As the title of this post implies, I honestly have no idea what to make of the fact that I have had to write about this topic yet again. Yes, the time has come to write about that puzzle piece symbol for what seems like the millionth time. People will recall that early in this journal’s history, I wrote several articles concerning the puzzle piece symbol that Autism Speaks (For Ignorant Normies) use in their propaganda. Here is one. Here is another.
It has always been my position that if you claim to be for autism civil rights and use that symbol to represent yourself, if you are autistic, or us, if you are not, you are a liar. Pure and simple. In V: The Final Battle, Eric Johnston‘s character asks Marc Singer‘s if the “fifth column”, a group of aliens who have broken away from their people and are helping the resistance, are not supposed to be traitors to their own kind. Singer‘s answer, whilst only tangential to my point, is that such is one way of looking at it, but what their people happen to be doing is wrong. Which prompts an interesting question. What if the people you share kinship with are, in fact, doing the right thing, and you cross over to be with their enemies anyway? Then Johnston‘s description, that you are a traitor to your own kind, is right on the money.
Hence, if you claim to be in favour of my rights, as opposed to Autism Speaks’ desire to cut my head open and monkey around in my skull without rhyme or reason, and you use the puzzle piece, then you are a traitor. It really is as simple as that.
Now, lately, when I have tried to assert this to one traitor, they have told me that Autism Speaks did not invent the puzzle piece. Exactly how that, in itself, makes the puzzle piece okay in spite of how it is used in “autism == teh ebil!” campaigns, I would like them to explain to me. But the story further goes that it was decided upon by an autism support group or a group of autism “specialists” in the early 1960s. I am not going to go into the veracity of this claim because I see no reason to believe it has any, and accompanying it all the way to the end helps me deconstruct further the lie that the puzzle piece represents us rather than the ideals of the cowards looking to suppress us. (And as distinctions go, that is as important to civil rights movements as the distinction between living and dead is to medical examiners.) Now, clever people, people who understand one of the fundamentals of the autism civil rights struggle, have already sussed out the real problem from the date that I provided. I think the year offered was 1962, but I will go with the more general wording “early 1960s” because even if it were in the late 1980s, my point would still be the same.
In the 1960s, Hans Asperger’s name was basically unknown outside of Austria and perhaps Germany. Whilst the filthy propaganda piece called Rain Man was not made until the late 1980s, its conception of autism was believed not just by the public but also the professional community outside of those two nations to be the be all and end all of autism. Much of the injustice that has been done and is still being done to us flows from that fact. This is a critically important point to understand in order to see where I am going. Now, as Tim (just… Tim, for now) has stated in his entry concerning this point, if someone thought a puzzle piece was a good representation of him, he would be offended. Well, I can tell you after multiple experiences of seeing things with puzzle pieces stuck outside my local supermarket, I am not merely offended. I am upset to the point where even checkout chicks have noticed that it makes me ill inside.
This is not merely because I do not like the puzzle piece and what it represents, although that is a big factor. If we grant the claim that this puzzle piece was invented by autism specialists or autism “support groups” in the early 1960s, what, exactly does that prove? Again, look at what I have just told you above. In 1969 and 1970, the screaming ninny that hits himself and raises unholy hell just at the sight of steaming water was thought to be the be-all and end-all of autism.
So, defender of the puzzle piece, irrespective of whether it was invented by Autism Speaks (For Ignorant Normies) or a group of people who based it on an incomplete conception of autism, please answer this question. How on Earth do you expect that it represents a positive concept of autism that we, as in the autistic, as in the people who stand to gain the most from righting the wrongs that have been done to our kind thus far, benefit from? Because I am not rightly able to understand how anyone can defend a symbol that has no concept of us as complete, whole people, and is paraded around by people who deny that we have a right to exist.
As I have written previously, what a symbol is intended for, and what it means to the people who encounter it, are often two different things. The Swastika is a good example of this. Although it has seen many variations in design over the years, it was originally a religious icon. That might surprise you. Amongst others, it has significance to the Hindus. But for the past eighty or so years, it has been irrevocably associated with Nazism. This is because someone, possibly even Adolf himself, took the design and, after modifying it to his liking, plastered it on everything the party used to communicate with an audience.
Imagine for a second that Autism Speaks have almost succeeded in their aim and killed some seventy-five to eighty percent of the autistic people in the world. What would you think when you see the puzzle piece then? Would you believe the believable story, that Autism Speaks either invented it or whisked it from public domain for their own nefarious purposes? Or a bunch of people who do not understand autism or care about the implications to every autistic person invented it with “good intentions”? More importantly, would you even care? Because I can tell you that if I were among the twenty percent who survived this scenario, I would not.
That, friends and neighbours, is why people with no psychology training beyond marketing or customer service could see that the placement of a charity box proclaiming to be for the autistic, but covered with puzzle pieces, made me upset to the point where I was struggling to hold in the urge to be violent. You can read what I had to say about the matter around that time here. Whilst I have not written further about it so far, it seems that the people at Woolworth’s and specifically that branch got the message, because even after going and taking a concerted look, I did not see it again. But that does not mean it is necessarily gone forever. And thanks to the same people who keep trying to push the puzzle piece upon me, I am not even able to kid myself that this is going to be the last time.
And let me assure you of something. Every time I see that symbol, whether it is on a box that is physically present in a place that I am visiting for survival purposes or in a graphic on a web site, I get a reaction within myself. It is like my whole body shakes all over, like an all-over orgasm of fear. It is as if I am a particularly clever tiger, and I know that a Human is aiming to kill me to make a trophy out of, or some other purpose I cannot abide, and I am seriously aware that my only hope is to outsmart and sneak up on this Human.
I can only be honest about this. I have a myriad of things in my life that make it a horrible, awful place to be. I am now expecting that it will never change, no matter what I try. I will not go into the reasons for that here. The Sydney band Cruciform had a song where the subject was a man dying alone in the gutter. Predominant lyrical statements in the song revolve around being faceless and nameless, and how people make a deliberate effort to not see him. I find that ironic, given the attitude Australians have towards anything that does not spit their feeble group mind at them. Australians have this vanity, believing that theirs is the greatest place in the world to live. But not only is this not true even for the most normal people in their society, as Sweden and Norway continually beat them for living standard, it is also a long way from the truth for those who have to struggle. Australia has the highest level of poverty for the disabled in the entire OECD, and since nations that are not first-world tend to be even crueller to the disabled, that means the entire world. Australia has been cruel to me for my entire life now. And I am starting to utterly break under the strain.
When I was originally told that I am autistic, I was also told a spiel about how I would be able to get together with other autistic people and improve or change my life. I hope that the person who made these empty promises to me is regretting her words as much as I am regretting ever believing them, because a movement where people are allowed to use the symbology of their oppressors to represent themselves is one in dire need of rebuilding from the ground up. That I find myself in such a situation after years of struggling just to be seen as a Human being, as an actual person, as opposed to some sort of appendage of either of my parental units, has nearly succeeded in killing me. In other words, your puzzle piece and tolerance thereof is starting to kill me.
I never imagined that others on the spectrum would add to my enormous burden, yet they are. So I am making an impassioned plea here. Do you want to end up being the straw that breaks my back in terms of whether I can cope with being in existence? Because when you expect me to tolerate you using a symbol of oppression to represent the both of us, you are going the right way about it.