Editor’s note: Because this article makes an argument about law, we realise that some of the language resembles a legal edict and may not be accessible for all readers, but we chose to preserve the author’s voice as appropriate for the subject matter and context. This topic is of profound importance to the publication, and our team is working on a disability-friendly companion guide to this one, for practical use in protecting fairness in the autistic community.
Fair answers to everything, and fair social inclusion is cited for in medical ethics, support ethics, suicide prevention, and laws that pre vent exploitative relationships with vulnerable populations. A moment’s thought shows you it is simply common sense that, in name, these are official measures to enforce fairness.
Someone just needed an opportunity to derive from that, some specific protections for fairness that these things cause to exist. Then the rest of us need to keep citing those protections’ existence, in all times of trouble. This would set up a fair standard shared across society in how we interact with each other.
The impact of ethical good achieved by showing there exists a code or standard of fairness is undeniable. So we pressingly need to let no opportunity to achieve this go unseized.
For professionals, and for spectrumites ourselves when in the position of running support groups, there is an obvious ethical duty to those who rely on us for support or to provide safe spaces, that we examine the reasoned merits of any claim to have set up such a landmark advance; and if the reasoning is not refuted, then to uphold and cite for this standard of fairness. This including: in all contacts with other services or public offices.
Think how needed a fairness advance is, when the self-advocating autistic scene is so factional, with a militant/moderate divide, while the big autism charities continue to do only what they choose and never take on accountability to us. Intemperate fallings-out between autism activists over differing definitions of “ableism” or “supremacism” and which words to approve or disapprove of, and threats to instantly ban folks from Facebook pages if they post a view favouring a treatment that a host feels strongly against. All these lines are easy to cross accidentally before you know what an arrogant leader’s view is — my first collision with an accuser of “supremacism” happened before I had yet heard of the term!
Arguing out such issues matters, but when views are held more strongly than the ethic of personal fairness, it can create traumatic rejection and ban situations. Too many of us have seen the autistic scene riddled with the emotionally toxic disaster of dictatorially-led groups, forums, and movements. Too many folks new to our scene have come into one of these, hopeful to link up with their autistic kin, only to find themselves humiliated and kicked out of groups because folks were misinterpreting them, then holding onto that interpretation of whatever they said to misrepresent the newcomer.
Broken by their own.
There are Facebook groups, where simply not holding exactly the same view as its leaders on the Hans Asperger controversy results in multiple removal from several groups at once, like a chain-banning, and possibly a public attack on you on their Facebook page. This scene is a massively unsafe, terrorised minefield for sensitive and badly hurt folks. It’s a basic duty to health is to see that it sorely needs reining in.
That rejection and isolation are just as worth preventing as are corrupt services– for the sake of all vulnerable folks’ safety: from prompts to suicidality, to traumas discouraging future social interaction, to exploited relationships. The last point is in its own right a point of law in Scotland, and elsewhere it is logically covered by the safe space ethics of organised advertised support.
The site Autistic Groups Fairness Watch has been a voluntary effort to hold a line ethically against the type of autistic scene that would be controlled by authoritarian leaders and purges.
My opportunity to go further than that came from Scotland’s national autism strategy, and from the consultation held on its third stage, in autumn 2017. The strategy is run by a government employed team as you would expect, but also is overseen by a networking organisation based in a university, that has long been participative for spectrumites ourselves, the Autism Network Scotland. It regularly involves us, in a range of ways, in saying what new needs the policy process should cover. It has been a positive in Scotland’s democracy that such an organisation emerged in our autism scene, and other countries should follow its example.
It was very timely how the consultation coincided with having cause to make a crime report on some actual events that had caused a local support group to split and many long-standing support ties among its members to be broken off. I did not report it directly to authorities, the police or council social care departments, or the regulator of charities, who would have the power to decide not to pursue it.
The law of Adult Support and Protection would only require them to hold multi-agency meetings to decide what to do about the reported items, and they might decide to do nothing. Instead, I put the crime report within my submission to the autism strategy, referring to attainment of set objectives for the strategy. That ethical delivery of its objectives requires enforceable, uncorrupt services that uphold the right to median equal social luck, and uncorrupt pathways for enforcing those rights, too.
The term“median equal social luck” refers to a level of social inclusion. Median is a maths word, for the average in the middle. You could say “averagely equal.” It’s exclusion to have below that level of inclusion or success. That is wrong in any support setting. They are places designed to include those who are marginalized. Social ups and downs will happen to everyone, but if support includes any right to inclusion, it includes being no less than equal in overall luck at befriending the others. Not below the average line, the median — it’s rejection to be there.
To include such a report within a submission makes all the professionals working on the autism strategy:
- entitled, to have the crime report pursued, as by this the state enables them to do the work it has commissioned them to do: deliver the autism strategy’s objectives.
- tied, to lay claim upon the relevant authorities for this pursuit, in order to enable themselves to do the work they are commissioned to do: deliver the autism strategy’s objectives.
Then this standard of automaticity stands established for all like cases in future. In the still quite-new fashion in British politics for discussing mental health frequently, at a hustings in our recent election I heard 2 new ideas on it mentioned there — “trauma-informed mental health”, and having a “minister for wellbeing.”
So, self-evidently: social foul play, duplicity, betrayal of friends, exclusion and rejection, and control through fear of them, are all traumas and are not wellbeing. They are assaults on health, indeed. By definition, everyone working in health or support is ethically obliged to want those things prevented.
So, automatic certainty of their pursuit and retribution is a logically innate part of “trauma-informed mental health,” and of uncorruptly meaningful work by any minister of wellbeing. So the case that my submission/report of 21 Nov 2017 establishes that in Scotland, thence makes it a citable practice model for wellbeing elsewhere, is perfectly what we need to develop those ideas on trauma and wellbeing, in a genuine uncorrupt form.
The submission/report cited suicidality triggers and the impact of exclusion, and linked to the point of law that we must not be placed in an exploited relationship, together establish the ethic — that only answers on the side of logically-reasoned personal fairness can ever be given, to everything ever. Those points are breached by all forms of answer ever that assert there sometimes being a motive or an arbitrary deciding power not to give that.
This establishes, for businesses and public offices and charities and lawyers, for all parties working with sectors of the public, that persons in all vulnerable groups, and supporters or services acting for them, can never be given answers, to anything ever, that are decisions not to uphold personal fairness. Then the vulnerable groups’ invisibility among the public further establishes that those answers can never be given to anyone at all, on anything that is about how the whole public are treated. This establishes that the following particular answers can never be given to anyone :
- Be noncommittal,
- Use the word “unfortunately” or any synonyms of it, as a weapon to assert that an unfairness shall stand,
- Deny that they should do anything or answer substantively until an indefinitely deferrable eventuality,
- Ignore, or omit to answer, any of the entire content of the evidence available from the person being answered,
- Declare unilaterally that any step not reasoningly accepted as upholding personal fairness is “their decision”,
- “I’m sorry, but ..” or “I’m afraid ..” or “I/we note your comments…” or “I understand how you feel, but…” a tough bruising assertion of decision not to fix it,
- Declare unilaterally that any of these types of answer, or any answer not standing up to reasoning, is a last word,
- Assert that these are what people will do,
- Give no answer at all because of being prevented from giving these types of answer,
- Declare any matter of fairness closed, or unilaterally close down contact, before its entire content has been fairly answered, and at a stage preventing this from being ascertained from logical scrutiny of answers given.
So I attach this list and its preamble, this statement of disallowed answers, to the end of every email or letter where its presence will fit, when I communicate with any type of public service office or decision-making body. I place no copyright on it; instead, I would like other folks to use it too, insert it into your communications of that nature.
To grow the leverage for compliance with it, hand-in-hand with the leverage for compliance with the good principle that my submission/report case creates: utterly automatic pursuit as crimes, of all acts ever of controlling or favouritist or duplicitous social exclusion in the autistic scene.