Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Open letter to John Elder Robison, on his comments on To Siri With Love, among other things

apparently this is currently an open letters blog. Okay. Um. So. That's a thing.

So. John. Pull up a chair.

This has been a long time coming, and while the proximate cause is your clueless comments on To Siri With Love, that's just a last straw.

John, I know you think you're an expert in neurodiversity, because abled people tell you that you are. It feels good, right? Being accepted by the people who you have been told your whole life you should be like? So I can almost see the temptation to try to play reasonable with them, even when they're unreasonable.

Here's the thing, John: when you suggest that maybe the autistic community should try to listen to parents, to see things their way, you are giving away your newness. That has been done. That ship sailed, over and over and over did it sail. We gave up on that before you even heard the word Aspergers. We tried it. It failed. We tried again. It still failed.

So. John. Let me give you an analogy, because I sort of know how you feel. I know what it's like to be given standing and respect I didn't actually earn, to be assumed to be more skilled or in the know or whatever than I am. So here, let me try to empathize with you.

I do a martial art where a lot of things are based on seniority--where you line up depends on your rank. If you and other people are the same rank, who got there first? If you got there the same time, who got to the previous rank first? Who started first, it ultimately goes back to, if it needs to. Both kid's and adult class work this way, but the ranks are mostly the same--youth has a couple more, but kids melt into adult class seamlessly at whatever their rank is when they hit the magic birthday.

Bear with me here, John.

So. I'm mid ranked, I guess, good enough to be impressive to the untrained eye but no expert. This time along I am working with a bunch of kids who also just came up, getting ready for a test. Technically all these kids are senior to me.

Because I am an adult, and because I am comfortable teaching movement based things, people assume I am working 'with' these students. I am not! And it's really important, John, that I don't forget that. They are young. They give me back just as much as I give them. They know the protocols better than I do, even if I am more comfortable with some of the movements. If we need to puzzle something out, they are right there with "maybe it's like this?". If one student has a ridiculous, wrong idea that seems like it should make a technique works, but it won't, someone (or several someones) are there to say "that sounds like a good idea. It doesn't work. We can try it, but this is what happens".

It's vitally important that I remember, John, that these kids are my equals in the community, but also that within the community, if we are needing to split hairs, they're my seniors. They know things I don't. They've got years of experiences with the art that I just don't have. I have experiences in other things, and they transfer over sometimes. Sometimes they are drastically wrong for the objective we are trying to achieve.

It feels good to be told that it's so nice that I'm working with the kids. I know how great you feel when people treat you like an authority on neurodiversity. But there are a lot of people whose experiences you are ignoring, you are refusing to learn from, because the ego of "I'm an expert! I got thank yous and a shiny fellowship and everything!" gets in the way of allowing oneself to learn.

We get people now and then, John, who cannot deal with the fact that children outrank them. Hell, we get people who can't deal with the fact that I outrank them and I'm a very young looking mid-30s. This doesn't go well. They don't learn things. They embarrass themselves. If they represent our club at workshops and such it can embarrass the whole community, because they're fundamentally not understanding what we are about. And this not understanding, largely born of ego and wanting to be respected more than they want to learn, keeps the entire group back.

John, you aren't doing us any favors when  you suggest that we need to entertain notions of throwing kids off bridges or involuntary sterilization or any of that. It's not actually reasonable. You're not representing the neurodiversity movement. You are vastly misunderstanding it for your own short term gratification. You aren't doing our next generation any good. You're hurting us all, John, and from here it looks exactly like it's for short term ego boosting 'respect' to the detriment of all of us.

You want to represent us? Then represent us. But you have to start by looking at who came before you and what has been done after you, not just what will make your life easier.

Regards,
Neurodivergent K

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Open letter to the Democratic Party Re: Your Fundraising Emails.

Dear National and Local Arms of the Democratic Party,

Like many Americans, I get a lot of emails. Like many Americans who care about things, I get a lot of emails asking me for money. Like a lot of Americans, I get a lot of emails explicitly from you demanding my money and my action.

Democratic party, here's the thing: you send me emails that say "Don't let the GOP <do awful thing>" pretty much on a daily basis. And I am not the one letting the GOP do anything.

That's on you, friendos.

Even before the Democratic party establishment latched onto "they go low, we go high" as a failing-to-rally cry, the strategy of caving to Republican plans was very much in place. Democratic party, even if I had money--which I don't--I wouldn't give it for you for the purpose of fighting my battles. You won't fight them.

In my lifetime there's not a single battle I've seen the party truly fight, you see. The Overton Window keeps getting pulled right because the Democrats propose something, Republicans say "ha ha no" and you say "oh ok let's compromise."

Your compromises, Democratic party, are what have led us to a place where people with disabilities, who were already in deep poverty, are now likely to lose our healthcare and our freedoms. You let this happen. Your compromises, Democratic party, are why most of my generation is drowning in student debt and will likely never resurface. Your compromises are why education and health care disparities are so rampant. Your compromises are a big factor in having so many wars that we shouldn't have had, and in our returning veterans being abandoned when they get home. Your compromises contribute to voter suppression, which especially effects people of color.

You make choices, Democratic party, that screw over your base, again and again and again. You make compromises that will ruin, if not end, our lives, in this "appeal to the middle" fallacy. You aren't going to woo any Republicans, Democrats. You aren't. You know that; if you didn't you'd be asking them for money. You try to get blood from a turnip (that turnip being your base) after you already sold us out, and for what? So you can say you compromised? That you were a bigger person?

Time to stop being the bigger person, Democratic party. Time to do your damn job and look out for your constituents. "At least we aren't those guys" actually isn't good enough.

And you're going to have to do it without our money. You already took every dime and wasted it doing your best impression of a doormat.

Regards,
K