Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

David Kirby: Truce, My Ass

Thanks to Joseph for this post's title, which refers to David Kirby's article claiming to seek a truce with neurodiversity activists. This is what I have to say about that:

You really don't get it, Kirby, do you? This is not an academic debate for any of us on the neurodiversity side. It's a real-life war. Unlike you, Kirby, we don't have the option of just walking away and going back to our previous lives. Those lives no longer exist. All the bigoted stereotypes that you and your cronies splashed all over the international media made sure of that. Now we're a despised minority race of second-class citizens struggling with prejudice and discrimination, our civil rights in jeopardy at every turn. Governments and private organizations are funding prenatal screening research to identify and abort autistic children. We're on the brink of eugenic extermination worldwide.

Those of us who are autistic face the prospect of spending the rest of our lives in the grim limbo to which those with Down Syndrome already have been consigned—existing only as isolated survivors of a routine eradication scheme, regarded by society as blunders of nature who never should have seen the light of day. Likewise, neurodiversity activists who are parents understand that if society's intolerant attitudes do not change, their children soon will have to face that nightmare scenario. What parents would want such a horrific future for their children?

To make myself completely clear, Kirby, the reason you're our enemy is because of your disgusting display of bigotry toward autistic people, not because of your opinions (however ignorant) on the thimerosal hypothesis or "biomedical" approaches in general. As Kevin Leitch recently pointed out, neurodiversity is a broad-based philosophy of respect and social acceptance for all people, regardless of their neurological configuration. It doesn't require its adherents to hold identical opinions about the causes of autism, the merits of alternative medicine, or dietary choices. Many of us take dietary supplements to improve our health. Like anyone else, autistic people can benefit from a healthy diet and regular exercise. Some of us find meditation or other "alternative" methods of reducing stress to be helpful.

We have no quarrel with caring and respectful parents who reasonably believe that a particular alternative diet or treatment is helpful for their child, and we have no animosity toward people who want to discuss potential causes of autism rationally and politely.

But when it comes to the greedy quacks who knowingly endanger autistic children with bogus medical treatments and frighten parents with a nasty barrage of false horror stories; to the self-proclaimed charitable autism advocates who envision a world eugenically cleansed of autistic people; and to the publicity-scrounging media vultures who deliberately fan the flames of bigotry, knowing full well how much damage they are doing, for their own personal gain —

No quarter.



  • Isn't taking dietary supplements to improve yourself an admission that you are broken? It seems that taking these supp's would not fit in with celebrating the joy of autism. If you want to be a good neurodiverse cult member, you better stop taking supp's and start celebrating.

    By Blogger John Best, at 12:02 PM  

  • Kev, I once took some painkillers when I broke my toe. I was admitting my toe was broken. How is this any different?
    Oh, and thanks for the insult.

    By Blogger John Best, at 1:01 PM  

  • Actually, while I can't speak for anyone else, my alterations to my own diet are due to fairly significant gut anomalies that are helped somewhat by it. This is not an issue for the majority of autistic people, contrary to the beliefs of the mercury cult members.

    Oh, yeah, and living beings aren't machines. We don't get "broken". We can certainly be disabled, differ from the standard and/or have health issues, though.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:14 PM  

  • Maybe we should treat Kirby's offer of a truce seriously? I don't think I would be wrong in describing him as a journalist / writer[?] which can mean that he is in the business of drawing attention to the issue. Being 'controversial' is a good way of achieving that. By 'reacting,' we only exacerbate the situation.

    By Blogger Maddy, at 1:33 PM  

  • Joe, What's unreasonable? Anyone who takes drugs to try to improve their condition is admitting that they need help. This means they are not genuinely thrilled to be autistic. I think you should throw ABFH out of the cult for this heresy.

    By Blogger John Best, at 2:50 PM  

  • Mcewen,
    With David Kirby there's a big something missing from the picture. He lies in his book, if they aren't lies then they are horrendously stupid, kindergarten level mistakes. If he's making those kinds of mistakes, over and over again, or telling those kinds of lies, over and over again, he can in no way call himself a reporter.

    Kirby is hiding something. He seems to be hiding a personal agenda. I guess that he's got a personal vendetta against the CDC because he thinks that they caused the AIDS epidemic (this is not an uncommon belief among AIDS activists, and he has a friend who is an HIV denialist, called "truthkeeper")

    Kirby has been told about the kind of damage he's doing to the lives of autistic people and he laughs at us. Literally, he laughed at us. We told him that there was no epidemic and that there were a million autistic adults in the US, he went on an interview and laughed at the idea. Why? Maybe because our existence interferes with his little vendetta.

    ABFH would call him a "publicity-scrounging media vulture who deliberately fans the flames of bigotry, knowing full well how much damage he is doing, for his own personal gain" if I'm not mistaken. I would agree, totally.

    Mcewen. I think you have entirely missed the point of what is going on here. Kirby is not a "journalist" in this situation. Not at all.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:52 PM  

  • "Nutritional Supplements", many of which are also called "Vitamins", can be good for any person -Neurotypical or Neurodivergent- who doesn't get enough of all the right vitamins, minerals, etc. that they need in their daily meals. Which is probably most of us in the planet. Often, our human bodies are not in the most perfect shape at any given moment. That does not mean our BRAINS are "broken" just because they process differently (and always have). Our food habits may also be "broken" if we have an unhealthy diet, and yeah, eating healthier (including avoiding foods we are allergic to, if such exist) is also good.

    By Blogger n., at 2:53 PM  

  • First, I usually don't respond to any thread with John Best in it. I've blocked him from posting on my blog (not that he's got it through his head yet that his posts will never appear - my logs indicate he still tries, which is amusing and has parallels with the Wisconsin Card Sorting test and the difference that test measures). He says nothing positive, doesn't back up his statements, has no desire to learn or be educated, and spews hate speech. It's rather similar to the KKK to be honest. I also have theories that he's not who he claims to be and that he gets special joy out of trashing people's websites and blogs.

    That said, rather than cereal as an example of a common supplement, you might look at iodized salt.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:58 PM  

  • Joel, How are ya buddy? Hey, don't tell anyone who I really am. It wouldn't look good for neuroinsanity.

    By Blogger John Best, at 4:31 PM  

  • Dear Kev, Hey, don't forget I'm much older than you. Why don't you call me little, old man?
    You might notice I returned to Orac's blog after he published my comment with a ten hour delay. Perhaps he didn't publish my next one.

    By Blogger John Best, at 4:35 PM  

  • Kev wrote:

    "Consider it a down payment on a future investment."


    By Blogger abfh, at 5:10 PM  

  • Yeah, great post, abfh. You always nail it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:37 PM  

  • I've no wish to become involved with this David Kirby circus. I find arguing with nutters to be a very unrewarding way to spend my very scarce spare time, but I do admire other neurodiverse people who take the time to point out the bleeding obvious.

    ABFH has no quarrel with parents who put their kids on alternative diets, but I do. I object to the whole idea that any form of autism can be “cured” or “treated” by dietary therapy or elimination diets, for two reasons. Firstly it makes no scientific sense, and secondly it gives the impression that autism is a disease process rather than a permanently set mind type that is the result of many inborn differences in brain structure, which it obviously is.

    The other day I read about a wealthy and high-profile Australian family who had lots of money but apparently little common sense. In the feature article I read, the grown-up daughter from this family described how the patriarch (who was good at business but apparently not so skilled at relating to his offspring) one day decided to impose a macrobiotic diet on the whole family. Just about every kind of food that brings joy or enjoyment is apparently banned in such a diet. Why should any parent have the right to impose such misery and deprivation on their family? There’s no scientific justification for harsh, severely restrictive diets, in fact I think it could result in dietary deficiency. The daughter went on to become a long-term heroin addict.

    I have little time for autistic adults who waste time obsessing over their diets or food allergies, but who don’t seek a professional opinion from a qualified medical allergy specialist. I also have little time for other autistics who seem to have symptoms of undiagnosed seizure activity who attempt to cure these ills with fad diets and quack therapies, while not bothering to consult a qualified neurologist. I don’t have any issue at all with autistics having special interests, but I don’t respect stupid, crackpot special interests such as food faddism and alternative mumbo jumbo.

    By Blogger Lili Marlene, at 8:41 PM  

  • I wonder what advice John Best would give to David Kirby if Kirby was his son? Take some ALA son obviously your brain is broken? Date a nice girl?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:31 PM  

  • Lili Marlene: I was referring to reasonable alternative diets. Not all such diets are severely restrictive or intended to "cure" autism.

    For example, some parents believe that autistic children need more than the average dietary amount of essential fatty acids because of genetic differences, so they give their kids cod liver oil capsules or feed them fish regularly. (See Ian Parker's blog for more on that.)

    That idea, which has been around for a very long time in various forms (parents have been giving kids cod liver oil for centuries) isn't harmful and doesn't assume autism to be a disease process.

    Also, there are some pro-neurodiversity bloggers who follow the gluten-free casein-free diet, either for themselves or for their child. They don't claim that all autistics should be on it or that it's a cure for autism, but they personally find it helpful for improving digestion.

    I'm not a food faddist either, but even if a person happens to be a food faddist, that doesn't mean he or she can't also be a supporter of neurodiversity.

    By Blogger abfh, at 11:04 PM  

  • fore sam,

    Don't worry. I know exactly who you are, who you're involved with, and what your motives are. I think most people who read your posts get it, too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:00 AM  

  • Anonimouse, Don't tell my wife.

    By Blogger John Best, at 12:21 PM  

  • Joseph: "my logs indicate he still tries, which is amusing and has parallels with the Wisconsin Card Sorting test and the difference that test measures"

    Um, the tendency to perseverate? The difficulty in picking up signs of change and adapting to them?

    Interesting, isn't it?! Blogland is coming to be the new WCST :)

    Nice hypothesis, Joseph. You could be onto something....

    By Blogger David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E., at 6:04 AM  

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