The Way That It Doesn’t Work

Is there anyone who seriously disagrees that the “friend argument” is rubbish?

This, for the untutoured, is when someone attempts to extract themselves from accusations of bigotry by claiming that “some of their best friends” belong to the category in question. Thus, they can’t really be racist/homophobic/cissexist/anti-semitic because, presumably, if they were, they wouldn’t bother associating themselves with people who are black/gay/trans/Jewish.

It doesn’t work, and I think that, by this point in time, almost everyone understands that it doesn’t work to the point where one rarely sees it used in media other than as a punchline.

But can we agree, then, that if the “friend” argument doesn’t work, the “child” argument certainly doesn’t either?

More particularly, masochist that I am, yesterday I was reading through the comments on that horrible Op-Ed that was published in the Digital Journal a few days ago, which argued that American conservatives were behaving in an ‘autistic’ manner. To my great relief (and to my even greater surprise) the great majority of the comments were people calling the author out for his ableist bullshit–which I interpret as being a testament (given that it was an online newssource) to the power of the Internet as an organizational tool for Autistic people. However, there was one comment that really pissed me off to the extent that I was moved to reply, namely:

I think this is a great article and took no offense to Autism. I did (sic) read anything at all against Autism.

Needless to say, I replied by saying:

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you’re not autistic.

Which, of course, she wasn’t. But:

My daughter is.

Yeah. So that would be a “no” then. Very good.

I think that we can all agree that if I were to one day adopt a black child, that that would not magically allow me to start lecturing the black community about what should or should not offend them. Likewise, the fact that you have an autistic daughter does not magically allow you to dictate what is or is not offensive to autistic people.

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that far from giving her a “get out of ableism free” card, the fact that she has an autistic daughter just makes her manifest ableism all the more damning. I mean, how I could I not feel pity for a child whose own mother sees nothing wrong with the idea of insulting other people by comparing them to her?


About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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2 Responses to The Way That It Doesn’t Work

  1. I agree more than I can say in words. I am so tired of all these people who come to my blog and write to me to say that they know autism better than I do because they have an autistic child. Mind you, I never go to any blogs by parents of autistic to criticize them in any way. But it’s simply insulting to hear that they know more about what I experience because they have an autistic child.

    I, too, was completely insulted by this article and if that’s what I want to say, nobody has the right to argue that it was not insulting to me because they stood next to an autistic once.

  2. Lindsay says:

    Yeah, parents can be great allies and advocates for us, but our interests aren’t identical, and sometimes parents can be our most implacable enemies. When they are not actively opposing us, they can also just fail to see our point of view.

    Just being a parent does NOT make you an expert on what is, or is not, helpful or harmful to autistic people. Heck, sometimes it may cloud your judgment even more than a totally random NT person’s.

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