Infantalisation is a word that I use with some frequency, especially in recent years. It has a very specific meaning to me. Specifically, it denotes trying to reduce a person to the living level or function of an infant. There are other connotations, such as trying to make a person see themselves as an infant or in a way commensurate with a lower age. I also have a couple of synonyms I use when speaking aloud. Baby-fication or kiddy-fication are ones I utter aloud, usually to others.
The American Heritage Dictionary Of The English Language, Fourth Edition, defines infantalisation in two points:
1. To reduce to an infantile state or condition: “It creates a crisis that infantilizes them … causes grown men to squabble like kids about trivial things” (New Yorker).
2. To treat or condescend to as if still a young child: “The Victorian physician infantilized his patient” (Judith Moore).
No amount of whining or moaning from those guilty of infantalising others can justify it, but the point I wish to get into here is that long before I had a word for it, I was angry about it. We live in a culture that not only awards automatic privilege to elders, irrespective of whether they have really earned it, it puts a great deal of pressure upon individuals to think of themselves as children until they have grown old.
Readers will have seen me writing derisively about the like of Ray Meagher and how his character in the television series most associated with him will talk down to people like they are droppings at the foot of a stop sign simply because he has a few years on them. Things like that. The truth is, I hate characters like that. Not just hate in the sense that small children might use the word in the heat of the moment, but in the sense that historians use to describe one villainous political faction’s feelings about another. It is the reason I could sit and watch every episode of Married… With Children that was ever made in a marathon, yet I cannot stand thirty seconds of The Cosby Show. Not only would Bill Cosby‘s shit with his on-screen children never fly with the Bundy clan, in all likelihood their responses would have him bawling like a baby in a matter of minutes. Seconds, even.
Which brings me to a very big problem with how the autistic are treated both in the one-way, rich-only media, and the “new” media that the purveyors of the former want to turn into another one-way, rich-only media. No matter how one attempts to find it, finding things on TV II that even acknowledge the fact that yes, there are autistic adults (we do not just vanish into thin air when we turn eighteen, contrary to the delusional fantasies of some curebies), is not that easy.
I openly tell people that I am autistic, right to their faces. I usually try to make damned sure that I am heard, too. A good example of this was during a purchase of several Blu-ray Discs, one of which contained the film The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three. There was some chatter about making sure the one that I wanted, the 1974 original, was the one put in the appropriate disc case, not the 2009 remake. Specifically, the name of one of the actors in the 2009 remake was mentioned. After stating quietly, but loudly enough for the staffers to hear, that this actor was basically persona non grata in my home, I then said quite plainly that I am autistic. It was as if a light bulb went on over the head of the staffer I was most directly addressing.
You see, the natural order of things is that all living creatures grow to be adults eventually. Even when people all around them want them to keep thinking of themselves as children forever and ever, amen. The only way to prevent this from happening, physically prevent it from happening as opposed to having it prevented by natural elements such as disease or starvation, is generally murder.
Come to think of it, I may have just hit upon a reason why not only are the curebies so concerned with murdering autistic children, but also with convincing both the public and the legal system to excuse them for it. You see, the prospect that in another ten to twenty years, a new generation of autistic individuals will have grown up wholly in the shadow of their lies and disinformation, scares the hell out of them. Because no matter what you do to hide the truth from a person, especially when that truth is about a characteristic they were born with and thus can help no more than the colour of their eyes, they will find it out for themselves eventually. Unless, of course, you kill them first. And when they do find out that truth, they are going to be pretty mad at the people who lied to them for all of this time.
Curebies do not merely want their side of things to be the only one that is heard. They want theirs to be the only one that is ever spoken. That is why they try to drown the issue in money, in purchased air time, in purchased media time of all stripes, and so forth. But recent efforts on the part of the autism civil rights movement have demonstrated to them that they are fighting a losing battle in that respect. Even their courting of high-profile celebrities cannot hold up to the fact that everywhere they go, they are accompanied by loud protests on the part of autistic adults stating that their actions are most emphatically not appreciated. They also know that autistic adults of all stripes are making inroads into the political system. Lydia Brown‘s efforts, which partly include her testimony in order to help pass an anti-aversives bill, form just one of many examples. Although they keep us in fairly constant terror through publicity, they are fighting against a headwind because adults will not take their acts lying down anymore, and those adults tend to talk to children who will be part of the movement in years to come.
This is why a lot of the fight is also taking place in the legal system, and I believe that this is where the autism civil rights movement needs to start focusing, post-haste. The curebies continually lobby for funding to have autism effectively made illegal, and the murder of autistic people made legal. Fortunately, we are not living in eras like the Confederacy during the late nineteenth century or Germany during the 1930s. Although it is not easy, we have a process by which the rights of all people, not just the most normal or the most “acceptable”, can be upheld.
This is why a war of sorts is being declared upon the future generation. Autism Speaks et al know full well that for every present-day autistic child that makes it to adulthood and reaches a position of being able to learn things for themselves, they will suffer a great blow in terms of credibility. Enough of these, and they will be unable to solicit a nickel. So not only do they need to make it as legal as possible to murder us, they need to find a credible manner in which to ensure that not another of us is ever born again.
This also entails making sure that our governments, our “representatives”, fail to recognise that we are Human, too. This means shouting, and I do not mean that in the most literal sense. Hell, even shouting in the literal sense, getting on the rooftops and doing it, will accomplish something if it is organised or done well. We must repeat stories such as that of Simone Greggs filing a lawsuit against Autism Speaks for violations of the Civil Rights and Americans With Disabilities Act to all and sundry. Other civil rights movements have equated silence with death, but I disagree. Silence is more like walking up to your oppressor with a smile and a bunch of flowers, and helping them put your head into the guillotine, where autism civil rights is concerned.
I cannot decide whether to tell you, the audience, about how I am watching the Clint Eastwood film Invictus with my new receiver decoding the audio now. Well, I guess I just did. But the reason is that many quotes from it seem pertinent at this point. One is when Morgan Freeman, as Nelson Mandela, asks an interviewer that if he cannot change when the circumstances demand it, how can he expect others to. I did not turn into a violent, moody, defensive person because I chose to. I changed this way because the circumstances I was in demanded it, multiple times. And the circumstances I am in now, where there seems to be a whole organised Mafia-like network of people determined to murder me for a characteristic I can help no more than the faint whispers of orange around my temples, do not demand any change from me. Quite the opposite in fact.
You do not, you cannot, forgive someone who is still trying to kill you or take away everything that you are. Doing so is tantamount to surrender. But at the same time, you cannot dehumanise them. People like Tommy Hilfiger, Hugh Hefner, or now apparently Sylvester Stallone are not brain-eating monsters. I hope, no, I beseech of Odin, that they are just merely misguided. I like to think that truly smart people, people who can reason, can understand when the reality of our situation is explained to them that our antipathy towards the curebies is highly justified and earned. I hope that they can then have the decency of Human beings to respond to that in the manner that we would respond if the positions were reversed.
You see, I have spent the best part of forty years being looked down upon, being talked down at, and being mistreated in multiple ways. That Autism Speaks and their like feel the need to be patted on the head and told it is okay to continue doing it is not the primary reason why I would not bat an eyelid if someone gave me the means to remove them from the Earth. No, the real reason is that they want to be allowed to continue doing this not only to my child or children but also their child or children, forever and ever. Amen. And they see such pernicious behaviour as making people stay at a child’s level of functioning in order to further that goal as acceptable. Hence, until the law, and thus society as a whole, steps in and tells the curebies that this is not okay, I can never forgive them. Either of them, I mean.
Forever and ever. Amen.