A Touch of Alyricism

Dedicated to the equally fascinating topics of autistic advocacy and the 'sisterly sophistries' of radical gender feminism. Other topics may occasionally crop up. Contactable at alyric@gmail.com


Polemicist since Grade 8

Monday, July 17, 2006

And the Truth Shall Set You Free.......

……..In which case, there are apparently a large number of parents of autistic children out there in a permanent state of bondage.

Below are a few of the comments of parents on Kev Leitch’s petition contra the Autism Speaks video, Autism Every Day. Naturally, I signed it. My views on the topic are fairly clear not to say forceful (here and here).

>>>>As a videographer/editor and as a mother- I enjoyed the documentary and think it has great educational value. The general public needs to understand the pain- and it's not pretty. Why would anyone vote for more funding or better trained teachers if everything in the autism world is a-ok?

As you say, it may not accurately depict autism for every family, but for the uniformed - it sends a powerful message. I'm sorry if anyone finds this offensive but I certainly was able to relate to a lot of what those mothers had to say. There fears, hopes and dreams.....hit home for me.

I can see where some people have complaints with Autism Speaks. This isn't one of them. It is an amazing view that may help people to realize this IS something serious!

It left out any treatment options or real hope but it was finally a different view than all the HFA stuff we see.<<<<<<

There are a couple of themes running through the commentary.

It’s OK to exaggerate (might as well call something on this scale lying).
People won’t listen to us, provide needed services etc unless we tug the heart strings pretty strongly so since our hearts are pure - 1. is really OK.

So, the fairy tale method of pedagogy is alive and well. Ignore the dragon, smoke, fire etc, they’re only there for theatrical effect – concentrate on the message – Folks we need help here. Just wondering if these folks know that this is a very slippery slope and about to become suicidal when Joe Q Public realizes that a) they’ve been exaggerated to (OK - lied to) and b.) the depiction of autism portrayed may, on a bad day, apply to a mere fraction of that 1:166. I digress.

The interesting point of this commentary is similar commentary for similar reasons. I thank jypsy and the Diva for the motivation here. On the Diva’s blog (comments section) jypsy posted the following:

That would be Christine, maker of the "Emails from Marty" video... http://tinyurl.com/e94hp
"This 11 minute video is based on emails written by a 25 year old man with autistic spectrum disorder, describing his life-long struggle of being different. Includes photographs and video of children from all over the world."Her thoughts on her video"this is america- and i can sell any video i produce.putting a disclaimer on the video itself is my choice.putting a disclaimer on the website is my choice.what i do with this video is my choice- and as for my "credibility"anyone who knows me knows my motivations."

Actually, the first Christine cited by the Diva is a different Christine, but the message is eerily similar. In the case of supercon Marty Murphy, it was OK for a verbal autistic to impersonate a non-verbal autistic of the opposite gender because the message – a kind of free form poetry version of the Autism Every Day video was too good to pass up when it comes to educating the public about autism – even if this was complete dishonesty. After all, as the first Christine put it “anyone who knows me, knows my motivations”. Interestingly, there was a petition to sign contra Marty Murphy’s opus too. Yes – I signed that.

Wade Rankin is a very nice bloke I think, if occasionally misguided. What leads him astray is interestingly, the same sort of thing expressed by the two Christines and assorted parents – simply – it’s OK to mess with the truth in a good cause or in it’s usual guise – the end justifies the means, a very ancient fallacy indeed. However, leaving the ramifications of this fallacy to the philosophers, the point of this post is to examine two very different ways of looking at the world.

It’s a sort of balance between the relative importance given to facts and the relative importance given to feelings - and it’s a continuum. It just so happens that there are whole swags of reasonably intelligent folk who give great value to facts even if somebody gets hurt in the process, because they think that this is the best way. Of course, there is a whole other swag of reasonably intelligent folks who think that feelings including the feelings you engender in other people are what really matters because that’s what’s really important for people when you come down to it. This argument is as old as the hills and there is some evidence that the basis is real – see Simon Baron’ Cohen’s work. This has a whole lot of ramifications - someday I’ll get around to writing ‘mere masculinity’, a mini opus on why psychologists don’t like traditional masculinity.

In a a ‘more in sorrow than in anger’ post on ‘The absurdity of being taken to task for what one doesn’t say’, Wade writes about some of the Hub’s memorial tributes for Katie McCarron:

“Those that used the death to make a point were not alone, though, as many in the press and in various corners of the web tried to connect this senseless act to a “lack of services.”

Hmm, as I recall there actually was not one single press article at the time that was not all about 'she must have been driven to do it' and not that many Hub tributes that said 'she was a selfish no-good mother who did it because Autism Speaks and Autism Canada led her to believe she could get away with it. Heck, Autism Canada would most probably give her a job if she succeeded.'

The problem is, I would think, the relative position Wade takes on ‘facts’ . Wade wrote earlier on the killing of Katie McCarron that he had refrained from comment

“- more from a complete lack of understanding about what could compel someone, who by all accounts was a devoted mother, to take the life of a beloved child.”

Hmm, the facts say that Karen McCarron hadn’t parented this child for the past 20 months –just over half the child’s lifetime so there is no evidence that she was devoted and it is doubtful that she considered Katie beloved, since she killed her. Note – these are just the facts – not a word said yet about feelings.

Now, why would a nice guy like Wade choose not to see what is in very plain sight? Perhaps because there were other things that were in plainer sight to him - like solidarity with the feelings of a fellow parent of an autistic child, who might after all be innocent of murder because she was not in her right mind at the time. That thing called solidarity is all about feelings and with the above three examples, the base hypothesis is that for a great many people, feelings especially those of solidarity come first and everything else second. That this can be demonstrably pathological behaviour in many situations is never really addressed.

So, the next time someone suggests to ‘agree to disagree’ – diagnostic of the pre-eminent feeler’ – decline.


Blogger notmercury said...

Wonderful. I so enjoy reading your lyrics

5:14 AM  

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