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© 2008, Humboldt State University

Abstract

The extremely well-known holiday television special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is deconstructed to expose an underlying philosophical paradigm towards people, especially children, with disabilities that is mechanistic and utilitarian. This paradigm includes a static and over-determined view of any disability a person may have, and can be erroneously supported by a philosophy of “radical freedom.” Examples of this philosophy of disability as applied to the K-12 realm of special education are also provided, showing how the lessons learned from the children’s movie are mirrored in the static conceptualization of the notion of disability in the general society and educational system.

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