Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Problem Isn't "Infighting"

Recently, I posted “Polarization” and “When You're Not Loud and Angry Enough” on here, and on Tumblr. Discussions have sprung up, and I hope they continue, because the way the Autistic community treats other members of the community needs a fair amount of addressing. The discussions that have been started on Tumblr following those posts are not “in-fighting,” as I've seen the discussions called. I'm going to get more specific here and less jargon-filled than those posts and also add on extended commentary to reactions I've seen to the posts.

There are no such thing as good Autistics and bad Autistics, to be explicit. If good Autistic people are accused of sucking up to NTs and non-autistics and bad Autistic people are the heroes who actually call out people, how on earth do you expect solidarity within a community when people are trying to strike a divide? I know people who, on Facebook, Tumblr, elsewhere, who have been told that they are just goody-goodies and that they have no place in activism. It could have been me.

When you talk about a community, you take into account everyone. The people who feel guilt because they pass as neurotypical, the people who don't take pride in being Autistic, the people who maybe even want a cure, the people who feel guilty because they don't always have the capability of fighting every battle, the people who need accommodations, the people who need support staff, the people who need neither, and the list goes on.

You take into account the people who disagree with you.

The original posts were never about allies, and I did write it as a semi-response to the TPGA debacle – but not from the perspective of ally worthiness. I see people taking it that way anyway. The posts were about that there is often no room for disagreement in this discourse, and more importantly, that the way people are treated (like me, and others) when we disagree, people yell at us.

I should not have to constantly remove myself from Autistic spaces because people are being abusive with their language and treatment of other people, Autistic or neurotypical, to be clear. This is not tone-policing, as someone told me it was. It is not tone-policing to request a stop to the endless barrage of explosions and abusive language. And abusive language doesn't even have to be in all capital letters, to be honest: it comes in the form of “you disagree with me, so here's why you should screw off.”

The problem isn't the “infighting.” The problem is the continued mantra that asking people to stop being flat out mean and abusive is silencing, but yelling and intimidation are not silencing, and if you say they are, you are tone-policing.

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