Tag Archives: comment

On Manny Pacquiao’s comments about homosexuality and the case for examining our thoughts

Manny Pacquiao was recently dropped by Nike over his remarks about homosexuals (click here for more). Manny reportedly said, amongst other things, that homosexuals are worse than animals..

Any form of discrimination should not be acceptable

Understandably, many people are upset about what the famous boxer has said. I myself am deeply disappointed as he is someone that many people look up to. Although nobody has ever suggested that Manny Pacquiao is an intellectual whose words should be treated as the truth, I fear that because of his status, success and undeniable popularity, his opinions may strengthen the backward beliefs of some and may influence the thinking of some.

I agree that people have the right to have their own opinions. However, I am frustrated when this right is abused. Sure, we are entitled to disagree and think differently from everyone else, but we must never think that another person is a lesser human being just because they are romantically involved with a person of the same sex. This is no different from any other forms of discrimination such as those based on religious and/ or racial grounds. How would Manny feel if he is publicly degraded by someone based on his nationality or religion? Would he be pleased? I think not.

The case for examining our own thoughts and beliefs

I can only ascertain that Manny’s comments are based on his religious beliefs which are passed on to him, perhaps by elders in his community as well as by pastors/priests/preachers. If this is true, this highlights the importance of examining our own thoughts and beliefs. We must ask ourselves the following questions from time to time:

  • ‘Why am I thinking this way?’
  • ‘Why do I believe what I believe?’
  • ‘Are my beliefs detrimental to other people’s lives?’
  • ‘Is what I believe supported by evidence?’
  • ‘Are there any alternative ways of thinking that are supported by better evidence?’
  • ‘How are those evidence collected?’

It is not a bad thing nor is it ever too late,to change our minds based on better quality of evidence. The reason why I am writing this is to explain that although Manny Pacquiao is an influential figure, not only in his country but worldwide, his opinions must be questionned, challenged and opposed. The same goes with the opinions of others who are more ‘powerful’ and have more authority than us.

Please, let us all use our brains.

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Why I liked BBC 4’s Growing Children, Autism

Last week, BBC 4 aired a documentary wherein child psychologist Laverne Antrobus interviewed researchers in Cardiff and Nottingham Universities about recent neuroscientific research findings about Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). However instead of focusing mainly on the research findings, the film centered on three cases of ASD- Tony, Jake and Michael. Tony is a teenage boy who is in the severe end of the Autism Spectrum. According to his mother, he is sensitive to a multitude of sensory inputs particularly to sound. He is very fond of youtube videos of cartoons and repeats their dialogues after watching them.  Jake is younger than Tony and is on the higher functioning end of the Autism Spectrum. The film showed Jake exhibiting behavioural difficulties such as resistance by shouting at his mother. As it was explained in the film, Jake usually misbehaves at home after school. The third case focused on a 19 year-old Physics student, Michael, who has published a book about metaphors (it should be noted that people with ASD often struggle to understand metaphors).

Having worked with young people with Special Educational Needs for more than 6 years, I observed that professionals (teaching staff, etc.) and students still lack the basic knowledge about what Autism is. Research such as that of Tobias (2009) has also shown that this lack of basic understanding often lead to negative attitudes, and often, bullying, towards individuals with Autism. As a result, I am actively searching for books, documentaries, films and articles which I can recommend to people in order to increase their understanding of ASD. In my opinion, BBC 4’s ‘Growing Children- Autism’ is a good start for people who want to know more about ASD. Here’s why:

  • It showed the heterogeneity of ASD. Autism is a complex disorder which affects individuals differently (APA, 1994). Francesca Happe recently stated that ‘when you meet one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism’. Books, websites and articles about Autism often define the condition as an impairment of social interaction, imagination and communication. However, in my experience of working with young people with ASD, I can say that individuals affected by the condition can interact with others, have imagination and can communicate, but sometimes not in the way that we are used to. In addition, I have never seen two people with ASD who have the exact same sensitivity; who respond in exactly the same way to stimuli and have the exact same background. Even though BBC 4’s documentary showed only three cases (4 if you include Jake’s brother Zane), it captured the differences between each cases.
  • It showed how important the families/support networks are to those with ASD. Perhaps the reason why this sticks out to me is due to my knowledge of the ‘Refrigirator Mother Theory’ which states that Autism is the result of bad parenting. Having been around families and carers of people with Autism, I can genuinely say that these families deserve more credit than they normally get. These families/care-givers are the ones who are with the people with ASD more times than teachers and psychologists. They are with them when they eat, sleep, go to the toilet, early in the morning, late at night, during the weekends and school holidays. As I’ve mentioned, the documentary showed how Jake misbehaves towards his mother when he comes home after school. This aggression is often built up at school during the day and is usually vented towards the students’ parents or caregivers- people who are at times, not very well trained at dealing with these behaviours. The documentary also showed how understanding the parents of Jake and Tony  are and how their attitudes help these individuals. It should be noted that these parents’ cases can be seen as cries for help since not all parents of people with Autism receive the help and support they need from professionals.
  • Lastly, it showed that there is a lot of things we don’t know about ASD. I am not denying the fact that Autism research has rapidly moved on over the past decades. However, we still don’t know what causes ASD, as a result, we don’t know how, if possible, to prevent the condition from occuring. I also believe that diagnosis can be improved in the future.

References:

American Psychiatric Association (1994). DSM-IV Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th ed. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Tobias, A. (2009). Supporting students with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) at secondary school: a parent and student perspective. Educational Psychology in Practice, 25, 151-165.

For more information about the programme, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01lyczl

For more info about Autism, visit www.autism.org.uk