Note: I wrote this post for HuffPo and they declined it. Writers don't often share their rejections, but it seems appropriate to mention that fact. This post was meant to educate and, I hope, move us forward. April stunk.
By Kim Stagliano
April was autism action/awareness month. It's a designation that doesn't change much of anything except that famous landmarks glow in a blue light and proclamations are made about awareness around the world. There are hot tempers and strong opinions on just about every aspect of autism from whether it's a disability or not, to schooling, to medications and treatment, to the need for special inclusion events like movies and amusement park passes.
And then there was.... "The Hate Debate."
On April 15, Megan, a degreed-lawyer-naturopath-military-wife-of-a-physician-power-yoga-instructor-mother-to-4-blogger who runs the site LivingWhole.org summed up the bullying in a post she called, "The Hate Debate."
I am sick of it - this vaccination debate. My convictions not to vaccinate have been firm for six years now and I was comfortable living a low-profile life and letting other more notable activists carry the torch; and then I started seeing misleading t.v. interviews, news stories, and backlash against parents and unvaccinated children. I saw reputable medical professionals get crucified and reputations destroyed for questioning the mainstream norm. This isn't a vaccination debate, it's a hate debate, so let's call it what it is. And when it got personal, I got involved.
She had to pull down her site for a short period, to the delight of those who were bullying her. Here are just two comments she received - along with vicious threats that arrived quite literally on her doorstep if you can image the audacity and sheer terror of that.
"Please kill yourself. Thank you for misleading people with your carefully thought out bullshit.
Kill yourself immediately if you believe anything you wrote about vaccinations. "You are selfish, ignorant, foolish and myopic. You're an unfit parent and a menance [sic] to society."
A similar hate debate took place over a Chili's Restaurant fundraising campaign to benefit The National Autism Association, an organization whose Big Red Safety Box is helping to keep people with autism safe from death by wandering and bring peace of mind to beleaguered families. A vociferous social media campaign castigating NAA by people who likely hadn't the foggiest idea about their efforts on behalf of families facing the challenges of autism lead to Chili's cancelling the fundraising effort just 24 hours before the start date.
Now everyone out there knows that social media makes people forget their manners and push the boundaries of decorum but the carnage-by-comment assault attack on autism that seems to have gripped the nation is beyond anything I've seen in my 10+ years writing.