Accommodating Identity

Woof! John Elder Robison, Living Boldly as a “Free-Range Aspergian” | NeuroTribes

Silberman: Are there any ways that society could be reformed to make it a more comfortable and supportive place for autistic adults?

Robison: I don’t think that’s a realistic question, Steve. We represent one percent of the population. Asking what 99 percent of the world should do to make it a better place for that one-percent member — that’s verging on science fiction and fantasy. People who get into that way of thinking become militant about demanding their rights and thinking about what the world owes them. Frankly, I don’t think the world perceives that they owe us one single thing. . . .

. . .

Silberman: But other minority groups have demanded reasonable accommodation from society, such as laws against discrimination in the workplace. Black folks did it by launching the civil rights movement, many other disabled groups have done so, and gay people — like your brother Augusten — have done it too.

Robison: The race thing is completely different. You can look at someone and right away know if they’re black or white. There’s been a huge gay rights movement, but look at what there is already for gay accommodation. I don’t think there was ever an issue of people refusing to hire gay people in most workplaces.

Silberman: Well, that isn’t true. I’m not trying to argue with you –

Robison: In the autism world, people look at your behavior and say, “He’s acting like a jerk — I’m gonna treat him like a jerk.” If you’re a gay guy and you’re a jerk, people think you’re a jerk; but if you’re a gay guy and you’re nice, people think, “He’s a nice guy.”

The interviewer’s attitude–which is also reflected in the comments–is one of the most putrid and obnoxious qualities of modern liberalism. There is a difference between asserting oneself in order to set the terms of engagement with society, and asserting that society must accommodate one’s idiosyncrasies with special laws and favors.

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