Monday, June 17, 2013

His Name was Alex Spourdalakis

TW: Abuse disgused as "alternative medicine".

His name was Alex Spourdalakis. He's been dead for over a week now. He was murdered, not euthanized, by the people who should have been the most vigilant, closest allies he could have, but he was in pain for a lot longer than the short time it took him to die after being repeatedly stabbed. The same people who were responsible for his murder are also responsible for the months (years?) of torture that preceded it. Any suffering he is now spared was at their hands, and anyone who would describe his death as a "release" is missing the point that the greater release would have been to remove him from the "care" he was receiving.

His name was Alex Spourdalakis. He had been a bit of a poster child at Age of Autism (no I won't link to it), but I had never heard of him before, because I don't subject myself to the kind of intolerant bigotry that site promotes. Nor, I think, do most of my friends and allies in this community. Because of that, it took until his death for me to understand the inhuman treatment he suffered under the guise of "care".

His name was Alex Spourdalakis, and his caregivers were examples of the worst of what "alternative medicine" leads to. Their apologists are legion. The voices on blogs, on Facebook, on Twitter, who would be quick to point to "caregiver fatigue" and "stress" are often the same voices who promote "tolerance" and "being open" to "treatments" that have not been properly tested and evaluated, and that work based on theories that can not be shown to be anatomically or biologically correct.

We are right to call them out for apologizing for murder. We are wrong if we don't also call them out for the torment that they inflict on their own kids. Even if some children are not harmed by the treatments they promote, some are. And the treatments themselves are unnecessary. At their least harmful, they still introduce environmental factors into a child's life that can affect behavior, comfort, concentration, etc., in ways that are not properly understood. Even if there is no measurable ill effect in the eyes of the parents that promote these treatments, we have no way of understanding whether they are causing longer-term problems for children who can not voice their concerns or their consent to quack "cures".

His name was Alex Spourdalakis, and he was raised by the same kind of people that we often walk away from, considering conversation with them to be useless because they are immune to scientific reasoning. The kind of people who regard autistic adults as either "liars" or lifelong cripples whose parents "failed them". The kind of people some of us talk about when we talk about "tolerating other opinions", "avoiding the blame game", and "building unity instead of dividing the community".

His name was Alex Spourdalakis, and he was used badly by people who would resurrect the career of that quack Wakefield and use his conspiracy theories to abuse their own children. People who cry out for us to remember parents and to push for services that increase their support and comfort, even as they pump their own children full of dangerous chemicals in an attempt to cure heavy metal poisoning that, somehow, can not be measured on a blood test. He was used by the same people who are responsible for the resurgence of measles, whooping cough, and rubella. He was being raised by those people, and when he acted out to show he did not consent to their "treatments", his dissent was regarded as a symptom.

There can be no dialog with those who view consent as unnecessary. There can be no community under those circumstances, only oppression.

His name was Alex Spourdalakis, and he had no control over the revealing photographs and videos that exploited the end results of the abusive "treatments" he endured as "proof" that those same treatments work. He suffered in full view, and we did not notice him until he was dead.

His name was Alex Spourdalakis, and his murderers are in custody now, but those who enabled them--those who filled their heads with the garbage that allowed them to rationalize their abuse of this child--are still among us. They are cheering on the members of our community who scold us for "blaming". They are promoting "tolerance" even as they regard the consent of the disabled as unnecessary. They are looking for cures for us instead of attempting to find ways to communicate.

They are insuring that he won't be the last one to die because of this plague on our community.

His name was Alex Spourdalakis, and he was proof that there are more important things than "support" and "community". Those things are: consent, dignity, communication, autonomy. The best of us know this already. A good many others could be brought around to seeing it. We must not tolerate those who would try to convince us that there can be "other points of view" that make these basic rights less important.

His name was Alex Spourdalakis, and it makes us uncomfortable to admit it, but he is dead because the people he depended on had heads full of garbage and hearts that could not accept him as a human being.

His name was Alex Spourdalakis, and he was murdered. Not euthanized. Not released from suffering. Murdered.

His name was Alex Spourdalakis, and before he was stabbed numerous times, his life was a measurement of the distance between where we are and where we need to be.

His name was Alex Spourdalakis.

Speak it.