Saturday, November 1, 2014
Insult or Compliment?
Jane Strauss Âû writes on Facebook: Insult or Compliment?
For weeks, I have mulled over what to write about for this, my (fourth?) Autistics Speaking Day. And finally, though this will not be a long note, the "aspergery-gate" fiasco did it for me.
It has come to my attention that I am apparently not deeply enough offended by the statement out of the Obama Administration that Bibi Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel is "Aspergery." Huh. As someone who espouses Autistic Pride, I consider it disingenuous to call this an insult - in fact, given the many positive qualities common to many Autistics, loyalty, honesty, attention to detail, researching things, not being swayed by majority opinions or wild emotion....it is in my mind a compliment. Any government could benefit by having more of us running things.
Meanwhile, I have seen a large number of people online and on FB decrying the use of the word as an insult. Folks, it is only an insult if you take it as one. It may have beenintended as an insult by the narrow minded and uneducated dolt who used it, but that use said far more about him, his manners, and his character than it did about the Prime Minister. This is the case just as Autism Speaks' budgetary biases and constant derogatory and eugenics-oriented statements about us speak volumes about them, and inaccurately about us. And by engaging in these tempests in teapots, the Ruderman Foundation, "Jews with Special Needs," and many others either gave credibility to the use of this term as a pejorative, or showed the world that, in their hearts of hearts, they actually agree that ASD is a bad thing, no matter what their public faces say about "inclusion," "Person first," and equality.
So folks, either you are part of the solution or you are part of the problem. And if you validate the negative intention of this puerile member of the administration through your protestations, perhaps you should examine your own beliefs, which may have been unduly influenced by ableist social norms. Consider that perhaps your reaction was rooted either in your own ingrained belief that disability is bad or your internalized oppression. Consider that what you did furthers oppression of disabled folks. Consider the possibility that with the best of intentions you have only reinforced existing discriminatory norms, and until you can internalize a positive view of "Autism," maybe the most helpful reaction would be none at all.