Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hate-filled Letter Directed at Autistic Child: Reinterpreted

        Perhaps you recently heard about the grandmother from Newcastle, Ontario, Canada who received a rabidly hate-filled letter from an anonymous “donor.”  The letter was directed at the grandmother’s grandson Max, who happens to live with autism.  Reaction to the letter has been heavily one-sided, with most folks, including a Canadian Member of Parliament and some television celebrities, lambasting the unidentified author.
            At first, I, too, jumped on the bandwagon, and posted my negative opinion on Facebook (obviously not the most objective of debating platforms).  Then, before I went any further, I stopped myself to look at this from the perspective of the nameless scribe, and decided to share with you, and maybe justify a little bit, what she or he was really trying to say. I’ll go through the letter a section at a time, hope you will humor me, and that you will refrain from tossing rancid eggs at my windows.
            The writer starts off with, “To the lady living at this address:” (at least the author didn’t throw out an expletive in the introduction; that’s the best way to keep your reader engaged).  From here on out, I will quote exactly as the letter is written; any grammatical errors are pulled directly from the letter:
  • ·      “I also live in this neighborhood and I have a problem!!!!” (Note the four exclamation points --- a clear sign that the person who wrote this is serious)
  • ·      “You have a kid that is mentally handicapped, and you consciously decided that it would be a good idea to live in a close proximity neighborhood like this????" (The four question marks, as with the same number of exclamation points above, indicate that the writer clearly is unsure about this statement and would like more information.  The phrase “mentally handicapped,” along with the interrogative tone, means they had heard autism is not a mental disability, and therefore, since the recipient lives so close by, would like to meet up for a coffee or a beer to learn more)
  • ·      “You selfishly put your kid outside everyday and let him be a nothing but a nuisance and a problem to everyone else with that noise polluting whaling he constantly makes!!!" (This statement says that the recipient of the letter is a little self-centered, and I get where the author is coming from. She or he is clearly offering personal services as a care provider, since the grandmother cannot possibly be with the boy all the time.  Looking after him would be far better, according to the letter, than to let the kid possibly bug “everyone else” in the neighborhood [how thoughtful].  As there are only three exclamation points this time, the writer doesn’t know if the preceding comment will be as welcomed as the others so far)
  • ·      “That noise he makes when he is outside is DREADFUL!!!!!!!!!! It scares the hell out of my normal children!!!!!!!” (In a follow-up to the previous comment, the writer explains that her or his children are like most typical children, which, the author explains, is like living in Hell.  Caring for Max would certainly do the trick in getting that yuckiness out of those brats [I’m paraphrasing here, of course].  Note the author's abundance of exclamation points, and you will agree.)
  • ·      “When you feel your idiot kid needs fresh air, take him to our park, you dope!!! We have a nature trail!! Let him run around those places and make noise!!!!!!" (This writer has a flair for fancy words.  They are apparently aware that the etymology of the word “idiot” is derived from the Greek word meaning “private citizen.”  Therefore, as a private citizen living in this particular community, the grandmother is being encouraged to partake in all of the outdoor activities offered; let the boy blow off a little steam.  The writer even kiddingly calls the grandmother a “dope,” which, if you aren’t up on your current young-person vernacular, means “excellent.”)
  • ·      “Crying babies, music and even barking dogs are normal sounds in a residential neighborhood!!!!! He is NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Obviously a passionate comment.  This writer is truly fed up with the cacophony of sounds that are common to the area.  Thank goodness for Max and his hell-scaring noises.)
  • ·      “He is a hindrance to everyone and will always be that way.  Who the hell is going to care for him?????? No employer will hire him, no normal girl is going to marry/love him and you are not going to live forever.” (Another cry for the privilege of looking after Max. The writer is practically begging to be allowed the opportunity to care for this unique boy.  The author reminds the grandmother that she can’t just send him off to get a job; he’s only 13, for goodness sake.  For some reason, though, the writer puts the cart before the horse in this part, already trying to marry the boy off to a young girl who is as unique as he; just any ol’ girl off the street will never do for him!!!!!! [See, I can do it, too].)
  • ·      “Personally, they should take whatever non retarded body parts he possesses and donate it to science.  What the hell else good is he to anyone!!! You had a retarded kid, deal with it…properly!!!!!” (It’s common for those who are not familiar with autism to believe that all persons with the condition are savants.  Really, that number is a small percentage.  In this case the writer assumes Max is involved in biological or anatomical experimentation, which, of course, should only be done under the observation of a trained scientific professional.  This misunderstanding has caused her or him to suggest that Max should return to a lab any quantities that have not been preserved from deteriorating, since he won’t need them anymore.  She or he believes that, at one time the experiment was preserved, but now should be disposed of in accordance with local ordinances.  Though uneducated, this is one truly thoughtful neighbor.)
  • ·      “What right do you have to do this to hard working people!!!!!!! I HATE people like you who believe, just because you have a special needs kid, you are entitled to special treatment!!! GOD!!!!!!” (According to the author of the letter, his grandmother should be ashamed that it has come to her neighbor having to beg for the opportunity to look after Max; she or he has better things to do than to check in on other people’s kids.  No special treatment should be afforded this grandmother; she should be required to ASK for assistance, just like anyone else, and not expect others to just come a’knockin’. GOD!!!!!!)
  • ·      “Do everyone in our community huge a favor and MOVE!!!! VAMOSE!!! SCRAM!!! Move away and get out of this type of neighborhood setting!!!" (My, how somebody does enjoy that Shift/1 key combo.  Basically, grandma, if you can’t be hospitable like everyone else and start relying on your neighbors for a little help, this writer feels you can just relocate.)
  • ·      "Go live in a trailer in the woods with your wild animal kid!!!" (The author says that, since she or he believes Max is such a fan of the outdoors and wildlife, perhaps seeing it firsthand on location would be just what he deserves.)
  • ·      “Nobody wants you living here and they don’t have the guts to tell you!!!!!” (Since it can be assumed that the writer could not possibly know everybody in the world, she or he is probably exaggerating here.  Most likely “nobody” means whoever wrote the note has instead surveyed each and every person in the neighborhood, and not a single one of them likes grandma’s lack of invitation.  They are just too shy to tell her.)
  • ·      “Do the right thing and move or euthanize him!!! Either way, we are ALL better off!!!  Sincerely, One pissed off mother!” (This closing is a little extreme on the writer’s part.  However, based on the tone of the rest of the letter as interpreted above, the writer of the letter thinks, if the grandmother does not move, Max should no longer suffer from the lack of neighborly communication on the part of the grandmother.  Honestly, that’s kind of dramatic, and at this point the writer is just throwing a temper tantrum. Baby.  By the way, the signature does not indicate the writer as female, since even my own actions have caused people to call me a “mother” in the past.)

There, I hope you can see from my analysis of this author’s letter, she or he was just being a good citizen and neighbor.
Frankly, since the written word can so easily be misinterpreted, I think there are better ways to go about it.

(1)     This post is purely satirical, and no disrespect is intended toward Max or his family.  Sometimes humor, sarcasm and a little indignation can be just what the soul needs.  My family shares your triumphs and struggles, and our hearts go out to you in this time of troubling hatred, abuse and disrespect.  We believe that autism is the newest discrimination and we hope you will find justice.

(2)     If Max’s family reads this post and they are offended in any way, please contact me [jongilbert@rocketmail.com] and I will remove it immediately.    ~Jon)