I see the left brain right brain no brain blog is at it again with attempts at damage control when autism's gadfly exposed Ari Ne'eman for being appointed to the national council on disabilities when he has stated in the past that he does not believe that autism is a disability. In the original essay from which I quoted Ne'eman stated the words "difference is not disability". I won't bother linking to the essay because it has now been changed and I have linked to it and quoted the essay as it originally stood in my previous post and the interested reader can see these. In the changed essay Ne'eman wrote that difference is only disability when it is not accommodated for. Sullivan quoted this changed statement and neglected to acknowledge that the essay was later edited. He did not bother to quote the original essay. Even with the changed essay I disagree with Sullivan's statements that this is different from saying that autism is not a disability. Even in the changed essay Ne'eman is still implying this, though giving himself some leeway. Though Ne'eman's changed statement really does not change the fact that he is still stating that autism is not a disability, at least given the standard definition of disability, Sullivan is trying to claim that those of us who are unhappy about Ne'eman's appointment to the council are misquoting what he said. I suppose I should have taken a screen shot of Ne'eman's original essay to show that Sullivan and other Ne'eman supporters are really being dishonest in stating that Ne'eman never stated that autism was not a disability.
The origin of Ne'eman editing the essay where he originally wrote difference is not disability probably goes back to another pathetic attempt at damage control on Sullivan's part where Sullivan made tons of factual errors and neglected to do the necessary research that Ne'eman in fact had said that autism is not a disability. It was autism's gadfly who did the research showing Ne'eman in the past had written in an essay the words "difference is not disability" and had in fact stated that autism is not a disability. Ne'eman then stated:
As for the comment made about my Jewish Week article, I don’t recall saying at any point there that autism wasn’t a disability – only that it was not a disease, something I think exemplifies the neurodiversity position much better. I did seem to imply it though with the phrase “difference is not disability”. Though the phrase is technically true, I shouldn’t have phrased it that way. I was wrong to do so – and if that is the worst mistake I’ve made or ever will make in print, I’ll count myself lucky. Fortunately, I have years of advocacy work and public statements that show my work in the Disability Rights movement as a person with a disability.
So at the very least Ne'eman does admit to having made an error in the original article. He then went back and edited the original article to give himself some wiggle room.
Having quoted the pertinent phrases of the article as it originally stood as I have done in my previous post where I talked about my take on Ne'eman's nomination to the council, I stand by my statement that the context in which "difference isn't disability" Ne'eman was stating unequivocally that he (at least at the time) did not believe that autism is a disability. His statement that he never said autism was not a disability certainly is not true and there is no doubt of this. Sullivan and the other ND's can put all the spin on it they want but I don't believe there is any other way that Ne'eman's comments can be construed. It is irrelevant that he has lent his time and efforts to legislation and organizations that have used the term 'disability'.
The only thing that Sullivan does get right in this piece is that the efforts on my part and others who don't want Ne'eman appointed to the council will most likely be futile. Nominations to the NDC are most likely routinely confirmed as they would not generate enough controversy or have enough people complain. These are probably not like nominations to the supreme court where a controversial candidate gets scrutiny and enough people would complain to their senators and they would be blackballed in the case of Robert Bjork and nearly blackballed in the case of Clarence Thomas.
If a nomination to the NDC were in the same league as a nomination to the supreme court, I can't help thinking of the grilling that Ne'eman would be getting in a subcommittee of the senate about his previous statements.