10/26/2009

Vilifying the Other Side: Does it help you win?

The internet was out here all day yesterday and until less than two hours ago. It was quite a break from the autism-related blogs. Truthfully, I don't look at AoA more than a couple times a week now, so there are articles I completely miss, don't even know about. That's probably a good thing. There are very few positive pieces there. I don't know if that's always been the case, but it seems to me that since I have been looking at AoA since March or so of this year, the site has gotten uglier and more hostile to those who don't agree with them down the line. And the leaders of AoA get uglier to people in general who stand up to the vaccines-cause-autism rhetoric. I've written posts on this, about the trolls and sheoples comments, about how AoA followers and its editors actively try to dissuade vaccination in general with a smug contempt for anyone who avails themselves of disease prevention. And how dare you try to comment on Huff, if you don't agree, but of course, if you don't comment, how dare the trolls for not being out. There's no winning, here. Many of these people have adopted a scorched earth policy towards anyone not walking their line.

It can wear a person out to read them. Attack after attack on Offit, with smug superiority, and yet disinformation and obvious, pointed-out-to-them misinformation. Cuz the scorched earth policy feels so good. I have no idea, now, what AoA's endgame is, what they want to change. It doesn't seem to be autism awareness. It doesn't seem to be fostering or promoting tolerance of disabilities. It doesn't appear to be a support system for parents of children with autism or for autistic adults. Nope. Sure doesn't.

It appears to be the destruction of people who disagree with them. It appears to be about ending vaccines, not about making them safer. It appears to be about selling products that will "recover" your child. It appears to be about being martyrs and victims who have been damaged by big government and big industry (umm, your sponsors are big industry, aren't they?) who stand up to the trolls and sheoples and somehow comeout victors. I haven't figured out how or where their children figure into this, but I guess the kids will be recovered, at least, and if not, it's because the pharma conglomerate wants whole generations of autistic individuals (you know this makes not a bit of sense, right?) and the AoAers just woke up to the whole vaccines, lyme disease, SV-40 thing too late. But that's okay, because Blaylock, Wakefield, the Geiers, Deth, etc., they can fix it.

You know, I don't think the parents who disagree with the vaccine as a cause of autism forget that these people are that, people with feelings. I know I don't. I've written many times that I'm aware that these parents are hurting. They are angry, and they want answers. Uncertainty doesn't sit well or easily on them. And they often have a religious fervor to their conviction that they have the answers and the unfortunate zeal of the converter that they will either make the disbelievers converts or destroy them. I think that these parents are in the minority. I think most people find a way to cope adaptively. I don't think what AoA's writers or the vast majority of commenters are doing is adaptive coping. I think it's malicious and ugly. I understand the tremendous rush it gives them, the sense of vengeance playing out for them. It doesn't make it right, though.

It's a damn shame. It's worth remembering that not everybody is a nice person. Not everybody is a decent person, and bullies exist in every group. When one group systematically sets out to dehumanize those it perceives as belonging to the outgroup, you've got a problem as a society. It seems to me that those who uphold the values of neurodiversity, that each individual has dignity and worth, stand against this kind of vilification and dehumanization.

1 comment:

Mom26children said...

The comments I find extremely hypocritical are the ones that question the fact that Dr. Offit was threatened and his children were brought up in a threat, or that one of their Rescue "Angels" (and I use that term very loosely) job was called.
I know many people, who have questioned AoA or left a comment on their site, and their jobs were called within minutes of the comments they left. Within seconds of one comment, a woman who questioned a post was sought out on Google.
http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/03/iacc-ethical-disaster-zone/comments/page/2/#comments.
Amazing the hypocrisy over there....nah, not really !!!!
I expect nothing less from them.

This is the truth, and they know it.
My family received many threats and someone went as far as putting a small explosive devise in our mailbox.
How lovely that would have been for one of my kids to have opened that mailbox.