A tribute to famed scientist Stephen Hawking in the wake of his death has been slammed by some as an example of being “ableist.”
Actress Gal Gadot, the star of “Wonder Woman,” was one of millions of people to post tributes to Hawking after his death on Wednesday at age 76.
“Rest in peace Dr. Hawking,” Gadot wrote in a tweet. “Now you’re free of any physical constraints. Your brilliance and wisdom will be cherished forever.”
But people with disabilities and some of their advocates took issue with the “physical constraints” portion, believing that the assertion was discriminating against people with disabilities. Some refer to this as being “ableist.”
Rest in peace Dr. Hawking. Now you're free of any physical constraints.. Your brilliance and wisdom will be cherished forever ✨ pic.twitter.com/EQzSxqNTuN
— Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) March 14, 2018
I think you’re fantastic Gal but this tweet is very ableist. His physical constraints didn’t stop him from changing the world. People with disabilities don’t wish for death to be free of their challenges. We wish to be valued for what we CAN do, not pitied for we can’t.
— Adam B. Zimmerman (@ABZimm) March 14, 2018
Hawking spent the majority of his life in a wheelchair after becoming afflicted with ALS at the age of 21.
“I think you’re fantastic Gal but this tweet is very ableist. His physical constraints didn’t stop him from changing the world. People with disabilities don’t wish for death to be free of their challenges. We wish to be valued for what we CAN do, not pitied for we can’t,” wrote one Twitter user.
“He will always be remembered for his brilliance and humor despite his physical condition. I must disagree however, with a mind like his, he had no physical constants. He took trips through space, time and dimensions that we could not even imagine. May he Rest In Peace,” wrote yet another.
Hawking wrote in his memoir, published in 2013, that ALS was a great motivating factor in his life.
“Before my condition was diagnosed, I had been very bored with life. There had not seemed to be anything worth doing,” he wrote. “I suddenly realized that there were a lot of worthwhile things I could do if I was reprieved.”
You had a good go at it..thanks for your input pic.twitter.com/iCyAe1zuN0
— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) March 14, 2018
I know that people are not sharing this image to be ableist, but please remember that it ties into the rhetoric of “Stephen Hawking is now free of his wheelchair now that he is dead”. This is highly problematic since it reinforces the “better dead than disabled” trope. pic.twitter.com/08csp8Ml1d
— Derek Newman-Stille (@DNewmanStille) March 15, 2018
Gadot was not the only person who was slammed for her tribute to Hawking.
Actress Kirstie Alley posted a picture of Hawking and captioned it, “You had a good go at it … thanks for your input.”
Twitter users slammed the sentiment, with one saying, “Seriously? This is how you talk about the greatest mind ever?”
And cartoonist Mitchell Toy was criticized for a drawing he made in tribute to Hawking that showed the scientist standing apart from his wheelchair.
Yet some defended Gadot’s post.
“This world is way too politically correct! It’s a beautiful tweet, Gal. If we choose to argue about everything people say, no one will say anything at all for fear of exactly this,” posted one user.
This world is way too politically correct! It's a beautiful tweet, Gal. If we choose to argue about everything people say, no one will say anything at all for fear of exactly this.
— Dorian Louis (@DorianLouis1847) March 15, 2018