It’s often the smaller nuggets of news that make it onto the blogger’s beat. I’d wondered why the spectre of Scottish independence was making me sick, Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games leaving me cold and the latest crisis in Gaza rendering me – I don’t know – eyeless?
Perhaps it was because I’d seen too much of the ugly side of human nature to believe the dirty truths of that nature should temporarily be sticking-plastered over for the sake of a transient sporting or political event. I am left unmoved by shiny red, blue and gold banners suggesting we all just close our eyes to the evil that men do and pretend that things can only get better when the reality more often resembles a crude patchwork of glacially slow progress.
Consider one little nugget of news, almost overlooked: the case of Detective Sergeant Paul Whiteley of the West Yorkshire Police. An organization whose statement regarding equality and diversity reads as follows:
In accordance with our Purpose and Values, West Yorkshire Police will put our communities first, responding to their needs and concerns, and our officers and staff will act with compassion, humility and respect. Every police officer, special constable and member of police staff is responsible for delivering a fair and professional service, promoting equality for all.
According to the Huddersfield Examiner and the Northern Echo, Whiteley (a commended officer with twenty-two years service) has just been convicted of assault by beating after being challenged about his intent to drive while drunk after a long and bibulous afternoon at the Fylingdales Inn near Whitby.
Bad enough, but you might argue that justice has now been done. However, during the incident one short statement was allegedly made by Whiteley to a girl called Mia Crossley.
Mia is autistic.
This was the alleged statement:
“F-ck your f-cking disabled child.”
People with autism can’t always say how they feel, and if a neuro-typical detective sergeant who doubtless attended a manure-load of equality and diversity seminars can so quickly and plainly state how respectful he really feels regarding someone so vulnerable after downing a couple of bottles of plonk, then I think we’ve got a long way to go before we can let banners promoting our “progress” fly so gaily, and a lot of growing up to do.
James Christie is the author of Dear Miss Landau. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism, at the age of 37 in 2002. He lives in the Scottish Borders.