Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

This Is My Damn Planet, Too

Originally posted May 2005

If a group of extraterrestrial observers started reading a sample of Earth's books, magazines, and Internet articles, they might reasonably conclude that autistic people were also aliens. Disproving the stereotype that those on the spectrum don't follow fashions and trends, in recent years the autistic community has developed an asinine trend of using terms such as aliens, mutants, Martians, and the one that ranks near the top of my extremely long personal shit list, "wrong planet."

Wrong planet, my ass. Excuuuuuse me if I'm interfering with your melodramatic fantasy of being a misunderstood space traveler, but this is my damn planet, too. Guess what – autistic people are citizens of Earth just like anyone else. And excuuuuuse me again for stating the obvious, but we didn't take a wrong turn at Alpha Centauri and end up in the galactic slums, even though it may feel like that sometimes. News flash: Scotty is not waiting in orbit to beam us up. This primitive, prejudiced, dumb-as-dirt planet is the only place where we have the option of living. No, we didn't cause all the shit that's wrong with it, but if we don't take some responsibility for cleaning it up, nobody is going to save us from the consequences. To all the "wrong planet" whiners out there: Get your head out of your ass and quit all the self-pitying separatist nonsense about not belonging in human society.

There's a fine art to civil rights identity politics. A minority group seeking equal treatment has to define its identity and, at the same time, demonstrate that it is similar enough to the majority population so that it can be successfully integrated. No minorities have ever won equal rights by describing themselves as aliens on someone else's planet. Martin Luther King Jr. didn't earn his place in history by declaring, "I have a dream that, some day, my children will be seen as aliens from another planet." Malcolm X didn't raise his fist and shout "Mutant Power."

I'm sure our enemies are delighted when they find autistic people who talk about being aliens on the wrong planet. After all, when minorities aren't seen by society as being fully human, no one complains too much when their children are abused and segregated, when employers routinely refuse to hire them, or when eugenicists conduct genetic research and prenatal testing experiments that are intended to exterminate them completely.

So, if you're planning to create your own personal website, make it count for the cause. Write about the harm done to you or to your children by unnecessary drugs or unsuitable schools or bullying. Write about discrimination in the workplace. Write about social stigma and prejudice. But please don't build another of those godawful sites describing yourself as a clueless wrong-planet alien.

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  • As the webmaster of what was "Ooops....Wrong Planet! Syndrome" (after 10 years it no longer exists but you can access it in the web archives) do you honestly believe what you've said here applies to me?

    By Blogger jypsy, at 7:04 PM  

  • No, it wasn't intended to apply to you, but to those who have created self-pitying personal websites.

    I have replied more fully in the comments here.

    By Blogger abfh, at 11:39 AM  

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