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Filming addicts in crisis is a form of violence

I remember some years ago when the drug known as “spice” was sweeping through my country. Not only were the tabloids having a field day, and not only were people filming addicts on the street under the influence, I was using it.

It was a relatively common sight in some cities. Individuals helplessly and mindlessly stumbling around in a zombie like fashion, people screaming curses, refusing to see the suffering of those of us who were hooked on the stuff.

But what I really want to focus in on are the people who were filming us. They were the worst kind of people, and sadly, they still exist.

The people holding the cameras often claimed that they were “spreading awareness”. In fact what they did, was post the video to social media, and embark upon discussions of how people like me were scum, how we deserved to die, how our suffering was our own fault.

They weren’t spreading awareness, they were spreading hate. It was an act of violence against a group of people that are already significantly marginalised by society. It was the moral model of addiction running at full tilt.

When a person is suffering in such a way, filming them and posting it to Facebook is perhaps one of the most humiliating things you can do. Unfortunately, humiliation is what these people go for. People speak words and carry out acts of violence against addicts eith great regularity. Often without ever raising a fist.

I hope dearly that none of my followers have ever done such a thing. And if you have, I hope you have come to feel remorse about it. By doing such things, you are actively helping to kill addicts.

If it sounds like I am using strong words, then take heed. This is not a harmless matter. Imagine trying to rebuild your life from addiction while videos of you in the thick of it circulate on social media. The Internet is forever.

If you ever see a person suffering in such a way, please extend compassion. Make sure they are safe, call for any help that may be appropriate. You can also help protect opioid addicts by receiving naloxone training. The dawn of naloxone has saved many, many lives.

Addicts are human beings with emotions, hopes, and dreams. We are often traumatised children. Extend compassion where you can.

Autistic representations in the media: The wider conversation

If Sia’s film did any good for the autistic community, it opened up a wider conversation about how autistic people are represented and portrayed in popular media. There are very few, if any, perfect representations. One could argue that this is an impossibility anyway, given the diverse nature of autistic presentations.

This has opened up the wider conversation of disability representation in general. One might think that in the “enlightened” 2020s, disabled actors have ample opportunity to portray their own disabilities on screen. Sadly, the vast majority of disabled roles are given to non-disabled folk.

My personal opinion on this, is that it comes from a place of ableism. The people in charge of casting assume that we won’t be able to handle the pressure of working in the media. To put it another way, they believe that non-disabled people are more capable of portraying us. Our capability is always in question.

This also highlights a greater issue. Media representations don’t care if their portrayal is authentic.

Autistic people especially have to sit through unrelatable characters, with what is usually rather offensive stereotyping. The people on charge of these projects don’t seem to do any more research other than the bare minimum. They don’t care if their portrayal is accurate, as long as it is entertaining.

We need to continue to put pressure on production companies to put disabled actors in disabled roles. We have the right to tell our own stories. Autistic people have cried out #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs for years. And it’s time that the world started listening.

Autistic people are not a stereotype. They are a beautifully diverse tapestry of human experience, and we as Autistics have a right to decide how that tapestry is shown to the world.

Nothing more, nothing less. We certainly won’t settle for less.

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