Friday, May 16, 2008

What were they thinking?

On March 28, Jypsy e-mailed Jonathan Howard regarding the Run the Dream campaign. She wanted to let him know that the language on his website asking for help for people experiencing the “burden of dealing with autism” was offensive. Explaining that she and her sons are autistic, she asked, “What, exactly, to you have against people like myself and my 2 sons that you want to prevent people like us from existing?” She also inquired as to what plans Howard had for funds raised by his run across Canada. You can read more here.

No response was made to that e-mail. Then on May 9, Jypsy and Alex were invited by Mike McCarther (Run the Dream’s production manager) to meet Mr. Howard. She declined, referring him to the earlier e-mail. This is the reply she received:

From: "Mike McCarther"

Haha oh sh*t...

That’s all.

Later she received an abrupt non-apology stating simply that the first message was in error and should be disregarded.

It leaves me wondering, what were they thinking?

How many times throughout the average person’s life does she hear that autism is a tragedy, that autistic people are empty shells, kidnapped, soulless, missing, stolen, damaged, defective, poisoned, no longer there? Less than human? How many repetitions does it take before something is “learned” or taken as a fact? Why then, would it be necessary to treat such people with respect? They wouldn’t notice would they? What better target then, to bombard with the anger and frustration we all have stored up? Need to blow off some steam? Here’s someone who looks human, but is actually “missing.” Have at it.

If only it ended at rude language, well, that still wouldn’t be acceptable, but we all know it doesn’t end there. The consequences for people so thoroughly devalued by a society are grave and are well known. Still the major “charities” persist in the rhetoric of devastation, believing that somehow the end they seek justifies any means.

I belong to a group said to be lacking in social skills. Still, had I made such an “error” (and I can’t imagine who the intended recipient of that e-mail would have been), I would have known that an immediate, direct and personal apology was necessary. Though supposedly lacking a theory of mind, I’d have realized that I’d hurt someone. And even if I had no greater empathy than shown by McCarther and his team, I would still deserve to be considered fully human.


  1. I don't know what he was thinking. I can't put myself in his shoes. Does this mean I lack theory of mind? :-/

    It really is pervasive this attitude that they can say any disparaging thing they want to about autistic people and we are supposed to take it--for ourselves, and for our autistic friends and our autistic family members.

  2. What a joke! That is what he thinks of autism, obviously he replied instead of forwarding. He can't even use email!
    I posted lots of contact info over in a post on my blog.

  3. Thanks, Gina. I hope he gets all the attention he deserves for this.

  4. Maybe HE lacks ToM!

    what an idiot.

  5. I have a new idea for the ransom notes campaign:

    We have your child.

    If we cannot destroy him, we will make sure he will not be able to express opinions and take away all his human rights.

    This is just the beginning.

    Mike McCarther (I think he would be stupid enough to leave his name).

  6. That's absolutely crazy! What's wrong with people?

    You're right when you point out that we're supposed to be the ones without social skills. It makes you really wonder.

  7. I just ate. I read this. Now I have a tummy ache.



  8. Woah. That is really not nice sounding.

  9. Thank you, Bev and Gina. I have already emailed him (I hope he knows how to read email).

    karen in ca

  10. This is so old now, but I just wanted all of you who were so against Run the Dream to know how many people it gave hope to. Are you so caught up in your own life to not see that this campaign helped families and friends of families with Autism to have hope and support when they had no clue what to do next. It opened the door for many people to volunteer, for school aged children to understand their Autistic friend and it certainly gave Canada the hope to follow dreams and to support each other.


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