being mean

While out running errands, my oldest was pondering the characters and plot of a movie we watched a few months ago. He is at the stage where he wants to examine what makes the good guys good and the bad guys bad.

The subtleties of characterization is sometimes layered to the point where it is difficult for his concrete way of thinking to understand. His aspie brain longs for black and white division between right and wrong. He is a rule follower and desires a world where everyone follows those those rules.

In examining this movie, he knew the antagonist was bad. Yet, he could not figure out why. So he asked.

"Dad, the villain from this movie, was she breaking the law?"

"No," I answered, "she was just really mean. And being mean isn't illegal."

"It should be illegal."

This is the world he lives in. All that is right is good but that which is wrong is horrible. For him, having something bad be legal is illogical. For example, he does not understand why people smoke if they know it is so unhealthy.

He does understand the difference between nice people and mean people. Unfortunately, this world is not typically kind to kids on the autism spectrum. He sees this every day - experiences it in a way that emotionally wounds him. He shares a classroom with kids that are not technically bullies, however they are not nice. They do not explicitly break the rules, but they are unkind in ways where rules do not apply.

With that in mind, his statement makes more sense. How much easier would life be if it were illegal to be mean to others? What if to be unkind was to break the law?

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