Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Run the Dream Out of Town on a Rail

The despicable anti-autistic bigotry in the "Run the Dream" fundraising campaign needs to get dunked in some virtual tar and feathers. For those who may not be familiar with the historical reference in my title, a common way of banishing a wrongdoer from an American colonial town was to tie him to a rail and carry him outside the town's boundaries. He might also be tarred and feathered to increase his public humiliation. This was known as being "run out of town on a rail."

Here's a brief summary of what Run the Dream is about: A Canadian long-distance runner, Jonathan Howard, is running from Newfoundland to British Columbia to raise money for autism research and other purposes. He states on his website that the research he seeks to fund is "research into the treatment and, one day, cure, or prevention of Autism."

As far as I know, Howard has no personal experience with autism, other than having met a small number of autistic children while he worked as a summer camp counselor. Apparently he just wanted to get some publicity by running for a cause and picked autism more or less at random. His total ignorance of our community and culture hasn't stopped him from posting a web page entitled "Learn More about Autism," in which he suggests that the existence of autistic children is regrettable.

On May 9th, Canadian blogger jypsy, who had previously gotten no answer when she wrote to express her concerns about the intolerant language used on the Run the Dream website, received an e-mail from production manager Mike McCarther asking if she and her autistic sons would like to participate in a Run the Dream event. She politely declined, restating her concerns. This is the response she got (with the original profanity slightly edited):

From: "Mike McCarther"

Haha oh sh*t...

After receiving an e-mail from Alyric commenting on this offensive response, Run the Dream's chairman Bill Robertson made the bogus claim that it was all a misunderstanding and that McCarther had meant to write to someone else about an unrelated topic. Yeah, right, tell us another one... we may be autistic, but we weren't born yesterday!

More commentary can be found at Asperger Square 8 and at G's Place. To express your own views regarding this display of gross disrespect toward the autistic community, here are the e-mail addresses of Run the Dream's management:

Bill Robertson, Chairman:
Alison Pickard, General Manager, Beneficiary, Sponsor and Donor Relations: alison.pickard@runthedream.ca
Alex Bittner, General Event Manager: alex.bittner@runthedream.ca
Warren Howard, Operations Planning: warren.howard@runthedream.ca
Kevin Cassan, General Manager, Operations: kevin.cassan@runthedream.ca
Mike McCarther, Production Manager: mike.mccarther@runthedream.ca

This is what I have to say to everyone involved with Run the Dream: There is nothing funny-ha-ha about the idea that autistic people are human beings who deserve respect and social acceptance and who have just as much right to inhabit the earth as anyone else. Rather, that is just basic decency. We have had more than enough of genocidal bigots who "dream" of eugenically exterminating our children and who pretend that it would be an act of charity. Let me put it even more bluntly: You are not welcome in our community. Get your hat, your sh*t, and split. On a rail or otherwise.

Update, May 22: Run the Dream has removed the references to "prevention" and other objectionable language from its website. Many thanks to those who sent e-mails explaining our point of view!



  • Severe autism is caused in part by older fathers having babies. If you enjoy being autistic than you are not what those concerned are trying to prevent. Cheers!

    By Blogger concerned heart, at 5:30 PM  

  • concerned heart: Those who are researching "prevention" are not planning to ask autistic fetuses if they enjoy being alive before aborting them.

    By Blogger abfh, at 6:43 PM  

  • I can understand when someone picks "Autism" as a cause to raise money for (just because it's popular at the moment).

    But after having their ignorance and bigotry pointed out to them, one would expect that any reasonable person would stop, reconsider, APOLOGIZE, and initiate a dialogue in order to move constructively forward. Not laugh it off and continue to insult the very people you're purporting to help.


    By Blogger Club 166, at 10:52 AM  

  • Hey Concerned,
    How do you ask a non communicative person whether or not they are happy? (Or rather as you are trying to infer, are not enjoying life?)

    I understand that there are ways of knowing that someone is unhappy, from one point of view, if they attack one, or maybe headbang. But I certainly wouldnt put rocking flapping and poop smearing down as signs of not being happy. Soo, once again, how do You know that the target audience is indeed UNhappy?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:46 PM  

  • Mr. Howard's response reminds me a lot of Jerry Lewis' reaction when his prior poster children started showing up at his telethons protesting the depiction and pity induced "awareness" and fundraising.

    See: http://www.thekidsareallright.org/

    You can hear Jerry's response to Mike Ervin here:

    Jerry says, "If you don't want to be pitied because you're a cripple in a wheelchair...Stay in your house!"

    People like Mr. Howard are not doing anything to be enlightened, they are doing it to feel good about themselves. They really don't give a damn because its all about THEM.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:29 PM  

  • Concerned heart - my daughter has Asperger's Syndrome (on the autism spectrum). I was 20 when she was born, and her father was 22.

    So much for that theory!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:18 PM  

  • Cool. I didn't get a reply from them, so I thought they might have been ignoring us, but one-by-one we are turn these guys around.

    By Blogger VAB, at 4:06 PM  

  • I didn't get a reply either and just figured the were ignoring the whole thing...so happy to know the heard us.

    karen in CA

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:13 PM  

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