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Free Passes

November 17, 2010

I am sure, no matter who you are and what you believe, dozens of times a day you come across things you disagree with, but the chances are you move by most of them without expressing that disagreement. If you’re a parent to a kid on the spectrum, you’ve probably witnessed your child’s inability to do that. I know have, and do deal with that, often, and when you have three, ah, well, that’s fun. Sometimes you just have to laugh. 

So I have a little bit of that. Whatever you do, don’t call a lecturn a podium. I know usage has changed and that’s a hopeless battle, but damnit, the line must be drawn here! Okay, maybe not. At any rate, part of the work I do with my three is teaching them to be able to think without vocalizing. Ah, and to hold back on the certainty that they are right until they’ve checked. Not an easy task, and not one I’ve  succeeded at entirely.

I struggle to get the right balance of pointing out when I disagree and when to leave it alone. I try not to mess with folks on facebook, and I’d like to hope that the fact that I have friends who believe vaccines caused autism, that facilitated communication works, that reiki is totally legitimate and that not once do I go onto their walls and berate them shows I’ve figured out a balance there; I move on from those posts, leaving no response other than an internal shrug. The goal of facebook for me is support. 

My blog, though, is to mix pointing out inaccuracies, fallacies, and woo along with providing support. I take the time to admit when I’ve screwed the pooch because it’s important to remember that we’re all fallible. I freely admit how little I know in the grand scheme of things and am careful to admit when something is above my paygrade. But I’m not perfect, and I’m not claiming to be. I’m not even, despite someone’s assertions, claiming I have something like a moral high ground. 

Age of Autism let contrary postings on their screed yesterday; now Kathleen and I figure we all gave them exactly what they were looking for: page hits and ad dollars. One loyalist over there asked one of the commenters why they bothered: “If it’s ‘completely baseless’ Daniel, why did you feel the need to venture over here at all? If it has no merit why waste your time?”

Why indeed? The loyalists aren’t interested in an exchange of ideas; their turning on their own who disagreed with them shows that, as does this simple question. What they want is an echo chamber that reinforces their beliefs.

Don’t we all, though? Dissent is hard to deal with. It feels like an attack on our ego, and that feels like crap. We don’t want to be wrong, and if someone disagrees with us, it can be hard not to feel threatened. 

It’s a wonder we establish relationships at all! If we want to stay in a relationship, we quickly realize we have to give some, cut some slack, and accept that differences of opinion don’t have to mean derision or disrespect for the other person. We learn to truly accept. There’s a huge difference between tolerating our partner, for example, and accepting our partner. One we put up with, and often just barely, and the other we embrace wholeheartedly, without reserve.

Some of us bother to point when AoA goes beyond the pale because silence is often seen as consent. Yes, I think ultimately that AoA is on the fringe, growing smaller, but it does so because the shenanigans they engage in are exposed for what they are. For the most part, they can and should be ignored, and I hope that they are not where I spend most of my internal energy. 

They should not ever get a free pass, though. No one should; free speech isn’t free from consequences, not for any of us. 

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