Eve’s personal note: I believe this is a good example of Autistic communications with uninformed Neurotypical advocates.
I’m told I speak plain and direct. I know often I present facts and it’s received by a neurotypical as an emotion. Yes, I have emotion, because the facts piss me off. No, my mind is not going to change because you “feel” a certain way about it. I’m going to show you more supporting facts to illustrate your emotions are rooted in a falsehood.
There’s a disconnect with potential supporters because whatever that NT thing is we don’t get — that’s coming back at us. Our fight for civil rights isn’t getting translated well and NT will fight back on pure emos and never see the facts presented as valid.
This probably falls into the category : NTs hate to be known as wrong & ManCulture of Strongest is Right (even if Wrong).
(Categories are derived from my lived experience self-identified categories to recognize social patterns, and hopefully respond with appropriate NT-accent. Also, categories organized visually – so I see an image of gorilla fists beating a chest when I recognize the pattern.)
… On the April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, Shatner tweeted a meme promoting Autism Speaks’ Light it Up Blue campaign. Like a racist uncle at Thanksgiving, this campaign and group, despite their ignorance and hatefulness, are embraced by numerous well-meaning people. …
I’ve written at length about the hate for autistic people inherent in Autism Speaks and their campaign, but here are the highlights: The organization and campaign both feature dehumanizing “cure” rhetoric that center not autistic people, but their parents. Autistic people are presented as burdensome and even malevolent. The Light it Up Blue campaign also uses blue to gender autism even as research shows this misconception leads to underdiagnosis in women and girls.
Which brings us back to William Shatner, who was very politely informed of these facts by some of his Twitter followers. Shatner took all of five minutes to reject journalist Emily Willingham out of hand, telling her the Forbes article she tweeted at him “negated any good point” with a reference to Autism Speaks founder Bob Wright’s friendship with Donald Trump, himself no stranger to eliminationist rhetoric about autistic people. When another user chided him for dismissing the people he claimed to support, Shatner scolded her for using profanity. When Autistic Self Advocacy Network founder Ari Ne’eman, one of President Obama’s appointees to the National Council on Disability, took Shatner to task for berating autistic people for trying to educate him, Shatner blocked him, and continued to defend himself by accusing Ne’eman of harassment and bullying.
A number of autistic people ran down these objections for Shatner, enjoining him to rethink his profile picture. He told them to go start their own charity before blocking them. When he was informed that autistic people had, in fact, started their own organizations, notably the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, he retorted that ASAN’s only agenda was attacking Autism Speaks, repeatedly accused ASAN founder Ari Ne’eman of misrepresenting him, and then blocked Ne’eman, too.
He also blocked noted allies David Perry and Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes, for trying to reason with him. That’s the point at which I realized we were where no man had gone before; abled people are usually much better about shutting up and listening to disability issues when their fellow “normals” get involved. But Shatner wasn’t hearing anything from anyone.
As I write this, he’s still blathering on and lashing out, essentially portraying himself as the victim because autistic people dared to demand a say in our own damned awareness.
You can learn a lot on the internet, and on Wednesday, a Twitter spat between a doctor and William Shatner—of Star Trek fame, with 2.5 million followers—taught us just how easily cranks and charlatans can manipulate the information out there. This isn’t a surprise, really—misinformation is everywhere, particularly online—but the exchange was such a perfect embodiment of the larger issues of the unavoidable desire to self-validate and the spread of quackery that it’s worth breaking down.
I like to call myself a “micro-celebrity” or a “nano-celebrity,” because I’ve attained a certain level of notoriety, but I don’t kid myself that it’s much of anything. At most a few thousand read this blog regularly, and several times that number read the not-so-super-secret other blog with which I’m involved. So when a real celebrity interacts with me on Twitter, I take notice. Unfortunately, this particular interaction was a perfect example of why you should never meet your childhood heroes. You’ll almost always be disappointed. In this case, the disappointment went far beyond the usual.
I’m referring, of course, to a run-in I had with William Shatner last night.