My parents once gave me some wonderful advice: Better to keep silent and let others think you a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Clearly, I speak a lot, so we all know I’m a fool. But I also don’t position myself as superior to others in my conduct – Heaven knows I’m flawed. And then you get groups with Holier-than-Thou attitudes who decide to shoot off their mouths about topics they know nothing about.
Yes, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, I’m looking at you.
Now, in general, I haven’t really paid PETA too much mind. Yes, I do think that they’re over-dramatic in some of the stances they take regarding how we treat animals. I agree about unnecessary animal testing in labs (for things like cosmetics, not medication). And I even respect most of those who stick to the vegan lifestyle, as much as I’m inclined to tease the vegans around me that “if God didn’t want us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them taste so good.” So, because I generally like to believe that people have good intentions, I’ve been willing in the past to turn something of a blind eye to their excesses, on the level of “well, they’re just trying to get attention.”
And then, PETA decided to wade into the Autism debate.
I’ve mentioned before what I think of folks who cling to GFCF as a “cure” for Autism – I think it’s bunk at best, and dangerous at worst (in terms of many followers not ensuring children get the nutrients they need to grow and be healthy). There’s been quite a bit of research that has disproven either aspect of the diet as helpful in treating Autism – that it might, on rare occasions, help with symptoms that are aggravating the Autism in a child, but that the diets are probably treating unrelated issues that are themselves the aggravating factor. We’ve already had the Monster tested for allergies that such a diet could be possibly treating, found that he doesn’t have any of them, and have just gone on our merry way feeding him whatever he’ll eat.
But of course, PETA knows better. PETA has a page on their site “to alert the public to the connection between this condition and dairy-product consumption” (their words), backed up with two studies involving a grand total of *drumroll* 56 children, from 19 and 12 years ago respectively. Never mind the fact that there have been larger studies since then that have refuted the results of those studies. Never mind that PETA might have another agenda – convincing folks to go vegan – that segues nicely with an argument.
Forbes ran an excellent article on the PETA campaign, including a statement from the organization that they stand behind their assertion. The Wire had a similar article that goes more into the issues with PETA’s scientific claims. So… I find it interesting that PETA is doubling-down and continuing to make statements about something they’re clearly not conversant upon – it reminds me of the anti-vaxers, and how they’re not willing to admit when science clearly disproves their theories. It’s the Flat Earth Society all over again.
So, PETA, now I’m speaking to you as the parent of a child with Autism:
I could go with the tired-yet-true Internet trope of, “You’re drunk, PETA, go home,” but that’s excusing your behavior. You’re not drunk and therefore not cognizant of your behavior – you’re a spoiled child who doesn’t care who gets hurt while you want something you’re being told ‘no’ on.
But in this case, it’s worse – you’re being intentionally harmful to people, using a disorder that clearly frightens a lot of people to try to win your argument that “meat is murder and milk’s almost as bad.” You’re using the current in-vogue boogie-man as some kind of pawn in a game… and our children are not pawns.
In my book, that makes you evil. Not misguided, not wrong, just evil.
Whatever you might have said in the past that I would have agreed with, or turned a blind eye to, I will now actively oppose. I am going to make sure that every single Autism parent is aware that you are willing to use our children for your goals. I am going to print your little webpage and distribute it to people so they can see the laundry list of disorders and diseases you “link” to dairy consumption – ones that dairy has been definitively proven NOT to be a cause of – so they can see how you’re willing to capitalize on human suffering to achieve your goals.
You should be ashamed of yourselves, but again – spoiled child. You’re not willing to admit that you might be wrong, so we’re going to have to prove it to you.
I think us parents of children with Autism – and our friends and supporters – should boycott businesses that support PETA. We should let those businesses know that the issue is specifically PETA’s grab for attention with this campaign, that it’s wrong-hearted and wrong scientifically, and that Autism is not a keyword for them to use for promotion.
I think that we should make it clear, on all social media (PETA is on Facebook, Twitter and Google+) that their stance is unacceptable, and make sure that their supporters understand that PETA is attempting to capitalize on people who are disabled to spread their message. I’m sure most of their supporters wouldn’t want, say, Autism Speaks running a campaign capitalizing on animal cruelty.
And finally… I’ll be very honest. I am going to cut off contact with anyone I know who supports PETA’s stance on this matter. If you continue to support PETA after learning about this campaign, then you don’t support individuals with Autism, you don’t care for the Monster, and that makes you someone I don’t want to be associated with.
Game on, PETA. Your move.