Australian comedian and queer favourite Hannah Gadsby has lashed out at Don Burke for blaming his alleged history of sexual harassment on autism.
Dozens of accusations of harassment and lewd behaviour have now been made against the 70-year-old former television presenter.
Gadsby, who revealed she is on the autism spectrum herself, took to Facebook to criticise Burke.
“If you subscribe to the notion that people on the spectrum are incapable of experiencing empathy then you should know that the very people you accuse of biological callousness find it very painful to be constantly told they’re incapable of caring,” Gadsby wrote.
On the matter of Burke, she said she has “chosen to believe that Don Burke genuinely believes he has Asperger’s, because the way somebody views themselves is very important if you want to understand them.”
Gadsby went on to compare Burke with other celebrities who have recently been accused of sexual misconduct.
“If there’s one thing that a spectrum brain is great at, it is identifying patterns,” she wrote.
“So let me show you a fascinating pattern that I have noticed recently: Don Burke told us he had Asperger’s under the very same circumstances that Kevin Spacey came out of the closet, which is exactly the same kind of moment that Harvey Weinstein reframed himself as sex addict, and when Louis C.K. chose to acknowledge his peculiar special needs clause.
“I predict that this pattern will continue every time a powerful person is publicly asked to justify unjustifiable behaviour.
“Given that the excuses vary so widely, but the timing and the behaviour are essentially the same, it is easy to know it doesn’t really matter how they dress it, what really matters is the moment they choose to suddenly position themselves as a minority.”
Gadsby said that people in a position of privilege, especially male celebrities who had abused their power, must be ultimately responsible for their actions.
“Asperger’s is only part of the story,” she wrote.
“Don Burke and I might have an industry and even a spectrum in common, but I doubt he was ever sexually assaulted when he was a homeless queer woman, so I’m just going to give this problem the name it deserves—straight white man abusing privilege and the culture of shame and silence supporting it.”