First, a little about me: I have a gift, sort of. I’m pretty sure I can take any given group of human beings and rapidly turn them against me. I don’t need them to all have anything particular or remarkable in common. They don’t even have to know each other. Whoever they are, and however many of them there are, I believe that I can more or less instantly bond them together — transform them, really, into a cohesive group, organized entirely around a shared belief that I am batshit crazy, in the first place, and in the second place, around a shared goal of rejecting me because I am batshit crazy. In short, given some otherwise arbitrary ensemble of human beings, I can unite these folks into a conspiracy against me.
Now, does that sound paranoid? Maybe a little delusional? Do you think I’m crazy? Might you say that I am batshit crazy? And if so, does this new opinion you have of me — that I’m batshit crazy — make you want to reject me?
Well, if it does, let me assure you, you’re not alone. In fact, out there in the world right now are a great many of your brothers and sisters. I believe they meet every third Wednesday of the month to commiserate, roll their eyes, chant things like “That guy!” and “That fuckin’ guy!” and “wow, what a nut job!” Of course, I’m not allowed to go to any of these meetings, so if you do go to one, please give them all my regards, will you?
Pretty funny, right? Ha ha. But I’m really not joking — well, except for the monthly meeting; I don’t think there’s a monthly meeting. But causing conspiracies against me is an actual thing that I can do, and I’ve been doing it my whole life since childhood. Some might call it an ability, but I definitely don’t feel like it’s the sort of ability that I can control in any useful sense. It’s really more like an attribute — like a smell, perhaps; or a way of appearing; or sounding to others; or a weird taste that I leave in their mouths; or maybe a way of making them feel when I’m in their presence — a way that I give them the “creeps”.
You should also know that I’m autistic, and if you know anything useful at all about autism, you know that we autists find it very difficult to navigate the subtleties of interpersonal relationships. As a group, we are not known for our people skills. And really nobody need raise an eyebrow, or squint, or be even a little surprised when an autistic person, such as myself, inadvertently transforms some otherwise unrelated group of human beings into an actual conspiracy. This sort of scenario is practically a diagnostic criterion of autism. And if the FBI is not equipped to cope with this basic fact about autism, if it doesn’t understand it, or is not equipped to handle it in some way, then there is no meaningful sense in which the FBI can help protect autistic people from the very real conspiracies that spontaneously and far too often arise and turn against them.
Now, maybe you’re thinking something like, “Protect? Why protect? Why on Earth should the FBI protect someone from a conspiracy that he or she caused to arise in the first place? If such a person wants protection from their own self-created conspiracies, let them stop creating the damned conspiracies to begin with!”
And if that’s what you are thinking, then rest assured I agree with you, wholeheartedly. I could not be more in agreement with that advice. Really, I think that’s excellent advice. Good job, sir! You clearly have a superior sort of mind. I mean you obviously don’t have any formal training in Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), probably never read more than a magazine article about autism. I’m guessing that pretty much everything you know about autism you learned from watching Rainman, am I right? And yet…your mind….wow, your amazing mind….your laser beam perspicacity…your ability to see the one tree in a very complicated forest that even the real autism experts have been seeking for so long, and yet have not found. I mean, your ability to see the simple in the complex, to detect the subtlest of signals in the overwhelming noise, bring fresh eyes to a problem about which you really know absolutely nothing…NOTHING! I MEAN, OBVIOUSLY YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT AUTISM! CLEARLY, YOU DON’T HAVE THE FIRST FREAKIN’ CLUE ABOUT AUTISM, and yet, despite centuries of dismally failed efforts to cure autism with good advice….man…until you showed up! Golly, did you ever knock that one out of the park — cut through the layers of bullshit, and technical jargon, and Science — oh, gosh, those arrogant scientists. They always think they know what’s “probably” true within some “margin” of error based on the “best available evidence”, preferably obtained by conducting “carefully controlled” experiments published in “reputable, peer-reviewed journals”! But you….you….un-be-leevable…Really, I think your really on to something there. Yeah, you should write that up and submit it to the American Journal of Armchair Psychiatry. I think I see a Nobel Prize in your future.
OK, sorry about the rant. I know it’s a common stereotype that autistic people can’t understand sarcasm, and clearly I’m some sort of sarcasm genius….a real professional level sarcasticker. I’m like a super hero — Sarcasm Man from the Planet Sarcasticon! Saving the world from pompous fools by making them feel ashamed of themselves!
No, seriously, listen, you shouldn’t feel totally ashamed of yourself for thinking that autism is somehow caused by a lack of good advice. Really, I think everybody wants to think that. Heck, I would like to think that. The problem is that autism just doesn’t work that way. If it did, it wouldn’t be in the DSM V. In fact, pretty much nothing in the DSM V can be cured with good advice. Imagine if you tried to advise a blind man into seeing: “You just have to really open your eyes. Come on, wider…wider!” Or to advise a man with no legs to “just grow another one. Hey, you grew the first one, didn’t you? Don’t be so negative!”
The point here is that if an autistic person were able to stop creating these kinds of conspiracies, he or she would have done so a long time ago. Nobody wants to get rejected by a group of people. I know in my own case, that has never been my goal. In fact, I’m pretty sure that whenever this happens, it does so because I’m actually trying to participate in the group, to be a constructive member, to contribute, to make myself useful to the others, to connect with them, to fit in, but then I somehow totally botch it up, and by the time I realize that it’s happened, it’s too late to fix.
And for reasons that I really do not understand, it appears to be true that the only thing I’m actually choosing to do and which appears to be causing the conspiracy is to try to participate in the group. And the only reliable way I’ve found for not causing such a conspiracy, is just to avoid people as much as possible. This was much harder for me to do as a child. As a child I spent most of my time feeling lonely. But eventually I came to embrace the solitude, even to enjoy it. Now I actually prefer it. It’s safer. People are just too complicated.
But they are also inevitable. Sooner or later, I have to cope with other people. I have to live with them, work with them, interact with them, and because they are inevitable, sooner or later I am going to botch things up and create yet another conspiracy of people who all think I’m batshit crazy and who feel compelled to reject me for it. Now, really, most of the time this collective rejection is just frustrating and depressing, and occurs for the most part without too much visible drama. But every so often, one of these conspiracies will appear to lose its hive mind and take things up a notch, going beyond mere rejection to reach down deep into to a much darker place in the human psyche. Every so often, one of these conspiracies gets it in its head to preemptively “defend” itself against me, which from my perspective feels like an arbitrary attack. And when that happens, I start to defend myself in return.
That’s when things can get really hairy — when they can really start to spin out of control. Last year, one of these conspiracies arose among a number of colleagues at work, and these people decided that they wanted to get me fired. And they eventually did. And because they didn’t have anything on me other than their mutual dislike of me, they had to poke and prod me until I overreacted enough times so that they could spin my overreactions into evidence of misconduct. They had several ways of provoking me, but one of these was to take an unbelievably long time to grant me the reasonable accommodations that I was trying to set up, so that I could do good work for the company. To give you an idea of how long: in the end the people involved in preparing the reasonable accommodations document wound up having to write/revise about 4 pages of text. To clarify, the document was just one page long, but it was went through 4 versions — 1 original, and 3 revisions. It took them 7 months to write/revise those 4 pages.
In doing this I believe they broke the law — in particular, I believe they violated the so-called Conspiracy against Rights Statute (Title 18 U.S. Code § 241). (For background see An Open Letter to the Inappropriate-Behavior Police). And even though I can see that my autism played an important causal role in creating the initial conspiracy — in making them dislike me, in turning them against me in the first place — as I understand it, our Constitutional rights to not require us to win any popularity contests. Even the worst of criminals are granted their Constitutional rights. As such, these individuals collective dislike of me did not somehow entitle them to block my exercise of the ADA and to set me up to get fired. This is just vigilantism, pure and simple. It is one thing merely to dislike someone, even collectively; quite another indeed to gang up on him in order to block him from exercising his legal rights. The first is perfectly legal; the second is a violation of Title 18 U.S. Code § 241.
I respectfully beseech your assistance in bringing these individuals to Justice.