One of my Fudgebook friends shared a news item. In it, the commercial entity known as Build-A-Bear Workshop announced (apparently to a mailing list) that they were ending their partnership with Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes. Great news by itself. But a wider context must be considered.
First, here is an image of the announcement. Note the big-ass cheer on the right, which demonstrates a fundamental problem with the passivist-dominated autism civil rights movement. Namely, jumping the gun.
You see, whilst Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes is the dominant and most well-known anti-autistic hate group in the world, it is far from the only one. There are others in Australia (and I am sure there are others in England, Sweden, Germany, et cetera ad nauseum).
And here is a comment made by someone whose identity I have redacted. It sums up exactly what the problem is with the passives in this movement.
You see, the autism civil rights movement is a worldwide one. Just because an American normie sympathiser quietly announces (more on this soon) that they are not dealing with one group of normies anymore does not mean they are not dealing with another group in another place.
The link in that capture is to this journal entry. It basically states that Autism Awareness Australia is still being supported by Build-A-Bear. Autism Awareness Australia’s message is exactly the same as that of Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes. Namely, that autistic people should be exterminated.
Build-A-Bear Workshop, this is an all or nothing deal. You cannot expect us to be happy when you sever ties to one organisation yet retain ties to another that does exactly the same thing. You quit one anti-autistic hate group, you have to quit them all. Otherwise it makes no real-world difference to the autistic.
So no, I will not resume shopping at the Build-A-Bear Workshop, and if your goal is the security and comfort of all autistic people as opposed to just yourself, neither will you.
A few things I want to say here. One, Boycott Autism Speaks, great work and I hope you continue spreading the word. But you only divide the autistic of the world further if you do not push harder and say “what about the good autistic folk in Australia?” (or elsewhere). Do not cheer half an effort. Tell Build-A-Bear Workshop, “yeah, that is great, but autistic people in other countries deserve a reason to be happy, too”.
Second, Build-A-Bear Workshop, being autistic in Australia is frightening. Truly frightening. On numerous occasions, I have said that one can either be autistic or Australian, not both. This is because until recently I have always encountered an expectation of Australian perception that we are expected to just sit back and say everything will work out in the end. Herd stupidity and all that. Which is great for normies because it at least keeps them docile, but it is like the song title goes: while you sleep, I destroy your world. Autistic people are aware of this on numerous levels. To truly be autistic is to accept that Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes is not going away on its own, is not our friend, and thus it is on us to eliminate them.
Third, and final for this point list, being an autistic adult in Australia is one of the most frightening situations in the present world. Not merely because people make it clear, on occasion without meaning to, that they intend to destroy you and expect you to be thankful. No, it goes way beyond that. Australia, or Assholia as I like to call it, is a nation so into austerity that it makes America look sane at times.
Imagine a part of a city where mental health services basically consist of a place that hands out pills or refers people to private specialists, and absolutely nothing else. Imagine sitting down with someone and being told “we just hand out pills, we are not equipped to deal with autistic, PTSD-suffering people”. Did I describe Tasmania, the Fraser Coast, Katoomba? Nope, I described Merrylands. One of the central hubs in the most populated segment of the entire fukking country. If this is the kind of services that are available for autistic adults who have difficulty sleeping at night because of the way they were abused as children, then perhaps one might want to rethink celebrating whilst an anti-autistic hate group is even allowed to operate here.
Oh yeah, and in case you were wondering why I spew so many upset words if I see you put a puzzle piece on your page and proclaim yourself to “love” “someone with autism”, this is why. The blue puzzle piece is a symbol of hate. What the Swastika is to the Hebrews (and the mentally ill, and the homosexuals, and the Roma, and, and, and…), what the burning cross is to black Americans, the puzzle piece is to us.
So I would like for a moment to tell Build-A-Bear Workshop what it needs to do for autistic people everywhere in the world to regard them as a good place to shop again. This list is merely informative, but believe me, should you follow it, you will never need to worry about your public image with autistic people again.
First of all, sever ties to any and all charities that proclaim to be about autism “awareness” or research. There is an autistic organisation that is actually endorsed by and run by autistic people. Namely, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. They can furnish you with information about which organisations are safe or not safe to deal with. But make sure you are very clear with the autism “awareness” and research charities.
Clear meaning tell them that you have, or had, customers who are autistic, and do not feel that you should be working with organisations that seek to subject your customers to genocide.
Secondly, make the public very aware of this. Take out advertisements. A good example of what to write to the reading public would be something like the following:
In the past, as part of our public relations, we announced that we were working with the organisation Autism Speaks [For Normie Assholes]. We did this in the belief that our customer base would appreciate this and even think better of us for it. We were wrong. What we did not consider at the time was that:
- Not all of our direct customers are children
- Some of our customers, direct or otherwise, may be autistic
Indeed, the outrage expressed by autistic people from around the world has made us reconsider our position. Going forward, we will not be working with organisations that seek to prevent or cure autism. We have been made aware, a little too late in this case, that autistic people consider both of those things tantamount to murder.
In future, we aim to speak with autistic people directly concerning such efforts. We apologise for not having done this in the first place. Whilst we have no wish to make excuses, we hope that they might understand the complete lack of services and organisations that do represent their interest makes it very difficult to obtain quality information concerning autistic interests.
We have been made aware of the existence of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. We are also aware that there are many self-advocates who are isolated and work alone, and there are many different points of view within the autistic community. However, opposition to being cured and prevented appears to be almost universal. So we apologise, again, for having not spoken with the autistic community.
We invite the autistic, both as individuals and as representative groups, to come forward and further educate us.
This is just an example, but it is a pertinent one for several reasons.
- It would be the right wording to convince autistic people that you are genuinely remorseful. Make no mistake about this, Build-A-Bear Workshop and anyone else looking to cut ties with Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes for PR reasons. A simple “oh… sorry” is not going to cut it. When you announce to the world that you support Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes, you inflict fear into our hearts. In cases like mine, you precipitate symptoms consistent with PTSD. Apologise, and make damned sure you sound like you mean it. This is why in the example above you apologise repeatedly and explain why you are apologising.
- Pledging to communicate directly with autistic people should be redundant, but it is not. Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes is unique among organisations that are called charities. To use my favourite examples, Diabetes America and the American Cancer Society speak to and answer to people suffering from diabetes or cancer directly. As a point of contrast, Autism Speaks seems to think that the will of malinformed parental units is more important than the will of autistic people. Autistic people do not merely consider that to be wrong. We consider it to be an insult. When you say “in future, we will be speaking with actual autistic people”, and tell us which you refer to, you assure us that we are not going to be horrified by what you tell us we want.
- Acknowledging that autistic people consider Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes’ goals are considered to be murderous and genocidal by autistic people. Do I really need to explain that one?
- The fact that autistic people have been deprived of a voice, literally having had their voice in the community taken away by organisations like Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes, must be acknowledged. The first step in correcting any injustice is to acknowledge it.
- Finally (for now), it is important to not only realise something but acknowledge the realisation. It is still not widely known amongst the kinds of people who support the kinds of initiatives Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes that autistic people are not easily identifiable. It is no exaggeration to say that in any building with a thousand people, you will find at least six autistic individuals. By acknowledging that the people who want to partake of your goods and services are not all children and not necessarily not autistic, you do more than pay lip service to the idea of inclusion. You also do it a favour by upping the ante regarding genuine inclusion.
- Okay, one last point. By acknowledging that there are organisations out there run by and for autistic people, you also make people who might otherwise donate to Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes aware that ignorantly throwing money at organisations and expecting to be called a hero for it is a fool’s game.
I am sure that other autistic people can think of other reasons why a letter like the above in a publicly-read print source and web site would be of benefit to you, but I consider these reasons to take the highest importance.
When I came to your Parramatta store earlier this year and asked them why they were supporting a curebie drive, I was literally feeling sick. As in my whole body was shaking, and I felt pulses of yuck/anxiety in my skin. This is a similar feeling to what happens when I hear phrases like “person with autism” or “suffers from autism”. It is a feeling akin to having been raped, and having the person who raped you sit down in front of you, virtually nose to nose. It is a feeling I would not wish upon anyone, least of all the people whom you are most directly marketing to. In fact I think the idea of making children (yes, children can be autistic, too, and that is my dose of irony for the day) feel this way is abhorrent.
To Build-A-Bear Workshop, I say the job is not over yet. To way-too-passive “advocates” like the Boycott Autism Speaks page, I say damn you for breaking out the cake whilst the job is not over yet. To autistic people, I say pick up your pen or voice and urge Build-A-Bear Workshop to not only do the whole job and make every customer in every country they do business in feel safe to go into their stores whilst autistic.
What Build-A-Bear Workshop has just done is a good thing, but it is hardly enough to get excited about just yet.