The ‘Patronising’ Gene

One of the biggest things disabled people have to endure is patronising people. Whether it’s a pat on the head or their assumptions we are stupid and/or harmless, disabled people are often the most susceptible targets for the patronising, who sadly often have no idea of their infliction and therefore can not help their poor choice of words or actions, very similar to Tourette’s Syndrome but without the understanding they have done anything wrong. I have always wondered if there was a ‘patronising gene’?

If a patronising gene could be found then this would be a huge breakthrough in ensuring that one day we can cure the patronising, or at least offer parents the option to have a test during the pregnancy of a child so they can have the choice of whether they are prepared to manage the burden of a patronising child, with all their special needs. I would be encouraged to set up a medical research charity to help find a cure for patronising people, whether that would be gene therapy, or an intensive form of psychological therapy to teach the patronising how to overcome their difficulties.

Because I care about these inflicted souls, I would lobby government to provide patronising children the specialist education they need to improve their chances in the world, and particularly improve their employment opportunities, as well as ensuring their disruptive behaviour does not affect sensible children. We would need to train a new generation of professionals to understand the needs of patronising people within schools and the NHS, as well as many other areas, as our knowledge of patronising people improves.

It is so important people understand the patronising can not help how they were born, and therefore I would also lobby government for new patronising people discrimination laws, to make it an offence to refuse to serve a patronising person within any service, or discriminate them within employment, so long as its reasonable for businesses. The police will need extra funding to deal with hate crime against the patronising, which could be on the rise if a gene was discovered.

It is also important we celebrate patronising culture and develop art, music and films about the patronising, for the patronising. It would be good to have patronising people who can be positive role models, and ensure patronising people are fairly represented on TV. I am sure Channel 5 would be keen to commission a documentary series exploring the lives of patronising people in their own usual down to earth way.

As the awareness of patronising people grows, I am sure many support groups, charities and other organisations will be formed, some led by sensible people, and some led indeed by patronising people themselves, to ensure they have a voice in the local and national government policies being made about them, as they demand the right to remain included into society, clearly until they can be cured. Some of these charities may fight for the most profoundly patronising to have the right to die because of the level of suffering they experience. Other charities may focus on the needs of those who care for the patronising, ensuring they have the support they need as they look after their loved ones, especially since their needs are so far not recognised.

A patronising gene would bring hope to patronising people and their families, as well as protecting disabled people from their disruptive behaviour.

I am aware many readers may see this light-hearted article as nonsense, but it is important to understand that despite the word play, the article shows how society already treats people who are defined as different, including myself as someone with cerebral palsy. Who we define as different is more random and socially constructed than we would care to admit, and therefore the medicalisation of patronising behaviour is not as far fetched as it may sound.

from Simon Stevens


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