Yesterday, a rather ugly incident happened online that probably doesn’t deserve addressing. A facebook page was brought to my attention by a fellow Aspie and writer that called for the extermination of autistics. I promptly reported it and put the word out on twitter about it. A friend picked it up, shared it, and it was promptly dismantled. I’m not going to say we were all responsible but I think we were crucial.
This doesn’t deserve addressing because in the end, who cares? There are a lot of harassment sites online. Autism being included in the list of groups mocked doesn’t feel extraordinary at all. I mean we have a lot of skeletons in our own closet after all. And I’m sure if you were to ask the person who put it up if they really had eugenics in mind, they’d claim they “just wanted a reaction.” We gave it. So what?
That’s the wrong approach.
I’ve tried to hold my tongue on the topic of the subtle social prejudice my group faces as adults because I hate being seen as oversensitive. Forgive me but this time, I’m going to ignore that I think that way. This site serves as a great microcosm of the prejudice we face online.
Of course no rational person would support our elimination. I’m not that stupid. At least I don’t want to think that’s the case. I think there is a definite concern about us “spreading” but look, AS/HFA runs right up my bloodline and we’ve all done fine. I’m not exactly afraid of it. But no, I certainly don’t think any sane person would actually want me or my more severe ilk dead. Even your lowest functioning still can contribute.
The thing is, I’ve seen people I greatly respect use anti-autistic language. The late Roger Ebert did it in regards to people being sticklers about detail. It shows up nonstop on humor sites to describe obsessive detail. Sperging is a casually accepted verb. I’m so bombarded by this that I don’t note it because I’m numb to it.
And this certainly isn’t limited to us. We’re so casual as a society about homophobic language. I love the guys at Rifftrax but I would love for them to cut it out. We’re increasing sensitive about racial language this year but christ what tragedies it took to get here. We’re profoundly uncomfortable with transgender issues even though I’ve found dealing with my trans friends is rather simple. Whatever they identify as, I call them. Done.
So we’re in a big boat. What can we do to change this? Simple, refuse to shut up. I’m not saying be whiny about it but try to gently point out the awfulness. Most will listen. We should have a degree of a thick skin too. Let some of it go because everybody gets mocked. But we won’t be silent. And when the line gets crossed, well that idiot forgot one accurate stereotype about the group he was mocking. We use computers majorly. We will break you.