My grandson suffers from Asperger’s, a form of autism that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It’s a substantial disability. Life is hard for my grandson and perhaps even more in a sense for his parents who have had to deal with raising someone who has extreme difficulty fitting in, making friends and coping with everyday trials that to him seem insurmountable.

As a family, we’ve been tested. It hasn’t been easy. But thankfully I’m proud to say we’ve never been guilty of one kind of inexcusable response. As you can see from the way I’m sharing this information about his illness, we’ve never been ashamed. It would be heartless beyond words to make our child who has Asperger’s feel that his illness warrants embarrassment, that an affliction beyond his control deserves humiliation.

Which is why I am so disturbed by what we have all just recently learned passed as civil and permissible discourse in the inner sanctum of America’s White House. Jeffrey Goldberg, the prominent journalist and close friend of the President, in a recent piece in the Atlantic magazine titled “The Crisis In US- Israel Relations Is Officially Here” which stirred quite a bit of talk round the world, revealed that unnamed Obama administration officials have described the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous and a slang word unfit to be reprinted – as well as “Aspergery.”

I leave it to others to react to the highly insulting personal remarks directed towards the head of a government ostensibly a close friend and ally of the United States – the kind of invectives I do not recall ever being uttered against leaders of any other country, no matter how unfriendly to America and its interests. The word diplomatic somehow seems to be forgotten in dealings with Israel. But I do not write this from a political perspective. My concern is prompted by something far more personal. And it is shocking to me that while there has been outraged reaction to the highly irregular slighting of a Prime Minister there wasn’t an equally formidable response to the disgraceful slur that identified a medical disability as a grave personal failing.

To use Aspergery as insult is as offensive as condemning someone with cerebral palsy or mocking someone with Down’s syndrome.

In the long list of adjectives demeaning Netanyahu – adjectives suggesting cowardice, spinelessness, stupidity, weakness, egotism and other personal flaws – the coup de grace was an accusation that deserves to be banned as strongly as racist or bigoted expressions. To use Aspergery as insult is as offensive as condemning someone with cerebral palsy or mocking someone with Down’s syndrome.

As a society we have thankfully learned that certain abuses are simply too inflammatory. It was not too long ago that the extremely wealthy titleholder of a basketball team in Los Angeles was forced to give up his lucrative ownership because he had used the nefarious “N-word,” mind you not in a public forum but in private telephone conversation with his mistress! It is clear that racism will not in any form be tolerated.

What shall we say then about the kind of insensitivity that hurts those most in need of our compassion and understanding? How much understanding does it take to grasp that we don’t make sport of sickness nor do we ever shame its victims?

If the White House culture is such that it fails to equate disparaging the disabled with racism it has earned a kind of shame more serious than what is required even for the ownership of a basketball franchise.

Numerous calls have already gone out demanding that the names of those responsible for the recorded insults be made public and the person or persons involved be held liable. So far the rationale has been political, the motivation to restore the diplomatic dignity of a maligned Prime Minister. I hope that the case will be made even stronger.

As the grandfather of a child whose condition is shared by countless other innocent victims, I pray that Aspergery and its like will be seen as contemptible a pejorative as the racist and anti-Semitic invectives we so mightily strive to remove from our society – and will never again make its appearance in civilized dialogue.