8/24/2011

Education is Costly

Story Sent in by Kristopher:

On our first date, Helen and I were walking through a college campus on what had to be one of the hottest days of the year. I asked her, "Want to go inside?" meaning one of the classroom buildings that surrounded us. She did, and we opened the doors to air-conditioned splendor.

The hallways bore posters of scientific research and flyers about various college activities. She tried the door to one of the classrooms, and it was open. "Want to go in?" she asked me. I did.

She sat down at one of the desks in the front row and sighed. I asked her if she was okay, and she replied that she was just tired.

Then, she sat up straight said, "You're a teacher. Teach me something."

It's true, I've been a substitute middle school and high school teacher, mostly of earth science, biology, and chemistry. A reader might take it to mean that Helen's "teach me something" was meant in a titillating manner, but it wasn't. And besides, it was only a first date.

I spouted off a few random biology facts, and she asked me questions, rather like a student. Not too long into the "lecture," someone else knocked on the door and walked into the room, a young woman who looked like a student.

She said, "I'm sorry to interrupt. Do you know where Thompson Library is?"

I did, and I was about to answer when Helen spouted, "Yeah! Up your ass!"

There was a moment of shocked silence. I then told the student, as a joke, "Sorry. She's one of our special needs students," and then I gave her the best directions that I could. She thanked me and left.

Helen was up on her feet and in my face in seconds. "How dare you," she hissed, "I have cousins who are special needs! You insensitive asshole!"

"I was just kidding," I said, "Relax."

"Tell that to my special needs cousins!" she yelled, and stormed out of the room.

By the time I decided to follow her, she was long gone. I thought about sending her an apology email, but I didn't.

38 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. You should have apologized to Helen's cousins, explaining that calling her a retard was an insult to Down syndrome people everywhere.

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  3. After she called you an "insensitive asshole" you should have said:

    "How dare you! I have uncles who have inflamed hemorrhoids! You smelly cunt!

    Then she could have said, "How dare you, I have an aunt who has a yeast infection! You little prick!"

    Then you could have said, "How dare you, I have an male Asian friend who has a small..."

    Well you get the picture! It could have went on for ever in my scenario!

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    1. bwahahahahhaha best post EVER!!!!

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  4. In my head, Howie's scenario goes on like that for maybe two or three more exchanges before the two people start hooking up madly and start doing it right then and there... in the school cafeteria.

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  5. what churro said, and then the lunch lady walks in (an Adam Sandler-esque lunch lady) and a wild threesome breaks out.

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  6. Love it! This is some of the best commentary!

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  7. HAVE SOME MORE SLOPPY JOES.

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  8. Nice one again Howie.

    Also, this guy had nothing to apologize about. If anything, the person apologizing should be Helen, for being such a bitch to a total stranger.

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  9. Jason: Not quite. It's not cool to joke about someone being 'retarded' or 'special needs'. It falls under 'ableist', a term meaning a prejudice or bias against those who are mentally or physically disabled. Even if he was well intentioned, he ought to now realize how hurtful such language can be and stop using it. Ignorance is one thing, willful ignorance quite another.

    She was knowingly a jerk to the person, he was unknowingly (I'm assuming) offensive. He has a lot more leeway in this situation, provided he takes the information provided and goes with it.

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  11. I have a special need for bacon.

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  12. I think she was just upset that he said something negative about her, so she made up the thing about her cousins. I've seen it done many times. (I especially think it's a lie because of the fact that she claims to have multiple family members who have special needs, but hey it's just my opinion.) It's the classic way to shift embarrassment from yourself. As for the guy, it's not like he called her retarded. He was just making a joke to excuse her rudeness and she blew up so that he 'lost' the date, not her.

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  14. echai said...
    Jason: Not quite. It's not cool to joke about someone being 'retarded' or 'special needs'. It falls under 'ableist', a term meaning a prejudice or bias against those who are mentally or physically disabled. Even if he was well intentioned, he ought to now realize how hurtful such language can be and stop using it. Ignorance is one thing, willful ignorance quite another.

    I hate to say it, but it doesn't really matter, unless you are saying it to someone who actually IS retarded in some way. Sometimes words are just words, and DONT mean your 'abelist' or biased against special needs people. I can easily call one of my mates retarded when he does something stupid, and I grew up with an intellectually handicapped brother, so I have a fair idea of the issues and challenges that face them.
    Its a different thing to call someone who is obviously not retarded, retarded, than to call someone with possible issues in that respect the same.

    In my country, we had a TV guy fairly recently say that Susan Boyle was retarded due to oxygen retardation at birth, and that 'if you look closely, you can see it'. Now, THAT is offensive to me, to her, and was to most of the country (the guy was fined for it).

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  16. Love the new twist on the "I have a black, friend, so it's OK!" card. No, it isn't. Your intentions mean nothing. You are using offensive language, and that language can easily cause pain.

    The word is offensice, regardless of what you want it to be.

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  17. minus that extra comma

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  18. I have a midget, retarded black transgendered friend....so I can say anything I want!

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  19. Howie, I think your long tenure as an ABCotD troll (and I have friends who are trolls here, too, so I can use that word without offending anyone!) has PROVED that you can say anything you want, and often do.

    <3

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  20. @echai

    My personal belief is that unless a person intends to cause harm, it isn't offensive. It reinforces nothing, unless they use it in a way that does. Tone, and situation mean everything.

    In my experience people perceive intent where there isn't any solely because they want to feel justified in being offended by a person's actions.

    Realistically, only by using terms in a non-derogatory fashion can we change their meaning and lower their impact.

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  21. The term 'special needs' is very broad. It can mean any kind of disability. Her being a complete douche bag to a complete stranger could be a result of a disability, such as tourettes, aspergers (yes I said them again ;)), or any other mental illness. Maybe she got offended because she has a known mental illness, and doesn't like it when it gets found out. It kinda sounds to me like she DOES have special needs.

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  22. Mediator: I think when you point out to someone how this is harmful, and they react by kicking up a fuss about how they would NEVER mean it that way and defending its use, then they're someone who is more interested in not being labelled racist/ableist/what have you than actually not being racist/ableist etc. If I've got a baseball bat and I swing it around, and I hit someone, do I then refuse to apologize and insist I didn't mean it so what I was doing to cause harm doesn't matter? Intent counts, and it's not like I went around deliberately hitting people with baseball bats, but it's not everything. We're not perceiving intent, we're talking about the harm using the terms that way causes, intentionally or otherwise.

    OP didn't use it in a non-derogatory fashion, so it doesn't fall under reclamation, and he's not disabled (as far we know), so it's not like the term is something he can reclaim anyway.

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  23. Sure are a lot of people with aspergers here

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  25. ^ No, some people are just assholes.

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  27. Ditto, gnome.

    I didn't see OP as trying to be an ableist asshole for saying she was a "special needs" student. Had he called her "retarded," then yeah, not cool. But "special needs" really IS broad. Hell, a kid with ADHD could be considered "special needs." It doesn't have to be insulting in the way that everyone is saying it is.

    And to whoever pointed out that using the phrase "it's so gay" and "retarded" in "non-offensive situations" still reinforces the negativity of being gay/mentally handicapped: YES. (I don't feel like scrolling up to see who wrote that.)

    Also, I love/lust Howie as well.

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  28. Gnome, that's the most concise breakdown of the intent/effect divide I've seen so far. You win the internets!

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  29. @Gnome

    You notice how it's mostly the people not suffering from whatever ailment it is that get so uptight about it, like they need to protect those who are?

    Honestly, in my experience, that's worse than the people who speak without thinking. Most of the time, people who are "special needs" or "differently abled" just want to be treated like anyone else, and by making a fuss over a WORD only brings more attention to the fact that they are different.

    A word is a word is a word. If I started using the word "chair" as a derogatory term instead of "retard", it may never catch on, but because my INTENT is to harm people, it makes all the difference.

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  30. ^ That.

    Reminds me of George Carlin's sketch of "bad words"

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  32. I remember the first time I made a gay joke at a party full of heteros (who all assumed I was a hetero too). I sounded a lot like this conversation; a little uptight and a little self-righteous. Lighten up.

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  33. @ TheGnome, echai, and anyone else who thinks they are making a difference and helping people with their misplaced political correctness.

    You are not.

    People calling someone a generally considered insult, out of earshot of someone who actually suffers from that issue, are not causing harm to anyone, unlike echais claim of 'Your intentions mean nothing. You are using offensive language, and that language can easily cause pain.'

    Sometimes, yes. usually, no. Unfortunately, if you are not capable of logical enough thinking to realize that words meanings vary with context, intent, and use, you will stay stuck on the level of those shrill protesters that wave misspelt banners.

    If you wish to do something for differently abled people, get out there and do so, rather than congratulating yourself for achieving nothing, but making a big noise in your ignorance.

    Under your amusingly PC 'ideas' all jokes about minorities would also be racist. Of course, that wouldn't apply to me, cos I have an Irish brother as well...

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  34. I think he didn't want trouble or being reported so he found a quick excuse

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  35. I agree with Carol, besides that wasn't nice of Helen to say to her, "Up your ass!" The female student just wanted directions and being polite. No need to be rude.

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