Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Know This- Autistics Never Win

Identity politics; when someone abuses their supposedly inalienable rights to associate, speak freely and protest, strategically, with the malicious intent of blackmailing everyone else into granting extraordinary privileges. Privilages such as having the same rights, dignity and standards which are enjoyed by almost everyone else.

Sounds fun, so I'll do it- with an experimental change to the formatting style because I've kind of started annoying myself with the big-little words. 

Society has spent the last two weeks pretending to care, first about an Autistic man killed in an unprovoked attacked where he was punched and his head hit the concrete, then about Faruk Ali who was targeted, assaulted and harassed by two police officers. I won't use the word 'allegedly' in this case because that is a societal norm codified in law that just so happens to be applied differently to Autistics. When an Autistic is accused of wrong-doing, rarely will you see 'allegedly' being used to describe what is reported. Different standards are applied to Autistics in the media, in the courts, in the NHS, on the street and in our own homes. The justifications are often defamatory and pejorative. 

The Guardian in it's usual 'get anyone but an Autistic' mode of thought decided to commission this piece by Rhiannon Cosslett(safe, regular, not Autistic- all the tick-boxes) to talk about the case, speaking generally but invoking her Autistic brother and others to make her point. Read it and you will come away with no increased understanding of Autism, hence the comments below fall back to the cliche default settings for debates about Autism. There are always a number of posts which will pull out the usual canards and tropes for justifying fear and discrimination against Autistics; the article above-the-line invites them, with Cosslett's safe, inclusionary and defensive appeals to emotion. These do not counter-balance the emotive stories and wet excuses for why Autistics should perpetually have a boot on our neck: they reinforce that this bullshit is ok and turn any discussion about rights and the worth of people into one stupid anecdote versus another. 

John Pring's DNS article does far better. Whilst the Guardian piece makes it about the police at a time where the police are unpopular, a dispassionate recount of the facts as they are known drops the heavy hints of what is considered normal for how Autistics are treated by almost everyone. Faruk was targeted by police before in 2012 and after the incident(where the complaint to the police was not upheld, unsurprisingly) his family were told that he should be wearing an Autism alert bracelet, like he was a dog off its leash and that this would have made any difference. He is reported to have been wearing that bracelet at the time this latest incident occurred. 

The pattern is familiar to me- it's the story of my life and that of so many other Autistics I know. You do something, you get in trouble. You do nothing, you get in trouble. You go find the certain person, or show the certain thing and say the magic words you were told to which will stop you getting in trouble and somehow these never seem to work and you still get in trouble. Sometimes they are even cited as the very thing which got you in trouble, but after so many no-win situations you become suspicious that this has ever been the case. You start wondering if there is something about being Autistic that stimulates the worst predatory instincts in other people, so you become very vigilant and then they start describing you as 'aggressive' and 'difficult'. The Autistic is always to blame, even if communication mandates effort between more than one person. So the lame excuses trotted out each and every time involve downplaying utterly the role of anyone else when something happens and the finger is pointed at the nearest Autistic. Take the objection of one comment below the line in the Guardian piece to a comment by another poster that Autistics are not violent:
"They are at least as capable of violence as anyone else - and since they are overwhelmed by emotions in tense situations, ie dealing with authority, they are more likely to become violent."
So this person accepts the premise given that Autistics feel emotions more strongly, but chooses to infer from this alone that Autistics are not only at least as capable of violence as others, but are more likely to be. No explanation required, no qualification or acknowledged exceptions(exceptions are important as it is often exceptions which 'prove the rule'). The poster is challenged, but what he said is not- it's like everyone responding is incapable of considering that there is any other conclusion except the one already given. If we assume that Autistics feel emotions more strongly, to the point we are often overwhelmed by them(and I believe it is the case), then we must allow also for every possible meaning to it including the blatantly obvious that Autistics must also feel revulsion towards violence more strongly too. Ergo, Autistics could be naturally less inclined towards violence and using Autism as an explanation for instances of violence to distract from the role of non-Autistics in such matters is naked bigotry and cowardice.

Despair, because these are the highest standards Autistics receive anywhere.