One reader's rave

"Thanks for the newspaper with your book review. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this terrific piece of writing. It is beautiful, complex, scholarly. Only sorry Mr. Freire cannot read it!" -- Ailene

Cassie Jaye, the day before I met her at the _Red Pill_ world premiere

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Autism and Self-Care

When you've met one autistic person, you've met one autistic person. The things described in this article are true about many of us. I have that inertia about breaking with my routine, for instance, but not the aversion to doctor's offices or phone conversations.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Garbage In, Garbage Out Holds for Theater Troupes Too

An article in the Philadelphia Gay News inadvertently reveals why there's a notable bias in a popular local comedy tradition. I've submitted this comment on it to the paper:

I've caught "This Is the Week That Is" for the past few years, and I won't deny that it can be pretty entertaining. But it also has a decided partisan skew that can be pretty annoying at times, and your article reveals one of the reasons why.

A member of the troupe is quoted as saying they prepare for the show by watching "hours of punditry on CNN and MSNBC." That's it? Just CNN and MSNBC? Not FOX? Not RT? Well, no wonder then. If you only listen to neoliberals, you won't have any grasp of the conservative perspective, and neither will you have any grasp of the Left perspective. This video by Jimmy Dore illustrates how skewed a view of impeachment you get by limiting your news sources in this way, and how it leaves one unable to comprehend, for example, why the proceedings have actually led to fewer Independents -- the very people Democrats keep saying they need to win over -- supporting impeachment:

1812 Productions already have talent. They could make their product even better -- and more broadly appealing -- by basing it on the full range of political opinion instead of just a narrow slice.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Flyering Ronan Farrow Talk

Last night I handed out 38 flyers to people coming to Parkway Central Library to hear Ronan Farrow speak. Their text consisted of an article by John Ziegler about Farrow's journalistic misfeasance, plus the URL for Diana Davison's video "Ronan Farrow's Fraud from #Gamergate to Matt Lauer" (

Saturday, November 23, 2019

#ShineOnMax Becomes an International Call to End Ableism and Humanize Autistic People in the Media

This is a slightly edited version of an article by Terra Vance that appeared in The Aspergian a few days ago:

Last weekend, a vigil was held in honor of Max Benson, an autistic teen who was killed at school.  

What started as a small local event became an international social media blitz as people from around 
the world connected over the hashtag #ShineOnMax.

For nearly a year the story of Max’s death slid mostly under the world’s radar.  It was reported that Max 6’1″ tall, “severely autistic,” and that he “became violent” at school.  The sheriff’s department reported “no signs of foul play” from the teachers.  The story was barely a blip on the radar of social consciousness – that is, until last weekend.

The autistic community and its allies weren’t satisfied.  Advocacy groups like The International Coalition Against Restraint and Seclusion spoke up and kept speaking up.  Other autistic advocates called attention to the story, too, and eventually a large list of advocates, celebrities, and organizations signed on to express support and condolences in advance of the vigil.

Last weekend, while a small vigil was held in Placerville, California, the rest of the world was learning about Max Benson.  A beautiful and heartfelt interview with Max’s mother, Stacia, made its way into the hearts of thousands around the world.  In it, she said of Max,

I would like them to know that he was a hero.  He enriched my life in ways I cannot fully articulate, but he was like a fiery star.  He taught me things I could not have learned from any other person.

He taught me that happiness only exists in the moment, and that nature is the only place we really feel at home.  He taught me a lot of Yo’ Momma jokes… He taught me how much we love our children.  

Most people think they know, as I did, but I can assure you it’s so much more than that.

Orders of magnitude more.

The interview featured a home video of Max talking about his “Bad guy pants.”  His mother laughed heartily behind the camera.  Later, she gave advice to people that wherever they faced seemingly-insurmountable obstacles, they put on their Bad Guy Pants™, magical pants you wear when you need to be especially brave or awesome.

It was an emotional weekend as #ShineOnMax became a beacon of hope, a unifying force, a light on truths, a call for justice, an expression of solidarity, an expression of grief and fear, and a refusal to let autistic people continue to be dehumanized by school systems, the media, or the justice system.

This was last year and i never heard of it til now?!  Wtf…  no gif for this, it seems too wrong.  #ShineOnMax may he RIP beloved max
— Dotti (@autistic_dotti) November 18, 2019

It’s clear that #ShineOnMax is a Light that is only continuing to grow brighter, too.

Special Interests

Autistic people are known for their special interests and passions.  Many people took initiative the read about Max, and they learned he had a special interest in rocks.  They honored that with their tweets.

These beautiful rocks are for Max #ShineOnMax
— Super Amanda® (@TheSuperAmanda) November 19, 2019
(Gif: a candle burning in the midst of a circle of rocks.  Because Max Benson loved rocks and might well have devoted his life to them had it been allowed to continue.  #ShineOnMax)
— Chris's Train of Autistic Thought || #NDWriters (@AutistTrainGuy) November 18, 2019
And this from novelist Echo Miller, who wrote The Insiders Club, a young adult novel with four autistic primary characters.

Max Benson liked rocks.  I lit his candle near a slab of rainbow fluorite.  I began collecting rocks a couple of years ago.  I wish he was still around to teach me about them.  Gone too soon.  Why?  Bc impatient, ignorant people won’t even try to understand autism.  #ShineOnMax
— Echo Miller (@MillingEchoes) November 18, 2019

Ableism in the Media

Others called out the media coverage of the circumstances surrounding Max’s death, which was either dehumanizing, ableist, or completely inaccurate.

I’ve noticed with autism that you’re either: “severely autistic” which means you aren’t deserving of respect.  Or you’re “high functioning” which means you’re totally normal and need to quit lying.  It’s very disturbing to me.  #ShineOnMax
— iykyk (@angry_teen01) November 18, 2019

News clarified Max was "severely autistic" What do authors imply by the word severe?  Was Max deserving less respect- shorter life?  Max was killed in his school, by his teacher and we should all be very very angry and worried.  #ShineOnMax ..  when will we learn to do better?
— Dr Georgia Pavlopoulou (@JoPavlopoulou) November 17, 2019

Max, you have been painted by the news as "severely autistic.” This reads to me as people implying you were less deserving of respect, bodily autonomy, and the outrage that should follow a teacher killing her student while others watched.  #ShineOnMax
— The Aspergian #ShineOnMax (@theAspergianCom) November 17, 2019

Neuroscience professor Laura Dilley challenged CNN’s reporting of Max as 9″ taller and at least fifty pounds heavier than he actually was:
To @CNN – December 2018 article you report the boy was 6’1” but the mother said he was 5’3”.  The website for the El Dorado county Sheriff’s office, linked to from your article, also reports incorrect information about the boy’s height and weight.  See Sacramento Bee.
— Prof.  Laura Dilley (@laura_greenaura) November 14, 2019

Parent Fears and Experiences:

Many parents talked about their own children’s experiences or the fears they have for their children:

child abuse child death
Max Benson could have been my son.
My son was lucky, he wasn't killed, they broke his humerus instead.
Max's crime fro his death penalty?  spitting
My son's was trying to isolate himself.
— Rosemarie Carreiro Âû (@RoseMCarreiro) November 18, 2019

Kim Rhodes, American actress most known for her role in Supernatural, acknowledged that the same fate could’ve befallen her beloved autistic child.
In another place, this could have been my child.  I humbly ask, if you will not join, at least please be aware.  #ShineOnMax
— ΞXΓЯΞMΞ ҜIM (@kimrhodes4real) November 14, 2019

My 6 year-old #Autistic son is anorexic
If just one adult or even teen, pinned him on his stomach, face down
he'd suffer a cardiac arrest within moments
restraint would fracture his frail body within seconds
Restraint must end
Autistic ppl are HUMAN#ShineOnMax
— Melanie Creane, CAS (@Melani_e_) November 17, 2019

Inspired to Action

Some people were so moved by their grief about what happened to Max that they were inspired to act.

I started this article in memory of Max Benson #ShineOnMax

It's a wiki, so feel free to edit and add to it if you have more ideas.

— Luna Rose (@MissLunaRose) November 19, 2019

Faye Fahrenheit even made a YouTube video in advance of the vigil:
Autistic Solidarity

Some of the most heartrending responses were autistic people relating so profoundly, knowing that it could have been them.

When I was 13, rocks were my special interest, just like Max.
When I was 13, I went to a private school, just like Max.
When I was 13, I was punished for my autistic traits…  although not quite like Max.
Because one day, I survived to become 14.  #ShineOnMax
Steve Asbell (@steve_asbell) November 17, 2019

Autistic poet and Aspergian contributor Yana tweeted to Bobby_Rubio, creator-animator of Disney Pixar’s short film, “Float,” a metaphor Rubio wrote inspired by parenting autistic children and feeling so protective that you’re afraid to let them go,

Thank you, @Bobby_Rubio, for advocating for all of us who have been packed with shame for being who we are.  Especially today.  Thank you for being vulnerable in your journey to acceptance & unabashedly celebrating your child.  #Float #AllAutistics #RepresentationMatters #ShineOnMax
— Yana – To Exist is to Resist (@APrismUncovered) November 18, 2019

And Bobby Rubio replied,

Thank you @APrismUncovered for your love and support!  WE are not alone!  All the best to you and your family!
— Bobby Alcid Rubio (@Bobby_Rubio) November 18, 2019

Really, the world has gotten away with too much when it comes to the oppression of autistic people.
Remembering Max Benson today, an Autistic person murdered by his teachers.  People with disabilities are murdered by caregivers frequently – over 650 times in the past 5 years.  Max Benson deserved better, and so did all the others.  #ShineOnMax
— Jessica Benham (@jessicalbenham) November 17, 2019

I would also like people to think about a small way they might be able to help make the world a safer place for people like him.  He was so good at speaking truth to power, and I think if we follow his lead we can save some lives.

And really, #ShineOnMax feels like the beginning of making the world a safer place.  It feels like maybe Bobby Rubio was right, that we’re not alone.  It feels like maybe more people are going to be outraged the media tries to portray autistic children as if they are huge, destructive, and soulless.

It feels like the world cares more than it did a week ago.  It feels that the world is more aware.  It feels that the world is more willing to listen to the autistic community.

It feels like hope.  But the work isn’t done.  We have to put on our Bad Guy Pants and get to work, now.  Keep Max’s memory alive, and keep the hashtag alive.  Use #ShineOnMax to:

challenge the media when they dehumanize autistic people,

  • to protest restraint and seclusion,
  • to express condolences for the loss of autistic lives,
  • to demand justice for autistic people and their families,
  • to resist practices which are harmful to autistics,
  • to show the autistic community that you want to be an ally,
  • to let the world know that you care about autistic people,
  • to connect in shared grief,
  • to express hope for a better future for the next generation of autistic children.

And now I'm crying for different reasons.  Puttin on my #badguypants and getting to work. 
This confounding place…  #ShineonMax
— PoisonHivey (@molotavocado) November 18, 2019

#AskingAutistics and non-autistic allies to finish the sentence: My hope for the future is that autistic children ________________.  #ShineOnMax #AllAutistics #AutisticAllies
— The Aspergian #ShineOnMax (@theAspergianCom) November 20, 2019

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

For International Men's Day

On the latest HBR Talk, Hannah Wallen and Lauren, Literally discuss right and wrong ways of observing International Men's Day (today!) and the case of Rodney Reed, an innocent man on Texas' death row. Also, tips on how you can do freelance activism in your community, plus how to shut up that one relative who keeps saying "Sodomites."

Thursday, November 14, 2019

I'll Be Reading Again at This Month's Erotic Literary Salon

It's a poem I only composed a couple weeks ago. There's a backlog of works I haven't performed yet, but I'm moving this one up because I think its character makes sharing it important to my personal growth.

#ShineOnMax Vigil for Autistic Person Killed by Restraints

#ShineOnMax Community-wide Candlelight Vigil for Max Benson, Sunday November 17
Nearly a year ago, 13-year-old Max Benson, an autistic student, was restrained by teachers at his school for almost two hours.  As a result of injuries sustained from that restraint, he died in the hospital the next day.

The autistic community is aware that untimely deaths happen too often to our members.  What’s more, many autistics who survive into adulthood– through trauma, restraint, bullying, and social isolation– never get to see their talents and dreams recognized.  Often unmotivated by desires of wealth or fame, autistic people are driven to use their passions and unique insights to find a way to contribute to the Greater Good and make a positive difference in a world they’ve experienced as unwelcoming.

Max Benson was inquisitive, bright, curious, thoughtful, funny, and full of life.  In his neighborhood, he was known as “the mayor.”  His life was taken from him too early, but the autistic community and our allies are not willing to let his Light also be taken.  We are going to fight to make sure that Max’s Light continues to shine and that his legacy will live on to bring positive change to the world.  #ShineOnMax

-The Aspergian Team

The International Coalition Against Restraint and Seclusion (ICARS) and Max Benson’s family will be holding a vigil on Sunday, November 17, in remembrance of Max’s life and in honor of his vibrant spirit.  A live vigil will be held at 2pm PST at the El Dorado County District Attorney Office, 778 Pacific Street, Placerville, CA 95667.

However, we are asking all those who are not local, wherever you are in the world, to light a candle for Max on Sunday (11/17/19), and to post a picture of your candle on social media with the hashtag #ShineOnMax, or you can use one of the candle graphics we will post here and on various social media.  There’s no need to post at a specific time.  Just take a moment to light a candle and let Max’s family, the autistic community, and the world that you value Max’s Light.

Autistic advocates, allies, and organizations who will be lighting a candle in solidarity on Sunday (see note at the bottom if you wish to be added to this list):
If you are a business owner or non-profit associated with inclusion, disability, or autism, or if you are an autistic advocate or ally who is a public figure with a social media page, YouTube, group, website, blog, podcast, etc., and you’d like to be listed as supporting #ShineOnMax, please comment under this blog with your name and a link to your site to be added to this list.
We hope that on Sunday, November 17, everyone can light a candle for Max and will hashtag #ShineOnMax.  If for any reason lighting a candle is not ideal for you, images featuring candles will be available at the bottom of this post and on ICARS and The Aspergian social media.  Everyone is welcomed to make their own images for #ShineOnMax.
If you are an individual wanting to stay in the loop about how to keep children and adults with disabilities safe from dangerous restraints and seclusion or to get involved, follow ICARS on Facebook and Twitter.