Saturday, August 16, 2008

This Blog has Moved

This blog has moved. Click here for my new site: The Standard Review

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What Can Be Done with Words

Some people seem to work very hard to express themselves. They try to make what they say count for something important and good and they are not frivolous with their speech. Too many others however seem to take for granted that what they say won't matter and that they can always fix any problem their words create with more words.

It seems to me that the frivolous attitude of producing and throwing away so many products has led to the many problems in our environment by polluting the air with factories and more powerful and faster means to transport ourselves along with the waste that pollutes our air and our water by throwing away things when we want bigger and better products.

Not only do I think we are misguided by thinking this overproducing and over disposing of things will eventually satisfy our insatiable appetites, but also this attitude of viewing what we must have as needing to be the biggest and brightest along with being so careless with all our other resources carries over into our emotional lives as well. This can and does and change how we view people.

We decide whether a persons size, lifestyle, race, and abilities are worthy of our attention which ultimately leads to decisions of whether some people are even worthy of life itself.

As we attempt to become bigger, stronger, brighter, shinier and more socially acceptable, what we feel we need to fix about ourselves becomes the catalyst for the discomfort we feel when we see some of those traits or aspects of ourselves in others.

It's no wonder that we would become clumsy with our words and use them to hurt people rather than use them to empower people if we can't readily see what those people have to offer that will serve us most effectively in the way the newest and best product on the market does.

I wish that more people understood that disabled often means differently abled but even more importantly that value can be found in people by a multitude of ways that our current cultural bias often allows and even encourages us to ignore.

The word retard has been used to hurt many autistic people as well as many others with a great deal of value that is thereby conveniently ignored by the use of the label. This word is used to marginalize and devalue who people are.

Some even use the word to justify how they abuse people by claiming that people being given this label is what provides others with the right to abuse them.

One of Hollywood's newest products is the movie called Tropical Thunder and it stars Ben Stiller.

In this movie the ugly slur "retard" is carelessly used in a similar way that it has been used to mistreat many people for a long time.

The ASAN (Autistic Self Advocacy Network) is working with the greater disability community to send a message to Hollywood that this movie is not fit for public consumption because it sends a wrong and hurtful message. Also we want to send the message that we and all who understand and accept our message will boycott this movie and any other one that is made like it that reflects these inappropriate values. ASAN is working to distribute this video to as many people as possible.

Christschool has once again given of his time and talent to make this great video. The video is a reminder to me that we all have the ability and responsibility to influence peoples lives with our words and we need to learn to respect the vulnerable aspects of humanity and act responsibly with how we use words.

To anyone who can and will, I would encourage you to promote and distribute this video and encourage others to as well so that our voices my be better heard.

The video: R word

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Intellectually Discouraged

The ways that I find the word intellect often being used does not describe much more than arbitrary judgments that has more to do with a cultural or societal bias. I see this judgment often leading to inappropriate and wrongful treatment.

There are so many attributes to different types and different sources of intelligence that it is completely irresponsible for any person or group that arrogantly claims to be mainstream to define so many potentially alternative resources as inappropriate and/or invalid.

This is Wikipedia's definition of intelligence:

Intelligence (also called intellect) is an umbrella term used to describe a property of the mind that encompasses many related abilities, such as the capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn. There are several ways to define intelligence. In some cases, intelligence may include traits such as creativity, personality, character, knowledge, or wisdom. However, some psychologists prefer not to include these traits in the definition of intelligence.

I think it's fair to say that the broad range of ways this term is used and the amount of all that is included in this umbrella term is an indication of how much potential damage can be done to any person or group being described as unintelligent.

Also, regardless of this broad definition there are still many who make many quick, inappropriate wrongful judgments about what they see as intelligence. Attitudes need to change to really allow for broader acceptance of what people already know but often ignore.

On that Wikipedia page there is also this:

Intelligence comes from the Latin verb "intellegere", which means "to understand". By this rationale, intelligence (as understanding) is arguably different from being "smart" (able to adapt to one's environment), or being "clever" (able to creatively adapt).

At least two major "consensus" definitions of intelligence have been proposed. First, from Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns, a report of a task force convened by the American Psychological Association in 1995: Individuals differ from one another in their ability to understand complex ideas, to adapt effectively to the environment, to learn from experience, to engage in various forms of reasoning, to overcome obstacles by taking thought. Although these individual differences can be substantial, they are never entirely consistent: a given person’s intellectual performance will vary on different occasions, in different domains, as judged by different criteria. Concepts of "intelligence" are attempts to clarify and organize this complex set of phenomena. Although considerable clarity has been achieved in some areas, no such conceptualization has yet answered all the important questions and none commands universal assent. Indeed, when two dozen prominent theorists were recently asked to define intelligence, they gave two dozen somewhat different definitions.[1][2]

This would explain why the term mental retardation is so ill-defined and such an ineffective method of evaluating a person's strength. What someone can or does adapt to includes too many nebulous factors to attach some one with the label to describe their speed and capability for adapting.

AND on that page there is also this:

A second definition of intelligence comes from "Mainstream Science on Intelligence", which was signed by 52 intelligence researchers in 1994: A very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings-"catching on", "making sense" of things, or "figuring out" what to do.[3]

The number of ways that these abilities can be discouraged is unlimited. Discouraging of a skill is a pattern just as the promotion of an ability is.

People get conditioned to believe that bad behavior is expected from them and this can be a very difficult pattern to break. In order to effectively help people to make this alteration to better behavior along with overall better thinking patterns and more adaptability is partly teaching them to see themselves and their interest as valid and maybe even how and what they think is interesting to others.

People also get conditioned to believe that what they have to offer is unworthy of others attention because of the standardized tests they fail. The standardized test aren't just academic. The way that academic test are designed and evaluated are both reflective of the ways that society evaluates people as well as being a method by which society learns to make such evaluations.

There is no question that many autistic people as well as many others who are deemed academically, psychologically, and behaviorally unfit are very capable of moving beyond these inappropriate judgments once they understand how unfairly prejudicial they are or they don't hear or listen to them in the first place.

However, in order to teach the greater society at large how we who have been unfairly judged as intellectually inferior need to be individually evaluated based for a broader set of standard skills and abilities that may then become what is described as standards. If we the people (rather than just we the government) provide more to people with individual interests and skills that may be unique according to their need that would make us all more independent people with more contributions. We need to stop only promoting what unfair judges see as being our shiniest and best.

It's not necessary to conform in ways that prevent others who have traveled along similar paths to be excluded just because our particular abilities and circumstances have allowed us to "pass" as valid rather than invalid. Individual self promoting conformist were who excluded us. Some types of overcoming promote the sale of what no one can afford to give up.

From this article A mental hospital's breakdown I found this paragraph:

In the 1940s and 1950s, mental hospitals around the country began using electroshock therapy to dull the intellects of the patients and quiet the wards of mental hospitals. Doctors also began using experimental prefrontal lobotomies, the surgical removal of a frontal lobe of the brain, to try to cure mental illness.

Is it any wonder that these hospitals would also use what they call chemical restraint in the form of pharmaceutical medicines for doing nothing more than making those whom they already see as weak even weaker and more manageable. They don't need no stinking research to peddle their wares or force consumption of them.

Here is a part of an article called The History of Eugenics in
the United States

Eugenicists believed genetics were the cause of problems for the human gene pool. Eugenics stated that society already had paid enough to support these degenerates and the use of sterilization would save money. The eugenicists used quantitative facts to produce scientific evidence. They believed that charity and welfare only treated the symptoms, eugenic sought to eliminate the disease. The following traits were seen as degenerative to the human gene pool to which the eugenicists were determined to eliminate: poverty, feeble-mindedness-including manic depression, schizophrenia, alcoholism, rebelliousness, criminality, nomadness, prostitution.

They believed that charity and welfare only treated the symptoms, eugenic sought to eliminate the disease.

If the pitiful type of charity and welfare that is most widely used in the U.S. is the only alternative to elimination of all these behaviors/problems through eugenics, I think it's time to start being creative and finding some other alternatives.

Poverty stricken nomads??!! If that's how a group of people in another country were seen, some people may feel less empathetic about their lives being lost in a war. If you think such wars that are fought on foreign soil that are promoted with such attitudes won't affect your home, you might want to reconsider how strong you really are.

I've heard it said that the average American is three paychecks away from poverty. If government sponsored banks buy enough houses during a mortgage crisis, there may eventually be a larger population of nomads including people that now live in your neighborhood.

If we don't find more neutral ways to define peoples abilities and skills, all skills and abilities that are considered superior or inferior will ultimately be overly scrutinized and unfairly judged.

Until society is willing to put into place a system of evaluation that no longer creates the illusion of scarcity of resources and begins to make more of an effort to provide people with equal opportunities by providing each person (that doesn't abuse that privilege) according to their need, I think it's completely impractical to expect anything other than unfair cultural bias (officially enforced or otherwise) toward those who are deemed intellectually unfit.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Justice of Turnabout

The job of empowering oppressed groups is too often ignored as a practical goal by claiming that the job is too big or that there are too many pathological issues facing each individual person to help them to understand and be responsible for their liberties once they are granted.

In this way the liberties of individuals who are a part of an oppressed category are categorically ignored as victims of too big of a problem to solve. This societal illness doesn't just claim the lives of those who are perceived as weak but it prevents those who are considered strong from realizing the aspects of themselves that are considered weak but are actually strengths that few people ever recognize. Oppression serves no one.

With very little equality and fairness, there are very few ways to fairly judge anyone. Still people are judged as if there was. Turnabout can't be considered fair play and people can't be accurately evaluated that way until there is a better way of judging what fairness really is.

One of the things that I find often occurs within group dynamics, societal reforms, and governmental justice departments is how people attempt to view things from the standpoint of all things being equal as how things are rather than this being the ideal of how they should be. To me this seems to come from the group of viewers seeking to make the ideal of personal responsibility more important than social responsibility because it serves to maintain a system that benefits them. This can and does create more advantages for those who already have them at the expense of those they (the advantaged) find less favorable being given more of the burden.

The ways I see this as being a problem is that social responsibilities are often not met because there is too much focusing on the unrealistic and unattainable goal of creating judgmental divisions based on perceived effort, inborn ability, and severity of symptoms. While each person is an individual, to attempt to overly define that for purposes that determine which so-called liberties should be withdrawn from those who have the fewest creates the opposite of justice. This perpetuates a negative cycle.

It would be great if everyone could and did act assertively based on how and when they felt assertively against oppression rather than the needing to be careful of the consequences of challenging those with perceived power but that has never been the case with very many people in any environment where I have been. Those who were challenging were usually punished for doing so if their station in life was known to be less influential or found to be that way.

Oppressed populations often act in the very ways they are taught as well as how they are understanding themselves as being viewed. This does not mean that they don't have individual wills or are incapable or unreasonably afraid to assert them. The belief that this is the case is one of the biggest contributors to maintaining an already oppressive situation.

Many other countries have very few people asserting themselves against oppression at all. In the United States, some have been granted this privilege of doing so (often from an already favorable position) and claim that others who don't assert what they arrogantly refer to as their "right" are less informed and/or are less courageous.

Fortunately, we do have people that are strong and willful and who do fight assertively for what prevents the liberties of themselves and others like them with less means to do so. However, that doesn't mean that those who don't challenge the current oppressive system are weaker.

Teaching people to be strong needs to include not only teaching them how they are capable of this strength but also what kinds of stereotypes and misinformation has been spread to the general public (often for generations) about the less than favorable category which they find themselves defined as being in and how this affects how they as a group have learned to behave.

To claim that someone who is in a category of already oppressed people is strong and another is weak based on how the one considered strong is personally overcoming their plight may serve to encourage others to do the same, but it can also remind some people to believe that they need that extra something that they have been taught that they don't have. Without learning comprehensive steps for how to assert themselves against oppressive forces, the ideal that they should but aren't assertive enough often serves as a reminder of what they have been taught they can't do and this can prevent them from trying.

Maintaining the oppressive governing of people has strong and deep roots in how generations of people have learned about who they are and what their worth to society is in relation to others.

Turning that around has to involve the ways that society changes their system of justice and their societal norms. Attempting to create equality based solely on individualism can be used to create strife within one oppressed group or between one oppressed group and another oppressed group.

Instead these groups need to support each other in ways that create more equality and less strife for everyone. This can't be done at too much abrupt risk to those who are favored without also causing misappropriations of privileges for all.... Instead favoritism for groups and classifications of people need to be better understood for what they have to offer so individuals within those classifications can be evaluated more appropriately.

A group that has been oppressed needs to have some solidarity of purpose and learn to work with others who are in the same or similar situations, and we need to stop oppressing our own in the way the favored within our society do. This only perpetuates the oppression and creates a victory for those who oppose us.

Every form of government has been infected with the corruption of power. To claim that capitalism has not fallen prey to the same type of corruption as communism is to ignore the so many who are suffering due to how this system is abused. Individual rights and responsibilities can be achieved but not as long as oppressive officials, oppressive laws, and oppressive forms of government are supported.

One example that shows me the way those who govern the experiment known as the United States respond to their public in ways that are contrary to equal rights and equal responsibilities are the ways that we maintain our system of warehousing people.

In the State within the United States where a large percentage of people were found to be innocent of their crime after they were executed for that crime has also provided the nation with their governor. Now that he is president, I have watched him act in the same corrupt manner.

The are an alarming percentage of wrongful executions in the U.S. that are the result of the accused being unable to secure what is considered adequate counsel. What is considered adequate council has been completely misrepresented to the public in similar ways that the nation has also been taught to believe in a nonexistent middle class. The poverty line is drawn to include the majority of residents in this nation of wealth. If adequate counsel can't be secured by the majority of people how can we say that our council does anything other than provide us with the privilege of buying our way out of unfair treatment.

How can our justice system evaluate individuals and individual situations when our very laws and justice system are some of the biggest contributors to that nations lack of justice? How can societal norms not also be affected by this level of official miscarriage of justice?

The US is reported to warehouse a larger percentage of people than any other nation. Because so many in the United States are not factored into any statistic we also have a lot of people who are in extremely bad situations that may be placed in one of these human warehouses if their conditions become no longer tolerable and they seek better provisions.

The freedoms that people within the United States claim to have can only be seen as bought privileges by those who can't afford them.

Not affording these so-called rights financially is very similar to not being able to afford them with the freedom to act, speak, and assert oneself in the ways that those who are more favored do.

As an autistic person, I have been in many situations where autistic people are not only given less opportunities to assert themselves due to the differences in the ways that we communicate and how that can be misunderstood, but we are also stereotyped as being aggressive and/or violent when we are not at all that way as a group. This mischaracterization often conveniently can and does lead to some of the worst types of unfair judgements.

The warehouses that have been defined by the U.S. justice system as correctional institutions have become an extension of how minority races are housed in the worst part of cities and talked about as this being their "place". Autistics along with those who have many neurological disorders, psychiatric and psychological diagnosis's, learning disabilities, and people who are homeless and considered to be unable to care for themselves (which includes people who have never been taught differently or are seen as being unworthy of such teaching) are all being warehoused in mental institutions and the like that have worse conditions than jails.

These institutions are considered correctional facilities for many who have committed no crime and pose no threat. These institutions are in no way hospitals other than the fact that they can collect money from Medicare and Medicaid, and they may be required to employ more medical staff. Our nations luxurious conveniences won't stay hidden.

My personal philosophy includes seeing turnabout as an unethical means of governing individuals or groups. I also don't think that the phrase "Turnabout is fair play" can be practically used as a method of creating justice with individuals until there is a lot more fairness for how groups or categories of people are treated.

Revised and edited at 5:45 P.M. Eastern Standard U.S. time Monday 8/7/'08