Ask a factory worker, a janitor, or even some well-read authors what they think the Greek-origin word “democracy” means, and they will tell you it is where the idea that gets the most votes is the one that gets enacted. This “do whatever fifty percent plus one wants to do” description is even taught to us in primary and secondary schools as if it were factual. Unfortunately, like just about everything in life, there is the surface-scratching shorthand explanation, and there is the detailed, complex explanation. The latter may take more time to explain, and be more difficult for the person hearing the explanation to understand, but as William of Ockham really did say, entities should not be posited without necessity. Well, friends and neighbours, when it comes to what democracy really is, a lot of entities are actually necessary.
The Wikipedia has an article about how democracy is defined and how it really works in practice here. Another definition I found whilst scouring the Web goes something like “a system designed to give all citizens (with certain qualifications) the greatest possible level of control over their lives”. But that does not really work, either. No, in order to define democracy, one must speculate on what the Greeks really meant when they coined the word δημοκρατία (dēmokratía).
In a truly democratic system, people are given certain rights and responsibilities. This latter part is important to understand. Contrary to what some very backwoods folk will tell you, rights are not natural, inalienable, or “god given”. Rights are social constructs designed specifically to promote the healthy inter-cooperation of members of the society granting those rights. A democracy may give citizens the right to reproduce freely once they have reached legal adulthood, but that comes with the responsibility to not breed too much for fear of depleting resources to the point where the majority of the world populace will be starving. As you can see, some rights have a way of conflicting with others, and when the conflict becomes so severe that society cannot continue in its optimum shape with both, one of the rights has to be repealed.
Hence, if your right to have as many children as you see fit comes into conflict with that of your children, their children, and/or their grandchildren to have access to sufficient food and a certain degree of freedom from disease, one of these rights is going to be repealed. And guess what? If you think repealing the latter right is any kind of option, you are literally a monster.
The biggest problem with the “fifty percent plus one” model by far is that whilst a so-called majority might make the decision, everyone in the society has rights. If you are legally retarded, you have the right to be cared for in a manner that does not strip you of what little dignity you might have left. You have the right to not treat abuse as expectation, and in cases where abuse does occur, you have the right to have such occurrences properly investigated. If fifty percent plus one of the society you live in decide that you are more useful being experimented upon in ways that lead to extreme pain or death, with no rationale of benefit to you, and no ability to refuse, that is so far from democratic that it is abhorrent to think people might even confuse this process with democracy. If you are justly, fairly convicted of crimes that harm others or the order of your society, you have a right to an appeals process, to be treated in a dignified manner whilst in prison, and to a means by which you may reintegrate yourself with society once you have served your sentence. If the society you are a part of decides one day by the fifty percent plus one rule that you should be used for cheap/free labour and given little if any means by which to permanently extricate yourself from the corrections system, that is not democracy. If you are capable of communicating to others, you have a right to put your voice out to as many people as you can in order to have your viewpoint about a critical issue heard. But the people you are sending the message to also have a right to not hear you if that is what they desire. If the society you are living in decides through the fifty percent plus one rule that not only are you not allowed to speak for yourself, but you must sit and listen to people with means and motives speak for you without fear of rebuttal, that is not democratic.
I used that last example for a good reason. Simply put, it is a description of how society is, to one degree or another, treating the autistic. Morons like Jenny McCarthy are allowed to tell an international audience that there are “no autistic adults” or Suzanne Wright et al are allowed to tell the world in collections of sound and images that autism is necessarily a crippling, horrible “condition”. Yet when people on the autistic spectrum wish to raise objections to these statements, we are limited to means like the Internet, YouChoob, and such. And speaking of the latter, if you saw the kind of shit that comes out of the “mouths” of pro-cure types, you would know that something is really, terribly, horribly wrong here. Yes, the Internet was democratic once, but as commercialists who feared what a two-way street meant came in to “monetise” it, that changed dramatically. In fact, the current state of discussion of the autistic spectrum on places like YouChoob is a classic example of why people who truly understand what democracy means developed what is known as the Fairness Doctrine.
The Fairness Doctrine was a rule of the Federal Communications Commission that held that when a “controversial” subject was being discussed on the airwaves, the station hosting the discussion was obligated to give opposing views on the subject an equal opportunity to be heard. Whilst a wide latitude existed as to how that opportunity be provided, it was a requirement. You will already note that this is a very different proposition from Fox News’ “fair and balanced” bullshit. An example that really occurred is that when one network aired the film Advance To Ground Zero, a story about soldiers who were ordered to march into areas where nuclear bombs were tested just hours prior, persons in favour of nuclear weaponry were given the chance to get on the air and explain why they were in favour of nuclear armament. But during the deregulation frenzy of the 1980s, conservatives went on a rampage of a campaign to prevent the Fairness Doctrine from being changed from self-imposed regulation to an actual law. Hence, there is no law stating that for every hour Oprah lets Jenny McCarthy convince the world she should have been shot at birth or puts children who cannot string four words together on and says “this is autism, period”, an hour must be spent showing real autistic adults stating in eloquent terms (or the fashion I would) why much speculation is devoted to what Oprah’s or McCarthy’s innards look like. If you call this democracy, then you have not been paying attention.
Nor is the sinking of the Fairness Doctrine even an example of majority rules, although the Republic___ establishment will happily tell you otherwise. In essence, it was a small, rich, and very vocal movement using dirty tricks, lies, and bribery/pressure to remove an unwritten law that they had actually benefited from for at least a decade prior to their current power-mad trip.
Nor does it validate an oppressive law when people within the oppressed group publicly state that the law is okay. When black Americans say to the public that they are okay with being segregated or subject to what was called Jim Crow laws, that is a reason to worry even more, because it indicates that the oppression has become so forceful that it is even changing the way the affected group sees themselves. So using comments from autistic adults who say they are perfectly okay with Autism Speaks et al to validate Autism Speaks horrid policies simply will not wash. Although the autistic are generally given to a huge spike of specialised intelligence, we are still vulnerable to being taught to see ourselves as less than Human (I will post further on this at a later time), and thus such attempts to validate the oppressor should cause more worry, not less. Why? Because as George Orwell wrote about so well, when you control a man through use of the stick, there is still the chance that he will throw you off. When you control a man’s mind, however, you can convince him that murdering him is a perfectly right thing to do. As is said several times during Unleashed (or Danny The Dog as it is known in some locations), get them young enough, and the possibilities be endless.
So, as one child asks during a film, what is democracy? Well, I think I have pretty firmly established that the mere consent of a majority or even a supermajority should not be, and cannot be, the sole criteria of determining a society’s democratic leaning. But this also means that a democratic society is different things to different people. Just as white, black, Hispanic, Asian, or Eastern European folk have different criteria and specificities concerning what makes a society democratic to them, so too should the autistic. Which begs the question of what specific points of law are needed to enforce a democratic state for the autistic. From my experience, the following pointed list should be a rough guide (feel free to comment and add some if you wish):
- An autistic citizen has the right to have their needs assessed on an individual basis.
As the autistic spectrum is exactly that, a spectrum, an autistic adult who could read at a university level when he was in pre-school should not have to have his services tailored for someone who can barely wipe his own arse, if at all. And the same should apply in the opposite direction, too. To autistic individuals of my generation, so-called “catch all”s are the bane of our lives.
- An autistic citizen has the right to be properly listened to.
This statement should be redundant, but unfortunately, as many a trip to the doctor or a specialist has demonstrated, this simply does not happen. An autistic adult could complain of having a sore in their face, for example, that simply refuses to heal. And they could be told to stop picking at it, even when keeping it bandaged for days merely results in the bandages having scab-goo in them when removed. Since what I have just described is a skin cancer, you can see how a refusal to listen can have devastating effects. So note well that when you read/listen to half of the sentence, you lose all of the meaning.
- An autistic citizen has the right to timely, accurate diagnosis.
This should also be redundant. Imagine for a second that you had a cancer somewhere in your brain that affected your ability to carry a meaningful conversation, your ability to grip pens properly, and your ability to properly make sense of what people say to you. Yes, I know that cancer is a piss-poor analogy, but there is a point to this. Let us say for a moment that you complained about the problems I just outlined when you were ten years old, but as you were being put off on one lousy pretext after another, you do not learn about the tumor until you are twenty-five. Would you be upset? Angry? Livid? Murderous?
Leaving aside the fact that brain tumors are generally fatal if not excised, and nobody has ever died from being autistic, the doctors who failed to diagnose a brain tumor that has been complained about for years in time for it to be meaningfully treated would at best face disciplinary measures. Medical incompetence costs society and citizens very dearly, both in terms of lost lives, lost livelihoods, and lost opportunities, but also in sheer emotional devastation. Psychologists and psychiatric professionals are the only branch of medicine that is basically absolved, time and time again, for incompetence of this level. This seriously infringes upon the rights of the autistic. If one cannot handle the responsibility of carrying others’ lives in their hands, they should not be in medicine. The professionals (so-called) who wash their hands of responsibility every time they encounter an autistic adult who has suffered due to being diagnosed decades too late bring disgrace to their entire profession, and provide ammunition to anti-science nutbar crusaders. It simply must stop.
- An autistic citizen has the right to communicate without dueling.
I have lost count of the number of times that I was engaged in conversation with my male parent where no matter what I said, it was wrong. The whole “Dean’s automatically wrong, SHITHEEL is automatically right” thing has gotten so old that I refuse to speak to my male parent. Not for my sake, but for his. I am sure he will object to being hit in the head until he is unable to care for himself or even shit without assistance. Hence, moving the goalposts all the time to make the words the autistic adult uses wrong in every instance is a gross violation of our rights. One that, quite frankly, deserves a criminal code section of its own.
- An autistic citizen has the right to have the fact that they are different to the expected norm respected, and to expect that the manner in which they differ be accommodated.
We do not demand that people with diabetes simply consume the same products that those without do and just treat the difference with extra doses of insulin. Deaths would result, so we have products in supply that do not cause huge spikes in blood glucose. We do not demand that epileptics stay in confined areas so that potential seizures can be treated and remedied in controlled conditions. We do not overtly ask black people, Mexicans, Europeans, or Asians to confine themselves to ghettoes where they may only mingle with others solely of their kind (we are, after all, not Republic___s). Yet we expect the autistic to adapt and change to patterns of action and modes of speech that we (and by we, I mean you, normies) deem comfortable to us. What is wrong with this picture?
All of the horrendous, mistaken things that have been done to (or allegedly on the behalf of) the autistic would have been prevented if we had a Bill Of Rights that stipulated rights to promote our survival and access to a full life recognised by the governments we live under. In my opinion, that should be one of our highest goals. To go to our representatives without a clear and well-defined description of what our rights should be and why is futile.
I do not pretend that the above list is particularly comprehensive, or even well-thought-out. Like a lot of what I write, it is a reaction. To what I feel I have been subjected to, to what I feel is wrong with the world I inhabit, and so forth. After all, many psychologists believe that suicide is ultimately a function of poor integration into a social group. And the social groups that we, the people, find ourselves in of late are becoming very notable for their inability to include others who do not perfectly fit. If there are people who were around during the 1930s or 1940s who see this and are not appalled by it, colour me surprised.
If anyone out there is reading and has ideas concerning what rights should be added to those of the autistic citizenship, I would love to hear from you.
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