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.

 

Agenda: A First Open Letter to the Mysterious Mr. Phicks

Hello Mr. Phicks,

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Even though it makes it seem cool, this is not intended as an endorsement of smoking. Nor is it a picture of the mysterious Mr. Phicks. Image Credit: Pixabay

Thank you for accepting to continue our conversation later this morning. I realize that now that I’ve given back your client’s laptop, this is all basically volunteer work for you, so I want to do want I can to make it worth your while. Toward that end I will sketch out here an agenda for our meeting, although I hope you will see this purely as a recommendation and feel free to modify it or even just to set it aside in favor of other discussion points that may be more important for you.

  1. For training and quality assurance purposes, I would like to record our conversation and possibly to post either the whole recording or segments of it on my personal blog at autistickish.com. I also wish to write about our conversation and to post what I write there as well. I believe our conversation presents a valuable learning opportunity, not just for the two of us, but for others as well, and I would like to make this opportunity publicly available to others. Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or reservations about my doing this. In order to protect your anonymity (if such a thing is necessary), I have assigned you the pseudonym “Mr. Phicks” and will refer to you as such during our conversation and in my writing.
  2. I’m attaching two documents which I hope to discuss with you. The first is the EEOC mediation agreement I signed on April 24, 2017 alongside MetLife’s contracted Seyfarth Shaw attorney Frederick “Fritz” T. Smith; and the second is the Settlement Agreement that MetLife has asked me to sign last March, 2018 in exchange for $37,000.00. Please note that I have not yet signed the settlement agreement or received any money from MetLife.
  3. Please note as well that in the EEOC mediation agreement MetLife makes at least the following two promises which remain unfulfilled due to the fact that the company fired me for being autistic before they had a chance to fulfill them:
    1. That I would be assigned a new role within 1 to 3 months;
    2. That MetLife would work with my Autism specialist to determine the correct Reasonable Accommodations I needed in order to be successful at my job.
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I know Mr. Phicks is a busy man, but this is not a picture of him looking at his watch. Image Credit: Pixabay

My hope is that the above 3 items will provide us both with plenty of opportunity for an illuminating exchange, but please feel free to suggests other topics you might wish to cover.

I look forward to speaking with you.

Best,

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

 

 


Image Credit: (embedded brick statue) 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

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

 

Diversity Acceptance Consultant, At Your Service! — Another Open Letter To The Folks Who Recently Fired Me Illegally For Being Autistic

Dear Folks Who Recently Fired Me Illegally For Being Autistic:

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This is not really a picture of the laptop I’ve stolen, but it does exemplify the kind of excellent care I am taking of the real device. Everyday I take it out for some fresh air and sunshine. Image Credit: Pixabay

First, it’s been a good 10 days now since I’ve confessed to stealing your laptop in order to protest your decision to fire me illegally for being autistic, and I must admit that I feel surprised but fundamentally relieved that I haven’t been arrested yet.

Although I am psychologically prepared to “do the time” for this civilly disobedient cyber crime I’m committing, of course I’d much rather you all just come to your senses and give me back the job you stole from me. But if you really want to send an autistic man to prison over this, well, then rest assured I’m really prepared to go. But in the meantime, every day that I don’t go feels like a gift, and I’m grateful and fundamentally relieved to receive it.

I don’t know what’s taking you all so long to figure out what to do about our predicament, but as long as you’re mulling things over, I would like to suggest a third option — a kind of compromise, really — if it will make things easier for everybody. Basically, I’m wondering if you might like to become my very first paying clients for my new Diversity Acceptance Consulting business.

Please allow me to elaborate:

The obvious (to me) fact that you all fired me for being autistic strongly suggests that despite your company’s being one of the more autism friendly places to work, it nonetheless has some growing it might do with respect to its current Diversity and Inclusion Strategy — especially as this strategy addresses the autism issue, specifically, but probably also the more general issue of psychiatric disability as wellIn my opinion, and I hope you will agree, your company could really benefit from the help of an actually autistic person such as myself — someone who has the skills, background, and experience necessary to challenge your own complacent (let’s face it) and self-congratulatory (just being honest here) status quo, and to lead you all towards greater awareness, understanding, and especially acceptance of autistic people and more generally the psychiatrically disabled as well.

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Again, not your laptop, per se, but yours is comfortable and in the company of friendly and familiar objects. Image Credit: Pixabay

Now, I realize you’re probably skeptical, of course. I know my methods are somewhat eccentric or unconventional. Heck, I bet I’m the only service provider you’ve ever encountered who is actually willing to risk going to prison in order to offer his services to a prospective client, am I right?

But if you know anything useful about autism, you know that if I were truly capable of doing things the way normal people do them, I would have done so long ago. I didn’t choose to be the way I am. Nobody chooses to spend his life with his nose pressed to the glass wondering what its like to be a “normal” person. And nobody should be surprised when an autistic person does something unconventional, eccentric, or just plain weird. If my methods surprise you, then clearly you haven’t spent enough time with autistic people, and that’s a problem I was born to help you solve.

Also, I think if you are honest with yourselves — if you take a good hard look at the facts —  you’ll see that much of my work with your company has already been completed. I’m sure that if you all take careful stock of what you’ve learned about autism in the past few weeks — learned with my help, and, I might add, at great personal risk to me and my family — if you really open your eyes to how you now feel about autistic people (perhaps not me, per se, but at least other autistic people) and especially the whole situation vis-a-vis autism in general, I’m quite sure you will see that I definitely deliver the goods. I’m sure you are now much more aware, understanding, and accepting of autistic people than you were.

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Image Credit: Pixabay

I’m all about customer satisfaction, and oh, did I mention that I offer a 100% money back guarantee?

Yes, that’s right, you understood correctly — a 100% money back guarantee!

Due to the unorthodox nature of the service I offer, for now at least I have chosen to use an entirely tip-based business model. Like a waiter in a restaurant or a street performer, first I deliver my service to my customers for their complete enjoyment, and only after they’ve had a chance to fully benefit from that service do I offer them the opportunity to pay me, with absolutely no obligation to do so.

Yup, you understood that correctly: if you are not completely satisfied with my Diversity Acceptance Consulting service, then you don’t have to pay me a dime. Of course, if you are, say, 30% satisfied, then my hope is that you will pay me 30% of what you would have paid me if you’d been 100% satisfied, but I will leave all of those details entirely to your discretion. The upshot here is that because I’m running a tip-based business with all this, my customers have total control over whether and how much I get paid or not.

In any case, that’s the compromise I’d like to offer you. If you simply cannot give me back my job, and you simply cannot bring yourselves to press charges against me, then how about taking a middle road by becoming my first paying customer for my Diversity Acceptance Consulting business? If you do that, I will still keep your laptop as a souvenir, but you can definitely deduct the cost from whatever you were going to pay me.

I hope that makes things easier for you all. As I said, I am all about customer satisfaction!

Sincerely,

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

Diversity Acceptance Consultant — at your service!

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Image Credit: Shutterstock (colored blocks)

Or Should I Say: Autism Is Like When Your Car’s Steering Wheel Is Perfectly Balanced, And All The Roads Are Curved…

…and whether the roads curve a little or a lot, you must always adjust for their curvature, and nobody should be shocked if sooner or later you land in a ditch.

Sincere Apologies For Yesterday’s Ableist Version

I wish to apologize for yesterday’s ableist version of this post, which by  putting the source of the need for adjustment in the “unbalanced steering wheel”, suggested implicitly that there’s something wrong with being autistic. Although I must admit that I was aware of the problem even when I posted it yesterday, I’m frankly so enamored with the analogy, and believe it to be so useful that I thought it was worth posting anyway.

In any case, I hope you will agree that today’s version of this analogy actually does a much better job at what it’s supposed to do — illustrating some core and problematic issues with autism (it’s is only a “problem” because all of the roads are curved), while simultaneously pointing toward effective solutions (i.e. straight roads!) , and it does so without the implicit ableism.

However, I’m not going to take down yesterday’s post, because I think that a comparison of the two does a nice job of illustrating some core issues with ableism. I will, however, add a disclaimer to that post.

I sincerely beg your pardon for my confusion.

🙂