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Thought Police Target Teen with Asperger’s

Police patrol in Birmingham, England. (Darren Staples/Reuters)

“Individuals with Asperger’s Disorder usually want to fit in and have interaction with others, but often they don’t know how to do it,” reads the autism society’s website. “They may be socially awkward, not understanding conventional social rules or show a lack of empathy.”

Well. Try telling that to PCSO Connor Freel, a 25-year-old transgender police officer from England, who was reportedly “upset and embarrassed” by a teenager with Asperger’s who shouted at the officer, “is it a boy or is it a girl?”

For the crime of thinking out loud, Declan Armstrong, 19, was put under a nighttime curfew and ordered to pay £590, including the £200 compensation to Freel, according to the Daily Mail. Quite apart from the fact that this is blatant disability discrimination, there appears to be a double standard here. As pointed out below, when Tara Wolf, a young man who identifies as a woman, punched an elderly feminist in the face all he got was a £150 fine.

Was it inappropriate and untactful for Armstrong to voice his curiosity in this way? Well, sure. Just as it’s inappropriate and untactful for a child to ask a woman who is overweight, “is there a baby in your tummy?” But while this is obviously awkward, it is not clear that it is “hateful.” And in any case, it is surely the job of the adult — or in this situation: the police officer — to shrug it off?

Truth be told, when a person presents as the sex opposite to that which they were born, the result is often ambiguity in the eye of the beholder. So Armstrong’s question, however indelicate, may well be a thought that would occur to many people. This is why attempting to police this is literal thought policing and deserves determined opposition.

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