A Call to Action

Where are the organizations that help individuals?

Where are the organizations that provide mentoring or someone to listen when you need an ear?

Where are the organizations that will help individuals find the help they need?

Help us become that place.

It's a start. A new beginning. A chance to make a difference.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Can't We Get a Little Respect?

Oh, I know, how ironic to title the post that when I have a tendency on Countering to call people dumbasses. There's no respect in that, those who've received that title will insist. It's so hypocritical.

Ah well. We're a bundle of contradictions here at Respect For Infinite Diversity. Because that's life. People don't fit into neat little boxes of this or that. They're wonderfully complex and it's a mistake to forget that.

I think the folks at Age of Autism are by and large dumbasses, and I'm not going to make any apology for that. They think anyone who disagrees with their view of the world is a pharma shill or a sheople. However, while I think they are, for the most part, anywhere from misguided to seriously deluded, I can hold within my schema of them the realization that they may also be deeply loving and committed parents and partners, hard workers, devout believers, and so on. I can, on the one hand, really disagree with the nasty, dishonest crap that Stagliano allows on to Age of Autism while also appreciating her personal blog and her obvious love and delight in her daughters. I'd bet you, though, that many if not most of those over there are incapable of doing the same.

They paint in broad brush strokes and they tar and feather anyone who holds an alternative world view. They believe anyone who takes an evidence-based perspective on vaccines and autism must be working for pharma companies.

It isn't just the AoAers who do this, though, who take a two dimensional perspective: either this or that: with me or against me. It's groupthink at its worst, a flattening of reality and the creation of enemy lines. It's the destruction of commonalities and the setting in place of a battlefield.

And it doesn't matter what a person writes, says, believes, does. All it matters is where the flatliners have decided a person is.

What all this works to do is further divide folks and accomplish nothing. It's destruction and chaos for the puredee sake of it.

I don't see much of a way out of it, really. You can ignore those who sow chaos and misinformation, but that allows it to grow, build, feed. So, some time has to be spent knocking down these barracades of woo built up. Folks who've peddled the woo aren't going to appreciate it, and that's understandable.

Community can't be built with piranhas, if you still want to have your fingers when you're through. It seems to me that the trick, and it is a trick, is to find a balance between the countering and the building. And we try to do that with Countering, which for all that it's only my name on the blog, truly is a collaborative effort. I stick my chin all the way out there on that blog.

The directory is Kathleen's and my attempt to build on the goals of our Respect for Infinite Diversity idea. Community building. I think the directory, despite our decision to remove four blogs in the last two days, is doing okay. We've found some really neat people out there, and we're looking for more. It's a bright spot for me, definitely, to see that there are parents out there who may hold different ideas on causation but who really aren't interested in chaos; they want to raise their kids, help them achieve their best, build a network of supportive friends. It's nice; it's refreshing, and it makes the time I spend countering cesspools of vitriol worth the effort.

We can disagree on a whole host of things and still show mutual respect and appreciation for others. It's surprisingly easy to do when the focus is on building supportive communities.

What I cannot do and will not do is respect or support individuals who actively seek to get people they disagree with fired. I will not support hate-mongering. I will not provide a forum, a way to a site whose goals are to bring down the vaccine program and hurt as many people as they can.

And I will not play petty games with folks who can't argue a person's actual points, who need to distort and twist and make statements that are patently false in order to feel better about themselves or to promote their own twisted agenda. And I won't feel a bit bad for calling those folks dumbasses, either.

You know what, it's okay if I call you out and call you a dumbass; I didn't figure we were going to be friends, and if I went that far, I was pretty sure we weren't going to be community building together. That's okay. At the end of the day, you know exactly where you stand with me. And ain't that a real blessing? None of that lip service crap.

Twenty years of parenting autistic children has taught me a healthy respect for honesty and keeping it real. It's too bad more parents of autistic kids couldn't learn that valuable lesson about honesty and integrity. Our children teach it in spades. It's a serious shame to see how well some parents can teach individuals on the spectrum to lose those traits.