For a boy like Michael, wooing a girl, winning her trust and then trying to participate in her pranks, even while they made him uncomfortable and put him in some danger, took courage. The girls betrayed that... [b]ut reducing Michael’s responses and feelings to an embarrassing tic of the severely disabled will not lead to justice — or confidence or empowerment — for Michael and people like him. It will only cause a different kind of harm, which is to make him a perfect victim.From the comments at the link:
I can't help but wonder what Emily's column would look like if the genders were reversed. If it was a group of males who held a knife to an autistic girl, made her fall through the ice, and tried to get her to have intercourse with a dog while filming it for broadcast. I wager that Emily and the entire Slate site would be braying for the boys (rightfully) to be thrown in prison. Instead Emily is basically writing that what happened was unfortunate, but not really that bad, while chastising Michael for his "bad judgment."I don't think "victim blaming" is the apt rubric. It's more victim autonomy... autonomy to define the nature of the act from the subjective position of the one experiencing what looks to the outside observer like harmful behavior of the sort society criminalizes to protect us all. A better analogy is to sado-masochistic sex. Is this voluntary play? Then, because the recipient of the pain is disabled, the question is whether the person is capable of consent. I think it's important to distinguish sado-masochistic play from unwanted sadism where the victim wants to forgive or protect his tormenter — the stereotypical domestic violence problem.
I've heard Slate describe this type of statement as victim blaming in the past.