we’ve found a handbasket

So, uh.

Blogging lately has felt like screaming into a soundproof box.

I’m not going to pretend I’m not discouraged. I am. I’m frightened. I’ve had on average a panic attack a week since Trump was crowned presumptive nominee. I can’t remember the last time I slept well. And I cannot shake this implacable, immovable sense of rage, especially since Brexit happened. Not like, go-buy-a-gun rage – I grew up in Michigan, with decidedly citified and intellectual parents who taught me to talk out and rationalize problems and regarded hunting for sport as barbaric – but that sick, sad sense of rage where you know someone you love is going to do something unutterably stupid and you can’t stop them.

That kind of impotent rage is the absolute worst – and yes, I’m aware that many Trump supporters have admitted to feeling a similar emotion. But there’s a very big difference between yearning for an idealized, imaginary, whitewashed version of a country that has never been great (no country ever has), and seeing human beings happily and willfully vote against states of affairs that help all people instead of just a few. Ignorance is en vogue. Facts are annoyances. It’s a terrifying world for a person who is ruled by how things are, even if I would like them to be different. Reality should never be optional. Education should never be an afterthought.

And yet. From the Washington Post’s twitter – the searches for “what is the e.u.” on google almost tripled in the hours after the damned polls had closed. Pundits blithely say things like “The British people are tired of experts.”

The absolute entitled nature of this entire episode is mindboggling. And yet I want to be livid, but I just can’t. I’m just too tired. I’m too used to utter human stupidity and ignorance and childishness. For the love of G-d. I’m an autistic female Jew. How did I ever trust anyone in the first place? How did I have years where I genuinely believed the world was a good or fair place?

One thing, if nothing else, that I want my readers, all twelve of you, to take into account. Opinions do not happen in a vacuum. Quite the opposite; in this day and age, they happen in technicolor, on several platforms at once. And yet people still have the unmitigated gall to say that it’s “just an opinion” and it “doesn’t do anything.”

Yes, goddamn it! It does!

Why do you think so many nations try to regulate free speech and the press? Because opinions have power, and to assume that yours doesn’t is another act of absurdity in the long history of human madness.

I’m not trying to regulate thought. But on Christ’s mercy or whoever you believe in, are we such a simplistic species that we can’t tell when an opinion is, if not factually wrong, morally bankrupt? Is it somehow outrageous to tell people are allowed to think what they want, but to take hate and ignorance and unapologetic bigotry and try to make it institutional policy is unacceptable? Is it such a novel concept that people fleeing wars whose seeds were planted by Western imperialism deserve help and succor from Westerners? Are we humans such worthless scum that we are able to delude ourselves into thinking that screwing up the world’s economy because of some half-mumbled empty lies about “being our own country” – or in the U.S. case, “making our country great again” – is totally fine, and there will be no repercussions?

The answer, of course, is yes. Yes, we are. And a lot of people are going to die because of it. And apparently that suits a lot of people just fine.

I’d like out of this handbasket, please. But right now I have to admit that I’m too frightened and heartsick to chew my way out myself.

An Open Letter to John Elder Robison

Dear Mr. Robison,

We have a couple of mutual friends, or so I am reliably informed, and we share the same neurology. While I dislike the tendency of NT society to turn to you almost as a default when they need an autistic person to speak on something, that is not your fault. I’ve even read Look Me In The Eye and found lessons and stories in it that I’ve been able to apply to my own life, for which I am grateful. You write extremely well.

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Fight or Flight

Recently, the brilliant Neurodivergent K published a blog post about hate, and about how autism “awareness” that abounds this time of year is just a cloak for bigotry. It’s a solid piece of writing that pulls no punches, and make no mistake, I agree with them – there is a solid chunk of the allistic populace that hates us. Yes, yes, #notallNTs, but enough. They may not hate all autistic people, but they hate us – the mouthy ones, the “high functioning,” the ones who preach acceptance and break it to parents that we will not call them allies or give them good-parent cookies solely because they bought some blue light bulbs and give money to a charity that actively calls for our neurotype’s eradication.

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Lighting Candles

Dear T-ssem,

I’ve spent most of the time I allocated for writing this post debating a title. I thought about calling it “Letter to an Autistic Celebrity,” but the thing is, I don’t know definitively that you are. And I’ve always been taught, in my experiences as a disabled activist, that armchair diagnoses are wrong. That it’s the height of rudeness to pin a label on someone who may neither want it nor merit it. Labels can both ruin and save lives, and they shouldn’t be used lightly. I don’t want to be arrogant. I don’t want to put someone in a box as so many have tried to do to me. It’s unfair and it can be perceived as insulting.

However, three factors made me write this post anyway. And I think they’re all applicable to a wider truth about autism and autistic people.

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Remember

Today is the Disability Day of Mourning.

What are we mourning?

We’re mourning that we are routinely murdered. By our parents, by our caregivers, and those who profess to love us, who “want the best for us.”

We’re mourning that this list has grown exponentially in just one year.

We’re mourning that we still have to mourn.

It isn’t about “services.” It’s not about poverty or anything of that nature. it’s about parents unable to cope with the fact that their child communicates differently, and how they can’t handle that it makes them feel like failures.

Your failure will not be paid off with my life.

If you want to fight me about this, do it tomorrow.

Today, honor the loss of many, many people that should still be with us.

harknessgarden2

[Image description: A manicured pathway in a garden, cut between two wild rows of assorted flowers. The path dead-ends at a cylindrical stone with what appears to be ivy growing over the top.]

And Now For Something Completely Different

To start 2016, I could talk about any of the horrifically depressing things affecting all our lives. But I don’t want to, quite frankly. I want to keep the feeling of a new start for as long as I can. I don’t make new year’s resolutions, but I do try to take it as a fresh beginning of sorts. And this year, I’ve decided to try and blog a bit more and widen my perspective. Originally, I intended this blog to be about a lot of stuff, not just autism, and I’d like to try and get back to that.

This post, however, is tangentially related to autism – I wanted to talk about a music group that has not only helped me be more comfortable in my autistic skin, but has also helped keep me going during this past awful, terrifying cowpie of a year. And hey, if some of you guys get new tunes to listen to in the process, so much the better. (NB. A  few of the songs linked here have some English profanity in them, so probably not safe for work.)

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