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{ LINK: freepress: Don’t Let Congress Silence NPR and PBS }

{ LINK: Stand Up for NPR and PBS }

full contact info for congress members is available on this website.

NOTE: as always, if you can’t contact your congresspeople, passing this info around is still really helpful.

(also *warning* as there is an ableist slur on the page)

More than a million Americans have urged extremists in Congress to stop their reckless campaign to kill NPR, PBS and other public media.

Despite this outcry, a majority in the House are defying the will of the American people and planning to vote Thursday to slash all funding to these vital institutions.

[…]

{ Dear PBS, Be Less Rape Culture }

sharpclause:

Trigger Warnings for discussion of rape and rape culture.

Read More

{ LINK: An Open Letter to Robert MacNeil }

aspergersissues:

I’m posting this in its entirety, hoping that everyone will read it. I hope you don’t mind, Rachel. This is too important to only link to, I think.

For those that don’t know, this is about the new series on NPR/PBS called Autism Today. I heard it earlier and was deeply offended, as well. I’ll be writing a direct letter this weekend. I may post it here, as well.

Dear Mr. MacNeil,

It has come to my attention that you are spreading dehumanizing stereotypes about us. In an interview to promote your upcoming series, Autism Today, you said the following about autism:

“It delays the most — delays or impairs for life — the most human thing we have, which is our ability to look into each others eyes and feel that other person’s existence and what might be going on in their mind, and to empathize with them. That is denied — largely denied — to children with autism.”

I remember you from the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour. You always seemed to be an intelligent, nuanced, thoughtful human being. But then again, because I’m autistic, I must have been incapable of understanding what was going on in your mind all those years. Largely because of your statement regarding my supposed impairments in this area, I am beginning to doubt my previous judgment about you.

Your thinking about autism is anything but intelligent, nuanced, or thoughtful. It is based on the most pernicious misinformation and stereotypes our culture has to offer about the lives, hearts, and experiences of autistic people. I have been autistic for every moment of my 52 years on this earth and, believe me, I feel the existence of other people so acutely that I have to spend a good portion of my time alone. I walk into a room, and I feel the emotions of everyone there. My empathy is off the charts. And I am very well-skilled at figuring out all the possibilities for what might be going on in the mind of another person.

If I were less than fully capable of feeling another person’s existence, understanding what might be happening in that person’s mind, or empathizing with another human soul, I would not have a wonderful marriage to a loving, gentle, intelligent neurotypical man. Nor would I have a beautiful 18-year-old neurotypical daughter who tells me that I am the best mom she could ever ask for. How many teenagers say that about their parents? You don’t get there by failing to empathize with your child.

But don’t just take it from me. Ask any autistic person, on any portion of the spectrum, about the intensity with which he or she experiences other human beings, and you will hear much the same story.

What’s that? You didn’t interview any autistic people for your series?

What?

Okay, let me get this straight: You are doing a series on a disability without ever having talked to anyone who actually has that disability.

I’m sorry, but has something changed in the journalistic profession? If you did a series on understanding people who use wheelchairs, would you talk only to their parents? To their doctors? To researchers? Or would you actually talk to the people using the wheelchairs so as to, you know, do a halfway decent job of helping your viewers understand their lives and experiences?

I don’t know. Maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe you think that disabled people have nothing to say. You clearly feel that way about autistic people.

But why? Well, I suppose that if you’ve already decided that we suffer an impairment in “the most human thing we have” (and “we” appears to refer only to non-autistic people since, clearly, actual autistic people wouldn’t actually be reading anything you have to say, much less understanding it or having feelings about it), the whole idea of talking to us kind of goes out the window, doesn’t it? I mean, who wants to talk to someone whose humanity is sub-par?

Are you even aware that many of us can speak? Yes, we can. We speak using our vocal chords, our computers, our body language, our affection, and our basic humanity.

But clearly, it’s never occurred to you to listen.

If you don’t want to hear us, if you want to continue living in utter ignorance of our thoughts and our lives, that is your right, but please, consider the following: What kind of a world are you creating for your autistic grandson? Do you want him to live in a world in which no one listens to him? In which people consider his humanity to be less than theirs? In which people believe that he has no feelings, no empathy, no understanding of other people? In which people don’t even bother to find a way to communicate with him, because it just doesn’t seem worth it?

What impact will the attitudes betrayed by your words have upon his happiness? Upon his ability to receive appropriate medical care? Upon his ability to make friends, to feel safe, and to develop self-respect? Will his civil and human rights be protected? Will he be treated with kindness?

Think about the world that you are helping to create and perpetuate. And believe me when I say that I know that world well, because I’ve lived in it for over half a century.

From where I sit, anyone who can’t treat another human being — any human being — as though that person has something to say and a right to be heard is not living up to his or her humanity.

Look at us. Listen to us. Feel our existence. Think about what might be going on in our hearts and minds. And for God’s sake, empathize with us.

You’ll be building a better world for everyone.

Sincerely yours,
Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg

© 2011 by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg

(via nicocoer)

{ ALERT: PBS NewsHour series “Autism Now” (ASAN) }

As many of you are aware, ASAN and others in the Autistic Community have significant concerns about this week’s PBS NewsHour series “Autism Today”. The series relies on old stereotypes against Autistic people and uses poor quality science to advance the personal agenda of the journalist, Robert MacNeil, who put it together. Our concerns are as follows:

  1. In interviews leading up to the airing, Robert MacNeil, NewsHour co-founder and reporter, made reference to many crude stereotypes about Autism and Autistic individuals and used rhetoric that dehumanized Autistic people. He stated in his interview, Autistic Americans lack “the most human thing we have, which is our ability to look into each others eyes and feel that other person’s existence and what might be going on in their mind, and to empathize with them.”;
  2. No input from Autistic-run organizations or groups advancing an acceptance-oriented perspective about autism was sought in this supposedly “Comprehensive” approach to the autism spectrum and the issues surrounding it;
  3. The series relies on disproven and scientifically dubious claims around vaccines and biomedical interventions with no basis in science.

We’re providing our allies in the blogging, advocacy and academic communities with contact info for NewsHour below to urge you to express your concerns directly to the program and encourage you to send this information out to your networks through whatever means you deem most appropriate. We ask that you voice your opinion! Let it be known that a conversation about Autism should include Autistic people. The contact information is below:

Anne Bell
PBS NewsHour
ABell@newshour.org
Office: (703) 998-2175 

Please bcc: info@autisticadvocacy.org so we can keep track of the progress of the campaign and make sure that PBS NewsHour cannot claim to have not received the e-mails you or those you contact send.

Thank you,
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network

(Source: nicocoer)

{ AUTISTIC COMMUNITY CONDEMNS PBS NEWSHOUR’S “AUTISM NOW” PROGRAM FOR IGNORANT REMARKS }

nicocoer:

Robert MacNeil claims needs and perspectives of Autistic adults today not an “urgent issue”

WASHINGTON, DC (April 27th, 2011) - An outpouring of widespread anger emerged from the Autistic adult community last night as journalist Robert MacNeil of PBS NewsHour claimed that issues facing Autistic adults were not “an urgent issue” and not important enough to merit coverage. Asked why his “Autism Now” series failed to include autistic adults amongst those invited to participate, MacNeil stated, “We tried to concentrate on what we thought were urgent issues, urgent problems. And a lot of adults with autism, particularly those who describe themselves as a kind of neurodiversity community, are high-functioning people with autism, who have busy and productive lives in the world, who serve a wonderful purpose of helping the community at large to understand and witness autism and be tolerant of it. But they speak for themselves. And we didn’t see them as an urgent issue, as urgent as the impending arrival into adulthood of hundreds of thousands of teenagers with autism.”

“Robert MacNeil’s comments last night displayed a level of ignorance that is shocking to hear for a professional journalist,” stated Ari Ne’eman, President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), “To ignore the widespread discrimination, lack of services, un- and under-employment, stigma and countless other issues facing hundreds of thousands of Autistic adults today is unconscionable. Furthermore, to pretend that any comprehensive account of autism is meaningful without substantively engaging with Autistic people ourselves is disgraceful and offensive.”

The series had already attracted significant criticism from self-advocates and other community members, who were disappointed in comments MacNeil had made in promotional interviews claiming that Autistic adults were disproportionately violent and lacked empathy, popular and inaccurate stereotypes about adults on the autism spectrum. Numerous e-mails, blog posts, phone calls and other communications from self-advocates on the autism spectrum had expressed that inappropriateness of those remarks as well as failing to interview or involve Autistic people themselves in what was billed by PBS as “the comprehensive look at the disorder and its impact that’s aired on American television in at least five years.”

“I am an Autistic person who does struggle with daily living needs. I am really bothered by Robert MacNeil saying that people like me don’t have ‘urgent’ challenges,” said Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone, an Autistic woman and neurodiversity advocate in Utica, Pennsylvania.  “By not talking to Autistic adults in his series, Mr. MacNeil is ignoring the unemployment, risk of homelessness and many other problems that people like me face.”

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is the nation’s leading advocacy organization run entirely by and for Autistic adults and youth. ASAN’s supporters include Autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, family members, professionals, educators and friends. ASAN was created to provide support and services to individuals on the autism spectrum while working to change public perception and combat misinformation by educating communities about persons on the autism spectrum. The organization’s activities include public policy advocacy, community engagement to encourage inclusion and respect for neurodiversity, quality of life oriented research and the development of Autistic cultural activities and other opportunities for Autistic people to engage with others on the spectrum.

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