I think if one looks at the situation quite literally, the autistic civil rights movement as it presently exists and occurs has a bit of a problem. In contrast to the enemy, which is very well-organised and well-directed, the autism civil rights movement is basically a lot of different groups of people meandering about without a clearly defined purpose or even a sense of a decision-making process.
I do not know about others who are attempting to campaign for the rights of the autistic, but I definitely feel that such a situation needs rectification. Unfortunately, without a clear idea of what the problems are and how to go about fixing them, this is not likely to happen anytime soon. But it is worth going into what I believe the goals of the curebie movement are, both long-term and immediate, and what the goals of the autism civil rights movement need to be. The two tend to have a bit of a naughts and crosses relationship, in that one counters the other, so one tends to precipitate the other.
Most of the goals of the autism civil rights movement have to be inferred. They are not really honest with themselves about what their goals really mean to others, so how we can expect them to be honest about such goals with the idiots and assholes that they leech their revenue from is an interesting question. But much like certain idiots I will not mention here, no matter what they say they would like or want, one can always discern the truth both from their actions and the consequences that those actions have to the people most directly affected by said actions. This is one law of nature that I sincerely wish people who want to leap to the defense of the like of Tommy Hilfiger would remember, if not prior to this point, then certainly from this point going forward.
Which brings me to one point of the curebie agenda that I think every one of us on the spectrum, regardless of other differences, can agree upon. Curebies wish to paint themselves as heroes. In fact, they thrive upon it. I truly believe that if we could make them grok the way that I, and no doubt countless other autistic individuals who when reporting an urgent need for the kind of help that would benefit them have been told to go and pound sand, see them, many curebies would abandon their cause in shame and self-loathing.
Recently, Lydia Brown published an article concerning How Autism Speaks Must Change. This article essentially states that unless Autism Speaks do what is listed therein at the absolute and utter minimum, she will continue to call for their elimination. I have attempted to throw my own pennies in by way of comment, stating that on top of Lydia’s demands, every person within the organisation who has or has had a decision-making or publicity role must be removed from the organisation and told that they are forbidden from ever raising their voice to shove words into autistic mouths again under penalty of indictment for fraud and possibly other charges. Not quite in those words, but that is what the words I used add up to.
But this relates back to my previously-stated goal. Until we, the autistic, band together as a group and work around the clock to deconstruct the myth that curebies are heroes, our cries for the points of action on both Lydia‘s list and all of mine will not be answered. And this means making a lot of video, audio, and print ads for distribution everywhere online (and possibly television, cinema, and other “traditional” forms) as public service announcements. Make it damned clear to the public that we feel we were treated with absolute and utter contempt by Jerry Seinfeld, for instance. I would like to ask him, face to face, how he would feel if I were going around advocating for a cure for being Jewish (in race, not religion, that is) and then responding to his objections in the manner he did ours. I think that would make for very interesting television, to be brutally honest with you.
And that goes back to the whole point of breaking down the myth curebies have put up around themselves that they somehow are heroes or brave. Anyone can be big and brave when an organisation that has fraudulently received tax exemption status hands them millions of dollars that would be better spent on employment incentives, subsidised housings, or offering escape routes from abusive situations (this is called a hint… whoops too late). Borrowing an example from a real situation that needed to be cured and treated, when I think of parents being brave in the face of their child being diagnosed with a rare, unknown disorder, I do not think of assholes like Tommy Hilfiger, Suzanne Wright, or whomever else her mafia-like phony charity has solicited from. I think of Augusto and Michaela Odone. You know? They were portrayed by Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon in the 1992 George Miller film Lorenzo’s Oil. Yeah, those people. That is what heroism on behalf of a child means to me. Because although there are still ongoing problems and doubts concerning the titular oil’s therapeutic value (for example, in real life it seems to only be effective against asymptomatic Adrenoleukodystrophy), there is no doubt that the Odone family’s efforts have created positive change for those who have been diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystrophy.
We need to start creating media, whether it be in the form of public service announcements, comic books, novels, films, or even music, that attacks the curebie self-promoted myth. We have to make it very clear to those who will watch, read, or even listen, that whilst they might be sucked in by the myth curebies put forward that curebies have ghostly wings and halos, autistic adults who have full awareness of the situation are not. In the musical arena, picture a whole new genre of anti-curebie punk or doom metal. In film, a story in which a lost, lonely teenaged boy finds the girl of his dreams, only to discover a whole new level of shitstorm conflict when he discovers that she is autistic. And so on. We have so many of these possibilities, but it is up to us to start carpet-bombing not only the Everything Must Be Online morons with it, but also the big-ticket media such as television channels (HBO for instance), publishers, and record industry channels. One of our biggest problems today is that for all intents and purposes, we have let the curebies define us for us, rather than defining ourselves for ourselves, and unfortunately reversing that means we have to force a new definition of curebies onto them, too.
Another goal that the autism civil rights movement needs to have is unification. Not necessarily of goals or beliefs in how to prosecute those goals. In order to understand what I am getting at, we must look at Autism Speaks again. Yes, I know how unpleasant that is, but there is a reason for it. You see, prior to about 2003 or 2004, Autism Speaks was just one of many “charity” organisations lobbying governments and media outlets to spread their hateful messages. Some of the fragments of the curebie movement from that time were still in existence when last I looked. But the point here is that around the 2004 mark, a major consolidation of curebie organisations occurred. Unlike consolidations in markets, however, this one seems to have occurred by mutual consent. It also resulted in the virtual disappearance of Cure Autism Now, a “charity” that was previously the main focus of hatred and disgust from the autism civil rights movement. But the point here is that by consolidating to this degree and putting together a more unified, organised front, Autism Speaks and the curebie movement in general have benefitted a great deal.
Which means that really, if we are ever to get out of the doldrums of weakly trying to correct an endless stream of bullshit from Autism Speaks and defining ourselves to the world directly, we need to form into a unified, worldwide group. The reason for being worldwide is because our numbers are literally spread all over the world. In America, we might only amount to two million (using non-scaremonger rates, that is). Around the world, however, we have enough people (46.66 million and change) to account for many small countries. The combined land mass that is Australia could not sustain 46.66 million people. And when 46.66 million people from every corner of the world go to whomever is President when we do present a unified front, proclaiming that previous administrations boneheaded ideas that help and hinder are the same where the autistic are concerned have to be squashed and discarded, it will get results.
I do not believe I need to proclaim that one of our goals should be to make the use of aversives or “therapies” based thereon illegal. If there is one thing that people should learn, and learn well, from my writings, it is that when you try to “teach” a person through violence, in the end all you will get is a violent person. This is especially the case if violence comes as the result of behaviour that the person has been taught to compulsively fight against yet still is unable to help effecting. When a person acts in a manner by compulsion, hurting them or trying to make them feel bad about themselves for it is only going to worsen any real or perceived problems with it. Not to mention that persons who use so-called aversions (or abuse, as it should be called) in an effort to train a Human being like a housepet, let us just say, do not have a very good track record in terms of demonstrated respect for the wellbeing of others.
One thing that should be an urgent priority right now is to either re-find or rewrite the declaration of minority status for the autistic that was written by Amy Nelson in the mid to late-2000s. In it, Amy explains what the five-point criteria is that the United Nations has for defining a group that has minority status. She then proceeds to explain, criterion by criterion, why the autistic of all races, ages, fuctioning labels, and stripes meet that criteria. It is an excellent description of our situation and how intervention to protect our rights by every government of the civilised world would improve such. But most importantly of all, it is important not just for ourselves but many others to make people understand that religions, club memberships, or admiration of certain people do not make you a minority. Nor do numbers. The white people who ruled South Africa before Nelson Mandela was elected President, for example, might have been a minority in the numerical sense, but when you have more or less complete control of the government, you are a majority as far as the UN is concerned. But I digress. Like the ISOs of TRON: Legacy, like Australia’s aborigines or America’s black community, we, the autistic, have one indisputable convergence with this criteria. The most important one. In order to be a minority, the membership in the group must be involuntary. That is, the individual members get no choice in being members.
But I think that the first and foremost goal of the autistic civil rights movement should be greater organisation between all of its participants, and better unification. Not unification in the sense that we all speak with one voice, but that we confer regularly, everyone within a faction (say Powell types, Einstein types, and all other types one by one) tells a group of representatives what they think or want, the faction representatives thrash out a solution that is of most benefit to all concerned. The Dick Tracy comic strips had a plot in which the various criminal gangs of the city band together under a decision-making council. The reasoning that the person urging the gangs to do this used, and a very good one, is that when their outlaw ancestors organised into groups and followed a strategy, said ancestors became rich as a result.
I believe that group organisation, even among Mafia-like lines, is the first step in bringing in a new age for the autistic. Anyone who has seen The Godfather, Part II or read Mario Puzo‘s novel knows it will not happen overnight, and it will have to be grown, but I believe not only that we can do it, but if future generations want to have a brighter world, we simply must do it.