Wednesday, October 31, 2012

More Orycon-Pointing out some wrong

I am going to be stuck on the Orycon thing for quite some time. Why? Because they screwed up, and then they went down every path except “we screwed up. How do we fix it?”.

So, Orycon, this is the ways you stepped in it. Not all of them. Just some.

First, the initial screw-up. You planned a panel about autism without autistic people on it. Full stop, this is a problem. You don't do that. I don't care what about autism you are talking about, there is an autistic person or a dozen autistic people who are qualified to speak on it. We're just cool like that.

The secondary screw-up: I asked if this was, indeed, a panel about us without us, politely (since allistics care so much about that), and if so why? Then when I asked to follow up if the answer was indeed “nope just parents” (it was) you said it wasn't and got pissy at me for clarifying. It isn't an assumption when 5 of you have told me you're parents, not autistics. It was a legitimate point to clarify.

Tertiary-Nthary screw-ups: Now we get to start getting into some justifications.

All of the correspondence is linked to from my last post, for reference: Orycon doesn't want autistic money

I am not going through each email line by line at this point because I do not have the time or the spoons, so this is mostly going to be the real stand-outs.

First, we're going to start with “not answering the question I asked”. I asked if there were any Autistics on the panel. This is a yes or no question. The answer is yes, or it is no. When I get a flurry of emails saying that “I'm a parent” then the answer is not “yes”. The answer is “no”. This is not me making an assumption. This is me drawing a conclusion from the information I have-a correct conclusion at that.

As a correllary to the first, Orycon informed me that they don't ask presenters that question. And they had the gall to say it's ok because straight people can be for gay rights.

Guys, don't do that.


If you think that an analagous situation (a panel about the incidence of homosexuality with a bunch of straight parents of gay offspring) would be acceptable, go all the way home. It would not be. It would be unacceptable. Don't. If you are not a member of a marginalized group, even if your identical twin sibling you grew up with and shared a room with and now share an apartment with is, you may not speak for that group. You are not an honorary member of that group. End of discussion.

Orycon tried to assure me that they're oh so autism sophisticated, and that brings me to point the second:

If you are actually autism sophisticated you know a few things. One is that your autistic child is not the only autistic person on earth, and that autistic people are not a monolith. You also know that while some autistic people do not like standing in front of crowds, others are ok with it or even like it. True autism sophisticates know where to find autistic people (you know, the ones that aren't their children or their student). The “but my autistic 6 year old couldn't do this” or “my autistic nephew wouldn't like to”, it does not fly. Not if you're presenting yourself as experts.

Telling neurotypical people about autistic people may fly with them because they don't know anything either, but it does not fly with me. That thing you did where you told me all about autistic people? That's splainin'. I know about autistic people. I am an autistic person. I am friends with a whole lot of autistic people. I am not-so-friendly with some more autistic people. I do not need you to 'splain to me about autistic people-especially not with stereotypes and gross generalizations based on the one or two autistic people you know. Don't do that. It's a logical fallacy and it's condescending as all get out.

Which takes me to another derail that went on. “You don't go to a sci fi convention for a panel about autism”. No shit I don't, but if there is a panel about autism, it had best meet standards for quality. No, I do not go to a sci fi con and expect to meet autism experts—but if someone is presenting themselves as an expert they best bring it.

Orycon, “I've read a lot” does not make you an expert. Again, having an autistic child does not mean you understand the autistic experience—nor does University Of Google make one an expert on the rate of autism in a population over time. There is no reason that the conjecture of parents is any more valid than the conjecture of autistic people, & that is what we're talking here. It is conjecture. You don't know, though you have your thoughts. I don't know for sure either, but I have mine.

And. Orycon, if you were truly “autism sophisticated” you would know that being a geek does not mean you at all grok what it is to be autistic. If you think they're the same thing, or too similar for the difference to matter in such a discussion, you have a severe case of Dunning-Kruger effect goin' on.

“Are all autism researchers autistic?” was a delightful red herring, Orycon, given that none of these folks is an autism researcher. Just sayin'. You don't get one standard for parents and another for real autistics.

The email from the chair was 3 kinds of bingo all on its own, starting with what about the parents?, proceeding through “MMR!!!!”, moving on to more about the parents, and sprinkled with all sorts of derailing tactics. Let's talk about those.

Orycon, you don't have to like my tone. But you know what? I asked over 2 dozen people. My tone was fine. I was polite. I was nice. I was patient in the face of a lot of patent bull. There are a lot of smartass things I wanted to say and did not because everyone has lied to me and told me that if I am nice, people will do what is right.

People are full of it.

My tone was fine. You not liking that I was right, Orycon, is your problem, not mine. “I don't like your tone” is a lazy rhetorical strategy, and that's where you chose to go-”what about the parents” and “don't take that tone with me young lady”. Tone is not a valid argument when you're talking down a power gradient, folks. Tone is not a valid way to excuse your own errors. And you have confirmed for me what I always expected: that people say they don't like your tone when what they really mean is they don't like being wrong.

The projection was nice as well. Orycon representatives, I was not defensive at all. Quite the contrary. I had nothing to be defensive about: for one, I'm not wrong, for two, I approached you with questions, thus automatically I was not the one having to defend anything. You were defensive-both in the 'defending my position' way and in the 'defending my position not with facts but by taking it personally way'. That is what defensive means. Since you jumped right to getting mad at me for daring to challenge you, I had no opportunity to be defensive in either meaning.

See how that works?

Finally, in pure “you have got to be kidding” is the “you should have told us in person”.

Back to being 'autism sophisticated': if you know diddly squat about autistic adults, you know that we are, on the whole, not exactly rich. Most of us live below the poverty line. This is not news.

I emailed you to see if I wanted to spend some of my very limited leisure cash on your con. I am not spending my very limited leisure cash to jump through yet another hoop, to be told that I am being correct in a way that hurts your sensibilities yet again. I don't have that kind of time, cash, or spoon reserves.

You got your friendly suggestion. It was via email. You chose to respond with anger, defensiveness, derailing, and what we in social justice call splainin': you, able people, told me, autistic person, all about autism as though I am not aware.

I gave you a lot of chances to un-screw-up. You could have answered the original question. You could have answered the original question & then asked if I had any suggestions for how to fix it. You could have taken a different route anywhere along the way.

You chose to 'splain, condescend, derail, dogpile, and demand my money.

And that is the quick rundown of the egregious issues.


A Part or Apart? said...

Huzzah, huzzah, amen, and it ia about friggin time that the Science Fiction Fan knowitalls were knocked down a peg or two.

Lia said...

LOVE IT. I linked it to Reddit too. :) I hope it takes off!

Unknown said...

Oy. What an exchange. (This is Andee from ASAN-PDX; for some reason it's calling me "unknown." Heh.)

I have, like, zero familiarity with the whole "con" scene, but I am completely segfaulting that 1) they think "autism epidemic yay or nay?" is an appropriate topic for that venue, and 2) they are supposedly "autism savvy" but have never heard of self-advocates.

And my Google-fu is tay sucksor, but just Googling "Oregon Autism," the first two things that come up are the State Commission on ASD (hi there!) and Autism Society of Oregon, which has at least one self-advocate board member that I know of. Googling "Portland Autism" brings up ASAN-PDX as the #2 choice. They're supposed to be the ones that are socially adept here, right? (snerk)

Would you mind if I shared this with the ASAN-PDX listserv?


Neurodivergent K said...

Please do! I feel weird linking it there myself, but yes. Please.

I just can't even...yeah. These are my autistics speaking day posts, bc the situation shows why we still need one.

Denys said...

Given one of OryCon's policies is "no weapons *or anything which looks like a weapon* is permitted on the con floor" [emphasis added], coupled with "the con committee has absolute discretion to determine what is and is not a weapon"(it doesn't take a lawyer to see the problem here, especially with the emphasized segment): How can you be in any way at all surprised by the thundering arrogance and foolishness of the OryCon con committee?

Just count yourself fortunate you don't have to live near them, or deal with them whenever you want to go to a convention (oh, by the way: There are solid connections between OryCon and Arisia -- Portland, OR, and Boston, MA, fandom are joined-at-the-hip).

Like I have to.

Neurodivergent K said...

...but I do live near them. I'm in Portland. I could have practically walked to Orycon. And...oh wow that makes things make so much sense, Arisia pulled a similar thing,