H8 those intolerant people!

In a recent exchange on social media, a number of people I had previously thought sympatico expressed opinions which engendered in me a range of sentiments from puzzlement to incredulity to outraged indignation. The discussion veered from the original subject to consideration of a multi-award-winning radio talk show host who has a neurological condition (spasmodic dysphonia) that makes her speech “strained and difficult.” Some people said that she should not be in broadcasting, and things like, “Listening to her makes me want to stick a fork in my ear.” It was pointed out that the talk show host has a speech disorder; this went largely unremarked except most notably for a person who said something like, “I know her story and I don’t believe she’s as brilliant as some think.” So not the point! Besides which, she is totally brilliant.

Taking myself seriously as someone whose contribution should be a net gain on the subject of disabilities, I restrained myself from further comment once I reached the boiling point, and have been reflecting on it ever since. In fact, I have been reflecting on this for more than six months. I am mentally walking in circles, seeking a way out of the morass.

How can I work to build community with people when I want to smack them? How can I live with being so uncomfortable with them having no space for something that makes them uncomfortable? How in the world can I have friends outside of my little world of special education and disabilities advocacy if this is what people are like? Maybe I can’t, or at least not many. Maybe it’s time to grow up and realize that many people are going to really not like me if I steer the conversation to topics that make them uncomfy, and then when the conversation gets stuck, I don’t just steer it, I get out of my own comfort zone and give it a big push, and keep pushing.

At times like this, I wonder if maybe that doctor who thinks I have Aspergers is right. (He was my son’s doctor, not mine, so it’s not like he officially diagnosed me. He wanted me to come in and get the official imprimatura so my son and I could be in a study he was doing on effects of male and female hormones on the expression of Aspergers in men and women. So who knows, maybe he would have revised his opinion.) My own therapist does not think I have Aspergers. But I wonder, when I can’t get off this perspective, that those people are just wrong! Wrong wrong wrong! No two ways about it! They are WRONG.

Maybe that’s not Aspergers. Maybe that is just a deeply held conviction that all people deserve to live in a world where everyone is included, a conviction I have held as long as I can remember, since long before I became the mother of a child with a disability. So how do we include people who want to keep us out? If you have a clue, please tell me. If you are still talking to me, that is.

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October 14, 2013. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized.

2 Comments

  1. Meg replied:

    You can’t include them if they don’t want to be included, but you can keep the door open so that when their discomfort subsides, like when they or a family member becomes disabled. Eventually we all encounter disability. When it happens they will ask to enter your world for the knowledge you hold.

    • aspergersandwich replied:

      When I say those people are wrong, I am talking about those who have no tolerance for listening to someone with a disability that affects speech, and the assertion that a person with a disability that affects speech “should not be in broadcasting.” Of course each person is entitled to decide whether or not to tune in to the show. So many people tune in daily and the talk show host has won so many awards, the quality of the content of her show speaks for itself. So to speak.
      Thank you, Meg, for your thoughtful response.

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