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Autism news: Cancel culture comes to the autism community
April 30, 2021

A recent post in an autism group on social media stated the following:

“Reminder for everyone as April approaches:

“Don’t support Autism Speaks.

“Don’t use the puzzle piece symbol as it’s offensive to most of the autistic community.

“Don’t ‘Light it up blue.’

“…We need autism acceptance NOT autism awareness.

“Majority of autistic people prefer to be classed as ‘Autistic’ or Autistic person’ rather than ‘person with autism.’

“Use the rainbow infinity symbol that represents neurodiversity.

“Or use the gold infinity symbol for Autism Acceptance.”

The latest word is that the puzzle piece, once an internationally-recognized symbol of the autism community, is now offensive to some. And it’s now considered an insult to say that a person has autism.

In all my writings and throughout my website, I (for the most part) tried to avoid the term “autistic” because a few years ago it was said that people with autism were offended by that term. The reasoning was that people didn’t want to be defined by autism, but only be said to have autism. So I made it a point to use the awkward, more wordy term, “children with autism.”

Now the term “with autism” and the puzzle symbol are considered offensive.

The question is, why are these designations suddenly considered insulting? Has someone told people in the autism community what should offend them?

Of course I wouldn’t want to offend anyone on purpose. I don’t wish to hurt anyone’s feelings.

But I do take issue with limiting free speech, all because someone has said so. There’s a difference between using a term that most of society considers non-offensive and insulting someone on purpose.

If someone said to me, “Americans are stupid,” I would be offended. Because in every society, and even throughout history, calling someone unintelligent has been considered rude. No one wants to be called stupid. We all know that’s an insult.

But what if I decide to be offended if you call me an American? Is that offensive, in and of itself, or is it only offensive because I DECIDED I would be offended by it?

Being called an American wasn’t offensive last year or even last week. Why would it now be insulting just because I decided to be insulted?

There’s a difference between hurting another person’s feelings on purpose and using a term without any ill intent that, until recently, most people have agreed is acceptable.

And that’s the difference. In one case, all of society recognizes that calling someone stupid is a mean thing to say. In another instance, one group of people seeks to control what others can and can’t say based on what they decide is acceptable speech.

I have observed that the more we give in to cancel culture, the more it invades our society like a cancer. That’s why each person should decide what s/he will and will not submit to.

For me, the buck stop here. I don’t wish to offend anyone. But here’s where I must take a stand against the cancel culture of modern society. Because the more we give in, the more we will HAVE to give in. That’s the way cancel culture works.

This doesn’t mean that others can’t have a different opinion. They should be able to voice their thoughts and feelings as freely as I wish to voice mine. If they don’t enjoy being called a person with autism they should be able to say so.

But we should also have the freedom to decide when cancel culture is going too far.

I imagine that some may be offended by the apple puzzle logo on my website. There will be people who are insulted by my use the term “autistic” while others will take issue when I say, “people/children with autism.”

But as they say, if you try to please everyone, you will please no one.

If we don’t stand up for our right to free speech, we may find that it will soon be gone.

As Euripides once said, “This is slavery, not to speak one’s thought.”

Warm Regards,

Kay Donato

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