Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Taking Issue with ASAN, by Alec Frazier

I have ceased working with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). There are two primary reasons:
  1. ASAN is extremely light on the advocacy, and very heavy on activism. Advocacy is representing yourself or others within the system or systems involved to gain or regain rights. This is all good and fine, except for the fact that ASAN does not like working within the system, and instead focuses on protests, marches, rallies, and other forms of demonstration. I attended their Autism Campus Inclusion (ACI) Summer Institute one year, and very little of it was focused on advocacy, but instead was focused on how to stage rallies, demonstrations, and protests. I can count on one hand the number of times to my knowledge that ASAN has worked within the system to secure change. Please, ASAN, do not call yourself the Autistic Self Advocacy Network! Call yourselves the Autistic Activism Network!
  2. A highly vocal percentage of ASAN’s membership believes that language and other expressions should be completely thrown by the wayside because some of them may have meanings that could possibly be misconstrued as offensive. There is a highly vocal member of ASAN who believes that one should not be able to say, “That’s crazy!” because that member argues that it offends the mentally ill. I respect that member’s right to their opinion, but I am not going to let that member force me to act a certain way because they have unreasonable expectations. In another posting, I speak about what I believe are permissible and non-permissible uses of the R word. ASAN ended their working relationship with me over that posting, which is their right. However, they made the decision mutual, because I am not about to work for an organization that does not believe in a member’s right to free speech on their private time. It should be noted that some more radical members of their organization tried to bully my employer into firing me. Unlike ASAN, my employer believes I have the right to free speech on my private time.
So what will I do? I actually have a thriving career and academic life, as well as a wonderful personal life outside of ASAN. I have tons of friends who I hang out with, a comicon which I just put on, and a very loving family. My life is chock-full of wonderful things without ASAN.

While reading this blog post, bear in mind that I am one person who has taken part in many ASAN functions, and disagrees with how they are conducting business. That said, everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, and may continue working with them. The biggest problem, however, is when some members of ASAN try irrationally to force their personal beliefs upon others.