Every campaign commits the occasional faux pas. Sonia Roco pissed off members of the Autism Group last week. You can read more about it here (via Bong Austero) but basically Roco likened the administration candidates’ insistence that they’ll sweep the elections to an autistic’s view of the world. The exact words were “parang may sariling mundo.”
Which accurately describes Team Unity’s press statements.
I’m not sure if it accurately describes autism, though. I gather that it’s a disorder that includes a broad spectrum of symptoms, the origins of which are still being debated. The autism people are right when they say that it’s a bit more complicated than having a “sariling mundo.”
Roco apologized for her (obviously) off-the-cuff remarks, which is the right thing to do. It has nothing to do with her being wrong or the autism people being too sensitive. She offended people and should say sorry, especially since she’s campaigning.
The question is: should she lose votes because of this?
I’m thinking no, and it’s not just because I know her personally and worked for her husband. It’s because one thoughtless remark does not a thoughtless leader make. Everyone has inadvertently offended others at some point; it’s natural. I’m more concerned about people who don’t offend. Reforms are not begun by people who try to please all.
[Sidenote: check out the song “Everyone’s a little bit racist” from the Avenue Q soundtrack]
Should someone lose votes for making a bad analogy? The most we should do is fault her for insensitivity (for which she already apologized). But it’s stupid (I’d say retarded, but I’m pretty sure someone will get offended by that) to assume that she’ll sponsor bills that would discriminate against autistics.
The situation is unlike Chiz Escudero, who lost my vote because he wants higher math eliminated from the high school curriculum. His remarks offended me, sure, but the more important thing is that it encapsulates his stand on the curriculum. Roco’s remarks are about Team Unity, with autism used as a synonym for “crazy” and “oblivious.” Nahagip lang sila, but Roco’s statement (unlike Chiz’s) is in no way an indicator of her legislative agenda. She won’t be outlawing autism anytime soon.
In fact, if they play their cards right, the Autism Society can probably get Roco to advocate their cause in the Senate.