Tuesday, March 3, 2015

MTV bites neurodiversity in the ass

Since my profile, which included my anti-neurodiversity activities, was published in Newsweek, neurodiversity has begun to become the topic du jour in the autism world.  In what I suspect was in response to Erika Hayasaki's article about me, The Daily Beast published an article about neurodiversity.  This article was very sympathetic to the ND movement and did not even make an attempt at faux balance.  The Canadian public radio show Day 6 interviewed both Ari Ne'eman and myself (along with a few other guests) about the subject of neurodiversity.  Autism Daily Newscast has called for articles from those on the spectrum about neurodiversity. 

Interestingly enough, MTV got into the act and also wrote a pro-neurodiversity article with no effort at balance.  This article also highlighted the #autismspeaks10 war that some of neurodiversity's more bellicose members created on twitter.  Mysteriously, the article was taken down from MTV's website provoking the ire of a variety of members of neurodiversity.  Article author Robin Lempel offered the explanation that she had tried to contact Autism Speaks to provide balance for the article and had been unable to do so. 

Part of the problem was that neurodiversity activist Amy Sequenzia basically demanded that MTV publish quotes and comments she made for the article verbatim with no editing whatsoever.  MTV neglected to do this.   This apparently made Ms. Sequenzia very angry. She also made the questionable claim that 97% of Autism Speaks money goes only to pay salaries. Yet, she seems to have no objection to the fact that Ari Ne'eman increased his own salary for running ASAN by 62% in one year and that his $65,000 annual salary in 2012 was nearly 20% of all of ASAN's assets. Not to mention of course other salaries ASAN pays and the costs of their rent and overhead with the very limited assets that they have, which, as far as I can tell, goes to nothing to help autistic people.  Perhaps this made MTV rather angry and this was one reason they decided not to keep the article on their website.

There is perhaps another reason that has been overlooked so far by everyone who has written about MTV's ephemeral neurodiversity piece.  MTV may  indirectly be in a partnership with autism speaks in the same manner as build-a-bear, Lindt chocolates and all of the other organizations that members of the neurodiversity movement have urged the public to boycott.  The Night of Too Many Stars which helped raise funds for Autism Speaks aired on the Comedy Channel.  The Comedy Channel's parent company is Viacom, interestingly the same organization that owns MTV.  Perhaps this is why they wanted a balanced article and a response from autism speaks.  Perhaps Autism Speaks fundraisers have helped generate revenue for Viacom along with its subsidiaries the Comedy Channel and MTV.

Since many members of the neurodiversity movement have urged boycotts of build a bear, Lindt Chocolate, Sesame Street and other organizations that have supported autism speaks, I wonder why in the world would they want MTV to write an article about them when it is owned by a parent company who has subsidiaries which fully support AS?

Of course, one could also ask the question of why when Google partnered with autism speaks on the genome project, why various neurodiversity proponents did not urge a boycott of Google.  I wonder how many members of neurodiversity have given up looking at you tube, using gmail accounts, and stopped blogging on blogger which is owned by Google.  I suspect not very many and I have not seen neurodiversity urge a boycott of Google.  Or why they thought it was okay for Laurent Mottron and Michelle Dawson to receive their nearly half million dollar grant from AS.  Or why it was okay for Wrongplanet.net and Autism Talk TV to obtain support from autism speaks.  In fairness to some Wrong Planet denizens though, I will concede that some of them posted frustration over Alex Plank's choice to jump on the AS bandwagon.

All I can say to  members of the ND movement is perhaps you should watch your actions and be careful of associating with organizations that support autism speaks if all you want to do is rant and rave on twitter and other social media outlets how bad they are.  Perhaps you can stop being so nasty, mean and insulting.  If you guys aren't more careful, perhaps it can come around and bite you in the ass. 


Seeing Clearly said...

One of the ASAN's sponsors, is ollibean which is another terrifying organization aimed at promoting Neurodiversity and disability as natural human variation and as beautiful this is such a nightmare I was simply aware of ollibean 2 days ago we need to pay attention to them as well.

Yuval Levental said...

This probably didn't make Sequenzia angry, but it made her facilitator angry.

(I know it's an old post, I just want to clarify the whole FC is pseudoscience thing).