Before I say anything else, I want to make something clear to the reading public out there. Whilst most, if not all, of my posts have been written with the offline journal writing program called Qumana, I have started to find it a most unsatisfactory editor for my purposes. This is not to say that I do not recommend it to people who are looking for a cheap (ie free) editor for their posts, but several problems with the interface have made me decide to look elsewhere. Even for a solution that I must pay money for. Probably the straw that broke my proverbial camel’s back is that on the iMac that I use for all my computing needs, the almost-universal keyboard combination to move back and forth in text on a word by word basis is to hold down the Alt/Option key and press the left or right arrow keys. But for reasons best known to its programmers, Qumana seems to feel that users should hold down the Command key and use the left and right arrow keys to achieve the same effect. This inconsistency with the standard (and yes, I know how that sounds coming from me) has caused me confusion not only when attempting to use Qumana, but also when trying to carry out tasks in other programs. The Command key usually has all of the most powerful and important keyboard commands of the OS X user interface associated with it. Save, Load, Cut, Copy, Paste, and most importantly of all, the Quit command. In OS X, quitting most programs involves holding down Command and pressing Q. When migrating over from Windoze, this can present some confusion at first, but now that I have gotten used to it, I have to say that it is a far better system for closing programs. Qumana threatened to create confusion in that, so I am going to phase it out.
But now that I have gotten that development out of the way, I also feel a need to comment on a couple of things. The first, I can be relatively brief about. At 2030 hours last Saturday, a man named Matthew Owens was savagely beaten. I cannot comment on the motives or incidents leading up to this attack because the story paints a fairly murky picture. Owens, for example, has been said in one news report to have arrests on his record for domestic violence. The man who was arrested for the assault, one Terry Rawls, has a more extensive criminal history in which charges of assault are included. But the thing that makes this case more noteworthy than similar fights between neighbours is that several witnesses claim to have heard one of the suspects say “this is justice for Trayvon“ as they left the scene.
Trayvon Martin, you will recall, was shot dead by George Zimmerman, whose defense team has in turn spared no effort to besmirch Trayvon‘s character in an effort to get Zimmerman out of the associated trouble. Obviously, a lot of anger has been stirred up by this effort, and with good reason. I do not care if you are black, white, or pink with purple polka dots. You shoot dead a seventeen year old and try to besmirch his character in an effort to escape whatever the community decides you have coming, you get what you deserve.
But this is the thing. For all of his misdeeds, Matthew Owens has not done a damned thing to Trayvon Martin. Owens probably has never been so much as within a few miles of Martin at any point. Certainly not within firing range (and make no mistake, pistols are, as firearms go, an up-close weapon). I have seen photographs of George Zimmerman, and in order to say that Matthew Owens could ever be mistaken for George Zimmerman, one would need to be blind. So where in the void of Satan’s bumhole is the correlation between beating the living shit out of Matthew Owens and justice for Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman is doubtlessly still wandering around the neighborhood, probably laughing it up that he is not only able to shoot dead a boy whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but have people in the court of public opinion rush to defend him from criticism. How is that justice for Trayvon Martin?
Also worth noting is that the whole idea behind a justice system is that we, the society that administers justice, are meant to be better than the people who kill others in the street without cause. We do not gang up on a singular man and batter him to the point of needing intensive care whilst others, including possibly children, look on. Such a system is utterly barbaric, and if there is one thing we cannot afford to be in a world where there is three and a half times as many people as there will be sufficient resources for by the time the youngest of them are elderly, it is barbaric.
As I have said, there has been some whisper in the media that Matthew Owens is not a saint. There has been mention of him being charged with domestic violence. But the point here is that the people claiming, or having the claim made on their behalf, to have delivered justice for Trayvon Martin have done nothing of the kind. All that they have done is reduce themselves to a level even lower than that of George Zimmerman. I hope that they are proud of themselves.
With that out of the way, it is time to turn to an actual debate that has been going on for a number of years and shows no signs of ever being resolved. As it is still “let’s make the autistic hate themselves” month, talk of what is the right symbol to use to represent the autistic is, at least in some circles, still occurring.
I do not normally like to promote or refer to journals written by parental units. Some would say it is partly out of the hatred I feel for one of mine, and they would not be mistaken. But the majority of the reason is that you cannot even mention autism in some places without getting a load of parents, parents, parents. Recently, in a conversation with a psychologist I am seeing, said psychologist mentioned that she was in receipt of some communications from my mother about me. These communications were about me and my mother’s perspective on events. What struck this psychologist as interesting is that normally in such communications, she gets a sense that the words she receives from parents indicate an attitude on the part of such parents that it is all about them. Not so with my mother. I do not know exactly what my mother said in these correspondences, but the word from the psychologist is that my mother has said a lot about how she sees the effects upon me and how it upsets her to see me live the way I do. That is pretty much the sum of her focus on self in these conversations, apparently. That it makes her sad to see me the way I am. Needless to say, that boosted my opinion of my mother quite significantly. Because she is actually taking the time to listen and see things in a similar way to how I might see them.
The one journal by a parental unit or group thereof that does not make me want to hit people, well, the entry I am thinking of is here. As is said in the entry, the puzzle piece has become the predominant symbol used to represent autism. Tim and I have the same opinion of it if you use the executive summary: we hate it. I expect that I hate it a lot more than Tim does, however. Tim’s stated opinion that it is entirely about people who are not autistic and not at all about people who are is dead on. Earlier on in his writing, he also states that if someone thought a puzzle piece was an accurate representation of him, he would be pretty ticked off “to put it mildly” (his words). Again, spot on.
What a lot of people, too many people in fact, do not seem to be aware of is that we, the autistic, did not choose this puzzle piece symbol. It was thrust upon us. It is an Autism Speaks symbol, and therefore to Powell types like myself, is basically the equivalent of a swastika. Put it on your site whilst proclaiming yourself to be an ally of the autistic, and that will turn out to be the last thing I ever read from you.
But I also find Tim’s proposals for a replacement equally unpalatable. In fact, all of the proposed symbols I have seen or heard described by others just make me feel even more excluded than I do now. Let us go over some of the elements of them so we can explain point by point why.
First of all, if you want to use an image based on a symbol of a brain, go to the back of the line. Generic images of the Human brain get us nowhere because they are so commonplace that they do not even get a second look anymore. Secondly, whilst images of rainbows or rainbow-coloured things might look good to you, they hold some nasty connotations for some. Rainbows are associated with light, and if there is one thing a person who is facing the prospect of having a permanent facial droop due to getting too much sun at earlier points of his life is repulsed by, it is light. Our daylight, daylight, daylight only society needs to wake up and realise that not everyone likes or can even withstand a blue sky. In earlier discussions, I mentioned how the rainbow-coloured spinning wheel that OS X brings up in place of a mouse pointer whenever the system is occupied trying to calculate something is often derided as the “gay pride wheel of death”, but that only brings me to another point. Rainbows and things coloured that way are already associated with the homosexual civil rights movement, and whilst this is not a bad thing, it means that adopting such a symbol as a rainbow-coloured brain deprives it of its association with the autistic and its meaning. Having a symbol to represent yourself with is a pointless exercise if you have to explain who it represents and what it means all of the time.
My proposed symbol is based on a TRON-esque idea (everyone pretend to be surprised). I am not going to attempt to put a representation of it in image format here because I lack the tools to make that happen. But if you easily visualise things you read or hear, like I do, you are in for a treat. Picture a silhouette of a Human, specifically of their head and shoulders. Picture the recesses of the brain, the optic nerves, the stem, all all of the other things that connect in some fashion to the brain (maybe some limits for the sake of clarity) highlighted in a bright white, silver, or blue colour, perhaps with some contrasted edging. Picture a few text-like symbols around this silhouette, or even within. Now, ask yourself, if you heard that someone thought this symbol represented you, even if you disagreed, would you be ticked off about it? I think this symbol would be a bang-on representation of me, but even if I did not, I would think it had value. This is a total contrast to both the rainbow anything or the puzzle piece, where if someone thought it represented me, I would be thoroughly pissed off.
Another point worth considering is that although it would need some modification to avoid being associated too closely with the imagery that inspired it, this symbol would also draw curiosity if placed on a banner or worn on a shirt. It is all too easy to pass by a rainbow, a whirling gay pride wheel of death, or a rainbow-coloured infinity symbol, and not pay it a second thought. The kind of symbol I propose, on the other hand, will make people think “what the fukk is that?”, and possibly even ask that of someone who can fill them in.
But that is just a fleeting thought I had based on a discussion and topic I got into at one point. If you have any thoughts in the matter, feel free to share. Irrespective of what you might think is the right way to go in terms of a proper, distinctive, and unique symbol for us to use to promote our cause, we can all agree that the puzzle piece has to be torn up and thrown back in Autism Speaks’ face. The sooner the better.