Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Autism Speaks, You Can't Shut Us Up

So, word has it that you folks at Autism Speaks are up to your old tricks again, telling your lawyers to intimidate Internet companies into taking down criticism from autistic civil rights activists. Haven't you figured out yet that this tactic is going to explode in your face like Wile E. Coyote smoking a big fat Acme Cigar every time you try it? Didn't you learn your lesson earlier this year when you went after that 14-year-old autistic kid who built a (clearly legal) parody site?

I guess not. Looks like you're such lumbering dinosaurs that you still think the world revolves around the media elite and you can do whatever you want. That's a dangerous assumption, you know. Back in April, a very foolish anti-vaccine conspiracist lawyer by the name of Clifford Shoemaker thought he could use a bit of legal thuggery to silence Kathleen Seidel. I won't bother linking to any stories about what happened to him as a result of that. You can just google his name to find the heap of semi-digested bones that are all that's left after Blogzilla ate him.

You see, we're not just a ragtag band of rebels any more. Spartacus now has a huge army spread out all over the globe. When you take down one website, you'll find a hundred more the next day. When you stop production of one T-shirt, a thousand more will be designed in response. We grow new heads like the Hydra. You can't shut us up.

Oh, you haven't read enough history to know who Spartacus was? Maybe you've been too busy hosting lavish parties with your donors' money and bleating for sympathy because you don't have perfect status-symbol grandchildren? Uh-huh. Well, that's to your own misfortune.

Let me put it even more simply: You thought it would be a good idea to try to eradicate us. We are returning the favor.

Edit, June 28: After further discussion with Zach, who is the designer of the T-shirt at issue, Zazzle has agreed that it is fair use and is allowing Zach to sell a similar T-shirt on the site. A Zazzle manager indicated that Autism Speaks did not complain specifically about Zach's T-shirt but had complained more generally about merchandise containing its name.



  • LOL! They probably don't know what a hydra is, either. But they'll learn. Too bad groups like that only learn the hard way.

    By Blogger Catana, at 1:36 PM  

  • Foresam wrote:

    I agree. If AS has no gripe with my opinion of them

    [link deleted]

    they must just be picking on Neurodiversity. You should fight them.

    John, I've told you before, if you post links to your site in my comments, they will be deleted.

    By Blogger abfh, at 2:01 PM  

  • If autism speaks really wanted to shut someone up, they would have sued you for your libelous statements that they are committing genocide and out to eradicate autistics a long time ago.

    If autism speaks really does not have a legal position in this regard then i guess you should have no problem getting them to cease and desist in this movement. I don't think this is the case. If the neurodiversity movement can't stop this activity, then people should realize it has no credibility at all and this acceptance versus cure nonsense will solve nothing and that neurodiversity is just a pot of fool's gold at the end of the rainbow.

    By Blogger jonathan, at 2:02 PM  

  • Jonathan, the word "eradicate" is a direct quote from Suzanne Wright in her interview with Parade magazine in January. And if anyone at Autism Speaks thinks it's libelous to define "genocide" to include prevention of births in a minority group, they can take their complaint up with the United Nations, because that's where the definition comes from.

    By Blogger abfh, at 3:30 PM  

  • If I want to eradicate poverty does that mean I want to murder poor people, no it does not. So certainly any reasonable person(which I assume you are would understand the difference and would understand what the word eradicate means in this instance). You imply eradicate means murder. This is not what it means

    No, autism speaks does not want to eradicate a race of people. Autism is not an ethnic group. It is a disability which I and many others are really suffering from. They want to help people who have this disability lead a productive life, free of loneliness, poverty and despair. So yes, I contend your statements are libelous and if autism speaks really cared about doing something about everyone that bad mouthed them, they would have taken some sort of legal action against you a long time ago.

    By Blogger jonathan, at 4:53 PM  

  • AutSp wants to eliminate autism. Some autistics consider themselves a minority group. Therefore, Autism Speaks wants to eliminate a minority group. That is genocide, regardless of the methods used

    By Anonymous nathanww, at 5:09 PM  

  • "They want to help people who have this disability lead a productive life, free of loneliness, poverty and despair."

    I have no idea why Jonathon is white-washing what Autism Speaks has actually done, given that it most certainly at odds with helping anyone. How can threatening legal action help anyone? To do what precisely?

    Why are there no autistics on their Board or any other of their decision making committees? Is that not ironic? Autism "Speaks" just so long as the speaker is not autistic.

    By Blogger Alyric, at 6:01 PM  

  • Jonathan, do you know what percentage of Autism Speaks' budget goes toward helping autistics and their families?

    Only 1.7% -- you can go and look that up in their financial statements if you don't believe me.

    All the rest goes to salaries, advertising, lawyers, expense accounts, and research grants.

    As for why they haven't threatened to sue me, I suspect that it's because, like most bullies, they prefer to look for easy targets.

    By Blogger abfh, at 6:41 PM  

  • Alyric: Yes, their name is very ironic, indeed.

    By Blogger abfh, at 6:42 PM  

  • Autism Speaks is at it again.

    Another Autistic young man going by the name of TheZach has been printing tshirts with the message "Autism Speaks can go away. I have Autism I can speak for myself". They have contacted the printer and ordered them to remove the shirts on the basis that they contained a copyright protected design of Autism Speaks Inc.

    The shirt contained their name and no logo. As such copyright which extends to creative work or images is clearly not, in any way, infringed on.

    The articles and tshirt can be viewed on this website : http://www.aspieweb.net/aspieweb-being-bullied-by-autism-speaks

    It is a double-edged sword. People like TheZach are rightfully feeling misrepresented and that their "voice" is drown out by the larger, large funded and more vocal Autism Speaks. If he ignores this he is misrepresented and if he tries to have a voice of his own in opposition to the propaganda of Autism Speaks, they attempt to gag him.

    Will common sense or financial backing prevail?

    I ask you respectfully to consider helping put this out into the public to help establish a voice against this needless situation.

    Thank you

    By Blogger Ross Lumbus, at 11:00 PM  

  • http://www.autismspeaksdoesntspeakforme.org/

    Maybe I should put a paypal button on that site and sell tshirts with my url http://www.autismspeaksdoesntspeakforme.org/
    and blog name "Autism Speaks Doesn't Speak For Me" on them.

    Maybe I'll make some tshirts that say, don't donate to Autism Speaks. That would hit them where it would hurt the most.

    By Anonymous ASDSFM, at 12:45 AM  

  • Ross: Thanks for posting more details. Although I have a link at the top of my post, it's good to have more information in the comments too, for those who might have missed the link.

    ASDSFM: Sounds like a plan. :)

    By Blogger abfh, at 10:11 AM  

  • I feel like I want to puke. Comparing Spartacus, a great hero who fought with slaves against their opulent exploiters, to neurodiversity pushers, which on the other hand consists of fortunate people who are intellectually privileged and intellectually snobby, who attempt to keep down efforts to bring ability to others on their spectrum who can't function well and who are intellectually deprived, is miserably ridiculous.

    These anti-curebies, who are riding high on their blogs, gaining attention for their selfish and aggressive intentions, make me think rather of right wing military juntas who take over impoverished countries, to protect the wealthy elites.

    Autism Speaks is showing its true colors again, with their aggressive obsession with their copyrighted entities, in trying to stop someone with a different intention from being involved in the issue. Who would fear a cure being devised from someone like Autism Speaks?

    I see little apparent intention on their part to improve the condition of autistics. An organization founded and run by an bunch of rich creeps, wouldn't want to find remedies for the condition, since the health care and associated systems make enough money already with the "treatment" they already sell: the subduing medications, institutions, and other professionals involved in telling people how to deal with the condition.

    Finding remedies/treatments would also likely uncover all the causes of impairment in the condition, which would be detrimental to the business interests who were involved in causing them by their negligence.

    It's amazing that some other guy is making a t-shirt that says, "Autism Speaks can go away. I have Autism I can speak for myself", when so many with autism can't speak for themselves sufficiently, and don't have the resources to do so. Not to mention that the neurodiverse aspies don't like to have the words disseminated, of those on the spectrum whose views are contrary to theirs.

    By Blogger lurker, at 2:44 AM  

  • lurker wrote:

    Who would fear a cure being devised from someone like Autism Speaks?

    LOL, I'm tempted to agree with you that they couldn't devise their way out of a paper bag.

    However, despite their general ineptitude, they do seem to know how to give research grants to pro-eugenic scientists like Joseph Buxbaum, who has publicly stated that the goal of the research is to develop a prenatal test.

    As for the rest of your comment, you seem to be making a great many unfounded assumptions. If I had been trying to suppress all contrary views, I would've deleted several comments in this thread.

    BTW, as the term is commonly used on the Internet, "Spartacus" refers to the situation where the free speech of one blogger is attacked and hundreds of others rally to support him or her. It is not a reference to any particular group.

    By Blogger abfh, at 11:11 AM  

  • abfh, I don't see how your chants about free speech are called for considering the immense efforts to try to silence J. Best on the part of some of those like you. There are similar blogs where other silencing goes on, so all I see is a particular group supporting their own type of speech and not so much someone else's, which is not compatible with the concept of free speech.

    There haven't been many attempts anyway, to stop many bloggers like you from saying things. There is too much of a victim act going on. And I know a lot of the stuff I see written is done in an underdog tone.

    By Blogger lurker, at 3:42 PM  

  • You aint a lurker if you post a comment, so there :P


    Your next hypocritical statement L?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:21 PM  

  • the immense efforts to try to silence J. Best on the part of some of those like you.

    For the record, I have never been involved in such efforts and do not support them in any way. John has a right to express his views on his blog, however distasteful I may find them.

    I occasionally delete his comments if he violates my rules by posting spammy links or abusive personal attacks, but I sometimes delete offensive comments from people on my "side," too. As Amanda recently discussed, website owners have every right to impose rules for commenters on their own sites; censorship, on the other hand, consists of preventing someone else from expressing their views on a site you don't own.

    By Blogger abfh, at 4:46 PM  

  • Patrick, why don't you quit acting like you have nothing to do, and do something important? Can any of the wackos like you actually debate, instead of spewing snide, clever remarks and having self-satisfied smirks on your faces?

    By Blogger lurker, at 4:47 PM  

  • "fortunate people who are intellectually privileged and intellectually snobby, who attempt to keep down efforts to bring ability to others on their spectrum who can't function well and who are intellectually deprived"


    I'll accept that I was a fortunate enough to have sufficient intelligence and acting ability to avoid being diagnosed with schizophrenia or something else in the mid eighties. My particular interests in psychology and my own internal workings were also beneficial to that.

    I'll also accept that I was fortunate enough to discover the term "Asperger's Syndrome" and the autistic spectrum in 1996 and realize that it applied to me.

    At the same time, I was fortunate enough to discover that, of the minority of adults actually able to get a diagnosis during that time, a disturbingly high proportion of them were finding themselves divorced, jobless, and/or barred from being with their children.

    Would you also consider it fortunate that was able to finally obtain a high school diploma at 27, or would you realize that those additional ten years of my life were completely lost due to a society that, even today, is almost completely inflexible to the needs of those like me?

    Yes, even today.

    At 35, I attempted to attend the local community college. I disclosed to only one person, one of the counselors, because I knew I would need assistance, but I felt the only assistance I really needed was assistance in understanding what was expected of me and what my options were in various situations.

    When, inevitably, a conflict arose with a professor, not only did that counselor lie about my options (she had actually performed the service I wanted several times, and it was--I later found out--the proper course of action), she breached my confidentiality with the Dean of students who used the information to very effectively destroy all of my carefully built coping mechanisms.

    The group that is chartered by the government to protect my civil rights refused my case because it wasn't an -accommodation- issue, only a clear cut case of discrimination and denial of due process by an institution receiving government funds; for which they strongly suggested I get an attorney.

    The only attorney who ever bothered to return my communications was very open, honest and direct. He didn't see any money in the case, so he wasn't interested. None of the public assistance attorneys have ever returned my attempted contacts.

    I have tried every organization I can contact and no small number of individuals, but like you, the ones who have not ignored me or stopped responding with no explanation have indicated that I am too fortunate to receive their help.

    I would not call my original efforts herculean, but I believe trying the same things now would take such efforts, meaning that I would have to declare my disability through official channels in order to get actual accommodations, and I simply cannot submit myself to the discrimination that I know would result from that.

    I don't see a future for myself anymore, and I've given up all but the barest hope of ever having one of my greatest desires; children of my own, children like me.

    I may be able to speak in the technical sense, but I have been effectively denied a voice because of people who think I'm fortunate enough not to need, or deserve, one.

    I don't know you, and I don't know what your story is, but now you know a part of mine, and that's all I have to give anymore.

    I don't have the strength to fight the people who insist that they can speak for me much less the people who very directly indicate that my own words are meaningless.

    So Autism Speaks will almost certainly get what they want from me. It doesn't look like I'll be having any autistic kids.

    By Blogger Zaecus Celestis, at 5:00 AM  

  • zaecus, I wasn't necessarily meaning those like you who have faced such hardship, when I was talking about fortunate people. I wish you wouldn't have had to go through all of that. I have been through and am now going through many horrors. So I'm not detached to the thoughts and feelings of huge problems.

    But I know there are some with Aspergers who are not taking up their share of the burden of problems, who prosper. Those usually are the ones who are most adamant against improvement for those on the low functioning end of the spectrum.

    By Blogger lurker, at 6:08 PM  

  • Just popping in to let you know that I linked to this post in my blog. I don't have a blogspot, sorry, so posting anonymously, but my username on wordpress is Saydrah. Nobody like linkspamming, so I'm intentionally not leaving a link to the post, but you can find my blog at saydrah dot wordpress dot com if you want to make sure you approve :).


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:12 PM  

  • On the "you're too fortunate to have any right to speak" fallacy: I've never claimed to have personally experienced every one of the hardships and injustices that I write about on my blog. Very few bloggers write entirely from their personal experience.

    If I were writing about the genocide in Darfur, or the dictatorship in Zimbabwe, or some other topic outside my personal experience and unrelated to autism, I think it's very unlikely that anyone would criticize me for being too "fortunate" and "privileged" to be entitled to express my opinions.

    By Blogger abfh, at 7:51 PM  

  • Lurker wrote:

    "But I know there are some with Aspergers who are not taking up their share of the burden of problems, who prosper"

    So everyone with AS is obliged to live a crappy life out of sympathy for the least happy members of the autistic spectrum? What kind of pointless communist garbage is that? Instead of hanging shit on successful autists perhaps you should be studying their biographies to figure out how their success came about (due to their own efforts or fortunate circumstances).

    By Blogger Lili Marlene, at 9:47 PM  

  • lili, yes maybe you should, since you don't ever intend on doing anything for those put into unfortunate circumstances through no fault of their own. You aspies risk losing no pleasures of your own aside from dominance, if progress were to occur, yet you guys clearly show you want to keep the lives of others on the spectrum in ruin. And you justify it with phony virtue.

    That pisses people off. I don't know what kind of soft mild mannered people you usually encounter, but I'm not from an societal climate that tolerates such pompousness. As to how the success of shiny aspies and other smart people arose, it was from inherited genetics and safe supportive surroundings in childhood.

    All of which transpire before a person can make choices and efforts of their own. And consequently, successes are relatively easier for them to obtain. You aren't big heroes anymore.

    All I ask is that you all stop trying to convince people to accept disability and stop trying to protect the reputations of the toxic predators that contribute to its causes.

    By Blogger lurker, at 3:56 AM  

  • I think we can now see what kind of stuff "Lurker" is made of.

    By Blogger Lili Marlene, at 1:35 AM  

  • abfh,
    The more I witness the work you do, the more pride I hold for you. Thanks for taking the time and ongoing commitment, applying your clarity in such a well-expressed and well-applied way. It's obviously an act of love,

    and Truth triumphs!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:55 PM  

  • "You aspies risk losing no pleasures of your own aside from dominance, if progress were to occur, yet you guys clearly show you want to keep the lives of others on the spectrum in ruin. And you justify it with phony virtue."

    Call anyone spell 'bile'?

    By Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction), at 3:54 AM  

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