Great power brings the need for great responsibility.
Online, I and so many other autistic people have been watching a rich, powerful, well-connected, well publicised author trying to silence autistic voices of dissent.
The author has written a book which outlines her son’s autistic behaviours. She describes him in ways many autistic people find humiliating, dehumanising, horrific. I don’t use such words lightly. It describes how the mum in question intends to seek a vasectomy for her son, currently aged 15, to stop him having children in future. He is at school, talks, reads, has friends. The author had described another autistic person in terms that the person found distressing. When they complained about this, they were referred to as a brat. It was a moment of revelation as to the author’s view of autistic adults.
When autistic people took to finding copies of the book (for a while available as a pdf online, since removed) – or reading copies in the library… or borrowing copies from one another – they started reviewing it online. The author didn’t like this, it seems.
The author contacted a friend of theirs on a large bookselling site and it seems asked them to censor the comments. Then apparently asked her largely-rich, powerful group of online friends to target the autistic commentators by getting the review sites to remove their comments.
Let’s think about this for a moment.
Autistic people are amongst the more impoverished on the planet. So many have no jobs, no spare income. Not so much as a spare £1. Society prevents most of us from working, such is the level of misunderstanding and hate out there.
In order to comment on whether we have a right to reproduce, and whether an author has the right to name and shame their own child in that debate and publish it…we have to now be able to afford to buy a book each, it seems. From a specific bookshop where the cheapest price seems to be £8. And review it in ways that please the author, or her mate will remove their review. £8…. That’s possibly two days of food, for an autistic person. Maybe it’s a whole weeks-worth of food.
This, my friends, is power.
The power to decide who is rich enough to review you