Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Guest Post: J Speaks Out for Good

Below is a guest post from J, my husband and mirror opposite. We have nothing but love and family in common (though I guess that is plenty). If you want a quick character sketch of J, I can sum him up as deliberate, artistic, reserved, patient, calm, unflappable, and at peace with the world. No, I do not know how he ended up with me, but somehow we work just right. We keep each other out of trouble most of the time. We both love words and love writing, though we write completely different things, about different kinds of things, and in different ways. Recently, we both felt compelled to speak up on the same topic, though. We've wandered around for several days, grieving, muttering, "Smockety, schmockity..." We both needed to say something, and wrestled with draft after draft, sometimes written all in our heads. We both felt like we'd witnessed the equivalent of gang violence in the blogosphere, and inaction was not an option, inaction equalled complicity. Well, maybe that last part is how I would describe it; I don't want to put words in J's mouth. Instead, I'll just give you his words in by way of this guest post -- an open letter to a blogger who unacceptably and unapologetically attacked a member of our community.

When I decided to write an open letter to you I’ll admit that what I really wanted to do was to write a letter about you for people in the autism community to read. But I think you’ve endured enough vitriol. I know you’ve heard the message. In the end all I want is for you and others to appreciate what our kids go through and how heroically they’re fighting. I’d love to know that you feel a little compassion, that even though we can be a little disruptive, you know we deserve a place in our communities and a little dignity.

I’d like to offer you some measure of sympathy as well. We all make mistakes. We all come up short in our conduct. Hell, in my life I’ve uttered some things that I’m very thankful aren’t cached on Google’s servers. The fact is, your mistakes happened under the amplifying effects of the internet, and the scale of the response must feel pretty enormous.

Right now you’re not just Connie. People aren’t just mad at you for that post. You are the stand in in our minds for a million tsk-ing, intolerant, vicious attacks on us and our kids. You’ve just tapped into a bottomless pit of hurt and anger that’s been looking for some expression. While that’s a heavy load to bear, it also puts you in a position of great power, but you need to hurry.

Your story has gone viral in this community and the timing is ripe. Autism Awareness Month begins April 2nd and right or wrong, you’ve become a symbol of the need for awareness. One in every 106 kids are now being diagnosed with some form of Autism so this is big news. I’d wager that come Friday your story will be in the mainstream national press. Right now that headline is, “Woman Holds Bible, Mocks Autistic Girl.” And that whole “first recorded human flight” thing. That’s the kind of stuff that gets ratings and sells papers. I don’t think you want that.

You have a very short window to get ahead of this. Don’t clam up. Reach out. Make amends. There are plenty of great bloggers out there who would talk with you and answer any questions you have. Write what you’ve learned about what we go through. You have the floor. Speak out for us and turn this into something good. Make that headline, “Families of Autistic Children Find Ally in Unlikely Place.”
J, Rooster's dad


Kim said...

Email this to her. I wish, wish, wish for her to read this.

redheadmomma said...

I love your husband. XO

jess said...

oh, J - you've got a big fan

Christine said...

Yes. Definitely. You said it!

Once upon a time, before I had kids, I gave a woman a dirty look for parenting her child in a way I thought badly of. She turned to me and said: "You don't have children, do you?" How right she was. And even today, I might not like what she did but I learned something very important about judging others. Little did I know what the implications of that moment on the rest of my life would be! Even if Connie doesn't do what we hope she will, I imagine that she is a person forever changed.