Asswipe comment of the day, part 2 in what will apparently be a very long series

I was at a welcome party recently for a new group I joined for some work-related stuff, and, since it was in the evening and partners were invited, both Roo and NSG came with me. Roo was, naturally, the life of the party, and several people were compelled to tell me the adoption stories of people they knew. For the most part they were the stories you would expect – a neighbor with a daughter from China, a schoolmate who had been adopted from Korea, and so on.

But there’s always a bombshell, and here it was, from a former high school teacher:

“A former student of mine is an adoptive parent – we just met his son, who is 16 months old. Adorable! He was adopted domestically, too, born to a syphilitic, drug-using woman… it was a miracle the baby was born healthy.”

I was so caught off guard that I might actually have drooled in front of him.

I’m embarassed to admit I said nothing, and my total inability to think on my feet has been haunting me ever since.

What could I have said? What would you have said?


14 Responses to Asswipe comment of the day, part 2 in what will apparently be a very long series

  1. dawnfriedman says:

    I don’t know. I usually just stare blankly and so far the only people I really hear this from? Other adoptive parents talking to me (a complete stranger) about their kid because, you know, there’s Madison looking adopted and they think that makes it ok. Yeah. Not.

  2. vy says:

    Delurking here. I enjoy reading your blog.

    I have been in a slightly similiar situation. My response…something along the lines of ‘Wow. I’m surprised they mentioned that about the bio mother. That’s usually considered private information that you don’t want floating around for the child’s sake., etc.’
    Though you can’t do anything about the parents, at least you can eduacate this person and stop them from spreading this sensitive info around.


  3. Lisa V says:

    VY has exactly what I was going to suggest.

  4. shannon says:

    Cornell West used to teach this method of dealing with racist comments:

    “What?” (in an “I missed what you said” tone)
    “[repeat of ignorant comment]”
    “[repeat of ignorant comment]”

    until the person gets that what they said sounds really, really dumb and they get embarrassed and back up, one way or another.

  5. DS-L says:

    Oh I like that one Shannon. Recently Halle Berry asked during a radio interview “are we having a racist moment here?” I think that works for everything “Are we having an inappropriate moment here?” would have worked to this nutbrain.

  6. Erin O' says:

    I like all of the responses — I’ve definitely done the blank stare when I’ve heard racist/inappropriate comments, and then wish I had said something else. Violet’s suggestion is one I think we might get a lot of use from in the future. Ultimately I guess it’s good to get things out in the open, like HB did.
    I know of an adoptive father of 3 Ethiopian siblings who was asked right in front of them (two are 4 and 5 years old and understand English) “are their parents dead?”



  7. reunionwritings says:

    Nothing, you don’t have to say anything, in fact staring at him dumbfounded and shocked would have said it all.

  8. Deb says:

    A friend of mine was telling me the other day that in the mid-20th century (I think – 1930s maybe? Shannon, American history expert, any details?), the NAACP started a “frown” campaign encouraging members and supporters to frown at racism: don’t go along with jokes, mark overt and covert racism, and generally make your displeasure visible, and change the culture that makes casual racism acceptable.

  9. PinkPoppies says:

    Well, depending on my mood, I have always responded with “are you always this rude, or is this just a special occasion?” You could vary it, but since I think just about any racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist, anti choice comment is rude, I find it covers my bases.

    I like the point made earlier about calling the person on their sharing of personal information.


  10. shelli says:

    I never think of the smart comebacks until WAY after the moment. We get a LOT of comments, and I’m usually such a snarky gal.

    I htink I’ll have to file Shannon’s response.

    I like that one. a LOT.

  11. That comeback from PinkPoppies is priceless – what a gift to have that in my repertoire. Thank you!

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