Picture by Joan M. Mas
Autism is seen, in popular representations, largely as a social and communication disorder. Formerly framed as stemming from an autistic lack of a “social instinct”, the current dominant idea is that something is deficient or missing in autistic social cognition. Often referred to as a cognitive deficit in “empathy” or “theory of mind”, much research on autistic social issues has focused on trying to clarify and detect this inside autistic brains and minds. The search for an elusive broken “theory of mind module” or “empathy mechanism” in the brain, and its ensuing cognitive manifestations, however, has led to conflicting results – with some scientists even concluding that autistic people feel too much empathy rather than too little.
Another view is that this is not simply an individual neuro-cognitive issue, but rather a wider social problem. Against the idea that autistic people have too much or…
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It starts with the warnings. I’m told that it’s dangerous at night. Don’t walk alone at night, don’t be on the sketchy side of town at night, don’t wear revealing clothing at night. Don’t talk on your cell phone when you’re walking home from the bus stop in the dark. It’ll distract you from potential attackers. No, wait. Do talk on your cell phone. It’ll make potential attackers think you have a boyfriend.
After the warnings, it’s the stories. Women I love slip frightening, barely disguised hints into stories about their pasts. Stories that happen at night. I never know the details, but I know I’m not allowed to tell anyone.
When I’m nineteen, I move to Vancouver. It seems gigantic and bustling compared to my little home town. My dad buys me a small canister of dog spray, makes me promise to keep it with me in the…
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Earlier this week, ESPN sports anchor Jamele Hill tweeted that Trump is a white supremacist, which is a well known and documented fact. But this one tweet put her job in jeopardy after the White House called it a fireable offense.
The irony of the Trump administration calling for someone’s job based on their tweets is not lost on me considering Trump flat out LIED on Obama and wasted tax payer dollars and resources to investigate whether or not Obama wire tapped his private residence in Trump Tower based off a tweet, which has since been revealed as fake news. Dude straight up lied to the American people in order to deflect from his realfireable offenses, but I’ll leave all that to the special prosecutor.
I’m not here to discuss Trump or even irony. This post is about the flood of support Jamele Hill received in the wake of…
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The sentence I hear most from well-meaning, conservative friends since President Trump’s election is this: “We suffered 8 years under Barack Obama.”
Fair enough. Let’s take a look.
The day Obama took office, the Dow closed at 7,949 points. Eight years later, the Dow had almost tripled.
General Motors and Chrysler were on the brink of bankruptcy, with Ford not far behind, and their failure, along with their supply chains, would have meant the loss of millions of jobs. Obama pushed through a controversial, $8o billion bailout to save the car industry. The U.S. car industry survived, started making money again, and the entire $80 billion was paid back, with interest.
While we remain vulnerable to lone-wolf attacks, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed a mass attack here since 9/11.
Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
He drew down the number…
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How do you feel about having a convicted child molester coming to your door for any reason? If you’re like most people, you would rather someone who has been to prison for raping and molesting a child stay as far away from your property as possible, and certainly they shouldn’t be knocking on your door when your children may be home alone.
Unfortunately, if there are Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area, you may not have much of a choice in the matter. Earlier this month, a man recorded a known child molester in his neighborhood, out with other Jehovah’s Witnesses, knocking on doors to preach. The man who recorded the incident, Roman Vargas, had double-checked the public records for the child molester, Waymon Ivery, and confronted him face-to-face as Ivery made his way in the preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The video was removed from YouTube, but you can read a…
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By Robert Jensen, AlterNet
One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.
In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas.
Not only is the thought of such a change in this white-supremacist holiday impossible to imagine, but the very mention of the idea sends most Americans into apoplectic fits — which speaks volumes about our historical hypocrisy and its relation to the contemporary politics of empire in the United States.
That the world’s great powers achieved “greatness” through criminal brutality on a grand scale is not…
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For the last month, I’ve been training to become an advocate for victim-survivors of sexual assault. As part of the Sexual Assault Response Team, my job is to show up at the hospital, police station, or courtroom, and be the one person in the room who doesn’t require anything from the client. My job is to make sure that the client is making decisions regarding the outcome of procedures, from the evidence collection exam, to the police interviews, to the courtroom interviews. One of the first things I learned, and something that really stuck with me, is that nowadays the premise is that the victim-survivor had their choice taken away, and the first priority is to restore that ability to make decisions and to have choice in their life again, as this does the most towards allowing recovery and emotional healing. I was so happy to hear nurses saying in response to concerned family and friends, “The most important thing you can do right now is BELIEVE and SUPPORT the victim-survivor.”
This belief is a welcome change from my own situation, back in 1990. I wasn’t expecting it to be the case, but doing this training has made me an advocate for the little girl I was, back then. I feel so much anger at the way she was immediately disbelieved, made to feel ashamed and dirty, and isolated by family and community, as if her only worth as a human was tied up in her presumed virginity (which as an abused toddler had already been lost years prior). A year later, when the brother-in-law attempted rape, her parents determined it wasn’t an issue for the police since “the damage (loss of virginity) had already been done.” She was made to understand that she must have done something terrible to lose some supposed spiritual protection that would never allow her to be raped–completely the wrong way to go about taking care of a child who’d experienced sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, and then experienced rape on top of everything else. Completely the right way to nearly destroy the mind and heart of a child, however. Rape violates the very center of a person. How can you feel safe, when the very heart of you has been opened and splayed for everyone to see? I’d fought, but eventually ran out of strength, and that was seen as proof of my compliance, and I was ‘marked’ as a bad person in the eyes of god and everybody. I felt unsafe in my own skin for years, as a result. This body that had betrayed me and not protected me was a disgusting husk I longed to shed.
All I can say is, I’m glad I had a small seed of stubbornness, a small voice inside that said these people were wrong. My rebellious streak saved my life, as I contemplated suicide so many times, only to tell myself that I needed to wait just a little longer. I had the plan in place, and the plan was enough to calm that part of me. I held on to the “someday hope” of suicide for so long, and oddly enough it tamped down the desire to carry it out. I was finally able to run away from that toxic environment and create a new life for myself. But the “lessons” I learned from those years stayed with me. I always felt like I had to excuse every decision I’d made up until the rape happened, I even regretted the A’s on my school report-card that had allowed me a free pass to the pool that day. I internalized the messages from my family and community and still felt ashamed and isolated and unworthy. It wasn’t until I took criminal law and criminal investigation classes that I understood that rape is an act of aggression, not seduction, that I had not seduced anybody, as a toddler or as a brand-new teenager, and somehow brought those horrific acts on myself. Rape is hardly ever just the stranger in the bushes–more often it’s the friend of a friend, it’s the trusted community member, it’s the family member you must live with. Rape victims range in age from from infants to people in their 90s, hardly sexual objects in most people’s minds. The one thing in common is vulnerability.
I can’t go back in time and undo what was done to me, but I can stand up for others. It’s what I feel compelled to do the most, besides writing. I am learning so many GOOD lessons, this time around. I can feel myself getting stronger, the better to protect and advocate for people who find themselves feeling violated, vulnerable, and lost. I can’t change how the story started, but I can make the ending better than I was told. If I can save one life, then it’s worth it.