PETA releasing controversial ads is as much "news" as the sun rising in the east, but needless to say, their most recent ad has especially put my knickers in a twist:
Let’s ignore the fact that there's no scientific evidence linking autism with dairy products. The closest thing PETA has as "evidence" are a few anecdotes of autistic children being “cured” after switching to a dairy-free diet. That alone should sound bells and whistles. First of all, anecdotal evidence is not evidence. Second—and this is important!—autism cannot be cured. Autism isn’t a disease that you can get over like a cold or a flu. It’s a mental disorder that you’re born with. Claiming that someone can be cured of autism, especially by something as simple as changing their diet, makes as much sense as claiming someone can be cured of their black skin or homosexuality. It’s pure quackery!
But let’s ignore the pseudoscience. What makes their latest propaganda most offensive is that it demonizes autism and people who have it. “Don’t feed your children milk! You wouldn’t want them to become autistic!” As though autism is the worst thing that could happen to them.
It’s the same damn thing with the anti-vaccination movement. Even with Dr. Andrew Wakefield being exposed as a quack, it doesn’t stop folks like Jenny McCarthy propagating his fallacious link between autism and vaccines. “Don’t vaccinate your children, or else they will develop autism!” As opposed to what? Them potentially dying from a preventable disease? If I ever have a child, I would rather them have a few social quirks than die from measles.
As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is on the autistic spectrum, this demonization pisses me off to no end. Autistic people are not freaks. They do not all act like the character from Rain Man. Some of them, especially those with high-functioning autism, can be very intelligent and even act indistinguishable from someone without autism. Yes, most of us have trouble with social interaction, but even then, we can still lead normal lives and have healthy relationships like everyone else.
And yet, in mainstream culture, autistic people are treated like mental retards at best, sociopaths at worst. The latter is especially true following shooting sprees whenever the shooter is reported to have Asperger’s Syndrome. We saw this with the recent UCSB shooting and with the Sandy Hooks shooting.
Oh yes, the last one especially pissed me off! Shortly after Sandy Hook, some wrinkly old media hag named Sue Simmons appeared on The Wendy Williams Show where she blamed the shooting on Adam Lanza’s Asperger’s Syndrome, mouthing off about how Aspies like him lack guilt, empathy, and conscience.
Forget you, bitch! Go crawl back under the rock you came from! Autistic people do not lack guilt or empathy or consciences. Just because they have trouble decoding another person’s facial expressions or emotional responses doesn’t mean they can’t empathize with them. Not every Aspie is at risk of shooting up a school. I live most of my life without even so much as touching a gun.
So forget you PETA and anti-vaxxers and anyone else wanting to use autistic people as pawns or scapegoats to push your demented agendas. We are not demons for you to use to exploit the fears of other people. We are not freaks. We are not sociopaths. We are human beings like the rest of you—and in many cases, we’re probably more human that you will ever be!