Ms. Sequenzia thought the article “very good” but could or would not see the bigger picture in order to ensure that this important message hit main stream media. I do agree that the portion that was removed was the most powerful and contentious section. The part that remained made her comment looked white washed to me. But there would be no negotiation.
Ms. Sequenzia goes on to complain that MTV News didn’t do what she wanted by removing her quote, letting the rest of the article stand and informing the readers that her quote had been removed. No wonder MTV News chose to withdraw from the discussion. It was complete capitulation or nothing.
I love the title of Ms. Sequenzia blog, “Disabled people being silenced by unethical media”.
Come on … MTV News went ahead and published the article without the input from Autism Speaks and covered themselves ethically by adding at the bottom “MTV News has reached out to Autism Speaks for further comment.” Ms. Abber agreed to remove Ms. Sequenzia’s quote and let the article stand as is.
By making her demands immutable, Ms. Sequenzia participated freely in silencing her own important and articulate voice.
What I find most amusing is that, while MTV News is being criticized for their actions, somehow Autism Speaks ends up being blamed for choosing not to participate. They had no idea what was happening. Autism Speaks wasn’t even involved in the whole situation other than having been requested to comment – they did not. This is exactly what they always do for any touchy subject, not just those related to autistic persons. Even Ms. Sequenzia acknowledges this by saying in her publicly published correspondence:
“If Autism Speaks does not want to respond, this is not a lack of balance, it is because they never address what we say. “
How Ms. Sequenzia can add “Why my comment, a request from the writer of the article, needs the green light from Autism Speaks to be published in full?” is quite beyond me.
There have been subsequent tweets that implied Autism Speaks had pulled strings to get the article withdrawn. From what I have seen of the Public Relations, that isn’t their style and I don’t think they care.
And there is the rub. They don’t care. Which is what is so infuriating to those of us who do.
Conspiracy theories aside, neurodiversity advocates are like flies to Autism Speaks; busy flying around making noise but only being a slight nuisance. Autism Speaks does not care and certainly would not bother to stifle the article. There is no indication they have ever resorted to legal tactics and as a nonprofit the legal costs would be marked and eventually discovered. That would make for bad press. And even if they had, any legitimate news organization would never have given in. MTV News would have put every last penny behind protection “the freedom of the press“. If not, they might as well have closed up shop.
And a lawsuit would make for such great reading.
Why would Autism Speaks choose to participate? There is absolutely nothing that they can say that would enhance their image. It is a no win situation. The same cannot be said for some of the neurodiversity advocates. There was much ground that could have been made but the opportunity was thrown away.
But MTV News was also smart. They figured out what was happening and decided to take their marbles and go home. They stopped caring as well. This is the great danger… you keep pushing people and after awhile they won’t care.
Saying nothing often works. Engaging rarely does. Most people hate to be ignored but those on the autism spectrum often take particular affront. It gets them going but it will eventually peter out. Trying to engage in a meaningful dialogue only prolongs the abuse.
Know your enemy. This goes to MTV News who assumed that this was not going to be a confrontational interaction. Neurodiversity advocates who are autistic can easily create the impression that anyone who is not autistic is the enemy. I do not believe this is true but a result of social communication styles. This goes to both the autism advocates and the autistic advocates, who really don’t understand how Autism Speaks will beat them every time using the same strategies…. ignore.
If it works keep doing it. If it doesn’t, then it is time to change. Social media has historically been a useful medium but it is limited. I believe it is no longer making autistics more visible and voices louder despite what they claim. Social media, particularly Twitter, has a half-life compared to recognized news sites. Twitter can be a powerful medium but only when it is picked up by main stream media.
Perhaps it is time for autistic advocates to recognize the limitations of social media – specifically Twitter and leverage mainstream to their own advantage.
Currently, neurodiversity advocates are only preaching to the choir. And for those of us who are trying very hard to listen, we find the monotone off key.
This editorial was written on March 3rd of last week and held in the queue for publication today so as not to take away from last week’s series on Autism and Law Enforcement. Other than checking for grammar, no edits have occurred.
* LANGUAGE: I confess that I struggle with the terminology of neurodiversity related language and apologize for any errors. For this reason rather than branching out into unknown territory, I have chosen to use autistic neurodiversity advocates / activists to avoid as much misunderstanding as possible. I recognize that not all individuals who identify as nerodivergent are autistic. If the terminology confuses you as it does me, I recommend Nick Walker’s helpful blog post: Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms & Definitions
I am very conscious that I am a white of woman of privilege. There are many other descriptions of me and while I really don’t know “what I am”, I identify as neurotypical.
While as Editor-in-Chief of Autism Daily Newscast, I have been called rude, a bully and a liar. I have been compared to the KKK and accused of stealing other people’s work and copyright theft.
While Autism Daily Newscast and I have been criticized – sometimes strongly and sometimes respectfully – it is only the autistic advocates that have used such language. It has been libellous, mean spirited and spread purposefully on social media.
I have requested to reprint articles that include criticisms of Autism Daily Newscast because I believe that all voices have a right to be heard. We are told that “Autism Never Speaks Unless Autistic People are Talking” but we have not been given permission.
Autism Daily Newscast was created less than 2.5 years ago on a shoe string budget. Since then we have become the only only recognized Google News Site that has made a commitment to hear all the voices of those on the autism spectrum and those that love them. Our mandate is to present current events from an objective and neutral perspective as possible.
Besides reporting on relevant stories and research related to autism world wide, we have been able to showcase the writings of autistics and mothers of children with autism. We have interviewed autistic entrepreneurs: designers, comics, writers, singers, artists. We have provided exposure to individuals fundraising for a service dog, housing and educational needs. We have highlighted various petitions that are attempting to bring about change. We have allowed individuals who have a personal message to share it as an opinion piece with our readers even when we don’t share those views. We believe that our readers are independent and intelligent enough to form their own deductions.
No one person works full time for Autism Daily Newscast and although we do pay some a pittance as a token of appreciation, it is a labour of love. Current advertising only scratches the surface of costs. And still we are able to accomplish remarkable things thanks to the commitment of our writers. I am very proud to be associated with my editors, staff and regular contributors.
Last month Autism Daily Newscast had almost 200,000 page views on our site and 80% were first time visitors. Do you realize what an opportunity this is for education, awareness and acceptance. We have invited and welcomed autistic neurodiversity advocates and activists to work with us, educate us and exploit a platform that will get their important messages heard. We will continue to provide this platform to those who wish to use it.
Here are what I hope will not be my final two questions to autistic neurodiversity activists and advocates:
Do you want me or Autism Daily Newscast to: Shut up, shut down and go away?
in other words,
Will you work with us or against us?
Comments are open.