Autism: Best Excuse Ever

I love being autistic! It’s really the perfect excuse for everything!

–Whew! Sorry about all the farts. It’s this new anxiety medication I’m taking because I’m autistic.

–Whoops! Didn’t mean to grab your pussy like that. I guess autism made me misunderstand President Trump when I listened to that recording of him saying ‘grab’em by the pussy!’

–Your honor, the defendant is autistic, and thus cannot be held accountable for the collapse of civilization that ensued when every autistic person on the planet believed his bullshit about autism being the best excuse ever.

Now, we autistic people are just terrible at figuring out what everybody else is thinking, but I’m going to go way, way, way out on a limb here and randomly guess that you are just furious at me for calling bullshit on the idea that autistic people really have two kinds of problems: those that are “really” caused by autism, and those that are caused by a lack of that special kind of abuse that you seem so good at providing.

Well, I call bullshit! Come on, folks. Who do you think your kidding with that? Clearly you’re just envious, right? Or — whoops! — did  the autistic guy misread that?

Oh, come on, just admit it! Really, who wouldn’t want the perfect excuse for absolutely every possible situation in which a good excuse is sorely needed? Certainly not just those of us who constantly need one to survive, right? I mean, doesn’t everyone get to use the ramps and automatic doors that have been installed for folks in wheelchairs? Why should only autistic people be liberated from the burdens of personal responsibility?

Look, face it, you’re just envious because I get to do whatever I feel like doing and if anybody complains — BOOM! — out comes the “A” card, my personal licence-to-weird. Yup, you are positively ready to puke because I get to indulge all of my whims and desires, like getting fired from yet another job; or forgetting to give my daughter her seizure medication because I’m fucked up in the head because I got fired from yet another job; or botching up the new job I finally found because, yup, I’m still fucked up in the head because I got fired from yet another job!

Ahhhhh, this is living. Yes, autism — best excuse ever.

 

 

America’s First Mentally-Ill President

I doubt I’m the first to observe this, but it just occurred to me that in the same way that Obama was our first black President, Donald Trump is our first mentally-ill President.

Now, I do realize this coin has two sides. Heads: he’s completely unhinged and armed with nuclear bombs. Tails: now even we crazies can aspire to political careers!

Yeah, yeah, I know. The guy makes my skin crawl, but the silver lining to that cloud is that the moment Trump entered the Oval Office, he completely abolished this bizarre and pathologically confused pseudo-distinction between so-called “appropriate” and “inappropriate” behavior of which neuro-typicals are so proud, and which keeps so many of us with psychiatric disabilities unemployed, lonely and off in the shadows where we won’t offend anybody.

Thank you, Mr. Trump. You disgust me, but you’ve made the world a lot safer for your crazy-brethren, provided you don’t kill everybody with your nuclear bombs.

 

 

 

 

I Think This Should Be A Word: Stoogestic

I think we need a word that means something like comically foolish, majestically so. And although many of us might use royally dumb for that purpose, it’s always good to have synonyms on hand, and so I propose the word stoogestic, which is just a mashup of the words stooge — like from The Three Stooges — and majestic.

Now, I’m putting this out there because so very much of what our Doofus-in-Chief does leaves me speechless and groping for the right word to describe what he just did on behalf of all of us, but I really think the word stoogestic can be used in any context where a human being does something so regally ridiculous that it could make large groups of people laugh, even as they are snuggled up tight next to the threat of nuclear apocalypse.

To help you understand where I’m coming from, here is a nice YouTube compilation of some of T-Rump’s stoogesticisms: [Note: at the 35 second mark in this compilation is a clip where the POOTUS endorses the myth that vaccines cause autism.]

 

Better Privilege-Shaming, Whiteysplained

Young bearded man with book

Note: This is not a picture of the author, who is much, much older, and inclined to see this younger fellow as something of a stunt-double. Image found here.

Writing as a heterosexual, college-degreed white man of middle class upbringing, and thus a primary target of privilege-shaming, I hope it won’t shock you to learn that I feel quite ambivalent about the practice.

But I do have enough insight to know that much of this ambivalence follows from the fact that, yes, it is effective, which is to say that it makes me feel ashamed of myself. Whenever somebody implies or asks me outright to do a privilege-check, that is pretty much exactly what I do, and quite obediently, I should say. I find the experience profoundly humbling — even humiliating. It’s definitely not a pleasant way to feel.

And as I clarified in my first post on this topic, it does not make me feel ashamed for having gotten lucky in the ways that I have — who could blame (even) a (heterosexual, college-degreed, middle class backgrounded and let’s not forget white) guy for that? But rather, I feel ashamed because I know that I have hoarded that luck, for the most part — exploited it selfishly to my own advantage, rather than share it with those less fortunate than I. So, yes, I wholeheartedly agree that although luck per se is no cause for shame; on the other hand I think luck-hoarding is definitely grounds for embarrassment.

But even though I don’t enjoy feeling ashamed of myself, I also understand that I am a “work in progress”, so to speak, and in various ways, not the least of which is morally. And so however uncomfortable shame may feel while I’m feeling it, whenever I do feel it I try not to panic or overreact to it or to fight it; but rather I try to remain calm and to see it as a signal that I may have some moral growing to do, and to allow the shame to nudge me further along in the direction of moral maturity. I try to let my encounters with shame make me a better person.

So, on the one hand, shame feels unpleasant, yes, but on the other hand, I believe it can also lead to moral growth, so I see it as the sort of discomfort one must endure for good reasons.

Be that as it may, and after baking the topic quite thoroughly in my autistic “thought-furnace” for awhile, it also seems to me that privilege-shaming, like anything, can be done more or less effectively. And I would like to offer here a few observations and/or suggestions possibly (hopefully) leading to more effective privilege-shaming by practitioners:

  1. As I pointed out previously (above and in this first post on the topic), I think it’s critical to distinguish between luck-shaming, in which one person tries to make another person feel ashamed for having gotten lucky, and actual privilege-shaming, in which one person tries to make another feel ashamed for having selfishly hoarded some fundamentally lucky windfall for his or her own advantage.
  2. Make no mistake, privilege-shaming is effective. This is a potent word-weapon, and like any good weapon, it should probably be used with care, thought and maybe even some training.
  3. One aspect to point #2 is ethical, and much of ethics has to do with what one’s goals are. In particular, are they ultimately pro-social, or anti-social? When we privilege-shame somebody, we may do well to wonder whether are we sincerely offering the target the opportunity to grow morally, or whether we just trying to hurt the person. Goals matter in any ethical decision, and the same is true for the practice of privilege-shaming.
  4. It seems to me that privilege itself is always relative and contextual, and in various ways. There are white men, for example, who were born with Spina Bifida, and there are women of color who win enormous sums of money in lotteries. Also, some women of color have Spina Bifida, and some white men win enormous sums of money in lotteries.
  5. I suspect that those most needing to be privilege-shamed are also those least likely to benefit from it and grow morally. To the extent that this is true it suggests that much privilege-shaming is just wasted effort, and a perhaps an opportunity to find more effective techniques.
  6. Although I think shame can lead to moral growth, it appears that it doesn’t always do so. Shame is not an easy emotion for people to process, and for every one person who can benefit from its ability to stimulate moral growth, there are probably many who will go the opposite direction — who will just “double down” on their bad behavior and become even bigger moral rejects. Some of these might go to extreme lengths in this regard. For example, it really looks to me as though Donald Trump became President for no deeper reason than to avenge himself against the (hilarious, I believe) mocking he endured by former President Barack Obama during the 2011 correspondent’s dinner (see video below, starting shortly after minute 9:16), as evidenced by President Trump’s relentless attempts to undo all of the policies Obama implemented during his 8 years in office. Mr. Trump might have allowed his embarrassment to transform him into a better person, but instead, he became President, armed himself with nuclear weaponry, and now appears to be recklessly brandishing his power like a chimpanzee with a big stick.
  7. Regarding points #3 and #6, it occurs to me that the real objective of privilege-shaming may have nothing to do with moral growth. Rather it might be some sort of values test, or maybe an initiation ritual. If, for example, a woman of color privilege-shames me and I refuse to do any sort of privilege-check, if I become defensive and irate, then she knows it’s probably not a good idea to trust me. On the other hand, if I don’t react that way, if rather I accept the opportunity to check my privilege, then the woman may see me as a potential ally. To the extent that this is true, then it reveals a serious defect with privilege shaming, because it leaves the woman vulnerable to at least short-term deception by the target. Although it would probably be difficult for, say, an angry, white male white-supremacist to hide his true values in the long run, at least temporarily he might only pretend to privilege-check in order to trick the woman into trusting him.

I hope that’s all at least interesting and possibly useful in some way! Please let me know what you think.

 

And now, check out this C-SPAN video of the 2011 Correspondent’s Dinner, where President Obama mocked our current President Trump, giving him the opportunity to grow morally, which he seems to have rejected (the mocking starts shortly after minute 9:15):

 

Did Jeff Flake Just Save The Republican Party?

Sounds to me like Jeff Flake has big plans for the last year of his Senate career. Did he just rescue the Republican Party from its own insanity?

Jeff Flake

Image found here.

“…Because to have a healthy government we must have healthy and functioning parties. We must respect each other again in an atmosphere of shared facts and shared values, comity and good faith. We must argue our positions fervently, and never be afraid to compromise. We must assume the best of our fellow man, and always look for the good. Until that day comes, we must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it. Because it does. I plan to spend the remaining fourteen months of my senate term doing just that…..” — Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

Checks and Balances, So Far So Good

“…At this point, nine months into his presidency, the system of checks and balances appears to be working quite well: The courts continue resist [sic] the slapdash immigration orders drafted by the White House; the intelligence community’s views of Russia are largely accepted, even by the Republicans in Congress who have voted to constrain the President on this issue; and the “failing” mainstream media is doing better than ever by providing a counterweight to the Trump Administration. The big items on Trump’s agenda—repealing the Affordable Care Act, building a border wall, tax reform, and a huge infrastructure package—have not materialized due to Trump’s inability to bridge the deep divisions within the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress…..”

— Francis Fukuyama, Checks and Balances

#MeToo Madness

So, first of all, yeah, me too.

But in my opinion this #MeToo campaign is totally unscientific, which means that whatever we think we’re learning from it is most likely wrong, if not trivial.

It also means there’s an excellent chance it will all backfire and lead to more sexual abuse, not less, so there’s that too.

On the upside, it certainly took the heat off of Trump for a few days, allowing him to relax and focus on his golf game.

And of course, all of our good intentions no doubt fixed a few potholes on the road to Hell.