Con Text

I read a report on BBC News website today. It told of a teenager who murdered his girlfriend. Now, news like that is bad enough but with so much of it competing for attention it must be hard for any reporter not to just report the facts but to ‘build added interest and intrigue’, perhaps by an innuendo, suggestion or by building a matter of concern. Trouble is, there are people out there who will become afraid on the basis of remarks like:

‘Told to kill’

‘The teenager, who had been diagnosed as having an autistic syndrome, told his family that a voice in his head named Ed told him to kill someone.’

An autistic syndrome. Really?

A few months ago I contacted Sherrif Brown whose widely reported delicate and considered comments after a shooting and suicide were:

‘”It is very, very apparent that he was severely mentally disturbed. It’s obviously the work of a madman,” he added.

In a so-called manifesto which had been published online, Rodger – who suffered from Asperger’s – said he had been born in London…’

Well, there we are. Conclusive proof that any prejudice against anyone with an ‘autistic syndrome’, a computer and who comes from London must be about to shoot you if you look at them a bit funny, must be justifiable to ‘normal’ people. Hmmm. No.

Where are these ‘normal’ people?

Oh, I see them. They’re the one’s committing the rest of the vile acts being reported elsewhere, and even more frequently, not being reported because a surprising amount of it is accepted as – you guessed – normal.

There are facts and there’s context. There is chalk and there is cheese. There is reporting and there is selling a story.

By the way, the Sherriff did respond, eventually. He spoke of his close experience of Asperger Syndrome (which worried me more)… and asked for my vote in the forthcoming election. If only I could have emigrated to America in time I could have cast my vote for – anyone else.

Am I patronising you? Or, do you just feeeel like I’m patronising you?

From my newly occupied pigeon-hole of oblivion, I’ve observed myself and those around me, coming to terms with my late diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome – just as the American method of diagnosis ‘does away’ with the term, so we’re all classified as simply autistic.  So, the experts, in full knowledge of the effects of change and the search for an identity in this confusing world we face, have changed it, and the way we relate to ourselves.

It’s hardly surprising there is such widespread fear of change (and not just among those on ‘the spectrum’ – like little echoes of nature in a rainbow) when people like me find themselves under a waterboard of new life-changing information and understanding about everything now, before and yet to come.  Suddenly, I’m learning about all the things I can’t do, when I’ve always heard that there is no such word as can’t, ironically undermining its own declaration by using the word that apparently doesn’t exist. Can I not just be allowed to do things to the best of my ability (the way I always have)?  Can I not just be accepted as being able to do some things better than other things; some really well and some really poorly?  Isn’t that what we all do anyway, regardless of ability, disability or diagnosis? Continue reading antidote to the saccharine but well intentioned observations of W H Davies – not to be confused with Freddy ‘Parrot Face’ Davies of UK fame:

What is this life to only dare,
stand idly by, do nothing, stare?

To make no stand and simply let-
Another rise above the parapet.

Choose not to see wrongs done en-masse
Help kick the truth into long grass.

Choose not to see what’s plain as day,
Turn a blind eye, look away.

Spot a short cut then advance
To trample truth with a merry dance.

While protocols help justice die,
Ignore betrayal of big sad I.

A poor life this, to only dare
Stand idly by, do nothing, stare.

IRF 2014.