There have been times when I have had the opportunity to stand up and make a clear statement, and yet I failed to do so and lived to regret it. One case that stands out right now is when the blogger erv called Kent Heckenlively of the Age of Autism blog “you sick fuck“. That incident stands out because now I am faced with another challenge: do I stand up to what I see as dangerous speech, this time by Mr. Heckenlively himself?
In an article, When I Can Do Nothing, Mr. Heckenlively writes:
And yet, as thankful as I am for an understanding of what has happened to my child and so many others, my heart is heavy. The Dark Forces which in the past have destroyed the careers of those who have found clues to the afflictions of our children and other disease communities are once again on the move. You may very well read about their actions this week. And I can’t do anything to stop them.
The pain Mr. Heckenlively is feeling is palpable in that paragraph. I feel for him. I really do. At the same time I was quite worried by the choice of the phrase “Dark Forces”. Had the article stopped there, I would not be writing this response.
Mr. Heckenlively goes on to write how he sought guidance from the Bible. Nothing inherently worrisome about that:
I often find myself pondering such questions of faith. What is it I’m meant to do? I want to rush the barricades, but to what effect? It was with such thoughts in my mind I went to our local bookstore, picked up a Bible, opened it to a random page, and with my eyes closed, put my finger down.
The passage he found at random?
Psalm 94 – God, the Avenger of the Righteous
Perhaps now you see why I chose to write a response. Invoking God to bring forth vengeance is troublesome to me.
Here is the version (the language differs according to the bible translation) of Psalm 94 Mr. Heckenlively quotes in his piece:
O’Lord, you God of vengeance, you God of vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O judge of the earth; give to the proud what they deserve! O’ Lord, how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush your people, O’Lord, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the stranger, they murder the orphan, and they say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.
Understand, O dullest of the people; fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? He who disciplines the nations, he who teaches knowledge to humankind, does he not chastise? The Lord knows our thoughts, that they are but an empty breath.
Happy are those whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, giving them respite from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.
Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers? If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, “My foot is slipping,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who contrive mischief by statute? They band together against the righteous, and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. He will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord God will wipe them out.
Mr. Heckenlively concludes his article:
God knows there are some wicked people out there trying to keep our children from getting better. If you’re listening God, and it meets with Your approval, this week would be an excellent time to deal with them.
I don’t know what Mr. Heckenlively means precisely by “deal with them”. But he has just quotes scripture ” He will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord God will wipe them out.”
Here is a comment allowed through by the Age of Autism moderators:
Can he just get on with the smiting
Which tells me that the message is being received: God should smite those who are seen as “wicked”.
Mr. Heckenlively: I wish you and your family well. I truly mean that. I also would strongly encourage you to step back and rethink the post you have put up. Look at the language: “He will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord God will wipe them out.” Ask yourself, ask a trusted friend outside of the autism communities: is this something you should have published?
Mr. Heckenlively, I know it wasn’t easy for you to write what you did. It is not easy to write this response. Finding a tone that remains respectful while voicing my very real concern for the message you are sending is difficult to say the least. I hope that both of us can take down our posts very soon.