Tying Down a Duty to Protections for Fairness8 min read

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.

treedamage-peotone 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.

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