Robert Godden’s musings and rants

I muse. I rant. This is my outlet!

Posts Tagged ‘Aspergers

Teo Torriatte (Let us cling together)

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Yesterday, I was feeling that the world was inching toward becoming a better place.

True, there are wars, and an end to war is a dream that many of us share.

True, a long-lost friend of mine is dying of a very nasty cancer. And an end to cancer is a dream many of us also share.

But for me, the dream of everyone being just that bit nicer is the big one. Because as the Paul Kelly song goes; “From little things, big things grow”.

The reason for my optimism is that yesterday, the Adelaide Advertiser ran a column of a friend of mine.

Sidebar: How many people know that my home town is responsible for the Murdoch Empire? Sir Keith Murdoch started it all here with the Adelaide News. News Limited went on to buy its much older rival, The Advertiser, and the rest is tabloid history. Not that I’d ever bag News Ltd. For starters, I write a column for them. And secondly, I’m a close personal friend of a whole bunch of people there, though sadly not Rupert!

As is often my wont, I digress. So back on topic:

Monica Magann’s column yesterday spoke about the power of nice. I’ll encourage her to put it on line. It was just lovely. It was, well, nice! I really felt that her quiet conviction sold the benefits.

 It’s not that every bully boss out there is going to suddenly become nice, but it is the start of a movement where people refuse to accept anything but nice.

But this morning, the world bought me back with a thump.

Autism is challenging. When I wrote the short story “Angels Like Water“, which I’m currently turning into a full length novel, I did a small amount of research. And there’s a lot to know. And a lot we don’t know. 

I’ve seen first hand the difficulty of handling a child with Asperger’s Syndrome; as one of the boys in a football team I coached suffered from it. And to be honest, everybody around suffered a bit as well.

But taking issue with someone who cannot control this condition is pretty low. When it’s a supposed adult abusing a child, then it’s far worse.

In Florida, a teacher organised a kangaroo court to evict 5-year-old Alex Barton from his classroom. In a 14-2 vote, held after the teacher asked every classmate to pillory Alex publicly, Alex was removed from the classroom. Democracy at work?

Sidebar: Democracy was not invented by happy Greeks in robes discussing philosophy as the world imagines. Cleisthenes, desperate to cling to power in Athens, proposed it one day and startlingly won the backing of the people. Whilst it has been idealised and very successfully implemented for good, it is not possible to interchange the words “good” and “democratic”. In a speech Winston Churchill said “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.

So, this is a teacher who has not only abused a child, but has systematically, callously and heinously invested other children into the process. “Here’s an example of how we can kick the weak, children. Learn, well, because you may be able to fight your way to a position of power, where you’ll need those skills.”

Don’t forget, democracy gave Germany Hitler. The problem with democracy is that it only works if one is in a position to judge motivation.

What’s the motivation here? I mean, currently the most notorious example of enforcing democracy – US policy in Iraq and Afghanistan – arguably for oil, or prestige, or to fix Daddy’s little problem – still has underlying it, a passionate belief that the citizens of those countries will be better off with democracy. The vast majority of policy writers, of soldiers, of diplomats, of Presidential lackeys surely at heart believe that they are helping to restore and rebuild countries with a significant place in the history of this planet. I have to believe this to be true. I can’t comprehend the magnitude of any other motivation.

But this teacher’s motivation could be spite or sheer laziness. I’ll break for half an hour to think of others…

Back from half an hour. Still nothing!

Enlisting democracy for evil ends is nothing new. Using it to revile a child does hit a new low.

Clearly this teacher should never, ever teach again. Give them a mop and bucket, or teach them to pick fruit, I don’t care, but this is a person who has forfeited the right to ever supervise another human being, let alone a classroom of children.

No doubt there’ll be a lawsuit. Good! If a bloody big settlement is the only punishment meted out; then at least it’s something.

The Advertiser article I referred to suggests that nice begets nice, and I think that’s right. But the converse is true, and this nasty, reprehensible act on the other side of the globe has led me to my bitterest side and this rant.

I promise I’ll be nice tomorrow.

PS: On Dave Mendoza’s site, you can read the full stoty and email the school to tell them what you think: http://sixdegreesfromdave.com/2008/05/30/support-5-year-old-alex-barton-email-campaign-to-confront-discrimination

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Written by robertgodden

June 1, 2008 at 10:07 am