The Unsaid Struggle of a Disability: Vigilantism in Politics and Society

               Being autistic can be terror because when one violates social mores, even minor ones, people get offended and the vigilantes come out. If one commits a social misdemeanor, in an age of rampant vigilantism, hundreds and perhaps thousands of pitchforks may come to pierce the horizon. It’s the story of Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. And when you’re prone to social mistakes, the pitchforks are a constant threat. This bleeds into official disciplinary sanctions, as well, since both the authority figures respond to grassroots vigilantes when said vigilantes report anything to them and they’re human and possess the same triggers over minor incidents since they’re also a part of the same culture as the vigilantes. Neurotypicals don’t lead more ethical lives, just more socially acceptable lives. So many good people live in fear of society attacking them, a society which hypocritically says they’re bad people.

               The dominant emotion being on the spectrum, as far as I’ve known it, is fear. Society enforces most of its rules through punitive measures and there is little in the way of trying to use arbitration between parties or medical treatments to engender a cohesive and functional social order. Generally, the criminal justice system would be better if minor disputes were mediated and the root causes of crimes were addressed instead of a system based on vengeance and retribution. The society that built that system enforces its other rules the same way, through the primitive logic “obey me or I’ll hurt you”. So, when you’re prone to violating social mores then you live in a world that is constantly telling you that and not unwilling to act on it. Having been urinated on and received death threats and much more, the vigilantes are more than willing to strike.

               In recent years, vigilantism has seemed to increase and it occurs for, sometimes, the most absurd of reasons. Bill Maher recently had a segment “My way or the die way” where he expressed concern over the frequent use of death threats over relatively asinine causes. This is a society that will tell you to kill yourself for liking Nickelback. The anti-Bieber movement of the early 2010s is another example. Why people hate on harmless musicians is inexplicable. Whether or not Nickelback is or Bieber was quality music, I would never vilify them. Hatred is always wrong against anyone but on a planet where Steve Bannon and Henry Kissinger are still alive and The Daily Stormer still actively publishes, why spend an emotion so vile as hatred on something as innocuous as pop stars. It astounds me how little people will hate over and how cheaply they will abandon their fellow humans.

               It’s like in the Dead Kennedys song “California Uber Alles” where it’s a dystopia that enforces coolness. Ostensibly, we live in a society where social liberalism is at the broadest it’s ever been and where one can be black, gay, feminist, or anything you like to be but may be the subject of intense hatred for the slightest deviance from what is considered cool. This is a problem across the board, not just in those socially liberal areas, but that’s certainly where it is most hypocritical. For what may be had on the larger scales of accepting identity groups, we have lost in a sense of humanity. This, again, affects my identity group, which is prone to minor deviance and offending people. In this era where people regularly overreact to being offended and often to the most nonissues of issues then society is going to have a difficult time in accepting people of various neurological, intellectual, and mental conditions.

               Philosophically, the Rawlsian and postmodernist folks who dominate my college campus may argue that hatred is a right since, according to Rawlsian reasoning anything that doesn’t infringe upon the liberties of another is ethically permissible and the postmodern moral relativists may argue that if morals are culturally relative then, by definition, violating a social more is unethical and any way a culture enforces that is ethically permissible. It just amazes me that philosophies that emerged from a liberalism designed from a desire to avert war and a critical theory that emerged from a Marxism designed to alleviate poverty, both altruistic and empathetic toward the human condition, would become so callous and sociopathic toward that condition to the point they would abandon the concept of human love, itself.

               Since Rawls and postmodernism seem to be, increasingly, the dominant moral philosophies of the left and therefore society, generally, there is ever less a moral force that can answer the tide of hatred and that leaves many of the weaker members of society prone to offend in a sad state since it looks like there is little hope that the tide of hatred that has seemed to increase over the recent years is waning. Luckily for me, I eventually developed the social skills and social awareness to offend the vigilantes much less but the PTSD from the vigilantes of my past haunts me painfully every night and day. My prefrontal cortex is in a constant state of hypervigilance as my amygdala’s norepinephrine burns like sulfuric acid both wary that the metaphorical pitchforks may be just beyond the corner and I might have to dig in to withstand a multi-month Verdun that I may or may not win.

                Yet, I and my story is little compared to many others. As I always say that however difficult my life has been, the average Syrian or Yemeni would give anything to have had my problems. This is not about merely the victims of the hatred and the harm caused. I’m more of a virtue ethicist than I am a deontologist or utilitarian (although, to a degree, I’m all three) and it is the hatred itself that is disgusting whether or not it causes tangible harm. Its destructive effect on the soul, not just the mind or body. That and the fact that the classes often affected are weaker than the ones acting it out. That it is the powerful dominating the powerless. Society is never going to accept certain classes of people if they are easily offended and triggered. People have a right to be safe, not a right to be comfortable and if we don’t recognize that then those classes will forever remain afflicted.

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