No Room in Neurodiversity for Contempt

"I seek a reconceptualization of cognitive difference, to the end that those who bear now-stigmatizing labels of "deviance," "disorder" and "syndrome," may live and manifest their individuality, distinctive interests, gifts and capacities with integrity, in a manner that comes naturally to them, free of pressure to become people they are not, free of the automatic assignation of inferior status; and that they may enjoy the respect of their fellow citizens, rather than disdain and exclusion."
                                   ----Kathleen Seidel

A dialogue at the end of this last week with one of the staunchest adversaries of ND in the online autism community had me thinking, reflecting, cogitating on how we engage those who disagree with us, as well as how we view those we have differences with. There was one sentence in particular that really disturbed me; it was written by this person to an individual who is generally considered by almost all individuals in the online autism community to be a friend to neither the advocates of inclusion, assistance, and acceptance or to those who believe their children are vaccine-damaged goods who must be recovered at all costs. In it, the individual notes that he too views NDs with contempt.
Think on that, what that means, to hold another person with such disdain, such venom, that you render them less than human. The ladies of RFID and Mamma H wrote on relationships for Countering and EDHF and contempt was one of the things we discussed; that there are neurotypical spouses who view their autistic partners with contempt. Our recommendation was that this was not a good relationship.
I don't view anyone I disagree with with contempt. I don't look at them as less than. As inferior. As less than human. As someone to be despised.
When you view someone who's saying that all people are of value and deserve equal access, equal participation, equal protection with contempt what does that say about your humanity, your soul if you believe in such a thing?
When you view others with contempt, you can excuse any behavior, any act, towards them. You can self-justify anything you do if you do it to someone you have decided is not your equal, someone you despise.
It is the very thing that we are fighting against here.
You cannot have a dialogue with someone who has already dismissed you as less than. There's nothing to be said to someone so filled with hate, with vitriol, that his contempt is worn proudly as a badge of honor.

**In this case I am defining contempt as such:


"1.the feeling with which a person regards anything considered mean, vile, or worthless; disdain; scorn. "

Obviously, I hold in this post that someone who feels contempt for others uses this to view them as less than and inferior.


Mom26children said...

It has been my experience that when the people who disagree with me so vehemently reply to my blog...they read my blog picturing me typing with such anger.
That is so far from the truth.
I believe they feel I am just as angry when I type as they are....
Truthfully..I type rather calmly about my feelings.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, to a point. People who are so concerned with finding something unconnected with themselves to blame, and who will go so far as to harm their children in running away from their own genetics are nothing more than contemptible in this regard. But then, "contempt" seems to mean something else to me than it does to you. I find the actions of the parents described above contemptible, but it would take a lot more for me to describe such parents as subhuman, especially as they've convinced themselves that they're giving the children help rather than the harm they're really handing over.

As well, exaggeration is rife on the internet. Even if what was articulated was "you are subhuman and your opinion doesn't matter", what was meant was probably "I disagree vehemently, and I don't have the vocabulary to express myself properly".

All that said, though, I agree with your main thrust; thinking of opponents as subhuman is a ticket to having no-one willing to admit they agree with you. It's also a ticket to pushing away people who are undecided in the marketplace of ideas.

KWombles said...

Jeanette, that's an interesting idea and one with a lot of merit, that people place their emotional state onto the people whose words they are reading.

We're well and truly screwed at reaching them, then, since ther emotional state will render them unable to consider our words and that we might be coming from an entirely different emotional state.

Mom26children said...

So then Kim,
I think if they read me as I really type...really calm and kind...they would be nicer when they replied...

Okay..I know...grasping at straws!!

I think they are so far beyond beyond pissed off that they are blinded by good intentions.

Just my experience..yet again !!

Michelle Dawson said...

Sorry, I'm afraid I don't understand what or who this post is referring to, and I don't know what the hey "ND" is. But I think a reminder might be in order.

That famous essay by Kathleen Seidel, the one quoted from here, was written in response to a legal case.

The legal case involved an autistic boy who refused to submit to a mandatory functional assessment or analysis--which is mandatory ABA/PBS. Because he refused the mandatory PBS/ABA, he was barred from a public place.

KWombles said...


ND is the acronym that those who want a cure for autism use for those who believe promoting the ideals of neurodiversity is a more appropriate use of time. For me, neurodiversity it is that triad I wrote of in my post: equal access, equal participation, equal protection, along with accomodations and assitance.

I thought about naming names in the post and quoting directly, but I decided against it. Who isn't as important as the sentiment itself is. The comment is made a blogger who (incidentally really doesn't like your work)wants to be cured of his autism desperately and has warped what people who focus on other areas relating to autism believe and practice.

KWombles said...


You raise an interesting point that how people use the word may vary. If the person who said he views NDs with contempt didn't mean it how I inferred it, he is free to explain his meaning. After a week of "atomic stupidity" and other words used imprecisely or inaccurately, it's entirely possible the individual was not using the word with that degree of severity of emotion.

KWombles said...


:-) Maybe if you put a blurb at the beginning?

I am writing this calmly, serenely. I am one with the world and wish those filled with turmoil and about to read me will breathe deeply, in and out, and feel the peace I feel flooding through them. Omh.


Corina Becker said...

Kim, Jeanette, this is why I like those blogging sites (like LiveJournal) that gives you the option of putting up your mood for the post and pick specific icons. On LJ, I find people keep a collection of functional icons for their mostly-used moods/reactions. Like, not only do I have my own mood-picture set, but I have an icon for when I'm feeling crappy, or outraged, or hyper, and one for when I'm in my usual easy-going mood.

A picture says a thousand words, why not it be about mood?

Sadderbutwisergirl said...

@KWombles: "I thought about naming names in the post and quoting directly, but I decided against it. Who isn't as important as the sentiment itself is."
Not to mention, if the person quoted hears of it, you are going to get attention from them. I mean it, you will. I know this from what I've seen.

Mom26children said...

Oh My Goodness...
You should see the comments on the AoA blog today.
JB wrote a blog about Dr. Ari Brown...Dr. Brown is being called all kinds of names over there.
Pathetic is the only word that comes to my mind about that.

jre said...

I believe that chicken will not be merely cooked: he will be deep-fried. He is immortal, not because he alone among edible fowl has a tender white breast, but because he has a skin, a covering capable of breading and seasoning and frying.
- William "Billy Bob" Faulkner

jre said...

Well, because I didn't know where else to post a "fried chicken" comment.

KWombles said...

I like that fried chicken comment very much. ;) As good a place as any to put it!