"Well, I continued to be baffled by the logic of neurodiversitites." -- Mitchell
"The strange silence of the ND crowd on this case speaks volumes about the irrational ND ideology." --Doherty
Covering autistic individuals when they make the news, for whatever the reason, raises some interesting questions. How do we cover things like autistic children who get lost in the woods? Do we use our blogs and our readership to get information disseminated quickly and to raise support? Or do we use it to argue that those awful neurodiversity types just don't get that autism kills?
Doherty is irritated that the neurodiversity crowd has been oddly silent on the story of Christopher Monks, a young man with Asperger's who apparently conspired with another young man to murder Christopher's parents. How much coverage did Christopher Monk's story get in the autism community at large?
Doherty is the only autism-related blogger who I can find who has covered this story at all. Doherty covered it on the 9th, wanting to know where the "ND crowd" was in covering it. He covered it on the 7th, with the focus on the parents, not on the young man:
"The article illustrates just how much many parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders love their children no matter how severe the challenges they present."
So, one blogger in the autism community writes twice on the story, once to focus on how heroic parents of autistic people are (so, again, not about the autistic person himself) and once to bitch that the "irrational NDs" have been silent on it.
Well, let's look at the coverage overall on this story, see if there's a reason NO ONE in the autism community but Doherty covered this story.
In December, one blog did cover it, from the angle of furries, referring back to this news article from November. Moving further back in time, I found Sodahead covering it in July under its entertainment heading: "Christopher Monks, 24, met Shaun Skarnes, 19, on an internet chatroom for Furries - people who enjoy dressing up as animal characters for sexual fantasies. Christopher Monks allegedly told Shaun Skarnes that if he killed Monks' parents, he could bite off...." (article provides details). Another news story covered it on the same day as Sodahead. These two initial news stories do not mention Monks' diagnosis of Asperger's. The BBC story doesn't mention Monks' Asperger's, either. It is only starting with the January 7th articles that Asperger's is brought up. This article on the 8th doesn't mention Monks' Asperger's. This one does.
How Doherty found out about this, I don't presume to know. It seems to have only hit the blogosphere in blogs relating to furries. No mention is made of Asperger's until January 7th. There is no way prior to the 7th of January that anyone in the autism community could have known of it. And by the 7th, most of us bloggers related in anyway to neurodiversity were already deeply invested in advocating for Zakh Price. Indeed, even if we hadn't been, the likelihood that Monks' story would have come to anyone's attention, short of them living in the region and following the news and happening on it, is slim. That it did come to Doherty's attention on the day that Monks' name in conjunction with his diagnosis was released in a news story suggests that Doherty has a google alerts set up to alert him of stories dealing with Asperger's and something related to criminal charges. Doherty would have to reveal how the story came to his attention, though.
Instead of arguing anything regarding the young man's fate, which to be fair, if you read the links, especially the two July stories, and the accompanying information from January after the sentencing, I'm not sure one could argue it was an unreasonable sentence, Doherty used this young man's story to argue that autism parents are heroic in their love and that NDs are irrational and should have covered this. To what angle, I have no idea. So, Doherty left the unsavory bits hidden away and used the young man as a bludgeon to swing Doherty's ideology about, to bash those who support acceptance and equal rights.
So, what do I think of the Christopher Monks' story? He conspired to have his parents murdered. There is no doubt of that. The young man he conspired with attempted that murder but was foiled in it.
According to the news story, "The pair meticulously prepared the killings via messages after meeting online in November 2008, the court heard." Monks was "given an indefinite hospital order."
The parents were steadfast, if perhaps misguided, in their devotion to their son. You can love someone and support them, but after he's deliberately and intentionally conspired to kill you, you really probably ought to be smart enough not to want to have him under your roof:
"They argued he suffered from Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, and was was unable to separate fantasy from reality.
The court heard that in a series of online exchanges, Monks told Skarnes he wanted his parents dead because he said they were over-protective and treated him like a child."Whether Monks could determine fantasy from reality, I don't know, but that in and of itself, has nothing to do with autism. Interesting here, though, is Doherty's focus on this story. Doherty rails against Asperger's. He spends a lot of his blog posts and commenting bashing people with Asperger's. He doesn't consider it to be autism, but in his two blog posts regarding Monks, he conveniently ignores his long-held position. He certainly doesn't consider Ari Ne'eman qualified to speak for autistics, and yet, here, for this purpose, this young man, whatever his mental health issues, can stand for autism and represent the irrationality of the ND crowd.
Perhaps Doherty will deign to explain his reasoning here.
Doherty and Mitchell both like to go on and on about how irrational and illogical the people who ascribe to the ideals of neurodiversity are. Doherty hates the social model of disability. The sad truth is that the social model does explain a great deal of the discrimination and lack of equal access, resulting in dis-ability that many face. Choosing to view people as inherently dis-abled, with the accompanying negative social pressures that accompany disability, creates part of the problem. Seeing someone as dis-abled often connotes to seeing them as less than.
Accepting that society contributes to this lesser-than status allows societal change, allows a shift in language and a shift in focus. If we accept the premise that different from the fictional norm is not an innately bad thing and simply represents the reality of nature: we are all different, with differing levels of challenges and abilities, then we are far more likely to work towards changing society to be truly accepting and accomodating of these differing levels of ability.
Acceptance doesn't mean a lack of consequences for behavior, though. What Christopher Monks did was illegal. He wanted his parents dead. He acted to make that happen. And he promised an odd, but obviously desirable enticement for the young man who accepted his offer. Until such a time as can be shown that Monks is not a danger to others, his placement is appropriate. This wasn't a meltdown. This was a deliberate, intellectual, and prolonged effort to see his parents killed. This has nothing to do with having Asperger's.
Doherty's coverage of it had nothing to do with Asperger's and everything to do with Doherty's agenda.