I think it would be fair to say that autistic adults hate curebies and the dishonest things they parade about as scientists. In fact, I would say that is an understatement on a similar level to how many individuals in the Germany of the 1930s hated the Gestapo. But what I want to talk about today is how your choice of person to trumpet the cause of can and will taint you forever.
If your name is Tommy Hilfiger, Jim Carrey, or Jenny McCarthy, do not bother reading further. Your name is not merely mud to the same people you profess to be championing for. It is what GG Allin introduced by bellowing “everything that I see, everything you are to me”: Dog Shit.
Although it has been online for quite a while now, I came across it again for probably the fifth or sixth time. And since I have my own little space on the web to write and write (crap) on, I thought I would pass it on to persons who come across this little corner of the web. Darryl Cunningham, under his LiveJournal account called thetallguy, has posted this fifteen page story concerning the MMR vaccination “controversy”. It is an oldie, but a goodie. Right off the bat, however, I find something objectionable, and it is about the actual comic in question rather than the massive lapse in fact-checking that it is about. You may have noticed that I put the word controversy in “” quotes. That is good. Because although I am not always right about the specific meanings of words (that happens when you have a way of sussing them out by your mind’s natural reaction to the sound), controversy has a specific meaning to me. Controversy as a word implies to me that there are multiple sides of an argument with some factual basis and validity behind their point of view. An example of this would be the current storm of controversy surrounding the call to censor or otherwise make economically unviable all films, other fictions, or music that is not aimed to include small children as an audience. Whilst I totally get that a parent may want to shield or insulate their small child from points of view like mine, the reality is that adults may benefit from hearing it, so there is a constant circular rage of debate about how far to go in one or their other direction. It is more likely that the Palestinians and the Jews will agree that it was all one big mistake and start hugging than that controversy ever dying down.
But science is a very different matter. Whilst there are legitimate controversies in science such as how ethical it is to collect peoples’ DNA when they are born and keep it on file forever, science has a very hard and unyielding line concerning opinions and facts. The best way to summarise this is with a quote I once heard whilst trying to argue facts with a Scientologist. Specifically, everyone is entitled to their own opinion regardless of how right or wrong it might be. But nobody is entitled to their own facts. Gravity is a good example of this. People are free to imagine that they are being sucked down by their god, or that the air is too weak to hold them up in spite of their weight. But regardless of whatever you believe about gravity, I doubt that anyone will disagree with me that without some measures to prevent falling the full distance between terminal velocity and impact, death will result from the landing.
In the MMR vaccine case, as is outlined in Cunningham‘s comic, there are facts and there is the bullshit that the curebie movement comes out with. You cannot have it both ways.
Also worthy of note is that the only, and I do mean only, reason that the MMR vaccine myth was dreamed up in the first place, is profit. This strikes directly at the heart of what curebies want the public, governments, and even autistic adults themselves to believe about autism. Specifically, that it is an ailment or disease to be regarded in similar terms to influenza or cancer. The nonsense of this belief can be easily proven by comparisons between autism and racial equivalents. If a sweet old lady or group thereof were to walk through streets in America soliciting donations to research a “cure for blackness” (their imagined words, not mine), violence would result. Deaths would be a very real possibility. Oprah Winfrey would be calling for the charity organisation that okayed the move to be stripped of government authorisation. Yet when an involuntary characteristic that people cannot see is marked for elimination, nobody says a word.
But that would change quick-smart if curebies did not have the “bad disease that takes our precious little angel children away” angle to fall back on. And in terms of scientific credibility, as the linked comic panels make abundantly clear, they really do not. But heaven forbid that journalists, celebrity stooges that should have never been allowed anywhere near a camera, and other such assholes ever be made to look at all of the facts. That is just plain un-American, after all. Ignorance is stre… I mean, ignorance is just as good as knowledge, after all.
Which brings me to a point that I think a lot of people who mindlessly waffle on about how great this or that celebrity is or how “brave” they are and so forth. Have you, the cheerleader, ever stopped to think about how you might look to some of the people who are directly affected by society’s tolerance towards death-causing ignorance? Because even before I knew that I was autistic, or Jim Carrey knew what Autism Speaks wanted him to think the word meant, expression of admiration for Jim Carrey sent one very inescapable signal to me. Namely, that the person championing Carrey and his pathetic gradeschool catchphrase comedy act was a fukkhead because Jim Carrey is a fukkhead and anyone who is okay with either should be sterilised. So you can imagine how strongly I felt that Carrey should be killed when he started trying to promote Jenny McCarthy as being some brave soul and authority on the subject of autism. And the important point here is that if you tell me to my face that Carrey is worthy of anything other than a Hellraiser-like death, I might decide right on the spur of that moment that you should be killed, too. This is what I mean when I use the words “guilt by association”. Because if you are okay with lies that have resulted in the deaths of children over a characteristic they can help no more than their skin colour, and think the person doing that is a really okay guy, then it is easy for me to draw the conclusion in my processor that you are okay with children being murdered for a characteristic they can help no more than their skin colour. Is logic not fun, boys and girls?
You might have also gained the impression that I do not think that Carrey was, is, or ever will be even remotely funny. Good. Leaving aside the fact that I do not find people spreading lies about an important issue in society to be funny at all, there is just the simple fact that Carrey can make all the claims he makes jokes or films for twelve year old boys he likes, until he is blue in the face. The reality is that Carrey made jokes, films, and other such material for morons. The apple never falls far from the tree, he is still addressing an audience entirely comprised of morons, and no amount of moaning otherwise on his part can change that.
A far more talented, genuinely controversial, and at the same time strangely admirable celebrity called Axl Rose would go into conniption fits at the press when what he felt to be lies about him were printed or otherwise circulated. Indeed, around the time of his band’s second (and third) album, he began openly challenging figures in the press to boxing matches. One such figure in the reporting arm of the press was a man named Robert Charles Guccione, junior. Guccione actually responded to the barely-coherent challenge in the song in a letter. What nobody who listened to the song at the time was aware of was that Guccione was extensively studied in the martial arts, including what he stated in one interview of the time was ten years of full-contact karate. In other words, when someone decided that they wanted to challenge him verbally for press coverage, they had best have the fist to back that up with. Needless to say, this was the beginning of a string of incidents in which Axl Rose shot his mouth off at this or that, then beat a hasty retreat when someone challenged him to back up his words.
I do not know what Axl would think if he were shown the ins and outs of the autism civil rights situation. But I think that he would look at the way lies come out of the press in a continuous stream concerning autism, and be thoroughly unimpressed. Of course, if Axl happens across this page during his limited travels across the ‘net and wishes to add his weight to the so-called controversy, I would welcome it.
Of course, anyone who has read my work in sufficient amounts knows that I have a list of people I consider to be heroic or admirable. Getting on the list is not easy, and generally requires a certain amount of going against the proverbial grain. But as one asshole that Mr. Bungle were going to name a song after can attest, if one commits an act so heinous that it gets them kicked off the list, that is a permanent thing. There is no getting back on my list, ever. That case, which I might get around to writing about someday, is actually a good study in how our criteria for admiration also changes drastically as we get older and learn more.
Irrespective, for many years, especially pre-diagnosis, I told people that what a person admires, whether it is a person, event, or created object, often tells me more about the admirer than the subject of admiration. Because when a person who is admired says that it is okay to hurt children for having an involuntary difference from the expected norm and expects that to be taken seriously, even as a guide for social policy, that reflects on their admirers. Admirers of that person who have a sense of decency will simply stop admiring that person. Which brings me to a point about the ilk of Jenny McCarthy that every person who has children or thinks they might one day have children needs to stop and think hard about: what a parent does during their child’s childhood echoes throughout the rest of their lives. This is why poor adults tend to have poor children, rich adults tend to have rich children, adults with no sense of humility or compassion tend to have children lacking same, and so on.
There is a way to break this cycle. Just like domestic abuse, child abuse, and other cycles of violence can be broken by intervention, so too can the cycle of bullshit-spreading. As I have said a few times in a few places, our secondary schools desperately need to teach the actual scientific method and how it applies to real life. The whole how to smell bullshit thing. And when someone is caught in the act of spreading bullshit for profit, like Andrew Wakefield (I refuse to acknowledge him with “doctor”, he has thoroughly unearned that title) was, the exposure and shaming of such should be at minimum ten times as loud and ten times as prolonged as their effort to spread that bullshit. Because I doubt that even the most ardent of profiteers from bullshit will ever try to argue that nobody ever died as a direct result of bullshit.
And if you are thinking of putting forward a story as fact, have a long, careful, hard think about that story. Think about what consequences repeating it could have, and how supportable it is under serious examination. Because as the dead or permanently injured autistic children can tell you, failure to do so ought to be a criminal offense.