Thank You! — An Open Letter to Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison

Dear Sheriff Harrison,

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Image Credit: Pixabay

I wish to express my gratitude for the outstanding professionalism and humanitarianism demonstrated not just by your Detention Officers at the Wake County Detention Center on Hammond Road and my own arresting officers of the Cary Police Department, but equally for the kindness, helpfulness, and camaraderie of my fellow arrestees and the few inmates I had the pleasure to meet. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting before my arrest, but it certainly didn’t include any of that, and I must tell you that I was quite pleasantly surprised to discover it as part of the overall arrest/booking/charging experience.

Now, before I convey the wrong impression, I should tell you that despite that very pleasant surprise, overall I actually found thoroughly unpleasant the 13 or so hours between the moment the cuffs were placed on me at about 9:00 AM Friday morning and the moment I was finally granted release at 10:00 PM Friday night. Although as it began I was quite curious about what would happen next, it only took about two hours for my curiosity to be completely gratified, and then it all became thoroughly unpleasant. Although the anxiety was fairly mild, the 11 hours of uncertainty and chilly, gelatinous boredom were all but excruciating.

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Although my own jail experience involved clothing, plenty of light, and absolutely no bars whatsoever, this picture does convey the intense boredom I felt for, like, 11 hours! Image Credit: Shutterstock

I tried to transform it all into a kind of meditation retreat, but my meditation skills are sorely lacking. For the most part I was bored, bored, bored. Oh, my goodness, the boredom. If that’s all by design, then kudos to the designers. Eleven hours of sitting or standing around in a jail cell with a bunch of other equally bored arrestees, all of us waiting, waiting, waiting for the next step in the process, or at least for information about when it might take place.

That is actually not a complaint, by the way. I wish to express my gratitude even for that aspect of things. I think jail should definitely not be seen as pleasant. Really nobody should enjoy jail. Of course, nobody should be gratuitously tortured — even psychologically — but I see nothing wrong with boredom, even though I find it very uncomfortable. I actually think perhaps the best time to meditate is when one is bored, so when we bore prisoners, we’re actually giving them a chance to practice meditation, which is a good thing, I think, and could lead to less crime, to the extent that the prisoners accept the opportunity to practice mediation.

Of course, I realize that’s easy to say from the comfort of my own home, but still, as I reflect back on it all, I have to say that I find myself actually looking forward to going back to jail for more of the same. I am actually excited about my upcoming trial, and half hoping that I lose badly. Part of me seriously wants the full Orange Is the New Black experience. Naturally I’d write my own memoir. I even have a possible title for it already: How to Help Save the World and Make An Honest Living as an Ex-Con.

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To be clear: I’m only half-hoping for that. I actually have plenty enough to write about, so the possible 3-months maximum sentence I could receive is definitely not something I really need. And of course there are many ways in which even a brief period of incarceration or a small fine would be extremely inconvenient for me and my family. I’m not too concerned with the criminal record I would have (this is probably an autism thing, but I actually feel proud of my new arrest record, and will probably feel even more proud of an actual convinction record) but I do have two young children whom I love dearly, would miss terribly while I was away, and who would no doubt suffer from my absence. And of course, their mother would suffer too. Obviously, she needs my help to take care of our children.

So…there’s that too. I guess my real point here is that I’m feeling quite ambivalent about the outcome of my upcoming trial. However much I may actually want to lose, I also have a lot of good solid reasons for winning too. I’m not quite sure yet what to make of all that, but I suppose “time will tell”, as they say.

But what I’m not ambivalent about is my gratitude for all that I experienced last Friday as a result of my charges (“Breaking and Entering”), my arrest, and my day at your Wake County Detention Center.

Once again, I thank you, your staff, the Cary Police Department, and everybody else who helped make the day such an amazing one for me — including the inmates and my fellow arrestees.

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”


Image Credit: Pictures of Sheriff Donnie Harrison can be found on the Sheriffs official campaign website.

 

Busted: I Got Arrested Yesterday!

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I spent all day yesterday (Friday) at the Wake County Detention Center in Cary, NC getting booked and charged with misdemeanor B&E. Image Credit: Cornerstone Detention

I have a lot more I want to tell you about this, but for now suffice it to say that I actually got arrested yesterday and spent the whole day in the Wake County (NC) Detention Center getting booked and charged with misdemeanor Breaking and Entering.

The charge is greatly exaggerated, really. Although I definitely did enter MetLife’s new Global Tech & Ops center in Cary, NC (where I used to work before the company fired me for being autistic), there was really no “breaking” involved. The company’s security system there is just so awful that all I had to do was politely “tail gate” my way in behind a couple of MetLife employees who chose blithely to ignore the company’s doomed and ridiculous “no tailgating” policy. There’s nothing at all unusual about the fact that these employees chose not to ask me to produce an ID badge. All MetLife employees at the Cary facility refuse to follow this policy. It’s a total joke of a rule, and in fact, the whole “no tailgating” approach to building security is a fine case study in bad behavioral economics just waiting for some clever innovator to come up with a good nudge to replace it.

[Note: If you actually do consistently follow your own company’s “no tailgating” policy, please let me know in a comment below.]

I have much more I want to tell you about this whole experience, and to show you too because I recorded every minute of what I actually did in the MetLife buildings on my GoPro Hero5 Black action camera. But for now I’ll leave you with this brief video in which Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison gives a nice virtual tour of the Wake County Detention Center where I spent yesterday. In particular, I definitely feel I personally witnessed the kind and compassionate characteristics of the detention officers working there, as Sheriff Harrison describes starting at minute 1:48:

“…It takes a unique person to be a detention officer because you’re dealing with people that’s made mistakes. Some of the people that they see they only see one time, they made a mistake and wound up coming to jail,…but then again there’s people that they see on a regular basis….it takes an officer that’s got to be professional, got to know the policy and procedure, do his job, do it professionally, do it humanely, and treat the person knowing that he is a human being….just like anybody else…..” Donnie Harrison, Sheriff, Wake County, NC (min 1:48)


Image Credit: (Daniel L. Scholten) Busted Newspaper

Why I Gave Back that Laptop I Stole: Introducing, Mr. Phicks

Turns Out, Kindness Is My Kryptonite

laptop_with_other_objects_323x210Remember that laptop I stole from the most recent company that fired me for being autistic? Well, I decided to give it back.

I know, right? What happened? Did my civilly disobedient cyber-crime actually work? Did I get cold feet? Did the FBI raid my apartment? Did I succumb to torture? Am I now writing to you from a prison cell?

Uh…no, none of that happened. What happened, basically, is that some guy — let’s call him Mr. Phicks — called me up, explained that he represented my most recent employer (the owner of the laptop),  and then asked me kindly to give back the computer.

Then I pretty much just said “OK”, and gave it back to him.

For the most part, that’s what happened. I’ve left out a few details in that telling, but at the end of the day, that’s pretty much the size of it.

Now, the missing details can all be packed into that word kindly that I used to describe how Mr. Phicks asked me to give back the computer. He asked me kindly, by which I mean that he seemed genuinely concerned about me and my troubles and sincerely interested in understanding my tale of woe — including all the stuff that happened with MetLife. We actually spoke for about a half-an-hour, during which he really listened and expressed a genuine interest in helping me. He was warm, friendly, honest — i.e., he was kind to me. He was a really nice guy about it, and in the end I found it impossible to refuse his request to give back the laptop.

Turns out, Kindness has an effect on me something like Kryponite affects Superman.

And how do I know he was being sincere? Well, at first I didn’t, but I decided to take a chance and trust the guy. He assured me that if I gave back the laptop, it did not have to be the end of our conversation. He said we could certainly continue our conversation and that he’d be happy to help me explore other solutions to the problems I need to solve.

And I decided that the opportunity to talk things over with Mr. Phicks was much, much more attractive than going to jail for stealing a laptop, so I accepted his offer and returned the laptop.

Well, that was a couple of weeks ago, and now tomorrow morning we are scheduled to speak again. I have no idea what to expect from the conversation. Maybe nothing will come of it, but maybe something will.

I’m really curious to find out. 🙂


Image Credit: (olive branch) Pixabay

 

 

 

Does MetLife Really Reject Autism, but Accept Man-on-Man Sodomy? — An Open Letter to MetLife Exec Geoffrey Lang

Trigger Warning

Although I do know the basic rules and make every effort to follow them, I should confess here that on occasion I’m not 100% certain that I use semi-colons correctly.

Hello Mr. Lang,

Back sometime before you all fired me illegally for being autistic last year, I remember reading an internal memo in which you publicly declared yourself to be an “ally” to MetLife’s LGBT community.

At the time I understood this gesture of yours to be a sincere and altruistic expression not just of your own humanitarian values, but in fact part of MetLife’s own more general Diversity & Inclusion efforts,

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Image Credit: MetLife blog

and in particular the company’s own public embrace[1] of the increasingly popular but by no means universally accepted idea that a person’s atypical sexual preference and/or gender identity should in no way prevent their being considered and treated as a legitimate human being worthy of the same dignity, respect, and human rights traditionally granted most readily here in the USA to straight white men and perhaps their luckier sycophants, idolaters, and imitators.

But then you all fired me for being autistic — a psychologically debilitating, emotional meat-grinder of an ordeal that was so very harsh on me and my family that I have actually described it as a form of gang rape — and now I don’t know what to think of your apparent “alliance” with LGBT people.

On the one hand, it seems to me at the very least that being such an ally must mean that you find it perfectly acceptable, say, for two grown men to engage in consensual sodomy (a.k.a. “butt-fucking”). Perhaps not during business meetings, of course, but certainly at home in the privacy of their own bedroom (see photo).

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If MetLife can accept the sort of behavior pictured here, then the company should find it easy to accept Autism. Image Credit: Icon Male

Although the acceptance of a male professional colleague’s fondness for “taking it up the ass” (see photo) is for sure just one aspect to your commitment as an LGBT ally, I figure at the very least it is an important one. Surely you’d be the most pathetic sort of ally if you conditioned your support and endorsement of consensual and mutually gratifying homo-eroticism on the promise that gay men stop poking their penises in and out of each others’ “poop-chutes” (see photo, again).

If I’m right about that and you really do think man-on-man sodomy is acceptable, and given that a hefty percentage of the World’s human beings believe fiercely to the contrary that such acts are highly unacceptable, then really you’d have to be petroleum jelly not to recognize the egregious hypocrisy of the decision you all made last year to fire me for being autistic.

Yes, yes, I know. That is not the narrative you want everyone to believe. You want the world to believe it was somehow all my doing — that I deserved to get fired. You want the world to believe that a lone autistic man’s so-called “inappropriate” and “unprofessional” behavior so totally overwhelmed the coping resources of a billion-dollar multi-national insurance company like MetLife, that the poor, defenseless billion-dollar multi-national insurance company (MetLife) had no choice but to sack the lone autistic man (me).

Bullshit.  You don’t even believe it yourself, which is why you all tried (and failed) to buy my silence with $37,000.00 and why your Seyfarth Shaw lawyer had to lie to the EEOC investigators about the facts of what really happened. He had to lie, because had he told the simple truth, MetLife would have gotten caught (with it’s pants down, so to speak).

You guys fired me for being autistic. Period. You know it as well as I do. And I’m not going to be silent about it.

But then, apparently, you’re all totally at ease with a little frolicksome fudge-packing?

You do realize that lots of people think sodomy is just downright disgusting, right? You do know that lots of people — no doubt lots of MetLife customers even — find it positively abhorrent, do you not? You have to be aware that some people find sodomy so very evil that they’re actually willing to beat, torture, and murder gay men in retaliation for doing it?

For many, many people in the world consensual man-on-man sodomy is horribly unacceptable, but somehow you and MetLife are all OK with it. Somehow you and MetLife are OK with sodomy, but Autism is just too much for the company to handle.

Did I get that right? Did I understand that correctly?

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”


[1]For example, here is an exuberantly LGBT-friendly MetLife propaganda video. In my opinion it should be called Bring Your Whole Self To Work, As Long As You’re Not Autistic.

I Don’t Know What You Mean by ‘Character Flaw’, and Honestly, I Don’t Think You Do Either: An Open Letter to the World’s Character Assassins

Dear Character Assassin,

 

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Have you perhaps mistaken a psychiatric disability for a character flaw? Image Credit: Pixabay

I really don’t know what you mean by character flaw, and honestly, I don’t think you do either.

Based on my numerous encounters with you and your kind, you at least seem to think that a character flaw is a kind of psychiatric disability that has been caused by showing the disabled person too much kindness, compassion, and respect. And apparently you believe that effective treatments for such an affliction include plenty of scowling, growling, condescension, unsolicited advice, disapproving glances askance, disdain, sarcasm, whispered gossip, and unexplained passive-aggression and rejection.

Is that right? Did I understand that correctly? Is that really what you think?

If that’s the case, then you may want to re-think your position on the matter, because a psychiatric disability is definitely not a character flaw.

And the above mentioned “treatments” for it aren’t helpful.


Image Credit: (eye) Pixabay

I Think This Should Be A Word: Ignoranthropite

I like this word ignoranthropite, which appears to mean something like “a person who dwells in ignorance”. Of course, that’s pretty much all of us, and I don’t really see it as a synonym for being human, so what else might it mean?

As a rule I’m opposed to gratuitous ignorance-shaming. I strive to accept the fact that we are each of us more ignorant than knowledgeable, and I really think that of all the nasty ways to luck-shame someone, I think one of the nastiest is to shame someone for having failed to learn something yet. Examples of this sort of interpersonal cruelty abound:

  • You should know how to manage your own finances!
  • What? You mean you can’t even cook a souffle?
  • Don’t you know better than to give your credit card number to someone who just calls you up and asks for it?
  • You idiot!
  • You moron!
  • You dolt!
  • You’ve never read The Great Gatsby! Did you even finish high school?
  • Holy cow! When are you going to learn to drive?
  • This is America, dammit — speak Navaho!

So I wouldn’t want this neologism to become a term of insult or disparagement, which suggests it should refer to some sort of temporary status. It is simply a word meant to convey a particular way of being human under particular sorts of circumstances. More specifically, it should probably describe a particular way of being ignorant, until such ignorance has been replaced with a particular kind of  knowledge.

Perhaps this:

An ignoranthropite is a person who dwells for the time being in the specific and hopefully temporary ignorance of his or her own more general and utterly Human state of Ignorance.

In this sense, it appears to have an antonymous relationship to some kind of enlightenment. To the extent that enlightenment is an awareness of one’s own ignorance, then an ignoranthropite is one who has yet to achieve that type of enlightenment.

What do you think?

 

 

 

Am I Really Autistic? — Towards A Solution to Diagnosis Doubt, Part 1

It was only in November 2016 when I first got diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (“ASD”, “autism”), and even today I struggle to cope with a weird consequence of that event: my own diagnosis doubt or skepticism about my own ASD diagnosis.

This skepticism usually takes the form of two types of questions. First we have what we might call the “nice” questions, such as:

  • Am I really autistic?
  • Was I somehow misdiagnosed?
  • Did my doctor(s) maybe misread the evidence?
  • But I  have such a good sense of humor!
  • But I can detect and use irony and sarcasm with great subtlety and nuance!
  • Yes, I can be fiercely blunt, but it’s only an accident sometimes; for the most part I usually know when I’m being too blunt, and I only do it when the person really deserves it!
  • How come I have no serious sensory processing issues?
  • How come my memory isn’t that great?
  • What if I am autistic, but autism is not really what’s wrong with me?  What if my real problem is ADD or ADHD? Bipolar Disorder? Etc.

But then we have the “not nice” questions, for example:

  • What if I’m really just an asshole?
  • What if I’m just lazy and stupid?
  • What if I’m just a lazy and stupid asshole?
  • What if all I really need is more rejection?
  • What if all I really need is to be scowled at or scolded some more?
  • What if all I really need is to get fired again?
  • What if there’s really nothing wrong with me that can’t be fixed with a good beating or maybe some jail time?

In particular, I find these latter “not nice” questions to be most revealing. For one thing, they’re all very subjective, value laden, and context dependent. Also, they’re all based on an antiquated theory concerning the value of cruelty and coercion — the preposterous idea that punishment is somehow a performance enhancer. Really these “not nice” questions appear to be grounded in the sort of unscientific world views most commonly associated with laypersons, bigots and other ignoranthropites.

So why am I asking them? Well, how about because sometimes such ignoranthropites can become quite powerful and influential (e.g. our current President), and when they do they invariably abuse their power and influence to control access to certain resources, and I’m seriously worried that when I have to ask these people to provide said resources, they’re just going to start asking these kinds of questions, and if I am to have any reasonable chance of convincing them to share with me those resources, then in theory I need to be able to answer these questions in a way that satisfies their apparent curiosity. Therefore, it would appear that I am asking these questions not because I seriously believe them to be good questions, but because I’m worried I may actually have to answer them at some point even though they aren’t!

But is that even possible? I see good reason to doubt it. These are not typically the kinds of questions people ask in search of objective answers — those would be the “nice” questions in the first group above. Really the “not nice” questions are just empty rhetorical devices, and their only value is that they reveal the poser’s prejudiced answers: “you’re just an asshole”, “your just lazy and stupid”, “…need a good beating….”, etc. When a boss seriously wonders whether all you need is to be fired again, then he or she has surely already decided to fire you, and is just looking for the right excuse to do so.

I can see no good reason to prepare oneself to answer questions that aren’t actually questions to begin with. I do think some kind of preparation is needed, but it doesn’t involve answering any questions. Rather, I’m pretty sure that the best and really only way to prepare for these kinds of “not nice” questions is to train yourself not to need whatever resources you think you need and which are currently being held hostage by the potential posers of the “not nice” questions in question.

I’m pretty sure that no matter what you think you need, if it can only be obtained with the validation, approval or permission of an ignoranthropite, then you are probably much, much better off with out it.

To be continued…

[Note: when Part 2 is published, I’ll post a link to it here.]


Image Credit: Shutterstock