Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is It Time for a Lunch Counter Sit in?

I'm not sure why this one got me so incensed. Maybe because I feel for the mother. Or I 'feel' something different toward the good 'ole boy Chief of Police (who apparently knows the family and the situation). Or maybe it's the 'we want our quiet enjoyment of our meal and no re-tard is going to disrupt that' attitude I get from the article. In any event, anyone want to carpetbag into Jackson, SC with me and do a good old fashioned sit in at the lunch counter to protest the treatment some get for 'not being able to control their kids?

Family ordered to leave restaurant because of crying child

JACKSON, SC (WIS) - At first, Gail Martin says she wasn't sure who was yelling at her to leave the Buckhead Café in Jackson. It turned out to be Jackson Police Chief Dennis Rushton, asking Gail and her family to leave.
"I didn't know what he was doing," Gail's daughter Lauren said.
The family was just about to order when 4-year-old Alyssa began crying; she suffers from autism.
Gail says Chief Rushton yelled across the restaurant again.
"He said, ‘You need to pick her up and you need to get out of here now,'" Gail said.
Lauren is upset with the chief.
"That was very mean to say -- just very mean," Lauren said.
The embarrassment was too much for Gail and her daughters, who soon left the restaurant.
"I wasn't embarrassed of Alyssa's behavior, I was embarrassed of the way it was handled," Gail said.
Chief Rushton would not make a statement, but he did say he felt Mrs. Martin's daughter was being extremely loud and bothering other customers.
Even though he knew the child was autistic, he said he did ask the Martins to leave.
Gail says she feels like Chief Rushton should have been more understanding about what was going on with her autistic daughter.
"We can't just lock them up, they have every right to be out in public like everyone else," Gail said.
Now Gail hopes her story will bring more awareness about autism.
"If it can happen in a small town in Jackson, it can happen anywhere," Gail said.
Chief Rushton says he is open to going through training through the South Carolina Autism Society to help him better understand the condition.
Rushton also says his police commissioner has invited the Martin family to meet with them at City Hall.
The Martins say they are open to meeting with the commissioner.

My favorites are the responses from the general public after the article:

As you can imagine, people have had plenty to say about this story.
Viewer Roger said, "The family should have known better than to take an emotionally disturbed child into a restaurant. When customers pay to enjoy a nice meal the last thing they want to endure is an uncontrollable child."

Please people! Learn how to control your kids and yourself. It is YOUR responsibility to keep your kids civil while in public. If you are unable to and fail to leave and just expect people to understand... you are a bad parent, bad citizen, and basically a bad person. Don't burden other people with your problems.

Let's take a different tack at this and see how the 'Cheif' would be viewed if say, a child with cerebral palsy in a wheel chair was dining at the same restaurant. Would it be right to tell the family to leave because the child was drooling or making patrons 'uncomfortable'? Of course not. What about a child or adult with Downs who was clearly mentally disabled... do we kick them out, Chief? Boy, what would you look like a day after the elections? I guess it's OK that because this child's specific disability can be construed as bad parenting, so it's OK to just override their civil rights and tell them to leave. Maybe an 'undesirables only' section, yea that's it! They can even just re-use the disabled wheelchair pictographs to easily depict those we don't want to see or hear.

We shall overcome...


Talair said...

You may be on to something with the 'sit-in' idea. This is getting just downright ridiculous. Did you catch the comment about how we should sedate our kids before bringing them out in public? Sickening.

Maddy said...

Yes, I'm both fully sympathetic with the family but also resigned to the reality that for the foreseeable future we're more or less destined to a repeat, or two.

We need more 'doers' like TGIF [I think it was them?] who opened their restaurants on a particular night for autistic people and their families.

r.b. said...

I remember taking my son to a Mass for handicapped kids. I thought he was being pretty good. An old witch behind me poked me in the back and gave me a dirty look.

I always thought God's house was where I would find acceptance. No. I guess Jesus died to save the quiet.

christschool said...


I would have put my finger on the witch's forehead, hard, and then said very sternly, autistic, get use to it. But, that's just a fantasy. But its how I feel at times.


I'm reading the 50 odd pages of comments, it's like looking at concentration camp photos. It makes me sad and angry how few who are not directly impacted really get it; and how very many really don't shive a git. Dozens of people blaming the parents; dozens more just wanting these type of 'people' not to interfere with their enjoyment of their ~meaninglessfruitlesspointless~ lives.

I forgot another point. I always admired the radical homosexual rights group ACTUP and their slogan "We're here, we're queer, we're not going away!". How about "We're not whack, we're autistAc, we're not sittin' in the back"!

Autism said...

South Carolina is not exactly a mecca for acceptance and tolerance. I wouldn't be surprised if there were people in that room who...

1. Engaged in incest
2. Lived in a trailer park
3. Shot at least one dog or cat
4. Flew a confederate flag
5. Wore a sheet for a night on the town.
6. Thought shoes were optional at weddings.
7. Beat their wives
8. Proclaimed themselves a redneck and were proud of it.
9. Owned at least one piece of clothing with Nascar printed on it
10. Think George W. Bush is doing a great job and it's the rest of us that have the problem.

It is unfortunate that this family had to go through all that but I am not at all surprised.


Problem is that it isn't just the 'gun-rack-in-the-truck' types spewing this stuff, it's Jane down the street, it's Dick at the lawyers office, it's the Cheif in the police station...

kelly said...

I'm actually from this small town, and though i do not proclaim i'm redneck, live in a trailer park, or sleep with my cousins, i did have the PLEASURE of growing hand and hand with my autistic sister. I will be the first to say that Jackson is an ignorant small hick town, that never has accepted anyone whom was slightly different. If a sit in was to be done, i would be more than happy to join, this town has been ignored too long for the things they do to people, Dennis Ruston, and his batman want to be cop pals, have ignored there sons, there daughters or any family misbehavior for well over 20 years!
And anyone that says these humans should be sedated, or locked away, so you can enjoy your meals.... i believe the ignorant should be locked away so that my IQ does not have to suffer your insolence!

Autism said...

LP: You seem to think I wasn't including the chief :-) Obtaining a badge and a gun does not always mean you're a good person. Rising through the ranks does not either.

I have met some of the best quality of people down in the southern states. I guess I was a little too harsh. There are certainly some great people down there. However as you know it is the ones I itemized that stand out.

Excluding the Nascar fans of course.

The reason I said it about this restaurant was because nobody stood up to the chief. Nobody said anything to contradict him.

Even though it is more common in the in rural areas, this sort of thing could have happened anywhere.

kelly said...

Just so you know, there hasn't been an election in well over 20 years that i have lived here, the please pretty much do as they please. And when any form of election is held the town council doesn't inform anyone till the day after.

And your right the neighbors here won't stand up for anything, it's always been this way.


Make sure 'Boss Hog' gets trained up by the South Carolina Autism Society. Use this opportunity to push the autism envelope of educating the public just a little bit farther. You may find that there are a few more neighbors willing to stand up than you thought. Good luck and thanks for standing up for your sister Kelly...please come to the message board if you hear of this mother being harrassed...thx

ex-jackson resident said...

Will Jackson ever wake up... The ex-mayor Hon Judge Patrick Dorn Sullivan used Dennis Rushton to do his personal dirty work. Oh, Judge Sullivan is now the suspended Judge Sullivan. We NEED SLED to investigate this town. Pull their Charter. They do not need to be a town. And elections are also held during times when people are not around.... Hazzard County here we are.... Lots of Boss Hoggs down there.

ex-jackson resident said...

Will Jackson ever wake up... The ex-mayor Hon Judge Patrick Dorn Sullivan used Dennis Rushton to do his personal dirty work. Oh, Judge Sullivan is now the suspended Judge Sullivan. We NEED SLED to investigate this town. Pull their Charter. They do not need to be a town. And elections are also held during times when people are not around.... Hazzard County here we are.... Lots of Boss Hoggs down there.