I used to work at an ad agency. One of the first things I learned was that there is one emotion that motivates people more reliably than any other. Fear. Fear compels people to do a great many things they might not otherwise do.
Once we’ve become convinced that something is worth fearing it is extremely difficult to reverse. When we speak of Autism using words and phrases that cause us to fear Autistic people, we are doing tremendous harm in the short and long-term to that population, harm that will be very difficult to reverse. Convincing people to feel fearful about something or someone is one of the easiest things to do. Convincing them, once they are convinced, that it was all a “false alarm” is extremely hard. So when those first news reports came out linking Aspergers with the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, it only took an unethical few to do tremendous damage to an entire population of people. Despite the fact that if you google “Aspergers and violence” the first dozen pages that come up are articles stating that there is absolutely NO connection between Aspergers and violence. And yet, my Autistic friends and I are terrified.
I am frightened for my Autistic daughter and for those I love and care about who are Autistic. I am frightened by what people will assume and how they will then treat those they assume are Autistic. I am frightened for my friends who are Autistic, will they be safe? Will a non autistic person hurt them, say cruel things to them, treat them differently because they fear “autism” and therefore “Autistics”? I am frightened even though the truth is neurotypical people are far more likely to commit acts of violence than Autistics. Watch these videos on Youtube ‘here‘ and ‘here‘. Videos showing Autistic and disabled people being tortured by others. Read these reports ‘here’, ‘here‘, ‘here‘ and ‘here‘ about the systematic abuse of Autistic people, abuse that continues unabated all the time.
It is WRONG to condemn a group of people, people who have suffered at the hands of those who now accuse them, a people who have been marginalized, some of whom cannot defend themselves because they do not speak and have not been given the means to communicate effectively through any other means. It is important that you know. It is important that you understand the ramifications of connecting autism with murder. I want you, no, I need you to understand why the words we use, the constant stream of negativity in relation to autism is causing untold damage to my daughter, to your daughter, your son, your Autistic child, to their futures, to the people I love, to my friends, to all who are Autistic and have had to deal with exactly this kind of prejudice their entire lives. It has to stop. It has to stop.
Children were killed, murdered. The horror is unbearable. But to add to an already heinous act by targeting a group of people and making it about them instead of what has happened, is adding more pain and agony to more children’s and people’s lives. Innocent people. Innocent children. Don’t we see that? Can’t people see we’re making it worse? We aren’t ensuring our children will be safe with these beliefs. We aren’t making the world a better place with more prejudice, bigotry, false assumptions, and our fear. Our fear is what drives us to conclude that we are fighting a false enemy. Our fear is what compels us to hurt, lock up, institutionalize, condemn and torture. Our fear is what causes us to commit acts of violence against those we’ve deemed violent. Our fear…