Lovely people from the top down over at AoA

Kim S. has a new post on over at AoA on how they took on the squatter at Twitter and wrested their name back. That would be fine, if her need to be pissy didn't come out with her need to label those who disagree with AoA's finest the "neurodiversity circus."


And it just gets better:

"I blocked "the clown" immediately, thanks. God, that Chew woman is lame! You're a mother, now grow up and get a life, b----!"
Posted by: Julie June 22, 2009 at 09:56 PM

You know your opposition isn't particularly full of intellectual heavies when they are reduced to terming anyone who disagrees with them a circus (wow, and you know now that I think about that, freaks are in circuses, could they be more offensive?) and lame. I mean, lame, and then the b.... word? Bingo? Is that what Julie meant? What the hell, I'll go ask.

Here's the comment we know won't get on (double dog dare you, Kim S!):

Did you mean to call anyone who doesn't adhere to the AoA philosophy of cure whatever the cost freaks? Isn't that what you are suggesting by terming the neurodiversity movement a circus? What a lovely sentiment and proof that this how you view children and people with autism who aren't suitably shamed of who they are and full of self-hatred.
And seriously, lame, Julie? What was lame was your little b--- word stunt. Have the balls and be a grown up and call someone bingo if that's how you feel.
If AoA is a non-profit entity and Tanners Dad claims, then where exactly is your non profit tax ID number? Shouldn't it be posted?

And the fun keeps on coming. Craig's post over there is well worth the read, but I'll focus on the last bit: "They are the most pathetic excuses for human beings that I have ever had the displeasure of knowing." Awww. Can I just say, it's terribly tempting to tell you to go frak yourself? It really is. I won't though.

Now, to answer some of Craig's arguments:

AoA is NOT interested in an open exchange of ideas nor in anyway supporting parents of children on the spectrum who do not hold to the party line they have created. Pro-science people (and dude, not anonymous, but AoA won't post my responses) read AoA because it is on the forefront for putting out misinformation on autism, on treatments, on the way the autism community sees itself. Nor do I see them as particularly open for answers on how to help their children.

If you were attacking the science with substance, that would fine. I have yet to see the substance. Handley certainly doesn't offer substantive, valid criticism of the science.

As to whether I get upset when I read AoA. Hmmm. Irritated. Determined to stand against the bullshit. Upset. Not so much. Y'all seem to have a monopoly on the victimhood.

Of course, I'm just a little gnat flitting about AoA, so I'm sure Craig was not referring to me at all. :-)


Connie said...

OMG, they actually think "an open exchange of ideas" is going on at AoA? Really? Holy God, they can't be THAT deluded, can they?

Well, of course I know that they CAN be, but still. Wow. Just wow.

I'll bet almost none of the regulars over there even notice that there are rarely any dissenting comments. Or if they DO notice, they take that as "proof" that their views are widely accepted. "Heck, everyone who comments here agrees with us! Look, we're a movement! A groundswell! Everyone is on our side! Those sciencey types are the minority"

Craig said...

No, Kim, I was not referring to you. You have been, by far, the most reasonable of the "opposition" (I put that in quotes because I truly believe SOME of us have many things in common and can truly work out some kind of mutual understanding and start helping our children). My comment was aimed at those that claim to be doctors and scientists and like to squat over at that cesspool of a hate-site, Respectful Insolence (those I not-so-fondly call the Oraccolytes). They are unwilling to have a mutual exchange of ideas, instead spending the time acting like children and seeing who can come up with the most derogatory zinger. No, that doesn't include everyone on there; there are a few among them who are willing to talk as if they are adults, yourself and another poster named RJ being among them. The folks on your side of the argument loop everyone who thinks that vaccine safety is inadequate and have genuine concerns about vaccines in as "anti-vaccine." Truly, if I was anti-vaccine, would I have vaccinated all 3 of my children even after my son's adverse reaction? Would I encourage others? That just shows me 2 things; they are too caught up in their own egos to understand that there is legitimate concern, and they are too stupid to understand what intelligent discourse is. Sadly, because of these simpletons, people like you get mistakenly looped into the same group.

You are certainly allowed to feel irritated; I don't fault you for that. I sometimes feel irritated at some of the things they post (Dr. Moulden, anyone?). They are my friends, and friends sometimes disagree. Most of the time, I go there to vent my frustration at how obtuse some of these "science-based" people are (I remember a particular satirical post that the Oraccolytes were offended by. It was SO worth it). AoA helped me deal with some of my son's GI problems and they were there for me at a point in time when my son's self-destructive behavior had me contemplating intitutionalizing him. They were understanding, and they had a wealth of good advice that (here's the kicker) HELPED my son. The Oraccolytes? Insults and condescendion. When I first started posting to these sites a few years ago, I brought up a particular concern about vaccine-safety, and I was immediately attacked (yes, by Orac as well as Ken Reibel). That was when I found AoA, and that is why, I think, the Oraccolytes are being frustrated by their own efforts; they call anyone who disagrees with them an idiot. No one likes being called an idiot.

If someone talks to me reasonably, and takes the time to be respectful, I tend to respond in kind (I will admit that there have been times when I perceived someone's comment as insulting and I responded with an insult, and they did not mean it as such). However, if they are insulting, belligerent, bullying and condescending? Well, I like to show them how it feels when it is done to them. Does it make for a reasonable debate? No, and I admit that it may be the wrong way to have a debate. But at least I admit it and don't see insulting someone as a way to prove that I have a superior intellect.

Now, a comment to Connie.

You ever think that the reason why they don't let opposing views in is because of people like Orac and Ken Reibel? When you are insulted so many times because you are calling for more vaccine safety, you get a little gun-shy. Also, you ever stop and think that AoA may be a place where they can vent and let off some steam without a constant stream of slurs? Just food for thought.

KWombles said...


Thank you for such an eloquent response. It is very much appreciated.

I remember your Orac satire, as well as the fierce exchange over at Orac's. :-) I have no doubt you felt better for getting it out of your system.

We've had enough exchanges over the last several months that I respect and understand where you are coming from and I know that we actually have in common many positions.

It's easier to try to lump the autism community into two camps: those who believe vaccines cause autism and the heavy metal toxicity theory and those who don't; those who want a cure and complete eradication of autism and those who are for neurodiversity. Few of us would fit neatly into either of these divisions. It is at times irrestible to categorize people and pigeonhole them into one particular category.

When we take the time to explain our positions, as you and I have done over the months, it becomes impossible to pigeonhole a person, as they become a whole person whom we recognize has multiple positions.

If AoA wants to restrict comments to those with like-minded views, a more honest way to do it would be to move it to a forum like we have at Science Rocks and require membership to comment (and a private area for only members to read so that venting occurs in private). That isn't what AoA does; it gives the outer appearance of being open, says it's open, says it's after the truth and then moderates tightly. And if someone on the opposing side does get a comment on (and I admit mine was inflammatory), they tend to not let any other responses on after the attacking has begun. That's disingenuous. And it's stacking the deck so that new parents come looking for answers and see only what AoA wants them to see.

I am glad that they were able to help you with your son and to be supportive of you. But, is there something wrong with selective support, with a rejection of other parents of autistic children who do not follow their perspective on autism?

See, here's a key difference. I welcome any and all parents, and we can disagree about a great deal, but if what you want is a shoulder, support, a few laughs, an opportunity to vent, whatever, you can post here, with no censoring.

You also know exactly where I stand. :-) I know that Doug, Moffie, and Maggiemom might be surprised, but you can't (shouldn't be able to) spend months in dialogue with another human being, exchanging ideas, zingers, and the occasional insult and not care about the other person. I have a great affection for the people, no matter the "side", who are willing to engage me in conversation.

It is when that give and take is refused from the outset that frustration can set in. When there is no place for one at the table. Give Orac credit for at least letting you at the table, even if it means you get picked on; it's the downside to an open comment section. And you, Craig, have always held your own in the exchanges.

Just a follow up to your point to Connie; make it private then so that the person who's being vented against (like the unkind things said about MNmommy) doesn't have to read the slur and not be able to respond, nor have her friends read it and not be allowed to comment. That's being a bully. Your defense of MNmommy was noted and appreciated. :-)

You are always welcome here, Craig. Your post at AoA provided the opportunity for reflection, as has your comment here. Come back anytime.

Connie said...

Craig, don't you see how not allowing opposing views completely undermines the arguments put forth on AoA? How much credibilty do you think the site has if it's not willing to engage its opponents? Not much, in my view.

It doesn't appear to me that even "reasonable" debate is allowed on AoA. I've certainly tried to post comments about Andrew Moulden -- who I think is very clearly mentally ill -- as well as other questionable articles that appear. No dice.

More and more people are starting to tune out sites like AoA, in my opinion, because your side won't brook any criticism at all--respectful or otherwise.

The June issue of Reader's Digest has an article about "celebrity science," in which it dismisses the vaccine-autism connection.

If you've lost Reader's Digest, you've lost Middle America.

And if you object to bullying and condescending remarks, take a close look at the comments that accompany almost every article on AoA. Most commenters, in my judgement, villify ANYONE who disagrees with the premise that vaccines cause autism. The notion that a fair-minded person might examine the evidence and come to different conclusions seems to have escaped most AoA readers.

Is AoA even interested in educating people anymore? I think not. They seem more interested in keeping its readership in a constant state of emotional turmoil--not a good strategy if you're truly trying to win hearts and minds.

It doesn't even matter if the rage is justified or not. The continual, unrelenting rage at AoA is not going to gain you many converts.

Try to look at AoA--especially the comments section--through the eyes of someone who knows nothing about this issue. Really, really try. Imagine coming there before you had kids yourself. What would have been your reaction? Be honest.

AoA sorely needs a new marketing strategy. One that embraces openness and acknowledges multiple viewpoints. That kind of attitude would make your side's message much more palatable to most people. Increasingly, reading AoA is like reading a "truther" website that argues the U.S. government caused 9/11 . . . even if what you're saying is true, if you SOUND unhinged, few people are going to believe you.

If you publish comments and articles -- and accept advertisements from -- people like Andrew Moulden, few people are going to believe you.

If you're unable to admit that you've ever been wrong about anything, or to publish even the slightest criticism of folks like the Geiers, then few people are going to believe you.

AoA's insistence that it is right, all the time, about everything, in all times and places, is just not going to be considered credible to most people.

Venting and letting off steam are fine, but one must eventually move on. It seems to me that, for some reason, AoA WANTS its audience to remain angry and enraged. How does it help autistic kids for their parents to be bitter and angry all the time? In my opinion, AoA offers nothing constructive.

And I can tell you for a fact that my sister, once a happy and optimistic person, has become paranoid and hate-filled largely because of what she reads daily on AoA. She and her husband have three kids, one on the spectrum. She has told my brother in law repeatedly that she "hates" him because he does not completely accept the vaccine-autism theory.

AoA has taught her to hate anyone who does not accept that vaccines cause autism.

Connie said...

In the comment thread on AoA that spawned this discussion, Kim S. says (in a putdown of the ND community and Paul Offit), "you're known by the company you keep."

Indeed. This from the woman who not only allows the mentally ill Andrew Moulden to post on her site, but who accepts advertising from him.

KWombles said...


I think of your brother-in-law, trying to cope with caring for a child with autism then hit with the double whammy of emnity by his wife for not agreeing with her that vaccines caused the autism, and I feel for all of them. Coping with autism is a full-time job, and hatred and rage rob people of the energy they need to deal with working towards the best possible outcome for the child. They should be connected in their intense desire for the child to be well, to be happy, to make progress, not mired in this pit. Keep telling them gently that therapy for them both, either together or apart, is needed. If your sister can't let go of the animosity, it will eat her up. Pass onto her some of the more positive pieces on parenting a child with autism that can be found on many of the blogs I link to, like The Heart of a Child, Autismherd, Autism Nostrum, and for a perspective from an adult on the spectrum, The Gonzolog. I'd say direct her to Detritus, but I fear that seeing it in conjunction with this site would not be helpful; you could always copy, paste, and email a piece from Detritus to her. We almost all of us have been to dark places when our child is first diagnosed, and the greater the impairment, the harder the news. What matters is how fast we come out of the darkness and what we do with ourselves when we accept the diagnosis. Do we wallow in the dark or do we give ourselves a swift kick in the seat and arm ourselves with information that will make our child and our lives better? I choose the light, the laughter, and the bittersweet joy I find in parenting these three incredible people who have taught me what it means to love unconditionally, what it means to work tirelessly, and what it means to laugh out loud as often as possible.

Connie said...

Thanks, Kim. My brother in law began therapy last week. And I will reiterate that my sis is a really good person, deep down, she's just been overwhelmed by her situation. I try to be as supportive as I can, but it's hard to hear her rant and rave every time anything remotely connected to medicine is mentioned in the newspaper, on TV, or in conversation.

I will try to direct her to some of the sites you mention. If they're even remotely critical of AoA or GR, though, she will tune them out.

Again, thanks for all you do.