Flat White

'Blessed' or a bigot?

21 April 2022

11:03 AM

21 April 2022

11:03 AM

Like the Prime Minister, I’m blessed to have healthy children. And if you believe senior Labor politicians, that makes me a bigot. 

Social media went into meltdown last night when Scott Morrison, answering a question at the leaders’ debate about the National Disability Insurance Scheme, said he was ‘blessed’ to have children who hadn’t struggled with disability.

The comment was in response to a woman, Catherine, whose son is autistic.

Mr Morrison inquired about Catherine’s son and what his name was before saying:

‘Jenny and I have been blessed, we have two children who haven’t had to go through that. And so for parents, with children who are disabled, I can only try and understand your aspirations for those children.’

Normal people would see that as an attempt at empathy and understanding. 

Clumsy? Maybe. But normal people knew exactly what he meant.

Mr Morrison did not mean that parents of disabled children were cursed. And he did not mean that disabled children were of lesser value.

He was simply expressing the natural gratitude that every parent of healthy children feels, while acknowledging he couldn’t possibly understand the challenges faced by parents of disabled children.

Cue disgust.

Faster than you can say ‘shameless opportunist’, Shadow Minister for the NDIS Bill Shorten was whipping up offence on Twitter.

‘ScoMo says he is “blessed” to have two non-disabled children. Every child is a blessing,’ Mr Shorten tweeted.

Having lit the fuse of faux outrage, he then sat back and watched Twitter explode.


The Prime Minister’s comment was described as ‘utterly offensive’, ‘repulsive’, and ‘abhorrent’.

One person accused Mr Morrison of being an ‘ableist’ more concerned about granting disabled people a ‘pity party’ than their human rights.

And, of course, many people insisted it was the Prime Minister’s ‘Pentecostal prosperity gospel’ that made him believe disabled children were a punishment meted out by God to sinful parents.

Well of course. If you’re going to mischaracterise Mr Morrison’s comments, you might as well caricature his religion as well!

But the comment that Mr Shorten would have loved most, as he scrolled through more than 100 replies, said:

‘Mate you attacked Morrison much more succinctly than Albo did on stage tonight. He never picked up on the blessed comment.’

And this: ‘Wish that Bill was still leading Labor tbh.’

While parents of disabled children were by now angry and riled up, one suspects Mr Shorten would have gone to bed well pleased with those particular responses. 

What is worse? Saying you are blessed to have healthy children? Or cynically stirring up outrage among the parents of disabled children in order to score a political point? 

But Mr Shorten was not the only senior Labor politician to jump all over the PM as if he were the devil for saying what normal people would understand was a very normal thing to say.

Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally tweeted: ‘Unbelievably, Scott Morrison just said he was “blessed” not to have a child with a disability. Parents of children with a disability are blessed too.’

Yawn.

On June 21, 2019, Ms Keneally tweeted that she was ‘blessed’ to be at a book launch. 

Was she insinuating that those of us not at the launch were cursed? Was she seriously suggesting our lives are somehow less than hers? 

Obviously not. But my point is that small, petty people can play this game all day long.

Labor Senator Katy Gallagher, who has a daughter with autism, also tweeted her disapproval. 

‘I am “blessed” to have a child with autism. She teaches me things every day. Our lives are enriched by her,’ she wrote.

Well of course! 

But let’s take Kristina Keneally’s mean-spirited, plainly stupid critique of Scott Morrison’s comment and apply it to Ms Gallagher’s tweet.

‘Unbelievably, Katy Gallagher just said he was “blessed” to have a child with a disability. Parents of children without a disability are blessed too.’

See what I mean? If you’re looking for offence, it isn’t hard to find.

Thank God for one mother of a disabled child who took to Mr Shorten’s Twitter feed to gently set him straight.

She wrote: ‘Morrison’s comment was not offensive. I have a severely intellectually disabled child. He is a blessing. BUT everyone with a severely disabled child knows the fear that comes from knowing that one day you won’t be around to look after them. If you could change things, you would.’

If only our political class had that lady’s class. 

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.


Show comments
Close