I am not going to dress this up or beat around the bush about it: the parallels between the civil rights struggle by black Americans in the 1960s and the present-day struggle for autism civil rights is inescapable. Among other similarities, there are groups that can loosely be referred to as “uncle Toms” in both camps that listen to the lies that the enemy tells them as negation effort.
Now, people who know me well enough know that I consider separationist language to be one of those lies. It is my considered opinion that if the Nazis had thought of referring to the Jews they were persecuting to each other and non-Jewish citizens as “people with Jewishness” or “people with Hebrew”, they would have done so. Because as I have written many a time, the words “person with” implies that the things that follow those words are somehow separate from that person and thus disposable. In the case of things like cancer, AIDS, diabetes, or asthma, that is an acceptable way of looking at it. The people who suffer terribly as a result of cancer, AIDS, diabetes, or asthma (to name just a few of many, many examples, and I include myself in two of those groups for your information) would give anything to be rid of them. After copping a load of medical doom and gloom about how your kidneys will turn green or your feet will fall off because you were “baaad” as a ten year old child who has just been diagnosed with diabetes, a cure for diabetes would seem like your chance to rub something nasty in the bully’s face whilst telling them to fukk off in as many languages as you can learn to say it in. Spanish has wonderful equivalents of the popular English phrases “fukk off” or “fukk you” that make them seem even more vulgar and aggressive than they would otherwise be, for example.
So consider this. When you try to tell me to call myself a “person with autism”, and then proclaim it is a matter of preference, you are being offensive. Not just offensive in the sense of what Mel Brooks satirised amazingly well in Blazing Saddles. I mean offensive in the sense of Nazis burning books and spitting out words like “mischlinge” at anything that looks vaguely non-compliant with their ideal of the perfect Human being.
So when I clicked on a news piece about an autistic Chinese boy being forced out of his school by bigoted parents, and with no basis on which to do so, I was already quite upset. Nothing pisses me off quite like more of people who share genetic and neurological similarities to me being treated like second-class citizens whilst the rest of the world is silent about it. But I am dancing around my critical point here. The first thing that really got my goat about the quoted article at this link with the most long-ass URL in history was the use of the phrase “suffers from Autism”. Uh, no. And I want to be clear about this. When you are writing a story about a child being bullied out of school and use this highly offensive phrase, you diminish both the victim’s entitlement to not be treated this way, and the extent to which the people doing the bullying have done wrong. As soon as you write “suffers from”, you give ignorant weak minds excuses to picture the child as the imaginary disruption that teachers who should not be teaching like to go on and on about.
But the real reason I am writing all of this today is because whilst perusing such articles on this subject, I encountered one more person using the dreaded phrase “…with autism”. And I was livid. The reason it infuriates me this much is the same reason the words “suffers from” infuriate me. Because when I hear them, especially spoken aloud, they betray a level of ignorance and bigotry on the part of the person using them that it makes me want to force them to copy the stunt Bruce Willis‘ character is made to perform early in Die Hard: With A Vengeance.
In order to further understanding of my position, I have included a rather badly-rendered screenshot of the sequence in question. The basic plot of the film is that Jeremy Irons‘ character hates Bruce Willis‘ to such an extent that he bombs city locations and tells the police he will continue to do so unless the character performs stunts like this. But the salient point here is that the local residents that Samuel L. Jackson‘s character rescues Bruce Willis‘ from the wrath of react in pretty much the same way as I react inside when I see people write “…with autism”. And if you walked down the street I am hanging out on with a sign saying “I hate people with autism”, the police will be wondering how I managed to shove the entire board in there.
Now that we have that contextual understanding, I would like to get into why I have just blathered on for eight hundred words about the similarity between my reaction to being called “…with autism” and a black American’s reaction to being called a “nigger” by a white police officer who does not know them from Abraham. You see, my comments concerning this phrase were originally addressed to a person whose Fudgebook avatar indicated that they were a) female and b) black. And I stated in no uncertain terms that the linguistic separation of my brain from me is just not on. This, of course, caused them to go into the weak, pathetic defense of how it is a personal preference. It is not. I wonder what would have happened if a man with at least one Jewish grandparent was told people calling him “mischling” was “personal preference”.
So rather than try to be delicate, I decided to just save a few steps and ask them in a roundabout sort of way how they would feel if they saw me calling them “person with blackness” all of the time. And proceeded to do so. Not all the time, but just enough times that my point should have been very clear. I even gave these people the benefit of my projection that if I walked into a primarily black neighbourhood and started calling the residents “people with blackness”, I would reasonably expect to get killed. Granted, I formulated that on the basis of the neighbourhood in question being one like the neighbourhood Bruce Willis and sandwich board are seen in, but my point is solid. How is it that one is acceptable and the other is not when both cause the same level of hurt and anger on the part of the target? Can anyone explain that to me?
So, everyone who is autistic and proud to be what they are, and does not want to have people monkeying around in their head with a knife to separate them from a fundamental part of their identity, I would like to present you with the greatest hits of one Ondrea Marisa Robinson. I will quote her postings to me on Fudgebook in their entirety, with no correction of any errors. Then I will offer my comments concerning what I thought, and what I actually wrote back. Let us begin…
I’m only going to say this once, and then please leave me alone. Everyone has a right to their opinion, and everyone views autism differently. Some say “people with autism” and some people say “autistic people”. And we don’t have to accept everyone’s opinions, either, and I can see from your posts that you don’t believe in God, but I’m going to pray for you. And that is all I have to say, because I have been hurt before, too, living as a young woman with autism. Now, please, leave me alone.
Now, clearly, Ondrea thought she could just shoot this to me in private and have that be the end of the matter. But when it comes to things like this, I am like a dog that has not merely been commanded to kill, but to destroy.
She is right about two things. Everyone has a right to their opinion. And some do say this or that. But the thing is, nowhere in the cosmos, not once in the life of any species, has anyone ever been granted entitlement to their own facts.
The inventors of political correctness and so-called “person first” language were not disabled or people who work with the disabled. They were people sitting in a university ivory tower who just came up with these things, circulated them, and told everyone to follow them or else. How, exactly, does that differ from the hisses of “mischlinge” or the like from the Nazis, Ondrea?
Autism Speaks et al use phrasings like “person with autism”. That is one compelling reason to boldly shout out “I am autistic” to the world. But it misses the actual point. Simply doing the opposite to your enemy to spite them might be psychologically rewarding, but it needs a basis of understanding to accomplish anything, so let us go into that little point.
Ondrea, whether you like it or not, the most ardent supporters of “…with autism” want the people out there who control our fate (“and the fate of every other Mutant”) to think of autism as a separate entity to us. They want those people to think of it as something that has latched onto us and driven us in a different direction to what we should be going in, as opposed to something that is as much a part of us as the colour of your skin or the faint wisps of orange that grow in my hair. That is also why I like to attack the “preference” by using “people with blackness” in retorts.
Hence, my point stands. This is not a matter of what people like or do not like. One phrase has the intention of acceptance on the part of self and the intention of demanding acceptance on the part of others behind it. The other runs in the exact opposite direction. One is right, the other is wrong.
But as we will soon learn, and are given strong hints of in Ondrea‘s message, addressing actual points is about as much her strength as subtlety or patience are mine. The pleading to be left alone to someone who has suffered terribly for letting things go unanswered, and the “I will pray for you” bullshit (in this context? really?) are just amazing to behold.
This is what I wrote back on Fudgebook (it comes across as very ugly, but I was not in the mood to pretty anything up):
You are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts.
Fact one: You are still clearly not getting my point.
Fact two: When you speak about being autistic as if it is separate to a person, it hurts people. It hurts me very deeply in a psychological sense. If I could make you feel for five seconds what being called a “person with autism” to my face does, you would spend the rest of your life crying on the floor like a little girl who just saw a living thing being hit by a car.
Fact three: The co-GM in my World Of Warcraft guild is also American and black. Whilst I have not talked about it directly with her, she does understand enough of the reason to know that speaking about the structure of my brain as if it were a separate thing to me, as opposed to something that has shaped every waking or sleeping thought of my life, is pure bigotry.
Add all of this up, and I feel gravely offended that I have to share a world with someone like you.
You are entitled to your own opinion. Nobody is entitled to their own facts.
There are a lot of points to go over here, but this message mostly speaks for itself. However, I do realise that some might get the wrong idea when they read my statement to Ondrea that when all of my points are added up, I feel offended that I have to share a world with the like of her.
In fact, this goes right to the heart of my points about the similarity between being disenfranchised as well as autistic and being disenfranchised as well as being black (or Asian, or Maori, or Tongan, or…). You see, the reason I get so thoroughly pissed off that I have to share a world with people like this is not because they differ from me in a significant manner (being black, being neurotypical, being pink with purple polka dots, I could go on). The reason I get so thoroughly pissed off that I have to share a world with them is because they expect the entirety of the world to be their way and their way only, with no regard to whom it hurts. You see, the reason Ondrea wrote me is not to reason with me. It is to simply tell me she is right, I am wrong, end of story. That is why I will not let it end there. But it gets worse:
You’re offended that you have to share a world with someone like me? I’m sorry, but I am not going to please everyone. I don’t mean to intentionally hurt people, and if you feel offended, I am sorry.
I am entitled to my own opinion, which is why I want you to stop writing me if you feel like you are offended that you have to share a world with me. And I am sorry I’m not getting your point, but I don’t want to.
Please, after this message, LEAVE ME ALONE. I am done proving my point.
Now, get this straight, Ondrea. This message came after you were told at least twice that I am offended to the point of throwing punches when someone refers to me as a “person with autism”.
Often, when I have to do a practical breakdance in order to not crush people whilst walking around places in Brisbane, the people in question will quickly bark out the word “sorry” without even looking at me as they continue on their course. Given that these people would get crushed, trampled, kicked, or even stabbed in parts of Sydney that I moved through without so much as a hiccup, you can understand how I might feel (and have verbiated in quiet hisses) that not getting in my way to the point where I have to practically seize in order to not hurt them might work better.
Ondrea, it is like this. My point is that your preferred way to refer to me is offensive to me and designed specifically to psychologically devalue me to persons around me. People do not generally do things like that, that is invent ways of referring to people that makes the people around them think of them as lesser Human beings, without a specific goal. In this case, the goal is permission to commit autistic genocide. If you do not want to get that point, I am offended by your existence to the point that you had better hope I never knowingly cross paths with you.
Oh, and what point have you proven, exactly? That you are a neurobigot?
Of course, all of this was covered a bit less politely in my Fudgebook response:
No, dear. You have not proven your point. You have none. I am offended by your existence because you want to use the phrasing for me that my equivalents of the Nazis, slavers, and other fun folk would have used for Jews etc if they had thought of it first. You offend me because you want to declare yourself right and me wrong without regard to actual fact, largely because those actual facts will not help you in any way. Your behaviour towards me resembles child abusers, wife beaters, and death camp supporters.
You have therefore made the worst kind of enemy. I could literally do this all day, because I will never be satisfied until you and your kind either get it or die.
Sometimes, feeling this angry can help. It is at least proof to yourself that you are still alive.
Pertinent, by the way, is the statement:
You offend me because you want to declare yourself right and me wrong without regard to actual fact, largely because those actual facts will not help you in any way.
It is a long way of saying “your existence offends me because you are behaving like my male parent”.
Obviously, something I have been saying rattled her, because instead of the “me-neurobigot right, you wrong” routine, her next post shifted into a “me victim” stance:
For the last time, PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE. Your comments are offensive, and I can report you. STOP WRITING ME.
Ondrea, go ahead. Report me. As I make clear in my response, I have the majority of the exchange in question on file, and I would really like to see how Fudgebook or WordPress respond to the entire record. If you honestly believe that will put me out, be my guest.
Oh, and in case you did not get it the first time:
Following is my response to the previous message from her. Please note that it is a long one, but beautifully summarises everything I have said so far. Here goes:
Oooooohhh… you’re offended? Are you for real? Go ahead, report me. I will just copy Facebook this entire conversation in which I have told you multiple times that your calling me “person with autism” is no different than me calling you “person with blackness”. And considering that I have not used more crass, vulgar forms thereof that are also the same as calling me “person with autism” to my mind, I would be very interested to see is Facebook is even going to take notice.
When are you going to get this through your head? This is not something I will ever back down from. You tried to claim being autistic. You are pulling an Uncle Tom act. Cut it out. Autism Speaks forces that language on my people, and it does us a disservice by making people think of autism as a separate entity. I am under no obligation to tolerate that. It is not a matter of preference. It is a matter of right and wrong.
Had the Nazis thought of calling Jews “people with Jewishness” or the like first (or more likely “animals with Jewishness”, and do not think Autism Speaks have ruled out “animals with autism” for a second), they would have done it.
Threaten me to your heart’s content. Your name is going up on WordPress, as is this conversation, so everyone can know what a discredit to the Human species you really are. Good day.
And there you have it. So now Ondrea Marisa Robinson can sit in her own little politically correct world and content herself with the award for being the biggest idiot who has polluted my inbox for about a year. She can also comfort herself by knowing how hard she has pushed the push for “person first” crap becoming the expected norm in a backward direction. Well done. I should be thanking her, but quite honestly, I would rather just hope she breaks her neck slipping on a sliver of soap.
I feel better after that. That is a sad reflection on me, I know. And in case you forgot: