Thursday, October 25, 2012

The "RWord" Rears Its Ugly Head-Hypocrisy Abounds

Well yes, Ann Coulter did it once again. She used the "RWord" to describe members of the political left. I mentioned her nastiness in an earlier post. HERE  And yes I even derided a popular conservative talk show host whom I liked, Dennis Prager, for supporting her. He was listing people to follow on twitter and her name was included. I tweeted him. Received no answer but at least I didn't remain silent.

I also refuse to watch Sean Hannity or any other television personality who does not call her out on her nastiness. In fact, I do the same with those that have racists and antisemites on their show. It's why I do not watch MSNBC because of Al Sharpton  (HERE) and went after those who had Pat Buchanan on their program as well.

What annoys me however, is not how quick the autism and special needs community attacked Coulter for her ignorance, but the fact that they remain quiet when anyone on the Left derides or bullies a republican or conservative, especially a woman. Where were these holier-than-thou special needs advocates when conservative women are called "c***ts" "bitches" "whores" or any number of repulsive names? Where were they during the VP debate and even during this entire political season? Were they hiding under a rock somewhere?

No one used the "RWord" so it doesn't affect your special needs child, you respond? Everything is connected. Attitudes are connected.  Nothing happens in a vacuum. Bullying is bullying. Name calling is name calling.

What galls me is that people do not see that their actions, or lack thereof, as part and parcel of the problem. If you do not want your child derided and bullied then do not remain quiet when the bully is using a different vernacular than the "RWord." Do not remain silent when those on the other side are maligned. Was it OK for Stacy Dash to be called vile names and even threatened with rape for voting for Romney? Where was your voice then?

Personally I despise hypocrisy. I do my best to avoid it. I cannot say I am perfect at it but at least I try. Now tell me what is your excuse for remaining quiet? Are you too parochial to see that your general silence is part of the bullying problem?

UPDATE: Interesting turn of events. Apparently a popular liberal radio talk show host working for Salem Radio Network,  wrote this on twitter:


So tell me where is the outrage from the special needs community now?

Elise Ronan

Monday, October 15, 2012

Latest Thoughts on Bullying and Hypocrisy

I have received not ONE comment nor email in response to my last post about the bullying during the VP debate. That the adults in the room cannot be bothered to see the direct correlation between their actions, how that bullying-adult is lauded, and the fact that children will act out in the same way towards others, is surreal to me. It's as if others live in an alternate universe where adult actions (or inactions), discourse and society have no lasting effect upon their children.

You all cry for Amanda Todd and the other children who have been bullied to death, but not a one of you stand up to the adults around you and call them out for their actions. You think that somehow your "political agenda" makes you immune to charges of hate. You think that your "political agenda" makes you so much better than someone else, that you are not subject to the rules of descent behavior. Well it doesn't. You think your "political agenda" somehow makes you Christ-like so you can be as big an asshat as you want.  Well it doesn't. Not certain how those two concepts go together either, but maybe being Jewish  I'm missing something, but somehow really didn't think Jesus supported demeaning others no matter what your cause or purpose...just saying, not entirely certain I'm right but that is my general impression.

Honestly, I think not standing up to bullies, especially powerful bullies, makes you a sad human being. I think if you are the "powerful bully" your actions make you evil no matter what you tell yourself. In fact the lack of long-rang-compassion simply makes individuals  a reflection of the sickness in our culture.

I have worked for decades to make this world better for my autistic children and by extension others. I have given my time and effort to organizations and support groups to help others. But sadly no more. I have no more use for any of the autism and anti-bullying organizations and their hypocrisy. I have no more use for the self-righteous holier-than-thou members of a self-declared group that somehow cannot see beyond their own political agenda (whatever that may be) and call out hate and abuse for what it is...hate and abuse.

I have news for everyone who stayed silent about last weeks debate, next time your child is harassed, maligned, attacked, belittled, laughed at, beaten up and bullied you have no one to blame but yourselves. Your child can thank you for the abuse they will suffer at the hands of their peers.

Shame on you all.


UPDATE: I just received a comment on the previous blog...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Politics, Bullying and a Total Disconnect

UPDATE: October 10, 2012, the teenager who made this video, Amanda Todd, committed suicide after years of bullying....

original post

I don't care which side of the aisle you happen to agree with politically, but I am not certain what debate some people were watching  last night. It definitely wasn't the one I was tuned into. On the one side was a young Congressman, trying to get his point across (not always the most elegantly more wonky) and on the other side was the Vice-President of the United States, rude, laughing (even during the discussion of the murdered US ambassador in Libya), eye rolling, smirking, gesticulating wildly and grinning like the Joker from Batman,while being beyond condescending to his opponent. I am not certain on which debating book Biden was relying for guidance, but quite frankly, all he did was come across as a bully. I am certain there is no debating guide that promotes that attitude.

What saddened me in some respects though was so much of the attitude I witnessed on twitter. The "high-fives" and "go-Joes" that were abundant not just in society as a whole, but within the autism community as well. I have yet to see anyone in the autism community call the Vice President out for his demeanor and his bullying. It is one thing to support your candidate. It is one thing to be pro-Obamacare. It is quite another to support your side right or wrong, especially if they promote a hurtful posture that will come back to harm your own child on a daily basis. It is grossly unfortunate the absolute disconnect between the reality of what people witnessed during last night's debate and how our children are bullied in school and in society on a daily basis.

Bullying is the condescending, smirking, disingenuous attitude that society shows towards so many of our children. It is why so many children with special needs are home schooled and sadly yes, the number is growing. But nope not one word about the VP's reprehensible behavior; Not from one autism organization or anti-bullying group. In fact his performance has been celebrated by leading democrats throughout the internet, print media and television. There may be a need to push your candidate, to recoup what was last during the Obama-Romney debate, but there should be limits.  It is not OK for your candidate to be a shmuck (I am talking about attitude not policies here. Political diatribes will not be posted nor acknowledged). It gives too much license, to too many, that it is just fine to take their nastiness beyond the "I don't like that classmate" stage. Yes, I admit I saw one semi-annoyed tweet from a media-personality-Biden-supporter:

There is a huge difference between being strong in your opinion, forceful in your presentation, a positive presence and being an aggressive a-hole. Think about it. What if someone was doing everything Biden did during the debate last night to your child while they were having a discussion? What if someone were treating your child with disrespect and condescension? What if someone were making fun of and laughing at your child on a daily basis? What if someone were dismissive about your child's ideas and points of view? What if someone treated your child like they were inferior? Joe Biden was basically channeling Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls instead of attempting to be an adult.

I know I have actually written about this before, the nastiness and bullying in politics. I often ask the question how are our children supposed to function in life and persevere against bullying if it is promoted and celebrated in our political and media driven world? I honestly think it is why meanness is so accepted, excused and prevalent more today than ever before. When there are no limits and no boundaries on how we treat one another, it always ends up with the most vulnerable, our children, being on the losing end of the stick. It is why bullying is epidemic in this country. Those in the autism community celebrating Biden's performance need to do a huge review of their own sense of reality.

Helping Your Child Survive the Political Season
Adult Twitter Meltdown...Cue Name Calling and Bullying
Social Justice, Autism, Society and Acceptance
The Politics of Autism- This is a Safe Blog

BTW according to CNBC Ryan won the debate 56% to Biden's 36%. CNN instapoll has Ryan winning  48% to Biden's 44%. It's not because Ryan spoke better or gave a more factual account of the world. People were completely disgusted by Biden's attitude. Simply put, Joe was without question a real jerk. The autism and anti-bullying communities should call him out for it. They owe it to our children. You do the math now....

Until next time,


Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Power of Words

This post is not about politics per se. So no arguing about republican versus democrat. The beginning story is illustrative of a larger point:

The use and power of words is not just a bete noir for our children. It seems that most people fail to understand or comprehend the danger of what they are writing or saying. I am not talking about bullying. Those that bully know exactly what they are doing. They just don't care. I am talking about how words, when written or spoken, can lead to assumptions and innuendos that do great damage to an individual or group.

Yesterday in an exchange on twitter I challenged a liberal author about his characterization of Jewish-republicans. The way he wrote one particular sentence was to imply that the premiere issue for Jewish-republicans is Obamas' relationship with Israel. Personally that got my hackles up. Not merely because I am a Jewish-American who tends to vote republican, but because it alludes to an antisemitic diatribe that Jews in the US are strangers in this land and truly only care about a foreign nation first and foremost.

Here for more information on fighting prejudice
It is not only what he said but how he said it that lent itself to our exchange. I wrote that if he himself were not Jewish someone could accuse him of antisemitism (and yes I know there are Jewish antisemites. This man is not one of them.) But that words are important.  The actual missing word in his sentence was, a simple preposition, WHILE. If he had written that he would have inculcated himself from derision and deflected the assumption and implication of his words.

If he had simply written, that "while some in the US may  think that Jewish-republicans..." before he went on to discuss a republican Jewish coalition  add about the economy. It would have put a damper on the entire  "prejudiced" picture by decrying this antisemitic posture implied in his initial words.

And as far as I could tell, we did not part friendly but we did not part angrily.  I have actually never met this man and probably never will. But it is so important that we all watch what we say and how we say it, especially in the world of forever, the Internet. It is also why when I see a pundit or blogger using the "Rword" I point out the prejudice and hate associated with that word as well. Most of the time I see no change, but I have also received apologies and a change in the wording of an article or blog-post.

Meanwhile there is a program by the Anti-Defamation League which works to combat lies (i.e. words). Lies have been used to harm and degrade people throughout history. It is the source of genocide. Words ARE mightier than the sword. You should also know, that I am not a big fan of the ADL. But somethings they do are worthwhile. No Place for HateAnti-Bias Education and Resources, Antisemitism (USA, Arab/Muslim world, International)

So what does this have to do with autism...let me tell you:

Words carry meaning. But how you use the words and how you say or write the words have an effect on your day-to-day life as well. CM1 had an issue with one of his new professors this semester. The man had never taught someone on the spectrum before and he took what CM1 had said to him wrong. Well actually he did not take it wrong, he was insulted as he should have been (CM1 was commenting on how the class was mismanaged.)

However, the professor kept his cool and explained to CM1 that there are boundaries between student and professor that should not be crossed. Of course CM1 did not get this little social convention and came home with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

I sat him down and tried to explain to him that he did cross a line. The irony here is that CM1 was annoyed by the word "boundaries," not by the rule. No one had ever used that word with him before he claimed. I had to explain to him that there were always boundaries in his classes: how many questions he could ask, that he had to raise his hand, that he couldn't yell at the professor....etc. But it was the word with which CM1 was struggling.

"Boundaries" for CM1 has an interesting connotation. While for us it denotes typical social attributes that are important so society functions, in some way CM1 felt that these "boundaries" inhibited his education. It took some time for him to come to the realization, as I had tried to teach him, that there have always been boundaries, just with another name.

Yes he did get it eventually. However, we actually put the para back in the classroom to help with the interactions. Truth be told, the professor did not understand CM1 and CM1 did not understand the professor. The para is a very helpful go-between.

It was very interesting because the professor actually came to the para the other day and told him that it would be fine if he didn't stay in class. He understood CM1 better and knew him. He understood that CM1 did not mean to be disrespectful and that the para was not there because CM1 was violent. That was a very interesting admission by the professor. One that I am certain he didn't think made him look a tad foolish.

Now, CM1 likes the para being in class. It does give him a sense of comfort and back-up, as he says. I am not against the para staying either. I know we have only a few more months to help CM1 acclimate to independence before grad school, but this professor really seems to be having issues  with CM1, even though he says he does not. There really is no meanness in the professor, simply an unfamiliarity with autism and what it really happens to be.

I honestly do not blame the professor. I do not blame CM1 either. The professor having no background with special needs probably really didn't know what to expect. Yes he did go to the disability office to get support and figure  things out. Yet I am certain that the catalyst in this situation are the "words" spoken on television and society, which are used to describe people with issues. The "words" used to describe those that are psychotic and kill (like in the movie massacre) do not help others with invisible disabilities in society. And pundits telling the world that the killer had to have aspergers doesn't help either.

Should the professor have dug deeper before drawing any conclusion? Yes of course. But that is not always the real world. People, no matter how smart they  are, tend to go with what is in front of them. A 6 ft tall 200 pound young man who is giving you a hard time and has idiosyncratic movements, can trigger the human emotion of alarm considering what society perceives about spectrum issues. I am glad that the para could return to the class with CM1 and smooth things over for everyone.

Meanwhile we worked with CM1 to help him understand that he was not the boss of the classroom and that the professor can run his class anyway he wanted to. We told CM1 that this was supposed to be an easy class for his senior year. Watch some films, write some papers and graduate. He needs to keep his mouth shut and do as he is told before he gets thrown out of school. We tried to tell CM1 that if he ever spoke to a boss disrespectfully and told the boss that they were illogical or mismanaged their department he would be out of a job and probably never get another one. He could kiss his references good bye.

So far, CM1 seems to be doing better. He is learning who this professor is and what he expects. He is learning to "go with the flow"as it were. It is my understanding that the professor told the disability director that things were better now too.

But once again it all comes down to words. What you say and how you say it. We have tried to explain that to CM1 and will continue. I am hoping it sinks in soon.

Hopefully society will also learn (someday) that how you say something and what you say lends itself to how you are perceived and implies what you think. The power of words is the greatest power known  to humankind. It is why dictators after disarming a population, shut down any avenue of free expression. Words. They can lead to independence, liberty or hate. It is up to us to decide how to wield this power. It is up to us to remember that there are implications in what words we chose to use and how we chose to use them as well. And it is these implications that may have more effect than the straight forward meaning ever could.

The Art of Conversation 
Pragmatic Speech, The Autistic Mind, and Telling Your Professor He is Wrong 
   this wasn't the first time that CM1 sort of, kind of, well maybe angered a professor with his words

Until next time,