Today, I am very disappointed in many of my friends and in myself.
I posted a link on Friday to a blog post by a friend, which at first generated mostly thoughtful and interesting discussion about its content. The discussion rapidly devolved over the last two days into name-calling, swearing […] and finally, actual physical threats […]
Almost every single person who participated in the "discussion" is Autistic. (I can only think of one person who wasn't offhand.) This saddens me, because while I personally took great issue with many of the things that were written in the original blog post to which I had linked, this fact more than proved many of the observations that its author made about vitriolic rhetoric. The world is watching us, and if all the world sees is that Autistic people are incapable of mature, calm, and respectful dialogue (and respectful doesn't have to mean "polite" or "denying problems exist" or talking to people who actually want to hurt you) amongst ourselves, never mind with the public, then we will NEVER be listened to and our ideas will NEVER be taken seriously.
April 15 at 4:07pm
Saturday, April 27, 2013
All autists are equal, but some are more equal than others
I'm becoming increasingly disillusioned with the so-called Autism Community. It started last year when I wrote in this blog a post that got a ton of backlash. I felt discouraged from writing since then. Many of the readers/commenters grossly misinterpreted my ideas. They thought I was advocating being passive in the face of abuse when actually I was talking about the need to be mindful of our speech/actions so that we are not contributing to the number of enemies and negative public perception. For an analogy, imagine fighting a raging fire. You must be able to contain or slow its spread. If it grows larger, faster than you can gather/apply water you will never put it out. That is a mathematical certainty.
I think there is this notion that autistics are pure, innocent victims of unjust persecution so any hint of blame is seen as outrageous. While it’s not exactly a war of our own making, it’s worth pointing out the part we can play towards breeding and prolonging conflict. You can’t advocate for being viewed as comptetent/intelligent but ignore accountability.
I have seen a quite a bit of vitriol, rhetoric, and venom spewed forth by my peers. That is what I wanted to caution against when I wrote Don’t Make Enemies. Ironically, that is just what happened in the ensuing “discussions.” Lydia Brown (author of Autistic Hoya), remarked:
And yet I was met with accusations of being the "tone police”, engaging in lateral oppression, and unfairly derailing arguments. First off, lateral oppression is an absurd notion since if we're truly peers, by definition I don't have any power or authority over you. Of course an argument should be judged by its merits (e.g. coherence) but there are tons of logical fallacies and possible errors in reasoning. Pointing them out is necessary in debate/discourse. However I’ve noticed many instances of someone crying 'derail!' as merely a plea to ignore the faults in their arguments and drop the counterargument(s). Ironically, that would be an actual derail.
I get the sense that arguments that don’t toe the party line are taboo. It's a slippery slope from dissent to thought-crime if we arbitrarily judge who is a REAL autistic advocate and what they *should* say.
This idea of an Autism Community is a farce. It’s about as united as the United States. What we have is a bunch of people who are angry (somewhat justly), highly opinionated, thin-skinned, and hegemonic. Chained together by a common label “autism” but pulling in different directions and bickering about where to go and what to do. Except, there is no one right direction. It’s erroneous because while the symptoms may appear to be superficially similar, in all likelihood these are different underlying conditions with varying challenges and needs that are not being met by perpetuating a false equivalence.