Tuesday, May 5, 2009

asking newsweek magazine for equal time

The rumor mill has it that there is a forthcoming newsweek article written by ASAN president Ari Neeman. It is supposed to be published in a couple of weeks. I do not know if this rumor is true or not, but I did hear it from someone whom I consider a reliable source. John Best has also heard this rumor and has blogged about it. If in fact this article is published undoubtedly Ari will spew fourth the usually neurodiversity propaganda about there being nothing wrong with a person being autistic and if society would not put constraints on them they would do just fine. I believe it is not fair for newsweek not to give me or some other pro-cure autistic equal time to refute Nee'man's nonsense. Any person who feels the same way about the inanity of the neurodiversity movement that I do, I urge them to drop newsweek a line at letters@newsweek.com to tell them how they feel. Or to urge them to either give one of us equal time or to kill the article. I have written the following letter to newsweek myself:

Dear Editors of Newsweek:

I am a man in my early 50s with an autism spectrum disorder who heard a rumor that you are going to run an article written by Autistic Self-Advocacy Network President Ari Nee'man.

Mr. Nee'man holds a point of view called neurodiversity which states that autism is not a disease or disorder but merely a neurologic difference. He states that autism should not be cured and his organization has called for a moratorium on all genetic research claiming it will result in abortions of prenatal autistic fetuses. Mr. Nee'man has Asperger's which was not diagnosed until the age of 12, prior to this time he had an ADHD diagnosis. He is age 21 so the fact he had an autism spectrum diagnosis relatively late in life suggest to me that he is not a representative person with autism.

I had a speech delay at age 3. Because I am a generation older than Mr. Neeman I did not receive a diagnosis until adolescence but only because autism was not well known in those days.

I believe that autism is a horrible disability. I have no job and have had to apply for social security disability insurance to help make ends meet. I think Mr. Neeman represents a very bad view of autism.

In all fairness I believe you should allow me or some other individual with an ASD equal time in your magazine. I feel that an absolutely one-sided view of autism should not be given. Either that or you should not run the article.

Thanks for your consideration,

Jonathan Mitchell, an individual with autism.

When Nee'man and Kristina Chew presented their nonsense on Good Morning America sometime last year, I wrote ABC a letter asking them for equal time. They never answered my email and certainly did not grant me equal time on GMA. So I am not anticipating that Newsweek will do what is right and what is fair either. However, if enough people protest what ND is doing and ask that our view not be silenced perhaps someday the other side of this story about what a horrific tragedy autism is can be told.


John Best said...

I wrote to GMA too. All of these media outlets take money from Pharma. They'll never do the right thing.

Stephanie said...

I really don't want to write a letter, that would be too scary for me, but someone else can write one for me, or at least include my name!

Hey, I'm 21, too. Ari and I are the same age yet we lead completely different lives. Why is that? I think it's because I have severe autism.

jonathan said...

Well I hope you will reconsider Stephanie. We need more people like you and even if Newsweek did not publish an article that I wrote refuting whatever Ari wrote or whatever nonsense they want to write about Ari in their allegedly forthcoming article, I think you would be an excellent person to refute it. I wish Newsweek would publish an article you wrote.

Marius Filip said...


I will send a letter to Newsweek as well. I will also put a post on my blog so that people here will know about that - and possibly express their opinion, too.

Although we don't live in the US, what's happening there is important because it affects, directly or indirectly, nearly everyone - considering the influence your country has all over the world.

With your permission, I would like to translate your letter and post it on my blog, so that people will hear the first-hand testimony of an adult with autism.

Stephanie said...

I don't think I would like it if Newsweek published an article I wrote. I hate the limelight. I already have enough people visit my blog.

jypsy said...

Stephanie, Alex is 21 as well. You & Alex lead completely different lives and I don't think it's you "have severe autism".

jonathan said...

Thanks for the help Marius. Hopefully I am not wrong about the article appearing and I have a reliable source and have been in contact with Ari and he has not denied there will be an article. Please translate my letter and put it on your blog, I appreciate that. We need everyone we can to refute ND's nonsense in general and Ari's nonsense in particular. Though this article has not yet been published I feel it is important to take a proactive stance.

jonathan said...

Hi Roger, your points about the anti-vax crowd is well taken. However, they are different than the NDs in that they actually want to help their kids come out of their autism and have good intentions, whereas the ND's just want to spread propaganda about how great autism is and there is nothing wrong.

Politics can sometimes make strange bedfellows and though I don't like a lot of what the antivaxers are doing I am willing to work with them in order to discredit ND.

I have applauded some NDs such as Michelle Dawson when I have agreed with what she said about ABA and bullying autistics and Ray Palmer's low quality studies. However, I have criticized her on manners on which we vehemently disagree. I might be willing to work with some NDs on matters on which we agree.

Another big different between the anti-vaxers and ND crowd is they have been largely civil to me even when we disagreed on various issues. The ND's on the other hand engage in bullying, harassment, cruel insults and vicious personal attacks when I have disagreed with them.

Stephanie said...


I spent my youth in institutions and hospitals, about seven years; got out at 18. I self-mutilated for years and still do: bit myself, scratched myself, head-banged, etc. I can speak but not very well; I type mainly through a computer; I attend college on the internet; I'm autistic, not retarded. I'm an art major.

I live with my father. I recieve SSI and Medicaid. I cannot live on my own.

I was going to be instituionalized at 18 but my father took me to his house.

I was diagnosed with learning disabilities as a child.

But, I don't need to explain myself to you or anyone else.

If you bothered reading a bit more of my blog you would've figured that out.

John Best said...

Have you tried any supplement regimens that might lesses the self abusive behaviors. Simply giving my son Vitamin C ended his head banging immediately.

Has your father looked into any of this? It can't hurt.

Stephanie said...

I take vitamins already, especially Vitamin C; got that habit from my mother. I mostly just bite my hand and hit myself in the head now and occassionally I cut myself with a knife/razorblade.

I'm still waiting for services from the disabilities and special needs department; they should be able to help me.

My father is happy as long as I don't try to accidently kill myself or SEVERELY mutilate myself. I used to be in the ER at least once a month or more for some sort of self-injury.

Jake Crosby said...

I am fully up to date on all my immunizations

Alison R. said...

Im sure there are women out there who hate being female, claim their 'female problems' and hormones forced them to get lower quality jobs and just be over all miserable and irritable, oh and men are actually better at everything than women- a woman even says so, so it must be true.

Giving equal time to a woman like this when a paper is doing a feature on successful women, or women who aren't so successful but are advocating for change, would be ridiculous. And its ridiculous for you to expect the media to give and your self-pity party 'equal time', especially when *most* of the news stories for years and years have focused on the negative aspects of autism.

Anonymous said...


I got your e-mail the other day, and although I wish to write to Newsweek, I don't think it's worth writing to them.

If Newsweek allowed Ari's article to be published, it's because they're looking for a way to make money for wanting to educate Newsweek subscribers about how autistic people see the world.

Whatever I say, no one will want to read or know about me. It's not like anyone gives a shit about me. Just as a bum on the street tends to scare people away, I come across that way to many people on the Internet. If you spend years struggling to understand why you do stupid things 24/7 like mixing up "Coke" and "Pepsi" when trying to order a soda at a specific restaurant and get picked on and criticized for every little stupid thing your entire life, what good does it do to let everything slide and have the greatest self-esteem on earth? None! And it's not like anyone will ever get to see the real me because of the path I chose to cope with my issues throughout my life. It's so unfair but there's nothing I can do but take my time to develop into a complete person, be myself, and then more and more people will see the real me since it's so difficult for people to see that.

Marius Filip said...


What you do is the same confusion that lurks inside the ND mindset.

I will come up with an example and then I'll refer your statement.

Amanda Baggs claims in one of her videos that it's not a big deal that she cannot bake a sandwich in the oven because "we all rely on each other, don't we, folks?".

It is a shameless scam, because she purposely makes a confusion between "interdependence" and "dependence".

"Interdependence" is perfectly normal, and that's how humans built empires and civilazations.

"Dependence" is something that belongs to the young, the old and the sick. A person in a hospital is dependent on nurses and doctors for care. A person with severe autism is dependent on the social services of the society to survive.

Autistic people, most of them, are not "interdependent". They are, more or less, "dependent" on others (direcly or indirectly) and this reality disqualifies autism from being a "variation" and it qualifies it, among other things, as a disorder. A severe and unfortunate disorder.

Now speaking about your parallel of autism and womanhood. If all men disappeared tomorrow, the women left would be able to take over quite well - except, perhaps, the ability to make babies.

The same is true for men. The fact that both sexes exist and over the course of history one of them has enjoyed some preeminence has nothing to do with a disorder.

Women disadvantages have been mostly the result of social evolution and partly the result of the division of duties inside the family (no matter how much they try, men cannot deliver or breastfeed babies).

Autism is nothing of this sort. Autism is a brain disorder which impairs so many people, including my son.

While there are prejudices against autistic people and these must be eradicated, autism itself must be eradicated, too - like many other weaknesses and illnesses that prevent our fellow human beings from reaching their full potential.

Alison R. said...


My comments with the example of women, were about people's civil rights, not about biology.

Your assessment of Baggs as being dependent and a sham is dehumanising and ignorant. She may depend on others to make her a sandwich, but she also does things that enrich other people's lives, (eg her writings and video projects).

Some may dismiss her work because they disagree with it, or do not understand it, but that doesn't negate the value others find in it any more so than my inability to understand Stephen Hawking's work in maths and physics doesn't make him a dependent, 'useless eater'.

jonathan said...

Stephen Hawking is an academic physicist, a college professor who makes a living, who pays taxes. Unlike Amanda Baggs who in fact is a burden on the taxpayers, getting a regular SSI check and living in a subsidized housing apartment in Vermont. The comparison is really not apt.

Marius Filip said...


I am talking about civil rights, too. More precisely, to WHAT civil rights a person or a group is entitled to.

Women have pretty much all the abilities that men have. So, womanhood is not a disability, it is a variation of the human species.

Autism is nothing of this sort. So, true autism advocacy has nothing in common with the work of Martin Luthier King, for instance - autistic people ARE disabled people, blacks are not.

I did not say that Baggs is a sham. I said that her upholding that incapacitation is not a big deal is a sham. I consider HER ideas questionable, not her person.

As a matter of fact, it is her activity and her videos that I consider the worst, because they had such a bad influence - and not her person. She is one autistic woman obviously intelligent who can express her ideas in an articulate manner.

In the stead of advocating for her fellow autistics and for the betterment of their lives (and this includes, but it is not limited to, applying behavioral therapies to correct their behaviors, furthering the research of genetic and environmental causes of autism and finding a complete cure for this illness) she sits in a wonderful complacency proclaiming that the 'eeee' sound is "language" (which is total bogus), that "what's the big deal with being slow" (while the society that pays for her living makes a lot of fuss about "being slow"), she drowns everything into relativism (including the definition of intelligence) and she makes many other such statements that go against sheer common sense and have no other value than the sensationalism contained within.

No, I cannot respect Amanda Baggs' ideas because she does not do autism advocacy. Quite the contrary.

I will comment a little on your depiction of Stephen Hawks as "useless eater". You are putting words into my mouth but I am getting used to such treatment from people with ND views.

I am writing this below because I haven't seen anyone offering such perspective.

To me, the true cause of the Neurodiversity is the mindset which is pervasive in an individualistic society - like the Western society - which measures the value of a human being by the accomplishments of that person (which most of the time are measured in monetary value).

It is inevitable that in a society which puts so much emphasis on competition and personal achievements, the inner value of humanity is missed. Individualism has brought many advantages to the Western world. Yet, it didn't come without costs. The "devaluation" of the inner human nature is one of them.

According to such mindset, you are either successful socially, economically, culturally, etc. or a piece of rubbish. Since nobody wants to be a piece of rubbish, the consequence is that everybody must be successful one way or another. Yes, even a severely disabled person like Amanda Baggs.

It seems to me that this mindset eliminated the third way which is, in my opinion, the closest to reality: people can be valuable and crippled (or "non-successful") INTO THE SAME time.

How about that?

I will speak a little about our host here, whom I respect very much. He is obviously a very intelligent, well articulated man. Yet, he cannot hold a job properly. He is unsuccessful, isn't he?

No, the fact that he cannot hold a job properly is because of his autism, not because of his intelligence. And I admire his courage that he defends his dignity as a human being while not fooling himself and others that "there is nothing wrong with him".

There IS something very wrong with him and that very wrong is autism, with no fault whatsoever on his part.

So, this man is speaking with a much clear mind about autism that the whole crowd of the so-called "autism self-advocates" because he is not afraid of reality and he has the power to resist that dichotomic mindset which dictates "you are either successful or rubbish".

In more communal, less "developed" societies it was not always that way. I live in one (look to my profile to see where I live). Yet, the progressive westernization of the society I live in makes the mindset of people to resemble more and more what I am describing above. I am seeing it with my own eyes.

I do not uphold that we should go back to tribalism. Yet, I believe that the enemy is not people like Jonathan Mitchell who are hoping for a cure to autism. It is natural to want not to suffer, and autism IS suffering, no matter what the mind-fooling ND "self-advocates" pretend.

I believe the enemy is the mindset which held people hostages for so long into thinking that you have to be "perfect" in order to value something.

If "autism self-advocates" fought not for "autism acceptance" but for raising the level of compassion of their fellow human beings while truly fighting autism, that would be true autism advocacy.

But because they fall into this trap and proclaim "there is nothing wrong with autism" (because, if it were, there would be something wrong with them, and this is unacceptable, isn't it?) they prove to be the slaves of the same insensitivity that put them into a position of disadvantage in the first place.