I am writing this mostly about a specific incident, but there are dozens of specific incidents it could easily be about.
This week, a video was released of a young man who thought he and some other kids were participating in the ALS ice bucket challenge. Instead of ice, the other kids dumped a bucket of sewage on this boy's head. And they filmed it, so as to spread the humiliation.
The boy's parents did something that displays a lack of thinking, a lack of empathy, a lack of understanding media, a lack of understanding bullies, or a combination of the above: They released the video to media.
They released a video of their child being drenched in the contents of a toilet, taken to humiliate their son by spreading it, and it is now being seen worldwide.
These parents did exactly what the bullies wanted. They are humiliating their son on a global level. How did they think this is a good idea?
They mean well, they say. They're pressing charges (and I hope they nail the other kids to the wall). They say they want to spread awareness or something (disclosure: I do not know the child's name & have been immediately shutting all articles that link to the video. I will not participate in the humiliation of this boy.) but could they not do that without plastering around the internet the video? Would it not have been more poignant and more ethical to ask the young man his thoughts on the matter? That would humanize him, as opposed to showing a video that was made solely to mock.
This is part of a disturbing trend that I see from parents & caregivers who "mean well", who love the Autistic in their life. This trend is that of publicizing the Autistic person's often very painful social difficulties, spreading them far and wide to get support or 'raise awareness' and a variety of other excuses.
This is slightly different from the parents who post their child's most vulnerable moments to get sympathy, but...not really. The main difference here is are they saying they want sympathy for themselves, or are they purportedly doing it "on behalf of" the autistic person? Either way, they are spreading private, often embarrassing things about their child--I remember earlier this year a mom trying to have a virtual birthday for her child who has no friends, do you know what it's like for everyone to know you have no friends? It's awful. Now magnify this by millions. And they may not be gaming for Good Person merit badges, but they sure seem to get an awful lot of them. More than the people who are blatantly embarrassing their child for sympathy even, because golden intentions.
If you are tempted to post the mean things someone did to your Autistic brother, or if you are tempted to tell the world your child has no friends so you should LIKE them on Facebook, I want you to try something.
Are you sure?
Fucking think first. Use that empathy you supposedly have. Think "if that was my name and picture, would I want this posted? What if it goes viral? Do I want my next boss to see it when they google me? Do I want dating partners to see it if they look me up? If I become famous for something else, is this a thing I want coming up in features?"
If the answer is no, you would not want that, then don't post it about the autistic person in your life.
It's really appalling that I need to even say that. This is pretty intuitive, isn't it? Who's missing empathy again? Probably the people helping bullies humiliate their children.
Pic unrelated. It's my cats snuggling in a chair. GABA is barely visible & Purkinje looks smug even in his sleep.