Friday, November 16, 2012

Tired of Worrying About Words: Using Political Capital for the Right Fight

Another article complaining about the "r" word can be found here at CNN. I know that I have railed against the "r" word and have castigated celebrities for using this word in their tweets, columns and interviews. But the question I ask is when does it become enough? When do you stop whining about words.

In fact there is now some inane list of words that no one is allowed to use like "idiot" and "moron" based upon their historical conception. If we worried about the historical conception of most words in our language you can rest assured that we would probably communicate more with clicks and whistles rather than our written and oral language. Our community needs to get a perspective and figure out what is truly important. It is time to worry more about societal apathy towards our children's real needs, and stop worrying that someone somewhere may have used a word you don't like.

Also I don't care what some so-called self-advocate says about words and their usage. I don't care about politically correct garbage that has infected the autism community. What I care about is that these self-appointed autism "leaders" are wasting societies time, turning my children into laughing stocks and preventing my children from being seen as full, whole, functional human beings. Adults don't spend their time worrying that someone is going to hurt their feelings. Listen in life, someone somewhere is going to hurt your feelings about something. And its not going to happen just once.  Adults spend their time trying to create a future and a life. Adults have real concerns and real issues to deal with. Worrying about offensive word usage is for small children, college instructors and dilettantes.

Oh and freedom of speech doesn't mean you only get to hear what you like. It means you get to hear what anyone anywhere has to say about anything and anyone. It's called democracy.  It's what western civilization and western freedoms are all about.

Meanwhile you get Anne Coulter or Bill Maher to stop using the "r" word or  the "c" word  and other offensive language. Yet, in so doing, you have used up so much political capital, and exhausted your time that no one will listen to you anymore and you have no energy left. Sadly though your child still has no place to live as an adult, no adult medical care and no ability to get a job or take care of themselves. But no one is going to use an autism-community non-approved word in polite company.

We as a community seem to be putting our efforts into the wrong fight. It's about perspective and a limited amount of resources. Society also doesn't revolve around autism and developmental disabilities. There is alot of trauma and heartache in this world, each with their own stories. The question is are you really going to use up the short time slot society doles out to autism to kvetch about words or lobby for service and support for your child? Also if all you do is complain, and want and want and want, society will eventually turn you off and tell you you are completely on your own.

By the way, here is the comment I left at CNN:

As the parent of children with developmental delays, I am personally tired of members of our community getting affronted by every little thing. That being said the "r" word is offensive because it is used to bully and dehumanize other people. It is used to denigrate and disempower. But so are many words. Words and attitudes that are racist, antisemitic and misogynistic abound within our society as well. Personally I am tired of all the whining by everyone.

Now the idea that persons with disabilities are "angels" is brought about by the need for society to try to understand why such things occur to the innocent. It goes back to the Bible and the attempt to describe disabilities as parent's sins past on to their children etc or the expression of the devil. Today society counterbalances the old ignorance that those with disabilities are spawns of evil by imbuing them with godliness. Yes society needs to understand that our children are just like everyone else, with good and bad and everything in between.

But what most people need to do is spend their energy trying to get the
appropriate services and support for their offspring. They don't have time to fight with people about the words they use. Words do hurt yet how much time and effort do you have to spend on this when
there are real issues that exist? I spend my time trying to get my children the support and help they need. I spend time trying to get people to see my children for who they are and not as their disabilities. People need to get a balance and a grip on what's truly important.

In reality mostly what society needs to do is see our children as human beings first and foremost. No labels. No categories. No grouping of issues. Like everyone else on the planet they are simply people
entitled to respect and the ability to proceed with their lives as they see fit. Making their own choices and leading lives that are fulfilling and joyful.

So I have decided to finally spend my time on what truly matters. Helping my sons work on their future and not worry that someone somewhere  may be politically incorrect and say something mean. Using your time and resources wisely is the only way to create a meaningful future for your children. Join me or not, the choice is yours. Afterall it is only your child's future at stake.

Until next time,