Tales of an Aspie Freedom Fighter

Friday, May 26, 2006

What is Freedom?

On Aspies For Freedom I asked someone who appeared to be an American patriot, what is freedom? This is a question that comes too mind everyone time I hear the word come up in US politics (which is a lot). And I thought that I would ask it this time. Personally I don't think that those that use that word the most have little concept of what it means beyond some golden ideal that is without question or reproach.

As I am on my high horse thinking about this I fail to notice something obvious. I am posting this on a website called Aspies For Freedom. And even more I have blog called Aspie Freedom Fighter. If I can ask this surely this question could be turn back on us. What does freedom mean in this context? I, however, think I can answer it.

What is Freedom to aspies, and to me?

This means a couple of things.

Freedom of Identity

What I mean by this is the freedom to be who I am without fear of reproach or condemnation. I what to be about to go through my day without having to pretend to be someone I am not. To freedom to be who I am without the necessity to change or be changed to suit the ideas and wishes of society.

Freedom from discrimination

This is a bit hard to explain. To be free of being judged or treated based a static definition of a disability. This is very hard to explain. Perhaps someone else can explain.

Freedom of Personal Choice

I want the power to make my own choices and to be responsible for the consequences of said choices. I don't want my choices to made by my parents/therapist/doctor/medical establishment.

Freedom of SPEECH!

I want to allowed to expression my thoughts and feelings and be listened to, and be believed. No matter how strange or different they may seems.

I also want society to recognize that all autism are capable of communication on some level(even if only by bang there head against a wall).

Freedom of existence

I want to live without fear of being killed. And not just as a individual but as a people. I want society to acknowledge that we not only exist be are worthy of existence. This mean not call calling us an epidemic or a burden to society. Indeed this would mean opening your minds and letting us contribute to society in our own way. This also means allows us have the support that we need to do so.

That is how I define Freedom for Autistics. How about you?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Ethics Of Generation Rescue

The Mercury debate has been going back and forth for a long while now. But that not what I am here to talk about. There are already many arguments on ether side of the belt. Instead I am going to critique about the pro-mercury organization Generation Rescue, based on numerous things from their own website.

One of the things that I noticed that might not seem to be that questionable is the "Rescue Angels". From the website they are,

Parent-Founders of Generation Rescue who are volunteering their time and knowledge to help you. They are parents of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder who have either recovered their own children and/or are currently treating their children biomedically.
Treating your child requires the care of a qualified health care professional, and Rescue Angels may be able to provide you with local recommendations based on their own experience. Search the listings below to find someone within your general proximity and feel free to contact them directly via their email address.
Please contact only one Rescue Angel at a time. In order to prevent confusion and help make the best use of their time, please initiate contact with one Rescue Angel rather than several. Contacting several at once actually slows their response time and may result in no response at all. Rescue Angels are not Doctors and they do not offer medical advice.
source

The problem is that recommending doctors is medical advice. It is called a Referral. There is an issue of trust here. When my GP refers me to a specialist I trust that my GP is sending me to someone that is competent. That because there are system's governing their practice. It may not always work probably, but at least it's there. How does Generation Rescue assure the ethical behaviour of their "Rescue Angels"? JB Handley's excellent judge of character?! For example how can a parent know that their "Rescue Angel" is not getting kickbacks from the doctors the are "recommending". Generation Rescue would probably never know. Of course this is only a hypothetical scenario. The only way that they guarantee they're own behaviour is that the romantic notion that there is a sacred bond between parents of autistic children. And people say I am naive! Using the same logic it should be the case that all human beings should be united in peace since we all shared the same experience of being born! Just because someone has a Autistic child does not mean they the can't be a complete asshole as well.

Even assuming that the "Rescue Angels" all have good intentions (And I am not saying that they don't), there is another problem. In recommending a doctor, how are they accessing the competency of that doctor? Well they say how right up there, "... based on [the rescue angel's] own experience". Well that is just dandy. Problem is that unless they there all doctors, they couldn't possibly have the medical knowledge to access a doctors competency. Basing a recommendation on a general impression is a dangerous practice. The thing is con artists are experts at creating a good impression of themselves (And that's what quacks really are medical con-artists). In fact they can be so good that their marks never find out that they where had and will actually get other people to fall for it.

But this is just the icing of the cake. Let's take a step back and look at the big picture. What is Generation Rescue doing here is taking parents that had their doctor refuse Chelation Therapy and sending them to doctors that will. They justify this by saying that doctors and science are irrationally holding on to the past (source). A very unfair criticism since this is a part of the scientific process. All new medical procedures must pass through this gauntlet to come into practice. It's the same idea with scientific theories. Any doctor that performs a unapproved procedure is acting unethically. And Generation Rescue is encouraging this by giving these doctors customers. It's unethical because until it has been accepted by the medical establishment they is now accepted way of knowing wherever or not the mercury theory is true. That leads to the most disturbing trait this group has. Generation Rescue is completely and blindly convinced without any doubt (at least in public) that they are right. It shows all over their site. For example they always reference Autistics as mercury poisoned children. And one must consider John Best Jr's posts on AFF. He was absolutely flabbergasted that we would not want to have our mercury cleared. In his mind it was a undeniable fact that mercury causes autism. He didn't even come to debate it. But, there are no undeniable facts in science or life. Everything we know could be absolutely wrong. Socrates said "True knowing is knowing you know nothing". If that is the case what does anyone who thinks that they know something really know?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Forum moderation do's and dont's

I have been foruming for a while and have seen many good forum moderator practices and many bad ones. So I put together a list of do's and dont's:

Do keep a set of clear forum rules and expectations. Most places have them but on those that don't it can be very anxious posting because you never sure what the moderator will consider appropriate. And such moderators are open to accusations of unfair treatment.

Don't expect anyone to read it! The rules link could occupy 75% of the screen on all pages and people will still not notice it!

Do explain your reasons for locking a topic. It may be obvious to you but to the other forumers they might not know(remember that unread rules page!).

Don't discuss bans on the public thread. Remember the person may still be reading the posts and that may be provocation for them to try to post again to defend themselves.

Do give a warning message to misbehaving members. They may not realize that there is something wrong with their behaviour (especially important with aspies).

Don't get too involved in heated argument. You might need to put on the moderator hat later on.

Do remember that the things you say and do tend to be seen as the views of the site owners or the forum.

Don't tease or make fun of people you ban. That's just an invitation for a troll to re-register later just to say fuck you.

Do be prepared to answer the accusation that your restricting the persons freedom of speech. Some people think that the constitution (or the equivalent) enables them the privilege of being a complete asshole. Well sure it can, but not on my site.

Do be prepared to apply the rules a little liberally. There are some trolls that manage to create trouble while staying just within the stated rules.

Don't listen too much to my advice. I have never been a moderator. :D

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Our Side/Their Side

I am now going to go into what I believe to to be the opposing viewpoints in the cure/no-cure debate. I feel that this is something that anyone involved in any kind of conflicting points of view. Looking though the eyes of the "enemy" can help you understand their real motives. You might find that you both are fighting for same thing from two different viewpoints. Or at the least you will be able to make more effective arguments. So here is what I think is on the minds of this debate.

The Anti-Cure View

The anti-cure side has one major philosophy at it's core. That Autism is a neurological difference not a disease. So any attempt to cure autism would be tantamount to genocide. One of the misunderstandings between the two side is the use of the cure. To some cure advocates use cure in reference any kind of treatment that reduces the effects of autism or comorbids. But to us cure means eradication of autism from the individual or from society. This leads many to think that we oppose all kinds of treatment or therapies for Autism period. Which is untrue. The Anti-cure group, and the Autistic rights movement in general are fight against primarily three things:

  1. Treatment and therapies that devalue our identity. We are particularly opposed to ABA therapy which we feel is mentally abusive and is a threat to our self-concept. It punishes us for behaviours that feel natural to us.
  2. Discrimination in society. We feel undervalued by society and discriminated against. Particularly in regards to employment. We feel that negative messages presented to the media about autism will make the situation worse. Some that come from "Autism Charities".
  3. Prenatal testing. We believe that this will allow the abortion of the majority of autistic children similar to how downs babies are aborted.
The Pro-Cure View

The pro-cure camp mostly are believes the are acting the best interests of Autistics, They view Autism as a monster that robbed them of their children (They are predominately parents). They are aware of the discrimination faced by Autistics. They seem to view society as something that can't be changed and rather change their children. They view Autism as a disease and are hopeful that it will be "cured" (having more faith in medical science than I do apparently).

I think another driving force behind the cure motive is the struggle to get social support services. The difficulty of getting and cost of such services make the prospect of waving a magic medical wand and removing Autism become very appealing.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bickering in the ranks

The Autistic Advocacy movement has received some harsh responses from anti-cure groups and charities. Not all of the mudslinging is from anti-cure camp sadly. Without naming names, there are numerous disagreements going on within the Autistic forum owners. This bickering between forum owners has to stop!

The online Autistic community is divided into many different forums sites. And some seem to have a very Bill gates type attitude towards it. That they seem to want there site to be the centre of the autism culture & community. And this is true of the autistic rights groups too. I have always said that the Autistic Culture is a culture of dissidents. What I mean by this is that autistic differ greatly with each other. Some of this is because of the heterogeneous nature of Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. Almost all of us share a feeling of being slighted by Non-Autistic's(Most I think do). And I think most want to see the stop to this. It's just most of us have differing ideas on how that should be accomplished.

The problem is some Autistics don't see this. To these people, they're right and everyone who disagrees is wrong. Also some Aspies can't let an argument go...ever. Many of these sites are split because of personal disagreements between owners.

These arguments are detrimental to our cause. These splits make us look silly and child-like to our opponents. People will not take us seriously. So please bury the hatchet!

How can we ask other to be accepting of us if we are not accepting of each other.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Biology of Hate

My life as an aspie has not been easy. I have faced hatred and bulling as most of us had. And many of us have had to deal with the horrors of the institutions which are worse. Often I have wondered why do people fear and hate us so much. We aren't really any kind of threat. Yet we are given such dangerous terms as 'Epidemic' or mental disorder. To Scientology we are the cause of all evil on the planet! Others just say that we are a burden to society and are going to cause the fall of civilization.

Huh?

How can a hand flapping Autistic rocking in his chair be considered such a threat? The truth is that people fear those that are different. The question that I ask is why? The standard view is that our culture promotes this attitude. But this kind of behaviour has been persistent throughout most cultures across the entire span of history. All wars have a undertone of hatred in them. We villianize our opponents. So that leaves the question why. Why do we hate? What is the purpose of such a destructive emotion? My theory is that hatred of "them" is a trait that we evolved to survive.

In order to explain this we go back to prehistory and the days when our species first appeared on the earth. We have all seen that famous image of the ape evolving into a man. This would lead you to believe that this was a linear progression where only on species existed at one time. This is in fact many of these species co-existed for a time. Australopithecus and Homo Erectus co-existed for a time. As well as Neanderthal and our species. I believe that the may be more hominid species our there waiting to be found that co-existed with us in our beginnings. Many mythological races like elves, fairies or giants seem the point to a time when we encountered other hominids of different shapes and sizes. If this is the case it make a sharp contrast to modern day where only one species exists, ours.

It is my theory that our species has evolved with a hatred of other hominids and preemptively attacked and eradicated and persecuted all the other hominid species. No doubt different species would have come into conflict a lot as most existed on the same food supply. But our species is the only one that attacked without good reason. This gave them a evolutionary edge. Our species got complete access to resources by eliminating all there competition. It has also been theorized that our species is the first that could predict events over long periods of time(For example predicting the movement of herds over the seasons). If that was the case and lesser homids would not have stood much of a chance in a conflict against homo sapiens. Eventually there was only one left.

But after we won the crown of earth we kept fighting. Anyone who was different would be attacked. This occurred in the form of wars and racism. And new and more subtle methods of persecution where invented like slavery. However as a species we are not able to stomach genocide directly. So we invented social constructs like government, and religion to provide rationalizations for our actions.

The one that has harmed Autistics probably the most was Christianity. I do believe that many aspies might have been tried for witchcraft. Autistic might have also been thought to be possessed by demons (this belief still exists today).

But as Science began to take away influence from the Church such practices become rarer and rarer. So science made it's own social construct, Insanity. Now people that where once witches or possessed are now dangerously insane and locked away in insane asylums. At first the goal of the Insane Asylum was as a prison the keep "insane" people away from those that are normal. Effectively killing them socially. Nowadays the focus is a little different. Now psychiatry has another goal. The re-engineering of the insane. Into normal people; Otherwise known as therapy. Now don't get me wrong the are many cases where such re-engineering is necessary and welcome. People with depression would love to be not depressed. And the hallucinations & delusions of schizophrenia can be dangerous to those around them and themselves. But as a whole the "insane" are not as dangerous as the public is made to believe.

So, that is my theory. But let go back to the point when we eradicated all other hominids and we turn our hate toward our own kind. Well the irony is, that we seem now to be close to victory in that conflict too. As technology increases, it becomes easier and more efficient to kill one another. Now we live with the the threat of nuclear bombs. 600,000 swords of Damocles hanging over our heads, all of them on one thread. And we have the business world recklessly endangering the environment we live in in there own weird variation of aggression.

Now from all this it seems that I am portraying the human race as hateful monsters. That is not so. Hate is only just a part of the human experience. But it is beginning to destroy us. We need to keep it under control.