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Kay W

Kay W
Texas, United States
June 22
Teacher, tinker, geek, mother, wife


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MAY 14, 2012 5:11PM

The Freedom to Offend

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There are plenty of reasons to avoid the internet--so many unsafe spots, so many places to be made aware of just how awful or clueless people can be.

Simon Baron-Cohen started the inevitable comparisons between autism and psychopathy with his Zero Degrees of Empathy book and theory, but at least he had as much empathy for those with psychopathy as he did with autism (although some would question his degree of empathy for those with autism). The latest person to really decide to step in and then be self-righteous is Amanda Marcotte, who started on twitter and continued on Slate.

Psychopathy and Autism have almost nothing in common, despite Baron-Cohen's attempts to theorize both as conditions lacking entirely in empathy.

Bad as this is--that it could lead not to parents of budding psychopaths gaining more EMPATHY for their situations (Marcotte assumes sympathy is something any parent of a child with a neurological condition wants--screw her "mental illness" terminology), but to the public conflating psychopathy with autism and causing our autistic family members even greater rejection and difficulties, it's not the worst that's out there.

Marcotte is arrogant and ignorant, yes, but...she's not intentionally being an asshat. On the other hand, the people who own Bald Guy Greetings are willfully mocking those with intellectual disabilities and then defending their right to not be "politically correct" in their choice of words on a birthday card: "For my special friend on your birthday...Part of me calls you my special friend because you're special to me.  But part of me also calls you that because it makes you sound retarded." Now that's just freaking hysterical, isn't it?

Certainly the owners of Bald Guy Greetings and Marcotte have the freedom to say what they like in their own spaces, and the right to maintain their beliefs and their words despite the criticism and feedback they receive. And we have the right to not purchase from places that sell those greeting cards, as well as the freedom to rebut those who choose to exercise their right to free speech in ways we find offensive or, gasp, politically incorrect.

Except this isn't about political correctness gone amuck. This is about basic human decency. This is about getting the facts right and being sensitive to those individuals who are directly harmed by one's words.

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