Social media exploded in response to Harvey Price, the learning disabled 13 year old son of Katie Price and Dwight Yorke.
He’d accompanied his mum onto the Loose Women sofa in order to highlight the cyber bullying he’d received. In fact he’d been in receipt of disability hate crime. Online his condition is mocked and belittled and demeaned repeatedly. In my view this requires police attention.
Katy Price was highlighting this and asked her son what he says to the people who are nasty to him. Live on air, Harvey said “hello you c***s”.
But it was at this point that any solidarity I felt with Price’s awareness raising exercise evaporated. All I felt was distress that this lovely boy had performed his line, presumably guaranteed to garner a response as though it was some kind of party trick.
Some found the shock value entertaining; some believed it struck a blow against bullies and trolls. I think it only served to highlight his vulnerability further.
Harvey isn’t a prop, he’s a person. He isn’t retaliating against bullies, he’s probably performing a trick of echolalia; repeating a heard phrase, out of context, and without always understanding its meaning or appropriateness.
We can call them c***s because we understand the context of the word its power and its taboo. Harvey doesn’t. All he seemed to want to do was please people.
As those who work with learning disabled people will tell you, the need to please others is a risk factor for vulnerable people to be exploited. Laughing at his comment either in support or in hatred is still laughing at him. We can’t laugh with him because he doesn’t understand the meaning of what he said.
I raised the issue with a tweeter who assured his followers that he was hugely supportive of Harvey and that he’d laughed loudly at the gaffe. But isn’t this exactly what Harvey’s bullies do by making him an object of jest? No one would be laughing louder than them.
I was told I was missing the point and that I was uptight. I was just highly uncomfortable with a young learning disabled man using a word which he’d been taught, a word which he didn’t understand the context of and millions finding the dichotomy between his innocence and the language entertaining.
Harvey doesn’t deserve abuse online. No learning disabled person does. Sadly it’s a daily fact of life for many disabled people who are at the forefront of the blame game as attitudes harden and notions of “scroungers” are propagated and repeated. This is alongside words like “retard” becoming routine linguistic currency. He doesn’t need any more opportunity to be the figure of ridicule.