Monday, March 7, 2016

Still Think Ableism Isn't Real?

If you think that ableism is just some social justice warrior bullshit, then you might be just like these assholes that a restaurant owner wrote about in a viral post condemning people who refused to be served by those who are different from the majority.

A table full of assholes reportedly refused to be served by an autistic waiter, Andy Foster. When the owner kindly explained to them that the waiter is autistic, they still refused and asked the owner why he would give the autistic man a job.

Just, how incredibly cruel. These people's experience of eating in an upscale restaurant is more important than a person's livelihood. More important than treating an individual who is shunned and misunderstood and basically told that his existence is a burden and should be eliminated like a human being and letting him make a decent living.

It's very difficult for autistic people to find employment. They have trouble with certain social norms and other people refuse to accommodate their differences. The fact that this restaurant was able to look past their ableist prejudices and hire a person with autism should be celebrated. But certain people, especially those who can afford to eat at upscale restaurants, only care about having the perfect upscale restaurant experience where the waiter acts just so, like on TV. So they're willing to not only hurt feelings but strike a blow to a marginalized person's confidence even though other customers enjoy and appreciate his service.

It's completely appalling. Thankfully, the restaurant owner stood up for Foster, reassured him that it wasn't his fault, and posted on the restaurant Facebook page that prejudiced people shouldn't book a table there. But there are still restaurants all over the world that will not hire autistic people because of customers like those who only care about themselves and are scandalized by the idea that their server wouldn't act completely "normal," whatever that means.

This cuts autistic people off from a lot of employment opportunities, and customer service is a starting point for a lot of people. Can you imagine being a young person trying to get your first job and the entire service industry isn't an option for you? And on top of that, the vast majority of people don't get why you have trouble making eye contact and assume it's because you're a bad person somehow?

Ableism does so much to cut people off from a reasonable livelihood. Whether it's autism, a physical disability, mental illness, developmental disability, learning disability, Down's syndrome, etc., people like these customers make it super difficult for them to live the life that everyone deserves. We all expect to be able to achieve an independent life with all of our basic needs met, but autistic people? Nah, we need a waiter like we've seen on TV, so fuck 'em.

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