I find it difficult, if not impossible, to imagine an organisation that is allowed to call itself a charity being hated by the people it claims to be working for to a greater extent than is the case with Autism Speaks. In fact, Autism Speaks’ behaviour in general reminds me of one of the few moments in RoboCop 2 that even comes close to working. During the MediaBreak segment that opens the film, we are told that the police in Detroit have gone on strike once again. In the accompanying interview footage, an officer states that the company that has taken control of the police service in the city has cut the force’s salaries by forty percent and cancelled their pensions. And now, he says, said company will not even talk to them. “God knows why,” the officer opines, “but they want this strike.”
The private corporation referred to in the story of RoboCop and its sequels is called Omni Consumer Products, or OCP as I will refer to it going forward. In an establishing scene of RoboCop, the CEO of OCP asks his then second in command absolute “this police thing”, specifically, “what’s the problem?”. Said second in command basically states that “the union” has been “bitching ever since we took over”. Punctuating that with “you know, the usual nonsense”. This dialogue was intended to reflect the contemptuous attitude that corporations had toward unions, and thus by extension the people represented in them (namely, their workers). But it is also an eerie echo of the attitude that Autism Speaks displays toward the autistic.
For as long as I can remember, post-diagnosis, the attitude that Autism Speaks has displayed towards the autistic has been contemptuous at best, and Nazi-like at worst. Yes, I am using comparisons to the same Nazi party that systemically slaughtered approximately eleven million people across Europe and Eurasia, of which slightly more than half were Jewish. If you think the comparison is inappropriate, then quite frankly you are unqualified to talk about this situation. The reasons why Suzanne Wright is not mentioned in the same breath as Adolf Hitler (or Pol Pot, or Josef Stalin, or…) have nothing to do with a lack of ambition on her part. Whilst I am never in any hurry to even contemplate looking at Autism Speaks’ website, the site was at one point headed with the declaration that their intent was to, amongst other things, prevent cases of autism. Given that autism is present from birth, and a pervasive state of being that can rightly be seen as little different from race or sex (or sexual orientation, more on this shortly), this can be interpreted as a declaration of intent to commit genocide. The definition of genocide as the UN sees it has a number of different subpoints and actions that can constitute part of a plan to enact genocide, but I doubt that anyone in their right mind would argue that actively trying to prevent the births of persons who fit a particular group does not qualify as part of an active plan for genocide. Matter of fact, I would argue that it pretty much is an active plan for genocide, through and through.
(Edited to add because I am a very forgetful sod: You know that prenatal test for the “autism gene” that assholes like Autism Speaks keep threatening us with? Well, whilst it takes some searching to find mention of, commonly-accepted lore has it that the universities who were working on it in Bible Belt states (act surprised at your leisure) originally conceived it as a test for the “gay gene”. Mull over the implications of that at your leisure.)
Add to this that Suzanne Wright has, in fact, testified before something official looking that she is not aware of any opposition to the little club she leads that I like to call Normies Shove Words In The Mouths Of The Autistic (or other derisions I will not list here). Apparently, Wright has never, ever used the Internet. Because one only has to go onto YouTube and do a rudimentary search in order to find not only messages from autistic individuals of all ages and their families that vehemently contradict Autism Speaks’ messages, but overt, active, and in many cases extremely angry declarations that Autism Speaks can go and sodomise themselves with the wrong end of a shovel. (This is not an actual summation of what everyone involved says. More an averaging out of the kind of sentiment directed at the group.)
And I cannot emphasise this enough: if an American organisation claiming to represent the interests of those with cancer, diabetes, or AIDS acted in such contradiction to the interests and will of those it purports to represent, the IRS would be asking them around for an explanation. The same applies in England, Australia, New Zealand, and pretty much the entire European continent (not just the European Union, which is another thing altogether).
But this presents a bit of an interesting conundrum. The refrain from the entire online autistic rights movement is that we want Autism Speaks to just go crawl in a hole and die, and do it yesterday. But that leaves the question of what we would replace it with. By way of analogy, I submit that in any situation in which a tyrant is overthrown involves a question concerning what will replace them. America’s armed forces have overthrown so many different governments that I am not going to bother trying to list them all, but they always seem to find that not having made up their minds what is going to replace the overthrown element comes back to bite them. Indeed, this seems to be a constant pattern not just in governmental policy, but in Human interactions of all sorts. In Australia, for example, institutions that were made to house the disabled out of the sight of mainstream society were torn down and the people normally sent to reside in them were simply told to go and live in the community, without so much as a second thought as to how these people were actually going to accomplish that. Social services concerned with helping folks in dire situations have since arisen, but the system overall is noted as being fragmented, inadequate, and biased along lines of both where and how a disability was acquired. It should therefore not surprise anyone that among the nations that are included in the OECD, Australia ranks dead last in terms of poverty rates among disabled individuals. Given that the OECD also includes America, a nation with no national healthcare system and a level of income inequality that should make its people hang their heads in shame, for America’s disabled populace to be measurably living better than Australia’s makes it brutally obvious what Australians really mean when they go on with that “lucky country” bullshit.
An ever-growing movement within Australia is attempting to right that major, major wrong by unifying disability care services under a no-fault insurance system. Irrespective of the fact that this is the kind of thing that should have been done in the first place, it is an answer to the question of what you replace a bad system with when you discard it.
Autism Speaks has to go. There are no two ways about that. Not only should it be done away with, its management should be put on trial for crimes against the autistic, crimes against the disabled in general, and most importantly charges like fraud and incitement to murder. But in order for any good to come of that, we need something to replace it with, and that means we need it really to be put into place immediately as whomever is President at the time finally tells Autism Speaks that they can either shape up or ship out. And the replacement organisation needs to have a few things lined up, too. First and foremost, it needs to have a clear definition of what an autistic individual’s rights and responsibilities are. And it needs to define both of those things for all ages, not just children. Secondly, it needs to have a clear definition of what constitutes an autism-specific crime, and what should be considered an autism hate crime. Thirdly, it needs to clearly define what the goals in context of society the autistic have, and how such can be accomplished. Beyond these points, I am not a hundred percent certain, but I think these would be great places to start. I am certain that as more autistic adults bring their experiences and perspectives to the meeting and table where this replacement agenda is hammered out, it will become more detailed. How could it not?
Actually, I did just think of one thing that the new council to represent the autistic will have to do. And that is to urge lawmakers to enforce new standards concerning how the autistic (and indeed, people who qualify as disabled in general) are depicted. (Oh, and thAutcast has had this article up for around two weeks now that highlights one of the rules that I feel should be considered sacrosanct. Namely, if you want to write things about the autistic and include quotes et cetera, talk to the autistic, not their parents. There should be legal penalties for failure to abide by this rule.)
Every action, irrespective of whether it is to shoot someone in the head or stuff sensitive parts of your person into those of another, begins with an idea. And just as everyone gets a different idea from the same stimuli, everyone also takes a different path from idea to action. But repetition and pervasiveness are powerful tools in terms of nudging a person along towards the idea one wants them to have at the end of the path. The timing with which an idea is introduced is also quite important. As is said in many places, if you can get them whilst they are young enough, the possibilities are endless. What a lot of people do not seem to realise or take account of is that the generation of parental units that are getting in the news for murdering (or crybabying about) their autistic children are the right age to have seen a certain Ronald Bass film when they were either children or teenagers and taken it to heart when the film told them “this is autism, period”. Not only should that film (and its later cousin that I will refer to as Look How Cute The Exaggerated High-Functioning Types Are!) be among the few prohibited from distribution in future, daily lectures should be made available to explain why. To explain how much harm this whole “this is autism, period” propaganda technique that has devalued our lives has really done, that there are far more accurate portrayals out there, and to urge those in the audience to look inside themselves and ask how their inner child would feel if everything in the media about them was fukking lies to this extent. Of course, the Normie Brigade and the It’s All About Everyone Other Than The Autistic Individual Club will bitch, piss, and moan endlessly about their so-called First Amendment rights and their rights and so on. The first American, Australian, or British government to have the balls to stand up to these people and say “first, freedom of speech does not mean you can yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre and second, the autistic have rights too” will get much kudos from the historical record of the future.
But as I keep drifting and circling to the point of, none of this is going to happen until we have a proper leadership council that represents and serves the interests of all persons on the spectrum. That means everyone. From the overrepresented dysfunctional to the point of being unable to dress self type, to the stereotypical shitting smiles on every word aspie type, to the severely underrepresented cross of demeanour between Lance Henriksen and Michael Ironside (aka Powell) type. Everyone has to be represented, and every voice has to be reflected in the final recommendations of said council. That means that the committee itself has to be of a size more resembling a parliament than your typical “committee”, and even representing every autistic adult’s point of view in a group of 500 is not going to be easy (this might be an understatement on the level of “Wesley Willis was awesome”). Which also means this committee will have to have some kind of hierarchy, with cells representing each “type”, and one or two on the highest rung of the council vocalising the recommendations of each cell. By the way, if you want someone who is up for trying to represent the Powell type on such a committee, consider this my declaration. At least until the cell in question can be prepared enough to elect its own head, in which case I would be very happy to sit amongst the cell itself anyway.
Autism Speaks has such a pretty slogan: “it’s time to listen”. Well, Normies Shove Words In Autistic Mouths, we, the autistic, have been speaking to you for decades now. And you refuse to listen. The beauty of my suggestion concerning what we replace you with is that power within it circulates. People willing to send in their votes by whatever means (postal, electronic, telephony, you name it as long as someone keeps track of when and where someone has voted) put people into the council’s subdivisions, and that council’s subdivisions elect one or two people from each to go to President Whomever to say “this is what the autistic people want, implement it”. The beauty of this suggestion is that not only does it encourage people to speak, educate themselves, and think when they otherwise would not, it also encourages people who want to stay in a position within this system to actually do some listening.
Oh, and before I forget, one of my recommendations to the President would be that he read this article and others like it over and over. Because it speaks a fundamental truth about why I have written this article in the first place. The autistic are not being served or represented in the current system. They are being used. So far, every measure that the governments of the English-speaking world have implemented has basically been washing money down a drain that funnels right back to Normies Shove Words In Autistic Mouths. That is not on. It is not only damaging to the people these measures claim to be about helping, it is a waste of public resources the limits of which get more and more pronounced the more our populations grow.
If this conflicts with your “one man, one vote” babyish view of what democracy is, then I cannot help you. Unless you bother to go out and learn that it really means “one man, one man’s rights and responsibilities”, that is. If you can do, or have done, that, then I thank you for listening.