to think that Chris Huhne's son was very wrong to call him 'autistic'

(358 Posts)
Sallyingforth Mon 04-Feb-13 17:03:34

He is may be an unpleasant creature but that word should never be used as an insult.
order-order.com/2013/02/04/peter-huhnes-texts-to-lying-father/

DameMargotFountain Mon 04-Feb-13 18:12:02

people on the autistic spectrum are exactly that, on a spectrum

there are traits, and these are grouped into a triad - to be 'autistic' a person must 'tick a box' in all 3 of these areas

this might help

i know the <facepalm> was dimissive, i've been having a terrible time with people asking me, to justify almost, my DDs disability.

I shouldn't have to do that, she's had a team of doctors do that for me.

Spero Mon 04-Feb-13 18:15:20

I know words are important but they aren't the alpha and omega. Using disability as an insult seems perfectly logical to me - being disabled is shit and is going to get way more shitter once more services fold. People who aren't disabled don't get it - why should they? I have no idea what its like to be blind or deaf.

I would rather more education, attempts to engage than frothing about words, particularly the ones uttered by this man in these horrible circs.

GetOrf Mon 04-Feb-13 18:15:26

Ouch Sally - that part where you say that someone reaches inside to think of the worst insult they can think of and it is autism (can't c and p as on crap phone) - that is a really eloquent way of describing how hurtful that must have been to read.

Really hurtful that autism is the latest in a long line of illnesses and disabilities which are used as insults.

I totally agree he was wrong to use that word, and can also understand rhat he wasn't thinking straight and in the pit of misery probably when he sent that to his father. But still. It's a hideous word to use, and especially when thinking of the most harmful thing to say. I do feel for him in having his provate texts now in the public domain, but also feel incredibly sad for those people with autism and relatives of who have to read that.

CommunistLegoBloc Mon 04-Feb-13 18:15:48

That worries me, Betty. Yeah, he's an angry young man. But substitute the word 'autistic' for 'spaz', 'retard' or 'mong'. Would you still not have noticed it? Autism is the new buzzword for disabilists.

What about if he'd used a racially offensive term? Would you still not have noticed it? Or excused it because he was angry?

It's never okay to call somebody disabled as an insult. Never. It scares me that you, and others, thought it wasn't 'noticeable.'

Spero Mon 04-Feb-13 18:17:09

DameMargot well of course you shouldn't have to justify your daughter's disability, you have my full permission to do whatever you like to THEM.

limitedperiodonly Mon 04-Feb-13 18:23:48

It's important to discuss things like this. People don't know. They often don't think.

You're right hecate. Peter Huhne was wrong and one day we might not reach for 'autistic' as an insult.

I didn't like the bald way the OP was phrased given that he was in such pain which is surely not that hard to imagine.

But it's been modified. So peace and love.

Casmama Mon 04-Feb-13 18:25:51

I disagree with Betty, the word autistic jumped right out at me. I wonder if it is a generational thing- I'm 33 and don't know anyone in my age group who would use these sorts of insults.

Spero Mon 04-Feb-13 18:29:34

People DONT think. That doesn't make them monsters. The word 'autistic' didn't jump out at me either - the word 'gimp' probably would have.

DameMargotFountain Mon 04-Feb-13 18:31:16

see, i think it's wrong that we accept the 'new disability on the block' as the new insult.

it's the acceptance that ANY disability is used as a insult that proves we've not moved on at all.

haters are still hating

DameMargotFountain Mon 04-Feb-13 18:32:49

and i think that DOES make them out to be lesser people, Spero

humans aren't born hating, they are taught

Spero Mon 04-Feb-13 18:34:09

Yes we have moved on. We don't stone disabled people or shove them in institutions to die anymore.

But it is naive to think that your average abled bodied NT person is full of understanding and empathy. They are also on a 'spectrum' - from the hateful, deliberate attack to the thoughtless and witless. I do think it is important to try to distinguish.

BettySuarez Mon 04-Feb-13 18:34:32

I'm not saying that it was an acceptable word to use. It absolutely is not and I can see why it would be incredibly offensive for some/most people.

But for me it didn't stand out. I honestly don't know why.

Which is why this thread is so important. It has made me think (and others I'm sure)

Apologies if my earlier post seemed a little ill-thought out, I wanted to reply but the cooker was buzzing! smile

BettySuarez Mon 04-Feb-13 18:37:09

casmama if I had heard the word spoken I would have been very shocked but written down, it didn't seem to jump out.

It could be a generational thing though. I am considerably older a few years older than you smile

Icedcakeandflower Mon 04-Feb-13 18:38:19

Sometimes when someone's guard is down, and veneers are exposed, like the son's has here, their prejudices show.

This is why his use of a disability cannot be excused; it is because he is so upset that he's let his prejudice show.

I'm leaving this thread now :-(

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 04-Feb-13 18:41:40

There is nothing that could make such language not unacceptable. I'm very disappointed that the Graun redacted presumably nasty language about Huhne's current partner in its reporting, but left in the use of disablist insulting. Disappointed but not surprised.

Spero Mon 04-Feb-13 18:41:40

I agree to some extent that people are taught to hate but I also think there is an understandable fear of what is different or damaged. My mum worked with very seriously disabled children when I was little - I once went into work with her and remember being horrified and scared. She hadn't taught me to 'hate' - far from it - but a little boy with severe hydrocephalus was a scarey sight to an 8 year old.

DameMargotFountain Mon 04-Feb-13 18:43:19

Spero, some of modern society has moved on in the way you're describing, but within that, disabled people are still excluded used as objects of ridicule

institutions still exist, you know?

ThePathanKhansWitch Mon 04-Feb-13 18:44:24

Yanbu, it was a hateful thing to say.
Just symptomatic, I think, of wider acceptance of hatred towards the disabled. Very hurtful.

HecateWhoopass Mon 04-Feb-13 18:45:14

You know, I am reminded of the thread about a children's rhyme.

eeny meeny miney mo
and what do we say for the rest of it
apparently, it was once a racist rhyme. I don't know what the word was, but I can guess.

Once upon a time, that word was clearly so unremarkable, that people thought nothing of making it part of a children's rhyme to pick who's 'it'.

If I inserted that word into a sentence in my post here, I bet it would leap out at everyone and all would be shocked that i thought it was ok.

That's where we need to be with words that are used as insults because they indicate disability.

Spero Mon 04-Feb-13 18:45:38

I am well aware disabled people are objects of ridicule. Have been for 43 years now.

Yes institutions still exist but equally we have moved very far on from even 20 years ago.

DameMargotFountain Mon 04-Feb-13 18:47:08

so Spero we should not stop challenging because things are 'better', never settle for 'better than they were'

Spero Mon 04-Feb-13 18:48:13

But you have hit on the nub of the problem Hecate. The black power movement could show that being black was beautiful, being black was nothing to be ashamed of. But being disabled is different. It is generally unpleasant and limiting to be disabled. I am not sure what the disabled movement can do to have the same power and impact of the anti racism movement.

Just like you say, keep plugging on. Every disabled person is someone's daughter, someone's son.

Spero Mon 04-Feb-13 18:50:19

I am not saying stop challenging because things are marginally less shit than in 1950. What I am saying is dont lose sight of what has been achieved - I was in Romania in 1991 and that was an eye opener - 3 disabled adults chained to a bed.

We have moved on and it will get better - if we direct our actions to where they will be most effective. Consistent education, not calling people out as haters when I really don't think they are.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Mon 04-Feb-13 18:52:32

When I read this article, I just feel so sad and worried for my DS.
He is on the spectrum, makes me never want to let him out of the house sad life is hard enough for him as it is. So sad.

AmberLeaf Mon 04-Feb-13 18:53:13

Yes the worst part of it is that he was so angry and that was the worst thing he could think of.

Also, saying something in the heat of the moment is a bit different from typing and pressing send.

The hurtful thing is that he sees 'autistic' as meaning something really really bad.

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