Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Speed of Hate

Originally posted December 2005

Every now and again, I see a comment on the aspie boards to the effect that we shouldn't compare the autistic civil rights struggle with the experiences of African-Americans because autistics haven't suffered four hundred years of slavery, oppression, lynching, and other such abuse.

I have two things to say in response to that. First of all, a mistreated minority group should not be expected to wait four hundred years before it has suffered enough to demand justice. Also, and more crucially, we don't have four hundred years. The way things are going, if we fail to take action against prejudice now, by every means possible, we won't even have 40 years.

Keeping a minority group segregated and abused for several centuries is much too inefficient for our standardized, fast-paced modern society. We live in an era of productivity targets, continuous improvement plans, and efficiency certifications out the wazoo. Old-fashioned racial oppression has become passé.

Consider this: The category of Asperger's syndrome was added to the DSM-IV in 1994. Before that, most autistic children (those who developed understandable, if not entirely fluent, speech by the time they started school) were seen as normal and healthy, if a tad eccentric, and did not receive any psychological diagnosis at all. Yes, there was prejudice against those who were seen as nerdy, socially awkward, and the like, but no one ever suggested that being a nerd was a horrible genetic disorder or that the existence of nerds was a catastrophe.

All of that changed when the mental disorder label was applied.
By 1997, the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) was funding prenatal testing eugenics research, and NAAR's studies soon received additional funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. In other words, it took only three years from the identification of a minority group to the implementation of detailed plans for a global genocide. I wonder if anyone got an efficiency award certificate for that.

Hitler's ghost must be drooling with envy in hell.

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