right to burn the American flag. And so on. As the trite saying goes, I didn’t always agree with what she had to say, but she wrote with clarity and grace, which is about all one has the right to expect from an author. She will be greatly missed.

For those interested in getting a “taste” of Harriet’s writings, here is her recounting of her confrontation with Peter Singer, here is an essay she wrote about “the Disability Gulag,” and here is one about Terri Schiavo.


June 5, 2008 - Posted by | People


  1. Harriet’s 51st birthday would have been this coming Tuesday, July 8. We’ll be gathering at the piano bar at Charleston Place, at 5pm to raise a toast to a magnificant missing friend. I know few of you can be here in Charleston with us but if have thoughts you’d like shared I’d be honored to convey them.

    Sincere regards,


    John R. Polito
    (843) 849-9721

    Comment by John R. Polito | July 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. I am speaking to the Green Fair today at Marion Square. I believe the bottom line purpose of the fair is to help us improve our quality of life and to empower and educate us to improve the quality of life for others today and for our children, grandchildren and their grandchildren tomorrow. Harriet, though I did not know her well, showed me that you determine the quality of your life. In her case, she carved a life she loved that touched others so powerfully. So today, I am dedicating my talk to her memory.


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