You all know about the recent school shooting in America, and the controversy and misinformation linking the shooter’s autism to his premeditated violence. I don’t need to tread that path, others have done it better than I could have hoped to (just one example will serve at this point, but there are multitudes worth sharing). What I do want to bring up here, is something specifically relevant to my own blog.
I tried to quietly keep my head down, I chose not to post on the shooting because it was too raw and I didn’t want people to think I was playing off the tragedy. I couldn’t even watch the news, it was too distressing. I couldn’t read all the way through the written stories without it being literally painful, it made my heart hurt. But others dragged me into it anyway, by misusing my posts to further their own agendas and spread misinformation around the shooting.
I’d quietly watched my stats go through the roof, breaking my all-time records two days in a row as people were drawn to my blog by the search terms “violence and autism.” I have two main posts that they found their way to, but the search term wasn’t directing them towards the one relevant post I’d written on the topic in the past: My post on the non-link between autism and mass shootings. I’d hoped that what the searchers were finding would be read in context; the context was spelt out in the posts themselves, but people read more into other people’s writing depending on what they want from it.
Which is what happened, when one person decided to use one of my posts in support of his public conclusion that “In the future we will see an increase in violence due to autistic children becoming adults.” I tried to respond to his twitter post but got no acknowledgement of my response, so I ultimately decided it was time to insert a paragraph at the top of that post to stop any further misuse of it – to stop it being used to heap undeserved and ignorant harm on autistic people the world over. (I may yet go back and re-write the paragraph, it was quickly done, but it was like trying to place a plaster on an emergency wound; I had to do something.)
Later that same day, someone else took in on themselves to use another of my posts – the one on marijuana and autism – to support his own public conclusion that “marijuana helps w/autism maybe it could have helped [the shooter] & saved lives.” I responded to him too, telling him that I didn’t appreciate him using my post to support the erroneous link between autism and mass murder, and that the violence associated with autism is not that of premeditated mass murder. Instead of silence this time, I was met with abuse. The person verbally attacked me, calling me drunk and asking what was wrong with me.
He’d decided my post was useful to further his own arguments about the legalisation of marijuana, and linked it to mass murder to get his argument into the spotlight, by (intentionally or otherwise) misusing my post. He really didn’t appreciate me calling him out on it. He got so aggressive that I ended up blocking him, his attacks were quite upsetting.
When people do this with my blog posts – when they misunderstand or misuse them to hurt autistic people – I feel the frustration, helplessness, (and public embarrassment) that you do when a bully in the playground grabs your own arm and starts using it to hit you in the face. I tried to stay out of this discussion out of respect to these poor families, and because I knew others were dealing very well with the issues already, but people dragged me into it kicking and screaming anyway. So let me say this to those who would use my blog posts to hurt the people I love and live to protect:
You are scum. You are either dishonest, cruel, and lacking of empathy or sympathy, or you are too lazy to read and think about the writing you are so readily abusing. Either way, I have no respect for you, and I don’t want you anywhere near my blog. My blog is directed at people who choose to think, not those who swallow misinformation like mother’s milk and spread it around like an ugly virus. Go write your own blogs, or find some deluded blogger who actually says what you wished I was saying, but leave me out of it.
I need to say this too: How dare you use this unspeakable tragedy, to further your own agendas and to spread your hatred.
To my lovely regular readers, I’m sorry this post popped up on your feed, but I just couldn’t sit quietly and watch this happening anymore.