Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lovely man, lovely woman

Wackadoo wackadoo wackadoo wackadoo... If you haven't been following the controversy over the Southern California car-dealership ad that offended just about every sentient being who encountered it (and thanks to Consumerist, the whole world did), you'll be interested to hear that the Kieffe & Sons dealership has apologized apologized and then rescinded it, but the guy who claims to have written and recorded the ad most emphatically does not. So did "JW Horne" really have the dealership's approval for that bigoted mess? (ETA: Yup.)

But at least this guy is merely kicking the shins of people old enough to not be much bothered by him. And then we have Wendy Portillo, the current front-runner for the 2008 Lori Drew Grownup-Card Revocation Award. Ms. Portillo, as of this writing still a kindergarten teacher at Port. St. Lucie's Morningside school, took a dislike to a boy in her class who has been diagnosed with Asperger's. She chose to express her dislike by having the other children, including the only friend little Alex Barton has ever made, "vote him out of class" -- yes, just like Survivor. The vote was 14-2. Class-ay lady, Wendy Portillo.

I invoked Lori Drew, the woman at the center of the Megan Meier suicide, and though I don't think it's going to come to a bedroom-closet hanging, I have a bad feeling that little Alex is going to be carrying this for a long, long time. (I had a run-in with a kindergarten teacher who made fun of me in front of the class and I still remember it vividly. And I thought of it when I saw that same teacher 25 years later, shuffling down the hall at my grandmother's nursing home, destroyed by Alzheimer's. Just, you know, saying. Memory's funny that way.)

Offline, these things move slowly. Alex is staying home for now, the Portillo woman has been "reassigned," and the lawyers are assembling, though the Florida state's attorney's office says they can't find grounds for charging the woman with any crime. Online, on the other hand... I mentioned Lori Drew, right? Readers at the TCPlam scared up an email address, phone numbers and an address or two; Digg backed their play, and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network is all over the situation. (And then there are the more extensive efforts.)

And my hope? Other than a fond desire for Ms. Portillo to feel the social enlightenment that comes from enhanced contact with a wide, wide selection of her fellow humans, I best like one Digg patron's suggestion: Turn the class over to the two children that voted no. (What, would they be less mature than Wendy Portillo?) If you're that kind of independent thinker at five, you're already on the road to being the kind of person I hope to know. (ETA: Or you could be the kid in Indiana who busted his abusive kindergarten teacher by surreptitiously recording what she says. The fact that the Indiana teachers' union is defending teacher Kristen Woodward by claiming her "human dignity" is being abused by these revelations may help the other 49 states understand why even good progressives such as myself suspect that teachers' unions ought to be broken up like cheap crockery. Looks from here like Woodward's got exactly the amount of dignity she afforded little Gabe Ross.)

Oh, and if you'd like to do something sweet for Alex and the kids in his class? The Net's got that too.


Maddy said...

I love the idea of taping the teacher! Oh if only we'd had that kind of technology when I was a small person.

AG said...

Hi maddy! Oh, *so* agreed. I have a mental top-5 list of moments I'd sure like to have had a record of, in fact; the kindergarten incident's on there, but it's not the top item. (Why yes, I *was* that kid you kept finding in the principal's office. Of course.) can't imagine how much worse it would have been if my parents hadn't been really willing to listen to my side of the story; I can remember a few fiery school entrances from my mom, really to kick ass on my behalf. It meant a lot -- and I think it gave me a *greater* respect for authority, seeing that bad authority could be challenged. Yay Mom!