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Equality

Nobody's superior to anybody else. Everybody should be equally valued.

Some people say that statements like that are naive and stupid and only made by people who have blinded themselves to the reality of the world. Obviously, the average person can't match the performance of an Olympic athlete or the brilliance of a famous scientist or the compassion of a saint. Obviously, some people are disabled and, in the area of their disability they can't match the performance of the average person. Therefore, it's silly to say people are equal, silly to pretend these differences don't exist.

But equality isn't about ignoring differences. It's true that people have different skills. Some people are disabled; that doesn't mean they can't have useful skills. Some people are not disabled; that doesn't mean that all of their skills will be better than those who do have a disability. It's okay to value and celebrate your skills. But it is not okay to declare yourself superior because of them.

Say you are an Aspie and you are really (and stereotypically) good at math. You like being good at math. You want to become a mathematician. You are aware that most NTs stop at algebra, while you are happily playing with proofs. This makes you better at math than most NTs. It does NOT make you superior; it makes you a better mathematician.

Say you're an NT and you are really good at communication. You're an extrovert. You like interacting with others. You have a large circle of friends and you're making connections for a career in business. You understand that autistic people are socially awkward and sometimes have trouble even using language at all. This makes you better at communication than autistic people. It does NOT make you superior; it makes you a better communicator.

And if being really good at something does not make you superior, then neither should an impairment make you inferior.

"Equal" does not mean "equal in skill" or "equal in talent" or even equal in social status, wealth, or opportunity. It means that every person is worth as much as every other person, and should have the same rights, and should be protected just as much as everyone else. It means that every person should have the opportunity to use their skills and to become the best they can become at the things they choose to pursue. It means working toward equal treatment and equal rights for everyone--and it means acknowledging that "equal treatment" is not the same thing as "being treated the same", because people have different needs. It means that no one has to bow to anyone else, but everyone has to respect everyone else.

Comments

So well-said!

The only quibble I have with it is the stereotypical assumption that NTs are intrinsically better at communication than autistics. This assumption is as deeply entrenched as the notion that we don't have or understand empathy, and just as blatantly inaccurate.

Many presumably-neurotypical people totally suck at communication. This is why the self-help shelves of the bookstores are loaded with books on How To Communicate with one's spouse, boss and children. This is why attorneys, counselors and mediators are so prevalent and so well-paid in our society. The so-called NT population has severe and ongoing communication problems at every level of society - war being its most egregious manifestation - the difference is that it's so endemic that it's invisible. As Jim Sinclair pointed out, he baseline NT assumption seems to be that communication problems are the other person's fault.

Many autistic people are unusually good at communication, having perseveratively studied all those How To Communicate books in an effort to cope with NTs and 'pass' in mainstream society. The kicker, of course, is that autistics who are good at communication DO 'pass', and thus are not counted as 'autistic'.

Here is me, about to give up trying to comment here because I can't make your CAPTCHA work.
With almost every gift comes a curse. A huge part of NT communication is making assumptions about each other. If we make the wrong assumptions, or aren't willing to question whether those assumptions are accurate or are a self-fulfilling prophecy, we get into fights. And if those wrong or self-fulfilling assumptions continue, the fight escalates. In fact, many of the communication problems between us and autistics are a result of this mechanism: it's harder to make correct assumptions about people who don't perceive and think like you do. So with an autistic unfamiliar with the details of social protocol or overwhelmed by sensory information or effort, the NT will often assume that they did that thing for the same (hostile) reason an average NT would. And especially if the autistic person in question is good at "passing" most of the time, the NT will assume that said autistic person is a nerdy NT/broad autistic phenotype like myself. So if I can manage not to do that, the autistic person should pull it off as well. And if they can't, it's because they have bad character or are hostile or were raised wrong. (I saw this a lot from my family when I was dating an Aspie. They blamed his still-high rate of social mistakes on him being spoiled unlike me, not on him being properly autistic and me being just BAP.)

So yeah, in the end, we can suck at communication for the same reason we're good at it. It's like when humans' natural tendency toward pattern recognition leads to finding fake patterns in randomness.
" It's like when humans' natural tendency toward pattern recognition leads to finding fake patterns in randomness."

Oh, such an excellent analogy! Where patterns of emotional response are concerned, almost everyone in this society views social interaction through early maladaptive schemas, regardless of how typical or atypical their neurology may be. And no matter how mindful one may be about one's own cognitive biases, one can never be aware of all of them. Autistic or not, we've all got basically the same evolutionary psychology, and it's definitely got some 'bugs' built in.

"it's harder to make correct assumptions about people who don't perceive and think like you do."

It seems to me that allistic people tend to assume that other people think and feel the same as they do, whereas autistic people assume that other people don't think and feel the same; that in fact they are unpredictably alien in their reactions. Neither assumption is wholly accurate, and the reasons why any given person reacts a certain way are always more complex than anyone can sort out. However, it's possible for allistic people to learn that other people may be very different from them, and for autistic people to realize that other hoomans are not so alien after all.

The details of social protocol can be learned. NTs have to learn them too; that's why there are a zillion books and articles about them. I think one difference is that many autistics either don't realize they could learn them, or don't see why they would bother to try. Some of my Aspie boys take that attitude: "These creatures are not logical" - my response is basically "No shit, Sherlock, and they will eat you if you don't learn their ways." NTs can get through their lives just fine without ever understanding autistics, but an autistic who can't understand NTs will be at a grave disadvantage in all interactions, so Social Protocol is an essential subject.

[Oh no, now I have to do the CAPTCHA thing again...]
I dunno. Maybe it's because I'm very intelligent and can mimic social protocols, but it's never been important to me to know WHY NTs work the way they do, unless it is in dealings with my own family.

So I still have the 'These creatures are not logical.' attitude when dealing with NTs, but I have yet to be 'eaten alive' because I subvert them and understand the handful of motivations that typically inspire hostile behaviors.
... I love this entry..! It is going to be my rally cry as I make my way through the world..!