Never go full Hollywood

12 Aug

There’s a big debate going on at the moment about a new film soon to be released called ‘Tropic Thunder‘.

The premise of the film is three self absorbed actors who are filming a war movie, it looks back at the actors careers in various ways to see how they come to this low point of their careers. Or at least thats the impression I got.

Ben Stiller plays a character who once played a character in a different film called Simple Jack. There is a faux movie poster for Simple Jack

Simple Jack poster

Simple Jack poster

which has the strapline:

Once upon a time….There was a retard.

Later on in the timeline of Tropic Thunder, this conversation takes place between Ben Stiller’s character and Robert Downey Jr.’s character:

Now, I’ll be honest and say that I believe that in his head when he was writing this, Stiller probably thought that this would be a funny little tweak at certain actors who take their craft a wee bit seriously.

Unfortunately, it really doesn’t come across that way. It comes across as Stiller grabbing at a bit of Farrely Brothers tastelessness in order to make people laugh at the word ‘retard’ and in turn his own characters lack of acting skills.

There’s a fascinating discussion of the film and the controversy here which is very revealing. The host starts by asking her interviewee if he was shocked that seeing a white man portray a black man wasn’t expected to be the shocking thing and the interviewee saying, yeah you would expect people to be shocked by that.

The interviewee then fills in watchers on the ‘Simple Jack’ backstory saying,

The joke is that he went so far in trying to play a………uhh… a………

and the host breaks in:

Come on! You can say it.

The interviewee states later:

I’m sorry, it may be a derogatory word but kids, kids of all, I used it when I was a little kid. I don’t think its something thats ever done in meanness.

That YouTube clip has two comments. The second one reads:

Playing a retard is Oscar gold. I have seen the clips – everything was fine. We can’t go banning every fucking word that offends every retard out there.

So, its OK to be shocked by a white man playing a black man. But its not OK to expect people to be shocked by people referring to other people as retards?

To me, there’s two things wrong with using the word ‘retard’ in this way. Firstly, to use it where it doesn’t apply automatically infers that it is a term for something that is ‘not right’. I hear Americans say all the time ‘that’s retarded’ to refer to something they consider wrong or ill thought out. Secondly (and building on this) I understand that the phrase ‘mental retardation’ is a medical diagnosis for people in the States. The phrase over here is ‘learning disabilities’.

I want to state this clearly as I can. As a species we cannot go around making value judgements on who, due to their mental or physical differences, is deserving of being thought of in a positive or negative light. As soon as we start doing that, we immediately devalue these peoples humanity. Its very, very easy to attack someone when you think of them as being part of a labelled group who are inferior to you in some way.

Pretending that the word ‘retard’ is not used as a put down or ‘in meanness’ is at best naive and at worst, deliberately deceptive.

One thing that neither the film, or any of the commentators I’ve read so far have considered is _why_ ‘playing a retard is Oscar gold’. I’ll tell you why. Because when its done well, it reveals the humanity, skills and desires of someone who is another human being sharing the planet with everyone else. That’s what acting is about isn’t it? Bringing out a characters humanity and letting us, the audience seeing them?

When its done poorly, as I suspect it is in this film, all that happens is that a group of people who are already bullied and called named can expect more of the same as the bullies have seen Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr doing it and think its OK to do so.

ASAN have produced a video response to this film.

37 Responses to “Never go full Hollywood”

  1. commenting August 12, 2008 at 10:26 #
    Someone sent me a link to this today. On that blog Dave Hingsburger wrote:

    “Several years ago:

    A man with Down Syndrome leaves a movie theatre in Manhattan, a group of young girls come out from a showing of ‘Something About Mary’ flinging the word ‘retard’ around. He freezes, terror crosses his face. [Their words] hit him. Hard. Like a fist. I still see his face in my mind.”

  2. Liz Ditz August 12, 2008 at 14:24 #

    It is interesting which words are taboo in one English-speaking country, but not another.

    It is time to take the “r” word out of circulation.

    I’ve written a blog post, Words Hurt: The “r” Word, on Wanda and Rick Felty’s campaign to “Ban the R Word”, and Jenna Glatzer’s pledge campaign, as well as the “Tropic Thunder” controversy.

    I’m keeping a partial list people posting negative responses to “Tropic Thunder”. I’ve included a link to your this post.

    I also liked abfh’s tag line:

    Never go full bigot.

  3. Navi August 12, 2008 at 16:17 #

    A discussion of terms used in the US:

    We also use learning disabilities here, but it’s a blanket term meaning exactly what it says, where as mental retardation, as a diagnosis, suggests a cognitive disability.

    In the US, autism is a Learning Disability, but is not Mental Retardation, for example. An autistic person can have mental retardation as well, but they are not one and the same. ADHD is a learning disability as well. So is ’emotional impairment’ and dyslexia. None of these fall under ‘mental retardation.’ Mental retardation can also be used to describe a functional disability. My autistic son does not appear to have any cognitive disability but he does not speak, which is a functional disability, and therefore some would say he does in fact have mental retardation, because his lack of speech is not due to a physical disability, while others say he does not.

    It’s confusing, but there you go.

  4. Navi August 12, 2008 at 16:21 #

    of course one wonders why they don’t switch to “cognitively disabled” over mental retardation. It’s much more difficult to pull a derogatory from the former… would they start calling people cogs?

  5. mayfly August 12, 2008 at 19:01 #

    Autism’s Gadfly has a post on this. As a parent of a child who is autistic and has made very little cognitive progress. I cannot agree that “retard” can be used in any context. No, I don’t want its use banned. I would like the people to be gently and lovingly shown the errors of their ways, but not forced into making an insincere apology.

    Gadfly is right the “House Autistic” was meant to be hurtful. While I know that view is not held by the owner of the site, it is telling that no one on the hub chose to disagree.

    People such as my daughter need all the love they can get, and most probably institutional care when we , her mother and I can no longer do so. It would benefit her greatly if a true breakthrough could be found and the autism which has done nothing but harm to her be mitigated and eventually expunged.

    We just went through a very rough ten days. My daughter despite at 11 chronologically , but under 2 mentally had made huge strides behaviorally. Those behavioral advancements vanished and for much of those 10 days she was uncontrollable. It rocked us as parents. We felt helpless. Luckily she was not self-injurious other than biting her hand which we try to protect with a glove. She need to run full tilt and perserverate,, turn any book or papers left about into shreds, and if no printed material was found she found other things to destroy. It was how constant these behaviors were that we found almost unbelievable.

    Then a few days a go she started settling down and why no piece of paper or book is yet safe, she is much calmer. I might add so are we.

    It is not demeaning to my daughter to hope something will be found to help her and to realize how much harm autism has done to her

  6. anon_please August 12, 2008 at 19:57 #

    Mayfly: Please. No one is saying that your child should not be helped. No one on the Hub is saying this to my knowledge; if they are please show me now. At this point, the only “cures” people I know that ppl have spoken out against are things like DIY chelation and prevention and the like. Jonathan/Autism Gadfly is incorrect when he keeps repeating that there is not a genocide-ish mindset (paraphrasing) or whatever. It has been happening to certain extent. I know those who have had the sex selection ‘spinning’ to get only girls … to weed out the boys because they think this will protect (or give them greater protection) from ASDs. I know a scientist who was/is with one of the big orgs that Gadfly supported/supports who gave semi-quasi genetic counseling advice to someone who was interested in determining if they should continue with a pregnancy given their current direct family history of ASDs — and then went on to elaborate on which local teaching/univ/hosp did which tests [experimental/prenatal] and what he/she thought of them. And on it goes. Gadfly is, I think, mistaken about the long-range intent of some of these orgs. Others try to point this out to him. As far as I can tell, a cure to most of these orgs means extermination. Period.

  7. Prometheus August 12, 2008 at 23:44 #

    Retard (verb, intransitive) def : To hinder or to prevent advancement or accomplishment.

    I would say that those people who choose to sum up a person’s entire lifetime of struggle, accomplishments and emotional growth in a single scornful word are the “retards”.

    Those who argue that the word is “harmless” should consider the intention behind it. Is it used to praise, compliment and encourage? Or is it meant to denigrate, insult, hurt, demean and dismiss?

    Those who argue that the word should be “banned” should also consider that making a word “forbidden” gives it much more power.

    No, I think that people who use the word “retard” as a noun are engaging in simple psychological projection.


  8. Liz Ditz August 13, 2008 at 00:06 #

    @Prometheus: I agree that the word shouldn’t be banned. Yes, I put the “ban the ‘r’ word” button on my blog post, but I think that Jenna Glatzer’s “My Words Matter” — and the pledge — are a better approach.

    @ Navi — I agree it is confusing. In the US, there’s the casual use of “learning disability” and the more formal use. Casually, yes, autism & ADHD can be referred to as “learning disabilities.” Then there’s the whole qualifying for special education & accomodations area….

    If you look at the law (IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)

    IDEA’s Definition of “Learning Disability”

    Our nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, defines a specific learning disability as . . .

    “. . . a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.”

    However, learning disabilities do not include, “…learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.” 34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.7(c)(10)

    More here:

  9. Ms. Clark August 13, 2008 at 01:13 #

    What I think is interesting is that Stiller seems to be trying to mock Hollywood types for exploiting whatever they want to exploit, including race and disability. So to me, it’s obvious that some actors cold-bloodedly exploit autistic people (among other categories of people they exploit) in order to further their careers when they spend time with autistic people in order to learn how to act like them. I’m not sure that Dustin Hoffman, for example, went on to be able to advocate for autistic people in his everyday life… I don’t see him clamoring to join ASAN or ANI…

    So yeah, in theory he could be trying to expose the shallow Hollywood view of mental retardation (intellectual disability).

    The problem is that his fans aren’t picking up on that critique of Hollywood (**if** in fact really was Stiller’s intention) what they are picking up on is shown in their comments that go something like this: “Retards! I luv that word “retard”. Anyone who doesn’t like me saying it is a retard.” or “I say just say “tard”. My boss is a tard, my neighbors are all tards… and mongs, too. Hey, my ex wife is a spaz and my ex friend is a mouth breather!”
    “MR” was a cruel epithet when I was a kid, we didn’t say “retarded” just “MR” another favorite insult was “Spastic” which morphed into “Spaz”. For those of you who use that term it refers to people with cerebral palsy and that sort of condition. And “mouth breather,” I’ve read a mercury dad use that one. It refers to people who breath through their mouths, one of whom was my good friend who died. He was very significantly developmentally delayed or mentally retarded and autistic. He usually had a slack jaw and his mouth open. So what? At least he was never a cruel jerk to other people. He would never have called an autistic person a “toxic train wreck” or “empty shell,” either.

  10. mayfly August 13, 2008 at 01:57 #

    Ano_Please. Care to name the scientist and the Institution giving this advice. Care to name the Universities offering prenatal autism screening. We know from population studies the chance of having a autistic child would be. What would the tests do? If you take all the genetic differences associated so far with Autism, abut 75
    to 80% of those diagnosed. Nearly all have the genetic abnormalities have been the result of spontaneous mutations, not inheritance. The chances are the testing would find nothing and the life of the child might be spared because of it.

    There wil be genetic testing for austism. Didn’t CombiMatrix announce such a test? Let’s say one of the SNP”s associated with autism causes neuroligin, a synaptic protein to be malformed. Two things will happen, some will decide to abort their children should they test positive for the mutaton. However we may also one day know how to get the cells to synthesize the protein correctly.

    I can understand the angst over the abortion. I’m against abortion, yes even of neurotypicals, except when the mother’s life is endangered by the pregnancy. But would you object to providing a means for the proper synthesis of neuroligin, if that meant the person was no longer autisitic.

    If one compares my daugher’s autism to crossing the street: some in this world will not help her at all, some will be there to help her across the street, and some will look for ways to empower her to cross the street on her own.

    I find there are many in the neurodiversity in the second group who argue against the third option, if it would mean she would no longer be autistic. Yet all these people can cross the street on their own just fine.



  11. isles August 13, 2008 at 02:13 #

    How verrrrry daring of Stiller and associates to use this socially disfavored word. Truly, their studliness is breathtaking.

  12. anon_please August 13, 2008 at 03:25 #


    The PhD/MD/sci board member said “this univ/teaching hosp are looking at this”; “this univ/teaching hosp is looking at that”. The univ./teaching hospitals mentioned were all in Southern Calif. [It was ’06, btw.] They were not ‘advertised’ as ‘prenatal autism tests’. It was, AS I SAID EARLIER–EXPERIMENTAL, however, it appeared to be available to some. Just like the sex selection spinning. It’s been available since the 90s. I know those who went to London for it before it was available in the US; and then later it was available only first in Va. — as is my understanding. I think it’s much more widely available now.

    Also, you asked: “But would you object to providing a means for the proper synthesis of neuroligin, if that meant the person was no longer autistic.”

    I have not kept up with this area to know enough to answer properly, but of course we all want our children to be healthy. I have an ASD family member with a co-existing systemic issue, which was missed by a well-known BMD who was too busy trying to cure/heal/normalize (whatever) alleged ‘autism health issues’ to actually catch and treat the “real” health issue. (This was, of course, some years back.)

    I’m sorry; I don’t understand your crossing the street analogy. It’s not you; you write well. It’s just not translating to me.

  13. Ms. Clark August 13, 2008 at 04:12 #

    isles, yeah, I can imagine them thinking twice about using a racial epithet in case some offended person of whatever race should decide to show their displeasure via punch in the face. I don’t think his movie would have shown a poster of a non-black man in bad “black face” makeup with the tag line, “Once upon a time there was a (insert racist epithet)” Or how about a poster of a known Catholic actor wearing a yarmulke and sidelocks with a tagline of “Once upon at time there was (insert antisemitic epithet).” Sure maybe some people would think it was funny, but I can’t see the majority of people thinking it was funny.

  14. Kev August 13, 2008 at 08:38 #

    Mayfly, I have no idea what ‘house autistic’ even _means_ , let alone why it might be rude.

    Remember the Hub is an international affair with nearly 90 blogs. That means that there are cultural references that are going to be missed. It also means that I sincerely doubt every member of the Hub reads every other members output. I know I don’t, there simply isn’t the time.

  15. Ms. Clark August 13, 2008 at 09:17 #

    Is it just me or does there seem to be a lack of outrage at the use of the word “retard” coming from the “biomed” parents who went ballistic over Savage’s remarks about autistic kids just being brats without fathers? It’s what I expected. Lots of them have children who would have been labeled “mentally retarded” or just bad kids or learning disabled 25 years ago. I think that if they’ve heard the word “retarded” applied to their child, they’ve refused it, in the same way parents used to reject “childhood schizophrenia” or “autism” at different points in time. And conversely the way parents want (and demand) the “autism” label now so that they can get more services not available (at least in some areas) to “learning disabled” kids.

    Of the mercury parents, I guess they figure that even if their child has an intellectual disability now that with enough chelation and vitamin shots they’ll fix that right and so they don’t have to worry about their child being discriminated against as a “retarded adult.”

    The consensus right now on EoHam seems to be that the retards need to lighten up about this movie because it’s entertainment.

    In an earlier comment I said that a mercury dad had written something about “mouth breathers.” I remembered it was Don Imus. I think he called Bob Wright a mouth breather…

  16. Patrick August 13, 2008 at 16:26 #

    Some jerk trying to let hollywood off the hook for poisoning the pool:

    Re House Autistic:
    I heard about this, and agreed with Jonathan that it was used to build a derogatory ‘frame’. No I didn’t go out hook tooth and nail after the source, as at the time I was not aware of the entire set of facts surrounding the issue, and still probably am not aware enough to attempt to reason my way through it. Nor do I like to pick sides when it comes to one spectrum person and another having some serious disagreement.

    We can’t all be omniscient. (OK sweeping generalization, admitted.) But whoever claimed that noone on the hub didn’t at least have a negative reaction is incorrect, you didn’t see all of the commentary on some of the other blogs.

    From what I can tell the term is/was used to denote someone who might be useful as a ‘token’ autistic by purported advocacy groups. Similar to Temple being contracted to speak/appear at conferences where some questionable interventions/therapies are presented.

    I hope I have not slighted either party by this summary of that flap.

  17. mayfly August 13, 2008 at 17:10 #

    Kev, what I meant to say is that I don’t think you would agree with the labeling of those autistics wanting cures as traitorous “house” autistics. The term comes from an assertion that household slaves were allies of their masters, while field slaves were hostile to their masters. Thus those autistics who want to be cured are allies with the NT community in subjugating those who do not.

  18. Regan August 13, 2008 at 17:31 #

    It does seem kinda selective that some folks who were up in arms about the use of the term on Big Brother back in Feb. are not equally concerned about the use in Tropic Thunder. I’m not sure what the logic is–friends in the film industry?…it’s okay, if you call it satire…(?)

  19. mayfly August 13, 2008 at 17:55 #

    Ms Clark, I thought the reaction to Savage’s remarks was from the entire community of autistics and their caregivers. The great rise in numbers of autistics has been with those who are higher-functioning. You don’t go from 70% of autistics having I.Q’s of less than 70 to 70% of autistics having I.Q’s >= 70 , if the rise is primarily with those who are low-functioning.

    I read some of Savage’s stuff. In one interview he was surprised that children who are labeled MR do not get the same help as children labeled as autistic. Now this might have been part of his attempt to save his job, but I think it was a confession of genuine ignorance.

    Savage was addressing higher-functioning children with behavioral issues. If my daughter breaks down in a restaurant, the people around us probably has have noticed she doesn’t talk, has made actions not typical of a child her age, and our efforts to keep her calm. They may be mad that their meal is not being eaten in peace, but they also see our daughter is not a typical kid and are sympathetic,

    Now a family with an 11 year-old higher-functioning child comes to the same restaurant. That child talks, gives no signs of anything being wrong, but on that day the hubbub of the restaurant is too much and the child breaks down. The diners are more likely to think, “What a spoiled brat!, Don’t his parents know how to discipline him.? If he were my child this wouldn’t be happening!”

    Savage view is like those diners. Nearly everyone can see that disciplining a child who doesn’t understand its purpose is fruitless. But their are many out there who cannot see that even if the child understands what they are being disciplined for, that discipline is fruitless if their actions are governed by their disorder and not their free will.

    If such children have free will, and are not cognitively disabled, then what is the argument that the children are not spoiled brats?

  20. Patrick August 13, 2008 at 17:58 #

    I’m not too sure on the difference Regan. One was definitely a person in a ‘trusted’ position, the other is a fantasy world.

    I find myself even this morning wondering whether or not Cleese and company might have been a bit insensitive with the bureau of wierd walks skit.

  21. mayfly August 13, 2008 at 19:02 #

    Patrick. Is calling someone a token, not demeaning? The suggestion is the person cannot think for himself and has become allied with those who want to harm him and those like him. The proclamation is that autistics who want to be cured are “useful idiots of Autism Speaks.” What member of the hub wrote against the “House Autstic” post? Your right I didn’t read everything, and I’d like to think somebody on the hub thought the post was wrong.

  22. Kev August 13, 2008 at 19:35 #

    mayfly – thanks for the explanation of ‘house autistic’. I agree that this is not a tasteful or useful comparison to make. You are wrong that the ‘nd’ as a group endorse the underlying viewpoint that an autistic person who desires a cure is a traitor. I blogged about this subject a fair time ago regarding a news item about Carly Fleischmann an autistic teen who said:

    If I could tell people one thing about autism it would be that I don’t want to be this way…

    To which I said:

    These are Fleischmann’s thoughts and opinions. We should not and cannot discount, ignore or attack them. We cannot pretend that they are not equally as valid as any other autistic persons just because we don’t like their message. To say that they are not valid is to take the exact same stance as those who claim autistic people cannot know their own minds. Fleischmann knows her own mind and – right now – she doesn’t like being autistic and wishes she wasn’t.

    That was my stance then and it is now. So, please rest assured that even as far back as Feb someone on the Hub thought the underlying idea was wrong. In fact, you yourself participated in the comment thread that developed so you would have known it wasn’t the case. There were also at least three autistic people in that thread who agreed outright.

    I’m disturbed by your seeming tactic agreement with Savage that an ‘invisible’ disability is OK to attack? I’m thinking of this that you wrote about people with high functioning autism:

    If such children have free will, and are not cognitively disabled, then what is the argument that the children are not spoiled brats?

    Just before I outline my response, I’d like to double check with you that you were indeed referring to high functioning autistic people?

  23. Patrick August 13, 2008 at 20:27 #

    I didn’t show up this morning to get drawn into that specific issue. I tried to summarize my impression of the part of the exchange I was aware of, as it came up in these comments. I can see that your definition is much more accurate for the historical context than mine. I’m not saying that calling a person a token is not demeaning either, but the use of tokens exists, right or wrong. There have been other posts about token autistics too.

    To demand of a group that some member make a post reprimanding another seems to be a very agressive or divisive candor to me.

    I came here this morning to post the partial reference to an opinion peice that was worthy of perusal or rebuttal, in my opinion, in regards to the main topic of this post.

  24. 90s Outweek Reader August 13, 2008 at 21:12 #

    “How verrrrry daring of Stiller and associates to use this socially disfavored word. Truly, their studliness is breathtaking.”

    Oh, yes, Stiller is a real stud. But, apparently, Downey even more so. This from the comments section in another hub blog:

    [2:55 in]

  25. mayfly August 13, 2008 at 22:17 #

    Kev. I didn’t mean to imply that high-functioning children were spoiled. I’m saying that those behaviors stem eventually from their autism. My point is that an 11-year old child of average or better intelligence who acts like a two-year old in a restaurant is more likely to be thought of as spoiled than a child who shows signs of seriously delayed cognitive development.

    The high-functioning child’s tantrum may be a conscious act. However, it’s because the child’s autism causes it to choose that behavior over more acceptable ones, If autism pays no part in the behavioral choice, that is the child truly has free will, then the 11-year old child acting like a two-year old is indeed a spoiled brat.

  26. 90s Outweek Reader August 13, 2008 at 23:10 #

    It’s not about ‘behavior’ mayfly.

  27. Ms. Clark August 13, 2008 at 23:19 #


    to me, Savage’s remarks just made him look very stupid. I am still waiting for parents everywhere to get their backs up over what other parents say about autistic kids in general and about those parents own kids. “Sorry my kid didn’t get cancer, ‘cuz at least if he’d got cancer he could die, but now I’m stuck with this kid for life.” (the words of some bozo from Canada) or “my real child was kidnapped from me,” (The words of the Shestack Iversens of CAN fame), “all I have left now is this soulless husk that is sucking the marrow out of the life of our family” (more or less Jerry Kartzinel’s words).

    Parents say this stuff that impacts the way other people look at ME as well as my kid. But very rarely does this ignite any reaction from the better known Internet commenting parents and gets no reaction from the “advocate” parents (apart from a few blogger or ND parents like Estee and Kev). In my opinion, “rank and file” parents on the bulletin boards just yawn when they here this kind of abuse, it’s just seen as normal to say, “gee I wish my kid was dead,” or “when I learned my kid was autistic I died inside” (Jenny stinking McCarthy).

    But the “rank and file” parents got all kinds of huffy over Savage’s remarks and that kid from “Big Brother”.

    What I find most interesting is that the bizarro mercury phobe parents jumped on Savage, but some of them are laughing at the “entertainment value” of the word ‘retard’ in Tropic Thunder. And from what I saw they aren’t even trying to justify the use of the word part of some kind of “ironic” social commentary, from what I saw, they are just think it’s funny to use the word “retard,” so long as it’s for “entertainment.”

  28. CS August 14, 2008 at 00:35 #

    Being that there is some serious misinformation about the use of the term “house autistic” that I coined, I’ll do a blog post to explain it in full detail. Suffice it to say that it has absolutely nothing to do with whether an autistic person wants a cure or not. One’s pro-cure or anti-cure beliefs isn’t even connected to the term. But like everything else, other people are attempting to define/manipulate the meaning in ways it isn’t meant.

    I’ll say this one more time and then I’ll follow up with a blog post about it at a later date:

    “In no way does the term have anything to do with whether an autistic person wants a cure or not.”

    Since I coined the term, its up to me to clarify what I meant by it.

  29. 90s Outweek Reader August 14, 2008 at 01:16 #

    I thought it was clear by listening to the Malcolm X speech, which was part of the blog post (iirc), what was meant by the term. I don’t know how or where cure every played into it.

  30. Ms. Clark August 14, 2008 at 03:29 #

    When I was in high school I learned about a meaning of the word, “capture”. This a definition I just found: “(Public choice theory and political science) capture is said to occur when bureaucrats or politicians, who are supposed be acting in the public interest, end up acting systematically to favor particular vested interests.”

    The example I learned in history class was kind of the opposite, it was something like “what happens when an official is sent out to act in behalf of a company or agency, and while out isolated from the company’s home base starts acting in the interest of the people he is working with on a daily basis in a way that is in opposition to the interests of the company.”

    It doesn’t necessarily mean that someone set out to corrupt the “captured” person, but it’s just natural for a person’s allegiance to change in some situations.

    This is what I think happens to people who are more or less tokens in various organizations. Their allegiance might start out with their peers and end up with those who are not their peers (the ones they are supposed to represent). I don’t know if this plays into CS’s definition of “house autistic” or not. At any rate, it is a common occurrence it doesn’t say something especially bad about autistics who spend their days among non-autistic bureaucrats or organizers.

  31. mayfly August 14, 2008 at 04:16 #

    90’s Outlook. What isn’t about behavior? Autism is very much about behavior especially in social situations

  32. mayfly August 14, 2008 at 04:28 #

    CS, I thought the hub was supposed to be a place of respect. I’m looking forward to your clarification of who is a house autistic. I don’t see any love for your fellow man in that term. If I was wrong about whom the term was directed, then which autistics are house autisitcs? Are you not calling them useful idiots.

  33. 90s Outweek Reader August 14, 2008 at 08:03 #

    This, mayfly, I was replying to this that you wrote:

    “The high-functioning child’s tantrum may be a conscious act. However, it’s because the child’s autism causes it to choose that behavior over more acceptable ones.”

  34. Kev August 14, 2008 at 09:52 #

    Mayfly, I accept you weren’t aping Savage’s position (although I remain concerned about how you expressed your point) but I don’t agree with you that behaviour is dictated by autism. Or at least not solely.

    Fear, for example, isn’t a behaviour and yet I read a piece in Metro (a UK daily) 2 days ago written by a young man with AS who wrote that as a child he regularly had meltdowns due to the noise in his classroom. His meltdowns were not bad behaviouor, they were fear.

    Now, on one side of the coin we could say that if this young man wasn’t AS he might not have been so worried about the noise. But on the other side of the coin, we can say that if the school had been more prepared to listen and make adjustments the issue would’ve been sorted quickly.

    Its too easy to blame exhibited ‘behaviours’ on autism in my opinion. First of all they might not be behaviours and secondly they are usually as much a societal issue as ‘medical’.

  35. CS August 14, 2008 at 11:37 #


    To my knowledge, “house autistic” was never introduced on the Hub until you made reference to it here. I’ve never written about it in my blog. The video was made I believe 2 years ago and was on Youtube for about a month. I took the video down due to a copyright claim by Graham Streeter and another autistic person uploaded the video back onto youtube.

    I’ve only been a member of the Hub since May. Someone took objection to the term, posted the video on his website (not a part of the Hub) and then it was referenced here by you for the first time. I’ve not written or spoken about it, with the exception of a very frustrated and angry remark I made to the other person (outside the Hub) who I believe has an agenda to be a contrarian without conviction and either purposely misapplied meaning or clumsily tried to understand it but nonetheless has miserably failed to understand it.

    Lots of speculation and misinformation about the term’s meaning and a manufactured “controversy” was thus created. That’s what happens I guess when people have a gut reaction without doing any further investigation and query to the author for further illumination and a honest search for understanding.

    I hope this clarifies at least how the term was introduced on the Hub and when and by whom it was introduced. But, before drawing any opinion, wait until I post the explanation. You may still not agree, but at least you will know the historical role of such “characters” in a broader context of civil rights history and the push for change and fair representation of the majority of disenfranchised peoples.

  36. jon Mitchell August 15, 2008 at 23:48 #

    While you are at it Christ school are you going to explain in your blog comment all of the nasty comments you left about me in the house autistic film post. Your saying that I was unkind to Robert Montgomery who called me a liar and a house autistic in so many words? Are you going to explain your threats of physical violence towards me? Or the comment in another threat on autism’s gadfly about how I was ingratiating myself with my NT master’s? Why don’t you explain all that nonesense too while you are at it. It is unfortunate that I made the mistake of deleting your nasty comment about ingratiating myself with my NT master’s on autism’s gadfly, but as long as your nasty depiction of marty murphy is on you tube and your other comments including the threats of violence towards me are left intact on autism’s gadfly perhaps you could explain all of this nonesense as well. But anyone can go to autism’s gadfly, see the video for themselves, see all of your abusive comments and judge for themselves what they meant and the type of person you are like and the type of people who the hub allows to have blogs linked to them, while at the same time complaining about a comment in a movie that was in no way deliberately meant to offend or demean.

  37. CS August 16, 2008 at 00:14 #


    I know your trying to bait me, but I’m afraid all you’ll get is this: Have a nice day.

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