Normally one uses surnames for people they haven’t met, but given the appalling way you’ve just behaved and the ignorance you’ve displayed, I don’t have enough respect for you to bother.
Let’s get down to brass tacks.
I am an autistic adult, and I am angry.
At this point, you know what you’ve done, but you don’t entirely know what you’ve done. Yes, you used photos you found on the internet as tools for your argument. Bad form. (Do you not have someone on your staff who understands what fair use is? By the letter of the law, it’s fair use, but by the spirit, you made a huge mistake.) But more clearly, you’ve made autistic people everywhere just a little bit less safe.
You took photographs you found of what looked to you like the most vulnerable members of our community – children – and used them as bogeymen. As scare tactics, as static photos, completely ignoring the fact that they are learning, growing people. Completely ignoring the fact that they will grow up and see this ignorance on full display, because nothing is ever truly gone from the internet.
To see someone as a static image in time is to see them as not human. And dehumanization is the first step toward being able to cause harm to someone. Murder victims are dehumanized by their killers – they are avatars, they are mannequins for whatever disturbing desires they are supposed to represent. What you did was not only inappropriate, it was utterly dehumanizing. It was holding up a picture of a child and saying “If you have your children vaccinated, they could end up like this.”
What? Autistic and alive?If you do not grasp why this offends me and many autistic adults (and should offend most allistic, or non-autistic, people), you are a total loss as a person. Especially when you factor in the fact that almost 80 autistic children and adults have been murdered by their parents and caregivers in the last five years. People who are supposed to love their children and protect them from evil. Most recently, Nicholas Richett, a 20 year old man, was murdered in Melvindale, Michigan. His father had become ill and suicidal – and killed his son to “save his family the burden” because he was afraid there would be no one to help him. That was not his goddamn choice to make.
A burden. Let that sink in. A 20 year old man, otherwise healthy, bright, alive.
Late last year, six year old London McCabe was murdered in Oregon by his mother, who threw him off a bridge after researching “Oregon insanity plea” on her computer. A terrified six year old thrown into a bay to drown. Because he was nonverbal and his mother “couldn’t cope.” One of the major reasons that parents “can’t cope” is because they are bombarded continually with this terror that is autism, this message that autism is the worst thing that could ever happen to their family. Who else do we know that sees autism as an essential death sentence, a thief stealing a family’s normalcy in the night, who ignores the fact that behavior is communication and there are myriad other ways to talk and succeed in life besides making sounds with one’s vocal cords?
Look in the mirror.
As my excellent roommate put it when the story of your twitter ranting broke: “After twenty years, he’s still talking out of his ass.”
Stop. Your. Ignorance. You are directly contributing to our dehumanization. And when autistic people are dehumanized, autistic people die.