Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Zisk, Alyssa Hillary. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Representation, Freedom of Speech, and Patterns

Warning: suicide (mostly in fiction but with discussion of real life effects)

The example of the moment is Me Before You. It's yet another example of a movie where the disabled person is cured, dies, or is sent away (often institutionalized, see Rain Man) and this is part of a "happy" ending. In this case, we've got suicide because the quadriplegic guy doesn't want to be a burden on his girlfriend, and this is noble of him somehow.

(Seriously why is it noble for a disabled person to kill themself, but nondisabled people have so much to live for?)

I say example of the moment because there are a lot of movies where the disabled person dies and this is apparently a good thing, because they aren't suffering anymore. And the people around them? Despite any insistence they may have given at the time that the disabled person wasn't a burden... they are now free to do all kinds of things they would never have done before and apparently the person totally is being shown as having been a burden.

As in, story arcs of this type are a pattern.

When we point this out, we get told how this is "just a movie." (False, by the way: it's one movie in a pattern of fiction killing off its disabled characters. Not isolated.) We get told that the directors are free to make movies about whatever they want. (True. By the same token, we're free to tell the world that this type of arc is overdone, and that it reveals some problems when suicide is a happy ending...)

These are also patterns.

The free speech pattern applies to a whole lot of things. A person says something that is punching down. It gets pointed out. "But freedom of speech!" Yes. Freedom of speech. As Randall Munroe shared (but did not come up with -- he's not sure who did,) citing free speech is conceding that your best defense of what you just said is that it's not literally illegal to say it. Plus freedom of speech also means we can share our opinion that your speech was pretty bad.

People generally don't like having it pointed out that criticism is an expression of free speech. Again, patterns.

And here's the thing: the prevalence of fictional arcs of this type, where the disabled character dies (and ones where the character is cured, and the ones where the character is sent away) are super common. If disabled activists were actually censoring this sort of story, don't you think there'd be fewer of them around?

And yes, folks responding to "so this really common trope is pretty terrible" with cries of censorship, even though the prevalence of the trope suggests that it is clearly not being censored, is also a pattern.

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