7 Oct 2008

Hey PETA, Got Morals?

...or scruples, or integrity, or honesty or consideration for the ethical treatment of a much maligned and mistreated group of people?
No, obviously not.

PETA have proven once again what a crowd of pathetic people haters they are with their latest campaign, this time jumping on the bash-the-autistic-people bandwagon.

So much anti-scientific and unethical nonsense abounds in discussions about autism. One such example is the promotion of a supposed link between the proteins casein and gluten and autism. I wrote about this theory here, giving links to some of the published data on the subject, showing just one review claiming that a diet avoiding both these proteins was linked to parental reporting of a decrease in their children's "autistic traits," a nebulous set of criteria to measure, I think.

Anyway, the idiots at PETA have heard about these theories and decided to spin the autism hate and fear to suit themselves. They haven't even got their own stupid story straight, as the studies they mention are discussing possible correlation between autism and casein (in milk) combined with gluten. Do they want all children to go vegan and stop eating gluten too? Well, those fools probably do expect that. They say:
"Autism is a brain disorder that causes sufferers to have extreme difficulty communicating and relating to others. It is often marked by anti-social behavior like screaming and obsessive repetition of actions, which takes an enormous emotional toll on sufferers and their families. PETA has created a billboard to alert the public to the connection between this devastating disease and dairy-product consumption."

See how they have adopted the language of the previous soldiers against autism (ABA=cure adherents, anti-vaccine loons, biomedical quackery child abusers). See the soggy cereal making a big sad face, 'cos autism is so awful and dreadful.

I am angry about this. I am angry with all the lies and abuses, with these groups pushing their agenda by offending autistic people. I am angry that little children with autism are held down in the offices of unscrupulous medical practitioners while chelation agents are injected into them, I am angry that some children have to touch blue 5 times to get a sweetie in place of getting a decent education, I am angry many are forced to swallow bucket-loads of supplements and sit in HBOT tents, that others must spend hours listening to AIT tapes or drink the magic water of homeopathy instead of seeing proper doctors and having their medical issues sorted out properly. I am angry that these children are the guinea pigs for any quack out to make a buck or any dodgy researcher looking for a hook for funding of whatever crazy notion they can come up with. I'm angry that real needs like accommodation, inclusion and acceptance of autistic people are set aside while we have to battle these other evils. There's more, but I have to stop writing this at some stage.

As for diet and health links, this is not difficult. If you or your child appear to be among the many people allergic or intolerant to various food stuffs, it makes sense to have your concerns checked out by seeing your doctor or dietitian and if necessary, altering your diet to improve your health and quality of life.

Please sign this petition and read the following letter from The Autistic Self Advocacy Network:

Hello all,

Recently, the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) launched a new ad campaign entitled, "Got Autism?", misleadingly implying that the consumption of milk is associated with the cause of the autism spectrum. PETA is misinforming the public about autism and thus joining a long line of unscrupulous groups that have sought to try and spread fear about autism as a means of pushing their particular agendas.

Attempts such as these treat individuals with disabilities as pawns in the efforts of other constituencies. By refusing to acknowledge the right of the autistic community to be referred to with respect instead of as the focus of public hysteria, PETA contributes to a state of affairs which marginalizes the disability community. People with disabilities, our families and our supporters deserve better than the exploitation and fear-mongering that comes about when disability is used as a means of scaring the general populace. For millions across the globe, the answer to PETA's "Got Autism?" question is an unequivocal yes. That should not spell the end of our lives or prevent us from being fully included throughout society. By exploiting us, PETA becomes a culprit in the social forces that marginalize people with disabilities and lead to the discrimination and prejudice that truly disable us.

Let PETA know how you feel about its choice to exploit autistic people by writing to them at info@peta.org or call them at 757-622-7382 and dial 0. In addition, we encourage you to express your support for these ads' swift withdrawal by signing this online petition.

Ari Ne'eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036


Anonymous said...

A new low, even by their standards. Complaint will be in the aether shortly.

Allie said...

That is awful. Petition signed. Shame that people who want to claim the moral high ground can have such a pathetic grasp of respect.

Anonymous said...

IF only I had a dollar for every time that some well-meaning busy-body suggested that I try the GFCF diet for my children, because some person they tangentially know saw a wonderful, miraculous improvement in their children due to the diet, I could actually afford the treatments that my sons need.

Between being asked if their vaccines made them this way and why I don't restrict their diets - oh, and the occasional testimonial for chelation - I am starting to wonder if we will ever get the lies fought down to size.

Sharon McDaid said...

Yes Holfordwatch, it's quite a low. I didn't know until today that they had previously targeted people with prostrate cancer and breast cancer in their anti-milk campaign.

Allie, thankfully there are other, better animal charities and groups, as well as much better sources of information and advocacy for vegetarians and vegans.

Bad mommy, oh you are so naughty! When I tell people for the first time that my son is autistic and I write about it, I quickly follow up by emphasising my pro-science stance on the various controversies.

Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side - this ad is one more step towards a world in which absolutely everything is claimed to "cause autism", at which point, everyone will get tired of such talk and accept that it's mostly about genetics.

Well, we can dream...

Manuel said...

petition signed and I will get something done for you by the weekend......grrrrrr

The Biologista said...

Certainly a poor show by PETA on two fronts. Promotion of bad science, and as you point out, gross disrespect for autistic people. A shame more parents of autistic children do not share your understanding. Petition signed, needless to say.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Sharon, I am feeling realling riled by your words. (Not like me.) Thank goodness you continue to write in the face of your own frustration. I'm convinced your words ripple to the yet unreached for this cause.

Anonymous said...

So riled I misspelled really. Really!

Sharon McDaid said...

Woobegone, yes, we can dream.
Just off the top of my head, we can now blame bad mothers, old dads, vaccines, TV, Wifi, pollution, dog shampoo, milk, mobile phones, tuna, fillings...all responsible for autism.
I'm sure to have missed half a dozen.

Manuel, you're my plate carrying hero. Thanks.

The Biologista (cool name!) thanks. But loads of the parents of autistic children do share my concerns, the quack supporters just make a lot of sound and fury. See the Autism Hub for a small selection of autistic people and parents who promote respect and good science.

Thanks as always Barbara for your kind words. This board is just another thing to be riled up about.

To all of you, the advertisement company have taken the billboards down in the face of the controversy, but PETA are still insisting that they're in the right. Tossers.

Anonymous said...

Petition signed. Email sent.

I think it's pretty disgusting that Peta are using misinformation about autism to push their own agenda. There are surely other arguments in favour of veganism that are of greater merit, do not rely on exploiting a group of individuals with a development disability, and do not rely on use of misleading information or outright untruths. If there are then perhaps Peta should use them.

I've left a similar comment on the Peta blog. It was interesting to note that the sole comment on their post was from someone accusing the 'Nazi' dairy industry of having the Newark ad removed.

Anonymous said...

First time reading your blog, but I found it very interesting and very poignant. And yes, this ad campaign highlights perfectly what an insensitive and sensationalist bunch of idiots PETA really are (this coming from a vegetarian for 10 years). Petition signed!

Anonymous said...

Goodness. What a bunch of 100-proof f*ckwits the PETA people are. Give em hell, Sharon.

What I find particularly offensive is that they, along with almost all autism quacks (most notably the vaccine-scare ones), have to START by selling parents guilt:

"..it was something YOU were, or did, like feeding nasty cow-derived formula!!"

- before they move on to step 2, "revelation" - aka selling you the fact that it WASN'T you but was actually those evil people who lied to you:

"THEY didn't tell you this kind of milk was evil!! It's THEIR fault"

- and then step 3, "the close":

"and now WE can sell you the cure".

Really, it stinks.

Sharon McDaid said...

jdc325, thanks for signing and standing up for important stuff like truth and justice.

I saw that comment on their site, as well as a load of other supportive comments. It looked like only 1 or 2 critical comments were allowed through. Cowards.

Anon, thank you too. I understand that PETA do not represent vegetarians, any more than the folk at JABS represents the parents of autistic children.

That's a good point Dr Aust, they do follow that pattern to sell their wares. It's so exploitative. We can only hope that people will educate themselves and see through their lies.
It's worth hoping...

Oh and yes, I shall give em hell as required ;-)

Anonymous said...

First time here, directed from badscience.net.
Disgusting behaviour by PETA. Petition signed.
Excellent blog, have added to favourites.

lisadom Grace App said...

This makes me want to eat veal.