27 March, 2010

I support Ari Ne'eman obviously

So, as you probably know, Ari Ne'eman is a young Newfoundland with a disability (he's not really a Newfoundland, I just think he looks like one) and he recently became the first ASD person and I think also the youngest person ever to be nominated to the National Council on Disability.

However, someone put a hold on his confirmation because he is controversial because people who are ASD aren't supposed to have any opinions about ASD. Basically Ari doesn't believe in curing autism and has said things about disability being socially constructed, and since no one has ever said this about cerebral palsy or paraplegia or anything, that means that Ari thinks that autism isn't really a disability. (Kidding! I'm just trying to present both sides.)

It doesn't help that any time someone writes an article about Ari, they just obsess over the fact that he has ASD, and the entire content of the article is like, "ARI NE'EMAN IS A SPECIAL GENIUS BUT HE HATES VELVET AND WHEN HE WAS A KID HE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT SMILES LOOK LIKE." I actually used to really dislike him and groan whenever I read an article about him; I can trace my not-dislike of him to the moment I encountered an interview with him that was actually done by someone who knows what disability rights is.

It was really scary about the confirmation hold, not just because his confirmation is getting delayed, but because it might encourage more people to write articles about how Ari is a)A SPECIAL VELVET-AND-SMILES-HATING GENIUS, and/or b)doesn't know that severely ASD people exist, or doesn't care about them due to his impaired theory of mind (remember: he hates SMILES!). The scariest part is that Ari isn't allowed to talk to the media until he's confirmed, so the articles might just quote some random thing that he said in the past. Scary!

Except, it turns out that in the past, Ari said the most awesome thing ever:

And the New York Times article about the confirmation hold quoted him:

Mr. Ne’eman declined to be interviewed, citing the pending action on his nomination. But in previous interviews with The New York Times and other publications, he has argued that those most severely affected by autism are the ones who benefit least from the pursuit of a cure, which he suggests is unattainable anytime soon. Instead, he says, resources should be devoted to accommodations and services that could improve their quality of life.

Historically, the kind of genetic research supported by many parents of children with autism, Mr. Ne’eman has said, has been used to create prenatal tests that give parents the ability to detect a fetus affected by a particular condition, like Down syndrome, so that they can choose whether to terminate the pregnancy.

We just think it makes more sense to orient research to addressing health problems or helping people communicate rather than creating a mouse model of autism or finding a new gene,” Mr. Ne’eman has said.

The part in bold is my new Facebook status, followed by a bunch of <33333s, and probably will be for a long time. MOUSE MODELS!

I apologize a lot for the really giggly and lulz-y tone of this post, because I know that this is a serious issue and I want to express how much I support Ari--okay, quick, let's watch me try to sound really serious. I think that Ari is a very moral and very competent person. I think that rather than being a weakness, his age actually shows how incredibly passionate he is about helping other people with disabilities. And I don't think being in politics proves he's not really disabled. I think he does things that are very hard for him, because he feels they have to be done. And the hold on his confirmation is a really bad thing to happen to a really good person who does important work.

I'm relieved about the New York Times article, but the content of course is bad news. And hopefully some people with clearer heads than mine can write posts that address this more thoroughly.

1 comment:

  1. Oh noooo! I am so distressed to hear that his confirmation is being postponed. This is ridiculous -- it's like those people who said that Sonia Sotomayor is biased on racial issues -- as if white people are totally objective when it comes to race.

    Whenever someone from an oppressed group wants to make policy, people are so concerned with their "bias," and how issues of oppression will be "personal" for them. This completely infuriates me. For some reason, I'm having a hard time laying out in explicit words *why* this is so illogical, probably because I am angry. But really I think it's pretty obvious. If person A wants to withold rights from person B, of course the consequences of this will be more "personal" for person B. That doesn't make it wrong for person B to demand rights.

    Why are people so unreasonable?