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By Paul Meekin
On Maolis street in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, there’s a home that houses autistic adults. Unable to provide for themselves, they are housed and provided for by The May Institute, which hires councilors to feed, wash, and care for them. It is hard, noble and ultimately thankless work.
Sometimes things get out of hand and there are arguments, and because of the nature of the disability of those housed, those arguments are loud and noticeable to neighbors.
Like Pinocchio at a glory hole, those neighbors have decided to stick their noses where they do not belong. Calling the cops over said arguments. Even holding a selectmen’s meeting about the potential ‘danger’ of the situation:
Conners, and those concerned feel as though they should have been informed there were adults with Autism on their street.
“These are autistic, adult men with behavioral issues,” Another resident, Henry Greenfield said. “These are men that could overpower a large majority of us here and those staff are woefully unprepared to deal with it.”
Democratic Representative Michelle Dubois was invited to the meeting and stated The May Institute should give tours of the home to help them feel more comfortable.
…How dare you!
All of you.
How dare you categorize a group of people as dangerous to their community because of one police incident? How dare you suggest you have a right to influence where these people are housed and how they’re cared for? How dare you suggest the staff is woefully unprepared? How dare you suggest they open the doors of their home in order to alleviate your unfounded fears?
How dare you suggest a person’s right to privacy can be violated on the off chance they could possibly hurt you. Especially if you consider there is absolutely zero data to suggest there’s any sort of correlation between autism and violent crime.
Because of one incident? One argument? I don’t think so.
I am not without empathy for the concerned residents. A new and foreign and confusing element has been introduced to their community and they were not told. Families must now tell their children to ‘stay away from that house…just in case. Families must now come face to face with the realization that but for the grace of God go they – one wrong chromosome at birth, and they could be living in that home and subject to the same scrutiny.
It’s worth noting The May Institute did not attend this meeting, so it was residents and the officials they elected. No one was there to advocate on behalf of the autistic men that live in the group home. The presence of an advocate could have stymied some of the concern.
Regardless, like more-or-less anytime one group of people doesn’t want another group of people in their community, the arguments are couched in actual concern for their families over hypothetical dangers – they’re scared of the ‘retard strong’ maniacs down the street that could burst into their house at any moment and rampage through their tight-knit community in a mongoloid invasion.
They haven’t hurt anyone yet, sure, but who knows what they’re capable of? If there’s even a one percent chance of them doing something dangerous, do we really want them in our community? Think of the children.
State regulations currently limit the governments ability to regulate where these homes go, allowing The May Institute to best decide what to do with their clients. Additionally The May institute will make communities aware if such a home exists in the area as a courtesy, which they didn’t do here.
But again, I stress, no-one has a right to invade another person’s privacy unless a crime has been committed. You have no right to ‘tour’ their home or be ‘made aware’ of their presence.
In reality the responsibility is on the citizenry to educate themselves if they’re so concerned, instead of jumping to conclusions and trying to involve the government and police force. You think they have town meetings for every instance of domestic violence in the town? Drug overdoses? the numerous other altercations that result in police presence? Yeah I didn’t think so.
But here we are: an altercation resulted in a meeting, resulted in a Democratic rep advising the invasion of the home by the concerned citizenry, resulted in panic over much of nothing, which ultimately resulted in an increased police presence by the home until ‘the situation is resolved’.
Well, how do you resolve it? Perhaps a compromise is in order. The autistic residents could remain inside their home after 4pm. Any sort of police altercation or incident would result in their removal from the house indefinitely. A list of every autistic person in the state of Massachusetts could be made publicly available alongside the sex offender registry so we know their numbers and addresses so we can best prepare for the dangers they present. And they could wear little bells around their necks so you always know where are. They’re sneaky devils, aren’t they?
Or, and this is just a thought, the residents of Maolis Avenue could shut up and recognize the private lives of others are none of their god damn business.