Free Speech vs Free Will

 

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Drawing from my ex-co-blogger of an image that I created on the computer, shows my core values of love, unity, truth, knowledge, and free will

I already wrote my opinion on this issue in No, you don’t have the right to your opinion: on tolerance for bigotry as “free speech”, and its reactions were…argumentative as I desired (a friend taught me that the best way to provoke people was to say that they don’t have the right to do something, and my goal was to provoke conversations and opinions).

But we can write article after article on opinions for or against “freedom of speech”, but it doesn’t get to what the essence of this conflict for those like myself actually is.

In my view, this fight is between two concepts: free speech and free will.

My problem with my opponents is that they believe that people should be able to say anything no matter the consequences of their words, but don’t think about what that actually means and the effects it has. It’s a conflict of priorities: the right for the oppressor to spread fear, hatred, and stigma vs the right of the oppressed not to be stigmatized, hated, or live in fear.

The instance that inspired this article happened today in an argument with a classmate in class regarding Milo not being allowed to speak at Berkeley by the protesters, an incident which I touched on briefly in the introduction in my article on the ableist notion of slacktivism. She stuck to her guns even as I mentioned how he was planning on outing undocumented students on a live stream, saying that they could file lawsuits…against a rich celebrity guy that would probably fail while being afraid for their lives and at risk of harm or worse because their names were released to people who have already shown that they’re more likely to harm undocumented people in the wake of Trump’s increasing anti-latinx rhetoric.

Our conflict essentially comes down to this: which is more important:

Milo’s right to say whatever he wants?

Or the right of the people he targets not to be hurt or afraid for their lives?

In my article Tell Me I’m Exaggerating where I called Nazis Nazis, I described how someone told me that autistics are horror shows will be aborted in the future and my friend was told by someone who he thought was interested in him and her friends on a phone call that the world is too good for us autistic fucks to live in.

Which is more important, their rights to tell us that the world is literally not meant for us to exist in or my friend to not be driven to the edge of suicide by that 45 dehumanizing hate speech?

People will claim “well, the first amendment,” but…personally, the words on a paper written hundreds of years ago by racist sexist rich white men, many of them slave owners, are less important to me than the safety of my fellow humans today.

I believe that humans deserve to be free of hatred, fear, and stigma based on things intrinsic to their nature like orientation/disability/gender/mental illness/etc, and that we should be protected and protect others from degradation and dehumanization.

I believe it is right and just to protect people from harm from those who seek to cause them harm.

I believe that we should choose the freedom of the oppressed over believing in free speech of their oppressors, enabling them to incite violence and fear.

When given the choice between first amendment rights and something that I consider a basic human right, I’m choosing the latter, and honestly feel like the morals of those who choose to love the hateful and enable them in their tyranny instead of caring about those they hate and seek to bring harm to are fucked up. My morals aren’t based on the Constitution (which really only protects people from the government not from the court of public opinion) but on the belief that humans deserve to be happy and free from hatred. I refuse the notion that I should consider speech that hurts my fellow Outcast sacred and deserving of my defense just because old dead people said so. I seek to unite those who are fighting against that oppression in The Outcast Army Facebook group because I see so many who are determined to enable those who hate us to cause us harm. The choice between the oppressor and the oppressed should be an easy one, but to people I honestly consider immoral in their defense of hatred, it somehow is. To them all I can say is that we see you, and know who we can trust.

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The Revolution Needs All Kinds of Minds: on Slacktivism and Ableism

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Delightful picture from Bobby Whittenberg, the spoons come from Spoon Theory (communism is my political ideology but not necessarily any other writers that may come on here, a good friend made the picture)

(As I am punning off of her The World Needs All Types of Minds speech, I would feel remiss if I didn’t also call attention to the issues with her, especially when most people think she’s an excellent authority…the articles here, here, and here cover that in detail. If you are a disability activist and want to fight back I’d recommend Resisting Fascism While Autistic, Disabled, Housebound, or Otherwise Human)

A couple of days ago something truly beautiful happened.

On the campus of UC Berkeley, people rose up against Milo Yiannopoulos, a gay Nazi (I call him a flaming Nazi, he’s a terrible human being) who, when allowed to come to a campus in Milwaukee outed and shamed a trans student.

The students said never again, rose up and took the streets (watch the beautiful live video here and an on the ground account here), rose on wings of fire and broken glass to defy the hatred that Milo represents (and by doing so apparently saved undocumented immigrants from being outed).

This was marvelous, but I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be there. I would not be anywhere near the protests. I honestly would probably be inside with my headphones on, covering my ears while watching the tv or on my computer.

Why is this? I’m autistic with sensory overload issues, and despite the fact that the protest was important, being outside with that hell would probably leave me in meltdown. In fact, I can’t handle phone calls either, both of which are considered traditional activism.

In fact, most of what I actually can do is what is called slacktivism. I can text, share articles, press the like button, and hopefully write, but I’m unable to do traditional activism without severe mental stress.

That doesn’t make my convictions or actions less valid, however.

While my I will not fade article was specifically about my journey, it does represent a current trend. The disability community is rallying against Trump, and it’s been a beauty to behold as my community rises against the regime, standing for our kin under this new threat.

However, the issue remains that our ways and abilities are vastly different from our activist peers. There’s an honest fear that the ways we can act aren’t going to be considered as valid because they don’t fall into the set mold of True Activism™.

However, the revolution needs all kinds of minds. The playing field has changed, and will change even more. We need people of all different skills and abilities, and if those abilities are different than the norm or we don’t have the ability to do the norm, that’s not a bad thing. What would be wrong is shutting us down if we end up acting in a way that’s different from you. We’re extremely diverse in our capabilities and we’re doing the best we can…our lives are on the line, after all. Just because you’re capable of other things doesn’t make what we can do less valid.

I will not fade

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Credit to Cassandra Oakdown. You can also look at her Redbubble shop here. (Neurodiv stands for Neurodivergent). If you want to buy products with the logo check here (available products shows the range of items)

 

The reactions to my On wings of fire and broken glass we shall rise: #DisruptJ20 article were diverse. I inspired some as was my goal, but there were some people who responded with the dangerous call for peace.

Now, I could tell you that You Are Not The Target Audience of the protests, or how it’s a total myth. On my Facebook I made post after post about the systematic reasons for why the system makes it so literally the only way to get attention by the media is to smash a window.I also linked to this article about how MLK was a disruptor because people love to misquote him to shame protesters.

And that explains the logic but not why I’m so actively mentioning it and happy to see my fellow Outcast doing it.

Disabled activism has always been in the background, despite us being the largest minority. The only time autism is ever mentioned in the media it’s after a white person does a shooting and then it’s offered as a throwaway reason for why he may have done it. Even in this election when autism and vaccines were part of Trump’s, Clinton’s, and Stein’s platforms, it was still pushed to the side.

I accepted it, even though it made everything seem futile. We weren’t actively being legislated against based on our disability, our fight was always a narrative, one which I aimed to debunk every claim I could think of in my article We Are Not.

I was academic, aiming towards my readers’ minds and was nice, aiming to inform and be as uncontroversial as possible.

Now, it’s war, and I’m no longer accepting it.

The threats to my kin involve Nazis and the President, who is thinking about creating an anti-vaxxer committee on us and whose picks for the heading the Department of Education and the Attorney General are both against the laws that protect disabled students, in addition to signing an executive order saying he seeks a swift repeal to the ACA that is keeping many disabled people, including the guy I love, alive.

He’s also literally a fascist.

Most recently his spokesperson created the Orwellian term “alternative facts”, which all of us should be recognizing as simply lies.

To paraphrase a poem, I refuse to go gently into the good night but shall rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I shall do what I can to fight and be visible and will stand by my fellow Outcast in their actions to do the same, because we didn’t create the system that values broken windows over broken lives.

We shall fight tooth and nail to survive this dark era, and I and other disability activists aren’t going to fade away with our lives under threat. We shall not seek peace with our oppressors, and those who expect us to be peaceful and fade enable those who would seek us gone. Fascists have never been defeated by kind words, and this time will be no different. We’re standing up and fighting back, whether that means smashing windows or punching Nazis (as the link says, we can always punch Nazis). By our side or out of our way, it matters not. We’re pushing forward no matter what. We can do nothing else.

-Laoch Onórach

Who are you fighting for?: on intersectionality

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So, I’m in the middle of writing another article that’s focusing on my experience as an autistic activist but I felt that this was actually vastly more important because it’s an issue that everyone needs to think about if they’re going to call themselves someone going against Trump.

Recently we had the women’s march against Trump, and while it was an amazing worldwide show of solidarity for some, spanning every continent including Antarctica, it wasn’t solidarity for everyone. All the things mentioned in the picture, the issues that black, indigenous, undocumented, and trans women have, were drowned out by the majority. Many trans women, rightfully so, felt extremely excluded by the insinuation that having a vagina is tantamount to womanhood.

However, I’m a queer autistic dude, so that won’t be my focus, for two reasons: one, I’m a guy, and two…both the queer and autistic communities have a very similar issue with representation of other minorities and the issues that happen when different minorities intersect. For that I would 100% recommend reading Why Say “This Pussy Grabs Back” When You Can Just Say “I’m A TERF and A Generally Shitty Person” (TERF means Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, it refers to the subsection of feminism that focuses on women with vaginas and ignores everyone else, and that’s exactly what all those hats and signs did, to the great detriment of a lot of the women the march claimed to be for).

This is a major issue, and one that needs to be addressed, now more than ever now that the current regime is creating new and greater threats to us all.

I must confess that pre-Trump I didn’t extremely think about these things much. Thanks to multiple issues the autistic community mostly consists of white guys (there’s major race and gender barriers to diagnosis) and being a white guy I had the privilege to not be extremely concerned with those problems.

This isn’t an excuse, but is a mistake that I’m owning up to and am trying to correct because while I have the ability to be ignorant of these issues, people are suffering and quite probably dying because of these failures of the system. A simple example that comes to mind is cop killings: it is known that police killing unarmed innocent black people is a major issue, and also that autistic people have been shot and killed by police while in meltdown.

If you think about how these might intersect, you get some pretty horrific ramifications, especially if you consider all autistics your kin as I do. However, this issue isn’t something that you’ll find any information about because non-white non-male autistics are basically invisible.

In the Trump era, where oppression of all Outcast is getting more extreme, this is no longer acceptable (arguably, it never fucking was, but now more than ever).

In response to the picture shared, I saw an white cis autistic woman autistic activist lash out against a trans autistic woman crying “but I am also oppressed!”

This is true, but part of being an intersectional activist is recognizing all the struggles that the people of your community face…and that means every minority.

If my autistic activism neglects trans autistics, queer autistics, autistic women, or autistic people of any color, then I’m doing it wrong.

And if I ignore these different types of autistics, I’m contributing to their oppression by being silent about it instead of speaking out, because my article on tolerance of hate speech doesn’t stop being relevant if you’re an Outcast yourself.

Did the Women’s March fail as a sign of defiance against Trump? I guess not. But when you’re being an activist, it’s important to not just think about who you’re fighting against but also who you’re fighting for. That’s where the March failed. It stood up against oppression of a small subset of the women it claimed to be for, and in doing so reinforced the oppressive systems that harm everyone else. Those hats completely invalidated every woman that didn’t have a vagina, which created a literally global sign that trans women aren’t considered women, which hurt them a lot.

In the wake of Trump’s regime, I feel like fighting for just autistics and focusing on autistic issues isn’t adequate. The Outcast need to fight for each other, to hold each other’s struggles as our own, I seriously think that’s the best way to make it so as many of us as possible make it through these next four years. When I first had the notion for The Outcast Army, it was an idea in my Autistics Against Anti-Vaxxers group, and I was debating on whether or not to make it autistic-only like AAA-V or for all those who are threatened by Trump (no allies still), and I decided to make it intersectional because I realized that we need to fight as one and fight for each other, not expecting people to discard their own struggles at the door but to support each other in the face of this threat. People are going to say things that make you uncomfortable like the picture, but that’s an opportunity to think about the reality that the person is speaking about, not a time to shut them down. Fight against Trump, but fight for all those who are under threat, not just you, because that’s really the only chance we have.

-Laoch Onórach

On wings of fire and broken glass we shall rise: #DisruptJ20

(This article is dedicated to all those who participated in protests today especially those who suffered doing so. May your fight just be the first blow.)

Today started with a pall over my heart and mind.

Today is the day of Trump’s inauguration, when everyone who told us to wait and see will finally be silent as the world goes down.

The hits have continuously come, from the ACA (the thing that kept the guy I love along with many disabled people alive) to the ramifications of Betsy DeVos running the department of education (big issue for me, as thanks to those laws my parents were able to get the public school district to pay for Anova, the school for autistics that I went to…they weren’t able to provide me the education that I had the right to under the IDEA [the law that both the attorney general pick and her are against…in interest of showing just how dire the attorney general is beyond just the IDEA I’m sharing Samantha Bee’s video on him] so they had to pay for the other school, which taught me how to deal with the neurotypical world and quite literally saved my life. With the law gone or altered, that path would no longer exist) to learning that Trump plans to cut 25 violence against women programs…a darkness of hopelessness and defeat cast a shadow over me.

But then I saw…the picture. I saw signs from protesters of defiance and rebellion, saw pictures from my friends on the East Coast of the people rising up at the inauguration, articles about anti-fascist protesters at the DeploraBALL, riots and broken windows (just like MLK would have wanted), and now I have a fire in my heart burning away the darkness.

The symbol that I created (well, I had the idea for, my friend actually brought it to life) for The Outcast Army, the rage and action group for the marginalized people affected by Trump (and this blog, which I’m hoping will become a platform for other Outcast voices as well…no allies, but anyone who is under threat please feel free to join, solidarity is strength) is an angry fist rising from a broken heart and today exemplified this spirit.Yes, we are hurting, but we aren’t giving up. We’re rising up, and today was just the beginning.

Trump and your minions, you may take the rights of the Outcast with your regime, may take our very lives, but you will not take our spirits.

On wings of fire and broken glass we shall rise from the ashes of our despair. You can arrest us, beat us, even kill us, but you won’t make us admit defeat and surrender. You may have expected us to just take whatever you throw at us, but if that’s the case you thought wrong. If the hateful will tell us that we shouldn’t exist we shall take pride in what they despise, become living symbols of defiance. We will make our voices heard, make it so people know what you’re doing to us, we will agitate to make it so people never accept your reign and hate. If you kill one of us we will mourn and then fight even harder in their name. We will not suffer quietly, we shall make you pay for every inch you take. We will not go gently into the night, but we will light the night on fire. The cries of Trump, his supporters, and the enablers of their hatred for peaceful protest (which is a myth) will not silence us, as we didn’t create the environment that makes it so the news will only pay attention to protests involving property damage because our society values property over people.

We will not stand by as you push the boundaries of immorality, as your decisions and your appointees erode what rights we have. We shall disrupt, not just today but for the next 4 years.

Today was the first protest of the new regime, but it will not be the last. Our flame will burn ever stronger in defiance of the darkness. We won’t go without a fight.

-Laoch Onórach

By our side or out of our way

“No I don’t want to wait

I know a better way

So come on step aside or better yet just go away

Our chance has finally come there might not be another one now

No we’re not gonna wait”

The Great Die-Off, Rise Against

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In the past, before Trump, I wrote nicely, things like We Are Not or You Have The Choice. I quoted song lyrics, my version of echolalia. I was polite, never swore or offended, was articulate and academic.

My goal back then was to reach out to people and get allies. In that time my enemy was a narrative of autism being a bad thing, and my goal was to touch people’s hearts and minds to turn them away from that narrative. I had the ability and the necessity to spend the emotional labor on the feelings of my readers.

I don’t have that ability anymore, and I’m coming to realize that the people who I can actually count on having my back don’t need it.

If you’re not living under a rock, you know that the ACA was repealed, which as I have mentioned before means that a lot of disabled people are going to die. Less known is that Trump is thinking about creating a committee on autism, which might be headed by a known anti-vaxxer who thinks vaccines cause autism like Trump does. The stigma that could come from a government committee that thinks our neurology is, to quote Trump, “doctor-inflicted,” is something that my mind rebels at the thought of.

I, like the rest of the Outcast, no longer have the ability to kowtow to the feelings of others. I don’t have the headspace to spare for being acceptable anymore.

This is a war against oppression (hence creating the rage and action group for those affected by Trump that this blog is a platform for, The Outcast Army), a war with Nazis, a war against a kyriarchy that is poised to actually take many more lives.

 If you think that you’re important enough for Outcast to spend emotional labor on you if you can’t stand by us in this war no matter what we say, you vastly overestimate your self-worth, because I no longer have the time, patience, or emotional capability to do that.

So, be by our side, no matter what, or get out of our way. True solidarity with Outcast isn’t based on getting congratulations for doing a good job but on the idea that we don’t deserve to be hated, that we are equal. We are hurting and we should be able to express that pain without your defense. We shouldn’t have to watch our tone and calm down when our people are fucking dying.

If you disagree with this, “step aside or better yet just go away.” All I care about is who will have my back when it’s against the wall like it is now, no matter what, and nobody whose allyship is conditional on me spending emotional labor and headspace that I don’t have to watch my tone around them is worth it. I only need people who I know will be there for me, who will be by my side not in the name of their feelings but in the name of human decency. We’re fighting now, and whether or not you’re going to stand by the Outcast fully or not is up to you and your views on whether or not we deserve to hurt and deserve support for our humanity, not us.

No, you don’t have the right to your opinion: on tolerance for bigotry as “free speech”

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Hate Speech is not Free Speech

“You have the right to your opinion.”

This phrase is everywhere in our culture. People trot out the first amendment (though people misunderstand what it means), quote “Voltaire” saying “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (was actually from his biographer), and it’s always mentioned any time someone decides to speak out against intolerant speech.

People argue that we need to respect all views as equal, that maybe people may have a reason for their bigotry, something that makes their hatred valid. Maybe they’re not actually saying the hateful thing they said no matter how obvious it is.

That’s wrong, morally so.

I already posted once on how I blame tolerance of intolerance for Trump winning. In the end I said:

We need to combat the hateful and protect the Outcast under threat, actually act against the hatred with our words and our feet, they are now actually attacking people countrywide in large numbers. We didn’t rise up then, but we need to now.

Instead I quite often see people do this stuff…I’ve dealt with it twice personally. The first time was a response to my article Tell Me I’m Exaggerating (CW: Inhuman hatred towards autistics, eugenics, swearing). In that, I share where a woman told me “Science WILL find away (sic) to abort autistic people. This is what we are moving towards,” after she told me that autism was a horror show and telling me that I wasn’t “(autistic, autistic)”, a common tactic to silence autistic adults by telling us that because we can talk and explain stuff we’re not autistic and don’t know what we’re talking about. This was an event that had me shaking with rage and shock for days after (and as I write this, to be quite honest) as I didn’t expect it to happen (especially on that speech) and I didn’t realize that people would be so vile, advocating eugenics, to my face.

I shared it on my page and someone started trying to find some nuance of “maybe she meant that people will be able to choose to abort.” This was extremely invalidating (when people are hurt, the best idea isn’t actually to find why they may be wrong), as well as complete nonsense based on the context clues that even I could see (I’m admittedly not always the best at that).

The second time was more recent, when I shared this article about Ann Coulter tweeting “14!”, something that relates to white supremacy (considering her words in the past, it’s quite understandable why the responses from my friends, especially my non-white friends, were quite unsurprised, saying that we already knew this). In response, someone started looking for other reasons for this and found something that was mentioned and countered within the article itself.

Here’s the thing: Devils neither need nor deserve advocates.

Hate speech is harmful. Views of degradation and bigotry towards the oppressed and Outcast hurt. Being told we’re subhuman, that we’re going to hell, that how we were born was wrong, that we’re horror shows, is seriously damaging and happens all the time. It causes fear that we may get even worse from these people, especially when it’s actual threats like the woman who was told that she’d be lit on fire if she wore her hijab. It traps us in a cage of fear for our safety and not knowing who thinks that or wants us to be hurt or dead. It inflicts emotional trauma that these people think we deserve for our existence. Their speech takes away our freedom to be ourselves.

But you know what just adds to that hurt?

You who do this.

Each time you say this stuff, if you tell us any of the things that I mentioned, what you’re saying is that they have a right to say stuff that hates us. They deserve to be able to think that stuff about us, to think that our existence is morally wrong or deserving of suffering or just overall lesser. You’re saying that you’ll defend to the death the voices of people who want to hurt us, to kill us, to cause emotional pain solely because of how we were born (and yes I mentioned Muslims and am saying the way you’re born [considering it as racism], as let’s be completely honest here, when people call Muslims evil, they’re thinking about people from the Middle East and equating the two, it’s no coincidence that every time someone who looks Arab is involved in a terrorist attack everyone says they’re automatically Muslim). You’re looking for reasons to justify people thinking or saying that we are unequal to humanity, and saying we’re bad to defend our right to exist. When we’re feeling hurt, instead of caring about our feelings and standing by us, you rush to find alternate reasons for what the people who hurt us did to tell us we’re wrong to feel that way, to invalidate us. Beyond that, you enable this hatred to continue by deciding to silence us by letting those who feel these ways about us to keep speaking and bringing suffering to us. You choose to stand with our oppressors and their right to cause us suffering over our right to exist freely. You’d rather give them the benefit of the doubt than give us the benefit of your trust, care, and validation.

We notice this, and your choices to do this makes you just as great as a threat to our lives because when it comes down to impact, you have shown that, while you might not say those things, you’d much rather stand by their hatred than support us against them. By not standing against the system of oppression you help it continue. You normalize it, treat it as something that should exist no matter what harm it causes, no matter what stigma it might perpetuate. You let us know that when our backs are against the wall we should distrust you just as much as them because that’s when you’ll go to their side.

Nobody has the right to hate others, to cause harm, and now that this hatred is happening more and more, it’s time to start condemning it. If you don’t, we know where you stand.

-Laoch Onórach