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Free Speech and the Right to be Curly

 

Free speech is a very complex concept. It sounds so appealing, so simple, so easy. Upon examination we often find it troubling, never simple and hardly easy. It actually has a life all it’s own. A simple concept? An unalienable right? A tool people use to manipulate, buy, sell and control others? All of the above and much, much more… use your words

 

 

In the very invested community supporting and “claiming to support” Autistic people there is a long running volatile debate. A debate that people are deeply entrenched in.  I have boiled it down to this: Parent’s and other’s rights to curse Autism and Autistic people versus the rights of Autistic people and their allies to speak truths about the deadly harm that, that enables. When groups of people use hate and rhetoric to stir up unrest for others that is evil and has very dangerous and scary affects. Those are the roots of all bigotry and hatred which cause death and dehumanizing devastation. We know this to be true. When parent’s “free speech” about their child’s Autistic neurology sounds like hate speech the fires stoking this debate will rage on!

SPREAD the knowledge!!

 

 

 

Let me use this silly analogy to illustrate this not so silly problem.

Imagine that I constantly heard people talking smack about curly hair, how I and all other people with curls just didn’t fit in to, or belong in this world. That we were defective and needed to be fixed in order to truly matter here.  Theories espoused everywhere that curly haired people were just too difficult and hard to understand, holding no real value in society. Never ending disparagements thrown around about how much curly haired people were disrupting families and how it was a colossal burden having to deal with our wavy difference!  That we were causing our loved ones to go through divorce, bankruptcy and ruination epidemically. Rhetoric concentrating on trying to “straighten us out” to be more like everyone else (indistinguishable from our straight haired peers.)  Imagine that ridiculous rhetoric permeating out into society, into the schools, our communities, over the airwaves of the media spilling out onto the internet globally. Everywhere I and other curlies went … consistently bombarded with negative words against our unique DNA, causing us to believe that we were less than everyone else because of the way we were born.

 

It’s no different for Autistic adults out here in the world and on the internet…hearing this “hate speech” that is declared free speech that should not be judged. Parent’s and others right to express their painful feelings at the expense of Autistic people’s well being…and sadly their own children’s. Mom’s and or Dad’s saying that Autism and their child that lives with Autism, make them feel desperate, like jumping off of a cliff or that Autism can go and~  “F” itself. Painful.

 

Even MORE PAINFUL when Mom’s and Dad’s take those “words” to the next level with violent actions against  Autism by taking their Autistic child’s life. Seemingly in partnership with this parental freedom of speech and belief that with more supports murders committed by caregivers would not happen. Has this horrid story been told so many times with sympathy for the abusive “caregiver” that the general public actually believe Autistic people and others with differences are better off dead? Don’t people understand that this sick cycle of rhetoric and protected hate speech paves the highways for murder and abuse ? That defending these violent hate actions and free speech rights to curse Autism seem to say that it is okay? That it should be understood? Protected as free speech?  Seen as one’s right to express how Autism makes them feel due to a lack of services? Surely one can see this very scary cause and effect. This horrifying slippery slope.

 

What if my Mom had been hearing those free speech messages of hate against my unique DNA and the over riding societal belief that I was an unmanageable, curly mess? What if she was so sick of combing out my curly hair one morning and felt she had no services to straighten it all out? Knotted, gnarled, frustrated, late for work, completely overwhelmed….and instead of taking me to get a pixie hair-cut on the weekend (which she actually did in 1970) she snapped and killed me?

 

Would people understand…and say it was all the fault of my unruly curly hair? That they understood perfectly how this could happen. That if we only had more straighteners in place surely it never would have !?

You can only be what you are.

You can only be what you are.

 

 

Imagine how absurd? …………………………………………………………INDEED!

 

Free speech is not without a cost. People need to refine their ideas surrounding the value of the words they choose. Who’s lives do your words value and who’s lives do they devalue?

 

Imagine how Matt Young felt when he saw this BUS AD CAMPAIGN? 

How would you feel to know that people “bought in” to the idea that you should NOT EXIST?

Desensitized, dehumanized, devalued and devolved?

Matt was damn mad and he and The Autistic Self Advocacy Network , Washington chapter did something about it. Awesome!

 

We can all do something here. We can be mindful of the way we speak about Autism and each other, our children and friends. None of us should be cursed for being Autistic, curly or any other damn thing!

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