Saturday, July 19, 2008

You Gotta Fight for the Right to be AS

Apparently Autism Speaks did not complain to Zazzle about Zach's particular design. Zach reports that it was a mistake on the part of Zazzle content reviewers.

Zazzle: Well we have recieved letters in the past from um ah Autism Speaks in regards to prodcuts withtrademark violations so when our um content management staff came across this product they believed this shirt was in the um past correspondence with Autism Speaks but uh they did not specifically call on this product, this was a decision by an employee from content managment.


Me: So this was just a decision by your staff?

Zazzle: Uh yes, because we thought it was in past correspondace with some past products that were brough to out attention.

Me: Could you tell me specifically what is the copyright violation on the shirt

Zazzle: Well orriginally we thought it was because the Autism Speaks wordmark.

Me: But you do understand the fair use and parody clauses in the copyright laws right?

Zazzle: Yes - we understand - and thats why your recent shirts are still on the site right now.
So Zazzle was gun-shy after being pestered by AS other times about violations of their trademark puzzle piece. The irony is that in being overzelous in chiding their friends, they caused Zazzle to inadvertently Poke The Aspie.

Autism Speaks Sues Autistic People sticker

Herein lies the initial provocation - a parody of the Autism Speaks site.

But the story continues - over at Zazzle of all places, where Zach got a takedown notice from Zazzle for this shirt.

I just received a legal notice from the big bad bully Autism Speaks because I designed a t-shirt that says “Autism Speaks Can Go Away.” It appears Autism Speaks is now using legal threats to shut up Autistic people that disagree with there stance on Autism.

The Tshirt In QuestionMany people know Autism Speaks threatned the parents of an Autistic Child for creating a website that poked fun at the organization Autism Speaks, an organization she does like either. Well it appears they are not done threatening Autistic People who stand up against them as an organization. To the left is the T-shirt in question that prompted a legal threat from Autism Speaks.

So my question is if your Autistic and you try and use the resources you have in hand to speak out against an organization that spews hatred and negativity about Autistic people, claiming to represent them what are you to do? Autism Speaks does not speak for me, I can speak for myself. But apparently I am not allowed to say that!

Did you know that Autism Speaks does not have one person with Autism employed or in a leadership role of the organization? Not one person with Autism contributes to the decision making of Autism Speaks at all. So what are the Autistic Peoples course of action when they disagree with Autism Speaks?

Ok, when a supposed autistic advocacy group is suing autistics for expressing themselves, a throuough bitch-slapping is in order, even IF there were legitimate violations of intellectual property occuring. This is not true in either case, it's pure intimidation and more proof, if any is needed, that the LAST people qualified to speak on behalf of autistics is "Autism Speaks."

I think it's time to stir up some shirt. I have not yet come up with the perfect comment for this particular insult to the First Amendment rights of Autistics, or to the intelligence of those with a more nuanced view of the situation than that slickly-promoted quack factory, (in my humble opinion, of course) but I have some that will do for the moment.

This one is relatively polite - though if you click thru you will find that the words in the graphic are as aspie-blunt as can be.

(The design is copy-left, and can be downloaded here. I encourage you to use it for whatever you like, including (especially) fund-raising for intelligent autism awareness. All required compliances are included in the image itself.)

This is my most brutal graphic response to this whole concept; if you'd like it on a button, here you go.

I also have it on all sorts of other products. I particularly like the baseball shirt. Feel free to nab this copy as a site graphic, or post illustration.

Now, what I want to do here is to have everyone with their own related designs anywhere to link them here.

This action on the part of Autism Speaks is offensive and frankly, intolerable. But it's the sort of response that is best addressed by widespread, pointed mockery and willful, manifest contempt.

On T-Shirts. Made by you. The easiest for most people is, Cafepress requires a little more in terms of graphics, but neither is all that difficult. Feel free to ask me about any issues that come up, and by all means, raise this issue in their blogs and forums. I surely intend to, later today.

During an errand today and the discussion in the car about this issue and of course my own AS issues and those of my stepson who's having quite a time with anxiety issues right now, my wife expressed some significant discomfort with the emphasis I have been placing on how I don't want a cure, or seemingly so. Well, clearly if my own wife is confused on this point, I need to make myself much clearer.

I love the way my mind works, when I am able to avoid all the things that make it stop working the way I love it to work. Being entirely human, I do like to pretend those are minor little exceptions to a general blessing. Indeed, it's that sort of charming little self-delusion that I understand to be diagnostic of not being clinically depressed. Yep - I am usefully deluding myself; that means the meds are working!

But AS does interfere with my life and not just those parts of life I'd be inclined to avoid in any case. Things I'd very much like to be able to do are variably difficult to impossible, and in maddningly unpredictable ways. I would love to have cure for that - but at the current state of the art, I greatly fear that it might be a drug not unlike Lamasil; a cure for toenail fungus that poses a risk of liver failure, a significant risk to anyone with a background that might have already caused some loss of liver function.

I am all for looking for a cure, though I suspect it won't be one thing. I'm very much not for coming up with an overbroad genetic treatment; I think that would very likely lobotomize civilization. What I want is something that allows me to apply myself better, and here is the important part; it must be better from MY perspective.

Meanwhile, as we do not have a cure, or anything remotely resembling one, with no earthly idea as to exactly why there are so many AS persons appearing when they were not noticed before, it seems to me that a cautious and conservative approach to the matter is in order. Cautious and Conservative in a medical sense is "First, Do No Harm."

And I'm afraid that far too many of the "treatments" offered to parents are potentially harmful.

Luperon, the chemical castration agent. No downside there.

Chelation therapy. Not good for a body. Necessary if one is carrying an insupportable load of heavy metal toxins, but there's not enough science to allow anyone to give us a useful cost/benefit, risk/reward readout on it. Then there is Applied Behavioral Analysis - which is quite a potent tool and all too often applied by people with no better qualifications than, oh, say, your average Amway representative in terms training hours.

Behavioristic approaches have some inherent limitations; when I see those limitations seriously discussed by proponents of it, I'll be much more open to the broader application of the toolkit itself. But right now, I see it as being a protocol that has a huge deficit; it tends to attract authoritarian and abusive personalities - the very last people who should be applying powerful mind-control techniques. Or rather, if you want a positive outcome in life for the adult who is now a child, that is the case. If you want a well-programmed robot who will never be able to function independently, it's just the ticket.

Further, we know one thing for sure from the 1 in 150 statistic; the condition is being overdiagnosed, overhyped and of course, both condition and cure are evidently very profitable. There is a direct financial benefit toward overstating the necessity for a "cure."

Just as there is a distinct personal benefit in trying to pretend that meaningful and useful treatments would be unwelcome.

In fact, what I would love to have happen is a genuine study of all the various wetware configurations, and some growing understanding of what they represent, what they do best, how they may be triggered, and how they can be turned on and off at will. THAT is what I'd like.

I would love to be able to have a bottle of NT pills, just so I could pop one and head out for a spontaneous night of fun. And I know damn well there are many people that would love to have the mental focus I'm capable of - if they were sure it would wear off! (It would be nice to have brakes, yes, it would.)

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