I happened to catch a bit of The Jeremy Vine Show today. I do like the programme, but I often miss it because there are usually other things going on. He has a know-it-all GP on there whom I find irritating (most doctors I’ve met, their favourite phrase is “I don’t know”) but nobody’s perfect.
Today he covered a story about a girl with Asperger’s who was ejected from a cinema for laughing too loudly. The story is also reported here.It sounds like a very tricky situation for both parties. On the one hand, this seems heavy-handed, but on the other, the cinema has other clients’ interests to look after.
I can’t pretend that I know the answer, but would just make the following observations:
- For a disabled person to basically say “cut me some slack, I’m disabled” is very much a last resort. Trust me, I know. On the converse, I will judge people based upon whether they force me to reveal that I am disabled (under circumstances where it isn’t otherwise obvious). In so many of life’s scenarios, it just shouldn’t be relevant – my background is none of their business. I mean, it is very difficult to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, but I wonder if there are parallels here?
- It’s interesting that a part of the story is that some guy was also ejected for shouting “you’re retarded”. I can’t help thinking there of a hate crime, as defined by one of Tony Blair’s early acts (1998?) I mean, that certainly seems to meet the definition of verbal abuse. I’m not sure whether Asperger’s would count as a disability, it wouldn’t surprise me. Of course the difficulty would be showing that the abuse happened because the woman said “I’m autistic”. He could just claim that he said that because of her behaviour, not because she was autistic or not. But certainly, people need to be careful. I’m sure if this woman made a complaint, then it would at the very least lead to a degree of inconvenience for the guy, in terms of interviews under caution etc. So, wiser just to keep one’s counsel.