On the PR Disaster at #Skepticon and the lack of #ConcernedStudent1950 representation

Given how the late-addition “Q&A” session at Skepticon came into being, how it was sold to the convention, how it was advertised, and how it was “envisioned” by Danielle Muscato and Mark Schierbecker, it is no surprise the entire thing went off disastrously. Let us itemize the ways this all went wrong.

To catch you up, first.

Jonathan Butler went on hunger strike on November 2nd at University of Missouri (aka Mizzou), to protest systematic racism, the destruction of planned parenthood services and health insurance, the pepper-spraying of peaceful protestors, and edgelord bullshit such as nooses and feces swastikas on campus, along with Chan-culture making death threats via YikYak. After press of the less-than-sympathetic sort (e.g. Breitbart and Fox News) kept wheedling their way into the protest and into protesters’ faces, students created a press-free cordon around Butler and his closest protest supporters, many of whom are black students who have felt unsafe on campus thanks to the overt racism and ratcheting back of necessary services that they experienced.

A student boycott ensued, along with support from the football team and faculty members, including a Mass Media prof named Melissa Click. Mark Schierbecker — a “citizen journalist” non-journalist student of Mizzou — entered the area to take videos of people reacting to the news of the President and Chancellor both resigning. Click demanded he leave several times, and at one point put her hand on the camera he was using to film. Police are presently considering criminal assault charges for this.

Shortly thereafter, Click apologised thusly:

Yesterday was an historic day at MU — full of emotion and confusion. I have reviewed and reflected upon the video of me that is circulating, and have written this statement to offer both apology and context for my actions. I have reached out to the journalists involved to offer my sincere apologies and to express regret over my actions. I regret the language and strategies I used, and sincerely apologize to the MU campus community, and journalists at large, for my behavior, and also for the way my actions have shifted attention away from the students’ campaign for justice.

My actions were shaped by exasperation with a few spirited reporters. From this experience I have learned about humanity and humility. When I apologized to Tim Tai in a phone call this afternoon, he accepted my apology. I believe he is doing a difficult job, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with him. His dignity also speaks well to the Journalism program at MU. Again, I wish to express my sincere apology for
my actions on Carnahan Quad yesterday.

Note, Tim Tai is another reporter, who was crowded out of the press-free zone by the students and who had his arms pulled down when he tried to take a jumping photo of the inside of the cordon.

Schierbecker characterized this apology as “insincere” and “curt”, and to this day believes Click should step down. In fact, during the Skepticon event, he stated that he won’t rest until she does step down, even knowing that putting the focus on his pain and his belief that his “first amendment rights” were violated by not being allowed to access people who wished for privacy distracts from the issues of racism on campus.

The video by Mark Schierbecker went viral. The short version of the video is being used to make arguments against black folks generally by overtly racist orgs like Stormfront, and also by those attempting to damn the Black Lives Matter and ConcernedStudent1950 movements like Breitbart and Fox News. The video as edited in the “short version” shows Click demanding Schierbecker leave the area, touching the camera, and ends with Click calling for “muscle”. The fuller version shows more attempts to get Schierbecker to leave before Click becomes frustrated, and has two students serving as “muscle” approaching Schierbecker and repeating the requests to have him leave the area, and effectively physically blocking Schierbecker from persisting in attempting to film the students against their wishes. The “muscle” did not actually strongarm or physically contact Schierbecker in any way, but served to assert the requests for privacy of the people Schierbecker was attempting to gain access to.

Now, for the specific event and everything that went wrong, in no particular order.

This programming addition to Skepticon was advertised online shortly before the official opening of the con, so it was not printed in the schedules. It was only available on the online schedule, and it was announced in a blog post dated Friday, November 13th, the first day of the con programming.

On the schedule, the lunch break between speakers was registered for between 12pm and 2pm. The speakers were also expected to gather for a Speakers Photo from 12 to 12:30, however this process easily dragged on til at least 12:45. It seems while I was running to the bathroom and to get some coffee, the talk started, and I missed the opening timeline.

There were only a small handful of people in attendance — no more than 25 or 30. Peak attendance within the main hall was probably 400-ish, which is good considering there were always contemporaneous events in other rooms and attendance (though lower than last year) is likely around 600 (remind me to ask for actual registration numbers!), and there was at least 200 in the room at the 11-12pm talk for Fallon Fox. The low attendance is undeniably because it was both late within the schedule, held during the lunch break, and poorly advertised — nobody knew there was a reason to stick around through lunch, as nobody even mentioned it (by my recollection) after Fallon Fox’s talk when lunch break was announced.

The talk was evidently sold to Skepticon as a “Question and Answer”, though Danielle Muscato and Mark Schierbecker did not envision it as such. The questions for the probably-scripted event all came from Danielle Muscato, who, during the course of the event, disclosed that she was acting as pro-bono Public Relations for Schierbecker, whom she considers a friend. Only because a number of black activists effectively started shouting out questions when Muscato declared the interview to be over did the event actually become a Q&A.

Evidently, Muscato was using this event to essentially coach Schierbecker on how to repair the image damage he’d done himself by putting the focus on his “first amendment rights” issues over the racism and death threats happening on campus. That Skepticon doesn’t appear to have been aware of this relationship, and that the “press release” in the blog post appears to omit this fact, indicates to me that Skepticon, knowing Danielle Muscato from previous events, trusted her to use the forum judiciously. This use was, as I posted on Twitter shortly thereafter, a gross abuse of the venue. There is nothing “skeptical” about posting the views of the person with all the power who was aggrieved on a small scale with having their camera touched, while omitting the views of those aggrieved in the grander scheme, in a public-relations spin job fashion, when the person in question is already being published in major (right-leaning) news organizations uncritically.

Repeatedly, both Muscato and Schierbecker conflated right to access to people with freedom of speech. You have every right to say what you want, but you have no right to demand access to others. And indeed, being a student on campus and having access to the football field generally would not grant you access to the field in the middle of a game if you’re not a player — you’d get tackled, even though you have the same level of “right” to be there that Schierbecker had to the area where students requested privacy from press. No amendment grants you as a fundamental right the freedom to harangue people who’ve asked you to back off, given that you can be charged with criminal harassment even if you are on public property, nor does it grant you a right to an audience, specific or general. It’s this sort of conflation of free speech with entitlement to other unrelated aspects of communication that progressives like us call “Freeze Peach”.

From my tiny contingent, when Muscato declared she was Schierbecker’s PR, Niki Massey (whose notes on Skepticon you really should read) left the room saying to us, “I can’t do this.”. Shortly thereafter, Stephanie Zvan left to make sure Niki was all right (EDIT: she left to get migraine meds and food, and supporting Niki was a side-effect). Me, Greta Christina and her partner Ingrid stayed, out of an inclination to witness this event. Between us, we each kept remarking to each other that this was unbelievable and surreal, that we didn’t understand what was actually happening, but that it was certainly not a Q&A as advertised, and we speculated that Skepticon didn’t know what exactly was unfolding.

When the black students from Mizzou started asking questions about why the narrative was focused on Schierbecker and why there were no representatives from ConcernedStudents1950, the cameraman, Rob Lehr of Hambone Productions, was absolutely guerrilla in his coverage of this. He turned the camera toward the protesters and brought a boom mic to get their questions, and encouraged Muscato to keep going because he would keep filming. I think without his quick thinking and his self-sacrificing (this was his lunch hour too, after all!), we would not have had as much actual Q&A for the event.

When during the audience questions portion Schierbecker suggested that he would only stop distracting from the important fight against racism on campus when Click stepped down, when his own injustice was redressed to his satisfaction, I finally broke and yelled something like “You get justice before anyone else!?” This was, for the record, the only time anyone from my contingent said anything. A few seconds after that, Greta, Ingrid and I left. This was probably for the best because I was angry enough to heckle, and that doesn’t really happen with me.

A very important point to note is that Skepticon, and especially Lauren Lane, Skepticon’s lead organizer and primo boss lady, do not appear to have had prior knowledge that Danielle Muscato was acting as Mark Scheirbecker’s Public Relations. I have yet to confirm this single fact directly with anyone on staff, but staff seemed genuinely distressed by the events. When we were leaving the room, I saw Lauren Lane entering with a power-walk stride, looking to my eye pretty horrified by the events unfolding, so clearly someone had informed her what was going on and she was returning from her lunch with a mission. That said, things kept happening for a few minutes more thereafter.

I think someone — possibly Lauren, but I didn’t see, as we were just exiting the huge room at that point — asked about a question from the audience more than once, and it might have been directed at Greta who was leaving the room with me. Greta had, after all, had her hand up for many minutes without being called on before the three of us walked. I’m completely unsure as to who asked whom about questions, and the video doesn’t help fix things in my mind.

Muscato posted on Facebook that she’d severed her relationship with Schierbecker as PR manager for “multiple indefensibly racist comments”. I did not sense there were actual directly racist comments in what Schierbecker said — only that his (and now, unfortunately, my) efforts continue to center attention on him and his “freedom” to access people to catch a story, rather than the black folks being made to feel unsafe by threats and overt racism. While he did say “everyone’s a little bit racist”, and repeatedly said “fuck racists” and “I have white privilege”, he also asserted that privilege to demand that justice for transgressions against him should take priority.

And the fallout after the fact is ridiculous in the hamfisted attempts at reshaping the narrative being made by trolls and racists and reactionary right-wingers and Chan culture who want to tear down progressives in general, and Skepticon in particular — Schierbecker put out a video (titled “Journalists’ Lives Matter”, subtitled “Fuck Skepticon”) shortly after Muscato threw him under the bus.

(ETA, this may have been edited later to “Journalists’ Livelihoods Matter” given the current title and the number of people who remember it as “lives”, which while it’s good that Schierbecker realized there are some lines you probably shouldn’t cross, is actually pretty damning that people being killed is somehow comparable to journalists having the right to play paparazzi.)

During the video he admitted to being on the autism spectrum, and was clearly shaken by the whole experience of being called to account for his prioritizing himself. Trolls have seized upon this, pretending like they can now catch progressives out on what they perceive to be our attempt to play “identity politics” by claiming that Skepticon and progressives criticizing Schierbecker are actually attacking him for being autistic. (This from people who regularly use “retard” as a slur, so take it for what it’s worth — which is to say nothing, because I know plenty of people on the spectrum, none of whom are assholes or racists.)

The trolls also repeatedly demand that Skepticon apologize for calling Schierbecker racist, though clearly the only person who’d done so was Danielle Muscato, the person serving as his PR agent. Granted, Muscato was given a great deal of autonomy in putting together the event, so one might conceivably make an argument that Skepticon is on the hook for Muscato being an agent for the con. But the distress among Skepticon staff was visible to me, placed as I am such that I can actually see the feet paddling below the surface in most cons that I attend, and despite that distress, none of the agents actually called Schierbecker racist.

Shortly after the talk, I said on Twitter:

Among the people who favorited that was Danielle Muscato. Some time after she favorited that tweet, she posted this on Facebook with some clarifications, including agreement that the event should not have gone on without representation from ConcernedStudent1950, while reiterating that she’d attempted to get them to show up.

I fully understand why they didn’t, knowing now what Schierbecker’s and Muscato’s goal was for the event. I stand by my assertion that it was an abuse of the venue. A number of Skepticon’s organizers seem to feel the same, and this statement by Lauren Lane seems to agree, even if it takes more responsibility for “failure” than I think the con deserves — if it failed, it was only in trusting Muscato would not use the con improprietally. I have a great distaste for everything that has happened, and I’m more than upset with Muscato, and am suspicious of her intentions and her apparent cavalier use of the venue. She redoubled the damage to the narrative that has happened with the event in trying to do damage control, when she declared that Schierbecker made “indisputably racist statements”, because that overstatement doesn’t bear out. Now trolls can say “he didn’t say anything wrong and Muscato says so herself”, when a) she was doing damage control; b) she overstated the case after she felt she had to retract her support; c) the case is actually still about the covert racism of white privilege rather than hoods and pitchforks.

And now, Muscato has posted again, appropriately walking it back, retracting the “indefensibly racist” part, hoping to still be friends with Schierbecker. But the damage’s already done.

Much like how Dan Rather took damage from an overstatement of the case against George W Bush’s missing military service records despite the fact that there’s still a gap that’s unaccounted for, this particular story’s sails were sabotaged by the overstatement. I fear the damage is done now and the story will forevermore be about how wronged Schierbecker was in having his camera touched and in being denied access to people who asked that he step the hell off, rather than the story being about the black folks who are effectively under emotional and potentially physical siege by the systemic racism they’re facing at University of Missouri.

Once again, a white person’s metaphorically stubbing their toe takes precedence over a black person being assaulted.

And once again, a white person is swinging into action to defend and fix the PR problem that first white person caused. Then, that same white person is screwing things up by overstating the case, then walking it back.

And once again a white ally — because we’re, basically, the only people the white folks squabbling over what’s racist and what isn’t will ever listen to — has to lay everything out for easy consumption by white eyes.

I am so, so sorry that all of this is happening. I honestly feel every bit as betrayed by the parties involved in putting together this sham of an event as the folks at Skepticon, and the black folks who expected an actual Q&A from this session without having to take it by force.

I really need to put together a post about all the good that came out of Skepticon, and all the huge wins. I think Stephanie is putting something together now, but I have my own high points, so maybe I’ll make mine more personal and less event-specific.

EDIT: some grammar edits and clarifications added Wed, Nov 18, 11:45am CST. Likely more to come as I notice them.

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On the PR Disaster at #Skepticon and the lack of #ConcernedStudent1950 representation
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72 thoughts on “On the PR Disaster at #Skepticon and the lack of #ConcernedStudent1950 representation

  1. 1

    With the autism part… if someone is functional enough for a public Q&A like this, they are almost certainly going to be functional enough to be held accountable for their misdeeds.

    There might have been isolated bits of criticism that actually stepped over abelist lines, but none of what I saw did. I still need to find the time to watch all the relevant videos, so I’m somewhat limited in what I can say about the Q&A itself, but this line of attack on Skepticon was just asinine.

  2. 2

    but this line of attack on Skepticon was just asinine.

    You seem to be assuming that anything coming out of the Freeze Peach crowd is anything but asinine. 🙂

    Anyway thanks JT for another thorough post. /sincerity mode

  3. 3

    It continues to amaze me that people who get caught violating consent or other people’s boundaries continually try to use autism as a shield. I am not your fucking shield; I understand the principles of consent and I live by them. If you can’t it’s not because you’re autistic, it’s because you’re an arsehole. Autistics have to learn consent for self-defense against abuse earlier, and usually find it easier than NTs because the rules are simple and fair. Fair is a thing autistics usually do better at than others. Usually.

    Worse, the oppression olympics attempt by Schierbecker sucks even more oxygen out of what should be the obvious focus: the protest that he disrupted. Arsehole squared; dumping on people by race, and on people by ability.

  4. 4

    Not that it matters in the course of events, but I actually left because, between being late to lunch and the session making me quite angry, I felt a migraine coming on. I only came to find people after I had meds and food.

  5. 5

    This was a train wreck, and I was seated front and center the entire time. The chronology played out like this…
    1) Matter-of-fact timeline.
    2) Puzzling video that shed no insight on the underlying issues.
    3) Conversation paraphrased: “I don’t respect safe spaces. Fixing systematic racism, that can wait…the more important issue is that this prof needs to be fired because she was mean to me! It’s about ME.”
    4) “Whoops…we’re out of time! Fooled you; this won’t be a Q&A after all.”
    5) Tough questions come anyway, and Schierbecker crumbles.

    Greta had her hand raised during the impromptu Q&A for minutes on end, but was never called on until the moment she stormed out of the room.

    I’m absolutely sick of neurodevelopmental disorders being used as a scapegoat for racism. There’s no connection, and it’s an insult to the people who have them.

    My biggest lingering question is, how and why did Muscato become a friend and PR agent to Schierbecker in the first place? Did she mistake him for someone motivated by good faith?

  6. 6

    I’ve said this elsewhere: I’m amazed at what counts as “assault” when happening to a white guy.
    Women and people of colour don’t get assault acknowledged when we’re bleeding or bruised or when people put their hands on our privates. Yet touch a white boy’S cam and holy fuck, call the police!

  7. 7

    even knowing that putting the focus on his pain and his belief that his “first amendment rights” were violated by not being allowed to access people who wished for privacy distracts from the issues of racism on campus.

    There’s a painful irony in the only article on this blog related to ConcernedStudents1950 or the broader #BlackOnCampus protests being primarily about Schierbecker.

  8. 8

    @3 Jimbo Jones
    Mark didn’t use his autism as an excuse for invading anyone’s space. He was actually empathising with an audience member who was complaining about personal space issues. He was saying he understood these types of things better than most because, as an autistic person, such violations and other social interactions left him over loaded. This was where he made the comment that all the attention and social interaction he was having because of the incident would leave him overloaded and in tears. This of course prompted a cry of “white tears” from the person in the audience.

    As an autistic person yourself I am sure you can empathise with the pressure of social situations and the overload this can cause autistic people. What I saw on that stage was a young autistic man who simply could not handle the situation he was in. I saw him crumble under the pressure of to much social interaction. It was horrible to watch. Skepticon failed in their duty of care to vulnerable young man and his “friend” Danielle should really have known better. For her to then throw him under the bus with false (now retracted thankfully) accusations of racism was disgusting.

    Autism should never be used as an excuse for shitty behaviour I agree but I do not see that it was in this case. But similarly being from another minority group should not excuse shitty behaviour either. Some of the treatment of Mark has been very shitty. This had been justified because he is white and male and so apparently privileged. As an autistic yourself I hope I do not need to remind you that autistic people are far from privileged (even the white cis male ones) indeed that stats would indicate that autistic people are among the most marginalised minorities. Outcomes for education, criminal justice, mental health and employment for autistic people are statistically far far worse than for any ethnic minority. This is not oppression olympics its just the facts. A persons struggles should not be dismissed just because he is white and male as it was by the audience member with her “boo hoo white tears” comment after Mark had explained the overload this was causing him due to his atypical neurology. Now hopefully she was just ignorant of what autism is and what it can mean (most people are) so we can put it down to pure ignorance. But nonetheless this highlights how far we need to come with autism rights. If such a comment can go largely unchecked then we have a long way to go.

    A little compassion is required here people. What I see is a young autistic man completely out of his depth struggling to cope with the attention. I think he has been manipulated somewhat. And calling him a racist is just bollocks.

  9. 10

    You’re right, of course, qwints — there are many things I haven’t covered on this blog, even if I have opinions about them that are quite plain from my, say, Twitter feed. I’m very sorry that I can’t cover everything thoroughly before I find myself involved in later related events that also require addressing.

  10. 12

    It looked to me that Schierbecker got hung out to dry and that he was obviously out of his depth. This isn’t to excuse anything he said but I think it’s important to note that the guy wasn’t prepped properly and that whne things started going off the rails it took all of 3 seconds for him to become the fall guy. In fact Muscato came off as the instigator, like she was playing at allyship by distancing herself Schierbecker.

    I wish someone else had done this panel. And that it had been Tai and Schierbecker together as they seem to have very different ideas about the media’s relationship to protesters. And that the topic wasn’t clarifying or explaining anythingand instead just a general discussion of how the media should handle themselves drawing on their experiences with Click. Gah. Why is everything terrible?

  11. 13

    FFS, ivan.

    It wasn’t autism that caused him to speak to Fox News and Brietbart.
    It wasn’t autism that caused him to edit 20-something minutes of video to 6 to make matters look worse than they actually were.
    It wasn’t autism that made him say that his issue needed to be solved before we could get back to ConcernedStudent1950.
    It wasn’t autism that’s making him sound overly entitled (really? One camera push while trying to get through a wall of people and he wants the tiny white woman fired because her apologies weren’t ‘sincere enough’? Oh please.)

    What about the compassion HE lacked for those protesters he was trying to get through to? Autism sure as hell didn’t cause that.

    These were his choices that he made and he needs to be rightfully called out on them. I’m done with privileged (yes he is privileged on the axis of race and gender) people taking the attention from the issues of the marginalized. If anything, that panel should have been a goddamn lesson that apparently he’s not learning yet.

    The compassion should be for every single student of color on that campus who have been terrorized by racism, not some white guy who got a little shove.

  12. 14

    @Jason Thibeault, I didn’t mean that as a personal attack. It’s just that we white folks seem to find ways to center other white people even in our discussions about the experiences of Black people. It can be impossible to avoid feeding the distraction even as you condemn the distraction. It can be really hard to avoid ‘Ally Theater’

    On social media, their “allyship” often looks like sharing or retweeting other people’s racist or misogynist or transphobic comments and attaching their own outraged pushback, as if to say, “OMG look everybody! This person is so oppressive! Watch me check them! Look! Over here! See what I’m doing? Loooook!”

  13. 15

    Well, I don’t disagree with that qwints, but I also do feel I end up embroiled in things and have to say stuff about topics for the first time when they’re right in my face. If I could have said something sooner, I would have. I kind of HAVE, on Twitter, but that isn’t this blog.

  14. 16

    Feminace

    “It wasn’t autism that caused him to speak to Fox News and Brietbart.”

    No but that’s not really relevant to be honest. Those with other agendas perhaps sought him out and perhaps took advantage and a more worldly wise and socially savy person would not have spoken to them. Austistic people tend to be very honest and straight forward. This is a wonderful trait on the whole but it does leave them open to manipulation.Please think about that.

    “It wasn’t autism that caused him to edit 20-something minutes of video to 6 to make matters look worse than they actually were.”

    He published the full video I have watched both and to be honest the 20 minute video does not really paint mellissa click and the other protesters in any better a light. They were wrong to bar the press, they were wrong to get aggressive and they screwed up royally.

    “It wasn’t autism that made him say that his issue needed to be solved before we could get back to ConcernedStudent1950.”

    He never said that and was in fact saying all along that he supported concernedstudent1950 and regreted this distracted from their issues. But nonetheless his rights were violated. I don;t think an assult charge is justfied and I do not think mellissa should be fired, thats going to far.

    “It wasn’t autism that’s making him sound overly entitled (really? One camera push while trying to get through a wall of people and he wants the tiny white woman fired because her apologies weren’t ‘sincere enough’? Oh please.)”

    His rights were violated. Regardless of of the concerned student 1950 issues this is what happened. He was treated badly they are seperate issues which should be addressed.

    “What about the compassion HE lacked for those protesters he was trying to get through to? Autism sure as hell didn’t cause that.”

    I do not think he lacked compassion. He was simply being a citizen journalist. Melissa Click by her actions fucked this whole thing up. She over reacted, treated him badly and scored a massive own goal. Calling for “muscle” to eject a student citzien journalist who had every right to be there is no different from the police hassling journalists covering the fergison protests. Its a very bad thing to do and almost always backfires. The blame lies with her not Mark.

    “These were his choices that he made and he needs to be rightfully called out on them.”

    Sure they were his choices and he did nothing wrong as far as I can tell. He was within his rights and the whole thing could have been avoided if handled differently.

    ” I’m done with privileged (yes he is privileged on the axis of race and gender) people taking the attention from the issues of the marginalized. If anything, that panel should have been a goddamn lesson that apparently he’s not learning yet.”

    Except he isn’t privileged at all and has probably faced more adversity than any of the protesters. Autistic people face more adversity than any ethnic minority. To call him privileged just because he is white and male is absurd. I don’t want to get into the whole oppression olympics fiasco but calling an autistic person privilleged in todays society would be like calling a trans person privilleged just because they happen to be white and identify as male. Its a daft thing to say.

    “The compassion should be for every single student of color on that campus who have been terrorized by racism, not some white guy who got a little shove.”

    And he showed great compassion for those students. None of that takes away from the fact that he was treated badly by a factulty member and whilst I agree the assult charge is a bit much nonetheless Mellissa Click is the one at fault here initially. After that I think Danielle took advantage of her “friends” naivety. The lack of social awareness that autism brings means kids like Mark are open to manipulation by neurotypical people and I think Danielle took advantage here. The fact that she then threw him under the bus and accused him of racism is really shitty. To her credit she has since retracted that. But none the less it was a shitty thing to do.

    I also think Skepticon failed in its duty of care to a vulnerable person by allowing this circus to go ahead or to go on for so long. Perhaps they are not autism aware, perhaps they didn’t understand perhaps. Most people are not aware of how autism affects people. Its a very complex condition and even “high functioning” autistic people can become temporarliy low function in certain situations. Autism should never be an excuse for bad behavior but at the same time certain allowances do need to be made in some situations particularly “high contact” social situations involving contact with many people. My son (who is autistic) is constantly viewed as naughty, disruptive, rude and insenstive to others. He is none of these things, he is a lovely sweet little boy but in some situation he SEEMS to others like a monster.

    Look my shtick is not with concernedstudent1950 or the issues they face. I’m an autism rights advocate because I am personally connected to autism. I see a vulnerbale and perhaps naive young autistic man being abused here. The shit he is getting is unacceptable. I seek raise consciousness of autism related issues and ask that people consider these before judging. Mark seems to me to be nice guy who genuinely cares about race issues. As far as I can tell he has done or said nothing that could be construed as racist. The whole press conference should not be taken at face value as Mark was soooooo far outside his comfort zone. It pained me to watch him struggle there, he was rambling and not making sense despite the fact that he is clearly a smart and capable young man. This was because of his autism, really it was. Cut the guy some slack please.

    The fact that his video has been ceased upon by those who seek to derail the conversation is not really his fault. Perhaps he was naive to speak with fox and breitbart but who organised that? I’ll lay a penny to pinch of shit that it was not him.

    So hopefully this will give those reading some pause for thought before judging.

  15. 17

    Right, so I just wasted my time on my response, because you don’t seem remotely interested in the issue proceeding this at all. Why don’t you learn a little more about what ConcernedStudent1950 and what they’ve all gone through (and the history of black movements and white media) before jumping into this issue? It does’t have jack to do with his autism and I’m done with people infantilizing him because of it.

    He’s not some naive ignorant little boy. He’s a grown man in his 20s, capable of college study and journalism and making adult decisions, and I’m not apologizing for treating him as such.

  16. 18

    ivan, I don’t think anyone is saying Mark was well-served by what happened. They are, however, saying that he did damage and that the damage isn’t a consequence of autism.

  17. 19

    It’s wrong to bar the press, who has a long history of villainizing a minority, from an event that could be distorted to villainize said minority?

    Okay then. I’ll take wrong every day.

  18. 20

    Like seriously. Sorry for the double post but I can’t let this drop:

    The black protesters told the media to fuck off.

    The media are certainly entitled to try and cover the story. But somehow the OPTIONAL part of giving the media an audience is forgotten, because the black protesters looked at the extensive history of racist coverage AND CHOSE THE OPTION TO SAY NO.

    God forbid we respect the consent of black people!

  19. 21

    Here’s the thing about that “freedom of the press” stuff (please note my NOT calling it “shit”… because I really don’t think it’s “shit”; I think it’s important, but like free speech and free religion, it’s complicated, as opposed to simple)… it also allows paparazzi and TMZ. And I don’t think they should be considered “press”, frankly. But they exist and are, indeed, considered press (and have the freedom to violate the privacy of people who never actually agreed to having their privacy violated).

    “Freedom of the press” does not mean “freedom from calls for privacy”. And this was not a government sponsored event (which, again, lest we all forget, is what the 1st amendment is meant to protect us from: the government).

    He was asked, multiple fucking times, to go away. They clearly did not want press at the event and guess what? That’s their right.

    I really really hope that Click keeps her job. I don’t even think she should be sanctioned or fined or suspended.

    Now, I will say this, in order to bring in some complication:
    1) I’m glad Click apologized. That she should have done, and she did.
    2) I think Schierbecker has received his punishment. This will be his reputation. That’s good enough. He should not being kicked out of his school, he should not be arrested or fined… at this point, as long as he drops his end of it, then he should be left alone. And we can get black to #ConcernedStudent1950 and #BlackLivesMatter and stop worrying about the grievances of privileged white people.

    I don’t know how to feel about Moscatto right now, and I feel very bad for Skepticon.

  20. 22

    Except he isn’t privileged at all and has probably faced more adversity than any of the protesters. Autistic people face more adversity than any ethnic minority.

    Nope and nope.

  21. 23

    NateHevens @21,

    He was asked, multiple fucking times, to go away. They clearly did not want press at the event and guess what? That’s their right.

    This! They were exercising their right to free expression and that expression just happened to be “GTFO media we don’t want you here.” That is their right. And as you said they are not a government agency or acting on behalf of the state and so that doesn’t amount to censorship either.

    Those defending the media are essentially saying that consent doesn’t matter and that the media has some kind of inalienable right to report their narrative regardless. Scary when put in those terms.

    I really really hope that Click keeps her job. I don’t even think she should be sanctioned or fined or suspended.

    Agreed why should she be punished in any way for standing up for her rights and the rights of the students? If anything this was justifiable defense in reaction to flagrant transgression of drawn boundaries.

  22. 24

    Thank you for writing this. When I heard about the horrible, racist, debacle at Skepticon last week I was angry. When I saw the video of the event, where two entitled white men were were whitesplaining and minimizing black pain, oppression, and suffering, I began to shake as I felt the sorrow and rage overcome me.

    That white journalist, blinded by his privrlege, insisted that what happened had something to do with his rights, and delusionslly claimed that he was assaulted. The uncomfortable truth is that what POC and their allies did was self defense. He illegally and forcibly,entered a POC only healing space in a blatant terroristic attack on our narrative. After we defended ourselves without physically injuring him, he attempted to highjack the spotlight and steal the media narrative that was built upon the labor and suffering of POC. The night after it all happened you had groups of KKK terrorist mobs storming the #Mizzou campus and terrorizing POC, yet this guy wanted to keep crying about his “first amendment”

    I was thrilled to see a small group of brave POC fight back against these bullies, but saddened when the sheer trauma of the discursive violence, marginalization of suffering, and narrative manipulation terrorism forced these brave POC to leave. It is sad to see the entrenched systemic racism of Skepticon and the atheist community. They have a long way to becoming a welcoming and safe space for POC.

    It is good to see that Skepticon organizers apologized, but that is not enough and does little to ameliorate the very real harm and suffering caused by the events on Saturday. To move past this awful event so that healing can begin, the head of Skepticon, Lauren Lane, should step down. Her replacement should be appropriately vetted by a committee of atheist POC. Furthermore, a training workshop on racial and gender inclusivity, sensitivity, privilege, and ally skills should be mandatory for all people attending Skepticon. This can’t be just an optional session, and proof of completion must be required before enering the event. The events of last weekend prove that the atheist community desperately needs such training.

    I hope that our white allies will stop focusing on white journalists and return the focus to the harsh and brutal realities facing POC at #Mizzou. Allies who want to learn about the extent of their privilege should learn more about Jonathan Butler, the brave man behind the protests. Growing up in utter poverty, not the ghetto, with a broken family. Jonathan has fought horrific oppression and overcome obstacles more enormous than privileged Americans can even imagine. Let’s forget about whiny white journalists crying about their rights and return the focus to brave heroes like Jonathan Butler snd their fight against systemic oppression and injustice.

  23. 25

    “Marmadune”: I cannot help but peg you for a false flag, probably a Channer. Lauren Lane should not step down. No KKK members actually drove through Mizzou, and that was a false narrative planted by Channers. And you’re referencing a Key And Peele sketch with your name, and SOMEHOW managed to get a tulane.edu email address with the same name? Bullshit. http://thebiglead.com/2015/01/28/key-and-peeles-annual-eastwest-bowl-sketch-is-here-to-make-the-viral-rounds/

    So, you’re taking real problems, describing them truthfully, and making unreasonable demands in order to paint the protesters as unreasonable. Using Chan narratives to bolster your demands. Stop muddying the waters — start actually listening to the problems. Unless you’re actively racist against black folks and are used to doing false flags to try to destroy them, I don’t see why you’d think this is “rational” behaviour. This edgelord bullshit you’re pulling is transparent and fucking deplorable.

  24. 27

    Autistic people face more adversity than any ethnic minority.

    Thank you, Mookie, for handling this bit of WTFery. I was too busy screaming into my hands.
    Trust me, ivan, Mark ain’t got SHIT on the risks a black boy with autism faces. Go Google “black, autism, jail” and attempt to feel sorry for actual boys with autism who are thrown in jail, handcuffed, treated like CRIMINALS for who they are. You call yourself an advocate for people with autism? Get busy advocating for some real victims.

    And you want us to have compassion for a white man who got his camera shoved a little? GTFOH.

  25. 28

    It’s wrong to bar the press, who has a long history of villainizing a minority, from an event that could be distorted to villainize said minority?
    Okay then. I’ll take wrong every day.

    It’s one thing to make a reporter’s job hell. Another all together to threaten to physically remove them. What happened to Tai and Schierbecker bordered on assault. They had every right to be there. Protester’s could have blocked their cameras, ignored questions, whatever but Click calling for muscle is a step too far. You can’t bar the press from being in a public area anymore than they could bar you and you certainly can’t strike them until they comply.

  26. 29

    To call him privileged just because he is white and male is absurd.

    Ahahaha. You clearly don’t know what intersectionality is!

    I have been quite poor in my past. I was still white, meaning people didn’t generally assume I was a criminal or hypersexual or try to assault me or shun me for the colour of my skin. Even though I was underprivileged on the money axis, I was still white. I was still male, as well, meaning I was much more likely to be listened to when trying to have a say in how the world works, and much less likely to be blamed for any misfortunes that might happen to me. I was much less likely to be turned down for a job just because I was privileged on several axes, even where on the money one I was underprivileged.

    Privilege isn’t a zero sum. Axes of privilege operate independently of one another. Being autistic doesn’t deprive you of your skin colour, nor does it make the world blind to your gender. And being autistic does not actually give you less of an understanding of consent, which is the problem here — the people he wanted to film, interview or otherwise access did not consent to this access. His being confronted for trying to take priority over others’ wishes might have been tougher for him emotionally being autistic, but it certainly didn’t deprive him of the knowledge that these people said no, and he damn well tried to do it anyway.

    Julian: you should damn well know better than to say the exact opposite of the original post without a damn good justification for why I’m wrong and you’re right. If you can assert that they had every right to be where others wanted them not to be, e.g. in people’s faces, then you should make a case why their wishes take precedent over the wishes of the people they were haranguing. You should also not suggest nobody here recognizes having hands laid upon him is actually assault, mild though it might be. It certainly is, but it certainly shouldn’t take precedence in the “justice for me before justice for thee” sense, when “thee” is being systematically assaulted for their skin colour.

  27. 30

    ivan @16:

    Except he isn’t privileged at all and has probably faced more adversity than any of the protesters. Autistic people face more adversity than any ethnic minority. To call him privileged just because he is white and male is absurd. I don’t want to get into the whole oppression olympics fiasco but calling an autistic person privilleged in todays society would be like calling a trans person privilleged just because they happen to be white and identify as male. Its a daft thing to say.

    1- I find it interesting that you say you don’t want to get into the “whole oppression olympics fiasco”, yet at the same time you claim that autistic people face more adversity than any ethnic minority. That *is* Oppression Olympics. Both groups experience discrimination and oppression. Attempting to rank the two is well-nigh impossible, and ultimately pointless, IMO.
    2-you do not understand privilege or intersectionality. Jason’s comment above explains the latter concept quite well and you’d do well to try and understand it. Or try this: I’m gay, black, and an atheist. In the United States, those three groups experience societal discrimination, oppression, and marginalization (each to varying degrees depending upon the individual and the circumstances). I’ve experienced racism and homophobia as well as very minor anti-atheist discrimination. OTOH, I’m also a cisgender, neurotypical, male. Which means that I do not experience the struggles, microaggressions, and discrimination that trans people, non-neurotypical people, and women and non-binary people experience. All of this is swirling around in me so that I experience various forms of privilege while experiencing various forms of oppression. Schierbecker is much the same. His autism means that he does experience social marginalization. But that doesn’t erase the privilege he possesses as a white male in a country that routinely oppresses and marginalizes People of Color, women, and NB folks.

  28. 31

    “Trust me, ivan, Mark ain’t got SHIT on the risks a black boy with autism faces. ”

    errr ok but that was not what I was comparing. I was stating that autistic people as a minority group face more adversity than black people as a minority group. I accept fully that “black autistic people” have it worse than “white autistic people”. My point was that just looking at Marks skin colour and sex and judging him as “pivileged” is erronious. The outcomes for autistic people in society even the white cis male ones are worse than for any ethnic minority. Whether you look at the stats for education, for mental health issues, for employment, for crime victimization, for treatment by the criminal justice system in almost all cases people with autism fare far worse than any ethnic minority. Now sure if you are a ethnic minority AND autistic you get a double helping of shit from society but that is not what we are comparing here. I am stating that autistic people are a more oppressed minority than any ethnic minority and the stats will back me up on this everytime. As such to lable Mark as privileged and to use that label to dismiss his problems is deeply ableist in my opinion.

    “Go Google “black, autism, jail” and attempt to feel sorry for actual boys with autism who are thrown in jail, handcuffed, treated like CRIMINALS for who they are.”

    Indeed. This is shocking and I feel nothing but compassion for these kids. This also happens a lot to white autistic kids as well BTW. Autistic people in general are 7 times more likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system as victims or suspected perpetrators of crime than the neurotypical population. But again I fail to see why this is relevant to the Ableism Mark has faced here. How does the fact that black autistic kids are brutalised by the police affect what Mark has experienced here?

    ” You call yourself an advocate for people with autism? ”
    Yes

    “Get busy advocating for some real victims.”

    I am. Just saying “oh but black autistic people have it worse” does not in anyway diminish the ableism Mark had experienced here and in other places. Sure black autistic people have it worse but that’s irrelevant to the case in hand.

    “And you want us to have compassion for a white man who got his camera shoved a little? GTFOH.”

    The camera shove is not the incident that concerns me. Its the ableism and dismisal of his condition afterwards that concerns me.

  29. 32

    @30 Tony! The Queer Shoop
    “His autism means that he does experience social marginalization. But that doesn’t erase the privilege he possesses as a white male in a country that routinely oppresses and marginalizes People of Color, women, and NB folks.”

    Except of course his experiences as an autsitic person are being denied because he is white and male. At the press conference he explained why it was hard for him to do such things as and autistic man and this was dismissed as “white tears”. This is ableism pure and simple. Similarly many of the comments here denying his autistic experiences because he is deemed to be privleged is also ableism. I am simply pointing out that his percieved privileged status is masking some pretty blatant ableism.

  30. 34

    @Jason Thibeault

    “Ahahaha. You clearly don’t know what intersectionality is!”

    Well yes I do but it is not actually relevant to the point I am making here. Sure he gains some privilege from being white and male. But that privilege does not mean anyone gets to dismiss his experiences as marginlised minority. This is what has happened here. Because he is white and male he has been deemed “privileged” and that “privelege” has been used to dismiss his expereinces as an autsitic man, That is ableism pure and simple.

    Many of the comments here similarly dismiss his experiences as an autistic person simply because he is seen as belonging to a privileged class. This is completely wrong and ableist.

    “And being autistic does not actually give you less of an understanding of consent, which is the problem here — the people he wanted to film, interview or otherwise access did not consent to this access. ”

    But that swings both ways. He did not give his consent to be ejected from the public space. They had no right to eject him and then calling for “muscle” to eject him violated his rights. But this is a completly seperate issue from the ableism he has experience. Which ever way you fall on that issues its not really relevant to the ableism he has experienced afterwards. Even if we say Mark was 100% in the wrong it still does not excuse the dismissing of his experiences and an autistic person because he is precieved as belonging to a privileged class. That is ableism.

  31. 35

    …to continue, because I hit some button before I could even spell check my prior post.

    It’s reality. Sorry if you can’t deal with that, but you need to learn how the fuck intersectionality works (add that to your list of shit to Google), because you are so not ready for this conversation without that knowledge and are just looking ignorant and single-minded as hell.

    Jason, other commentators and me have taken time out of our days to try to break this down for you, and you just refuse to even consider that maybe this man did anything remotely hurtful or that our outrage has nothing to do with his condition, rather than his actions. Factoring in his autism doesn’t excuse his nonsense, and once again, attempting to do so and then crying “ableist” when we don’t buy it, turns him into a ignorant child.

    Sorry, we’re not buying it no matter how many times you point it out, and if this is your excuse for advocating, then please stop.

  32. 36

    @33 Feminace

    “POINTING OUT WHERE HE IS PRIVILEDGED AND HOW THAT PRIVELDGE PLAYS OUT IN SOCIETY ISN’T ABLEIST.”
    I agree. But dismissing his experiences as an autistic person because he is seen to belong to a privileged class IS ableist. Its is like dismissing a white cis gay mans experiences of homophobia because he is white and male and cis. Do you understand?
    This is what has happened here.

  33. 37

    Ivan: Thanks for ablespaining at me. I really appreciate it. Thanks for completely ignoring my intention, which was to vent and then rerail, rather than derail over autism. I really really appreciate that I, through you, have caused the same derail I was trying to avoid. Thank you so gods damned fucking much. Abso-fucking-lutely marvelous.

    It’s people like you who keep people like me, and your new BFF, Schierbecker, less able. Your lowered expectations really help, when it’s time to build that wall and try to fence myself in.

    tl;dr: you’re doing more harm than good. Bugger off and do something constructive, would you?

  34. 38

    @37 Jimbo Jones
    I was simply correcting some factual errors you made in your statement about Mark using his autism as an excuse for the original incident. He didn’t do this. You were factually wrong to say that he did. There is nothing ablespaining about pointing out a simple factual error you made.

    “It’s people like you who keep people like me, and your new BFF, Schierbecker, less able. Your lowered expectations really help, when it’s time to build that wall and try to fence myself in.”

    What lowered expectations would those be exactly? As I have pointed out and stated explictly autism should never be an excuse for shitty behaviour. If you think Marks behaviour was shitty at the original incident then ok that’s fine but he has never used autism to excuse that so its kind of irrelevant. The only time he mentioned his autism was in connection with the social pressure that overwealmed him at the press conference. I do not think Mark did anything shitty at the press conference but he did ramble, didn’t make a lot of sense at points and generally displayed signs of an autistic person struggling with a tough social situation. Many NT;s would struggle to cope in that situation especially at his young age but autistic people, as you well know, have particular difficulties in high contact social situations like this. He should never, by his own admission, been up there fielding questions like that. I don’t think pointing out that many autistic people struggle in those situations is lowering expectations. Autism gives strengths and weaknesses like any difference does acknowledging the situations where autistic people may struggle is part of having good autism awareness.

    “you’re doing more harm than good. Bugger off and do something constructive, would you?”

    That is really not a very nice thing to say is it?

  35. 39

    But dismissing his experiences as an autistic person because he is seen to belong to a privileged class IS ableist. Its is like dismissing a white cis gay mans experiences of homophobia because he is white and male and cis. Do you understand?
    This is what has happened here.

    Your analogy fucking fails. Here, let me try:

    What you’re doing is like if a white cis gay dude did something hurtful towards another minority (which isn’t beyond the the realm of possibility – ask nonwhite gay men, queer women, and trans folks for details), they mention that they’re gay, we call them on the hurtful bit, and someone ‘hero’ advocate comes riding in to accuse us of homophobia, further derailing the point that John Q. WhiteHomosexual did something hurtful.

    This is what you are doing.

    I’m with Jimbo. Please to be buggering off somewhere else, especially with the condescending “That’s not very nice” crap. You’ve mistaken a discussion by adults about an adult for the PattyCake Corner.

  36. 40

    @39 Feminace
    “Your analogy fucking fails. Here, let me try”

    You seem agitated. Please try to remain calm there is no need for rudeness.

    “What you’re doing is like if a white cis gay dude did something hurtful towards another minority (which isn’t beyond the the realm of possibility – ask nonwhite gay men, queer women, and trans folks for details), they mention that they’re gay, we call them on the hurtful bit, and someone ‘hero’ advocate comes riding in to accuse us of homophobia, further derailing the point that John Q. WhiteHomosexual did something hurtful.”

    Ok that’s all fine but this is not what happened here. Neither Mark nor I or anyone are using autism as an excuse for any hurtful behavior. I am taking issue with the fact that his related experiences of autism are being dismissed because he is percieved to be privileged. If you think he or I used his autism as an excuse for any behavior in the initial incident then you are mistaken. This has not been said. I do think the fact that he is autistic perhaps explain why the press conference didn’t go well and perhaps why many of his answers didn’t make much sense. But I do not think he did anything nasty or hurtful there in particular and hence you cant really say he is using autism as an excuse. So sorry your counter analogy is simply inaccurate.

    “I’m with Jimbo. Please to be buggering off somewhere else, especially with the condescending “That’s not very nice” crap. You’ve mistaken a discussion by adults about an adult for the PattyCake Corner.”

    In my experience adults are capable of having a civil discussion without telling the other party to “bugger off” as soon as their position is challenged. Anyone stick their tongue out and tell other party to “go away” when they don’t like something they say, my 3 year old does this quite a lot in fact.

  37. 41

    I’ll skip Sea Lion Ivan because a couple others are already working on them.

    @julian:

    It’s one thing to make a reporter’s job hell. Another all together to threaten to physically remove them. What happened to Tai and Schierbecker bordered on assault. They had every right to be there. Protester’s could have blocked their cameras, ignored questions, whatever but Click calling for muscle is a step too far. You can’t bar the press from being in a public area anymore than they could bar you and you certainly can’t strike them until they comply.

    (emphasis mine)

    Repeat after me: They had no right to demand an audience.

    They had no right to demand an audience.

    THEY HAD NO RIGHT TO DEMAND AN AUDIENCE.

    THEY HAD NO RIGHT TO DEMAND AN AUDIENCE

    1) Press can go where they want: True.
    2) Press can demand a story from everyone they meet: True.
    3) Everyone has to comply: False.

  38. 42

    Again, apologies for another double post, I’ll take this as a listen that I need to steep in racist apologism for a few minutes to really peel back the layers of stupid.

    julian:

    It was a protest.

    If a protest isn’t “blocking” something, it ain’t effective.

    The protesters were blocking a University Quad. A fucking place of short cuts to classes and frisbee golf.

    They’re not blocking a highway (they should). They’re not blocking a pipeline or a refinery. They’re not blocking a city street. They’re not blocking government buildings.

    They’re sitting on a patch of grass. The point of their protest is to DENY ACCESS TO THIS QUAD.

    They didn’t just block out the press. THEY BLOCKED OUT EVERYONE WHO WASN’T ACTIVELY RALLYING TO THEIR CAUSE.

    So yes, you can block out the press, and other people. THAT’S THE FUCKING POINT OF A PROTEST. THAT’S HOW THEY *WORK*

    You can’t wrap your head around black people distrusting the press in Missouri? Maybe a black person living in Missouri can correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s hardly a bastion of fair racial representation in the media. The protesters have a long, and thoroughly documented history of whitewashing media villainizing black people. They have zero reasons to believe a media outlet is going to represent them fairly.

  39. 43

    ivan

    You seem agitated. Please try to remain calm there is no need for rudeness.

    Fuck that shit.
    It’s condescending as hell to tell people to “calm down”. If people are upset, there’s a reason why they are. You can try to condescent to them and treat them as less than capable the way you do or you can try to understand why you are making them angry.
    Also, nobody here is three years old and needs to be told that they don’T need to be rude by you. The only person here who is entitled to do so is Jason ’cause it’s his virtual space.

    Second, here’s why your whole argument is nothing more than actually making it about how poor Schierbecker was victimized:
    There is no evidence that he was “taken advantage of” by anybody or thrown under the bus by anybody. Ever since he shot that video and edited it to make it look worse than it was* he’S been quite happy to grant interviews to outlets that actively foster hatred against black people. His video is being used on Stormfront and his friends apparently told him in quiet about the harm he’s doing. Nevertheless he went on. Nevertheless he thought that panel was a good idea.
    He let people know several times that he would be there all weekend and happily answer questions.
    That doesn’t sound to me like somebody who is overwhelmed by social contact and uncomfortable with being at the centre of attention. He came off as somebody who quite enjoys all that attention and who only stopped enjoying it the moment the black students dared to question him and his motifs.
    All this anxiety about lots of social contact and personal space were noticably absent when he tried to force his way into a space where he was told repeatedly that he was not wanted, getting access to people who did not want to talk to him.

    *The “muscle” Click called for never laid hand on him. This wasn’t his last second of freedom before some angry black football players assaulted him, but that’s exactly how the story is being spun.

  40. 44

    I’m glad I waited 24 hours to see the dreck posted in the comment section here.

    Schierbecker is just another dude getting his 15 minutes of fame. But as Aussie rock weirdos TISM pointed out:

    Andy Warhol got it right, everybody gets the limelight
    Andy Warhol got it wrong, fifteen minutes is too long

    In a month’s time most people will think Schierbecker is the running back for the Atlanta Falcons.

    Anyway fuck Free Speech, fuck The Freedom Of The Press, fuck the autistics, fuck whitey and his “Constitution rights”, lets all just stare at the Axis Of Privilege and worship its awesome glory.

  41. 45

    @43 Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-
    “It’s condescending as hell to tell people to “calm down”.”
    I see. But is it not condescending to state “You’ve mistaken a discussion by adults about an adult for the PattyCake Corner.” Which was after all the comment to which I was replying. Or is it only condescding when you don’t like it?

    “If people are upset, there’s a reason why they are.”

    I agree. I think people often get upset when they are called out on their bigotry. It often causes some internal angst resulting in anger. Denial followed by anger and then hopefully acceptance and learning.

    ” You can try to condescent to them and treat them as less than capable the way you do or you can try to understand why you are making them angry.”

    I think I do understand the reason for the anger. I have felt the same anger myself in the past when I was learning to unthink what I had been taught about autism and disabilities.

    “There is no evidence that he was “taken advantage of” by anybody or thrown under the bus by anybody.”

    Danielle arranged the press conference, this went on for over an hour, he faced hostile questions, he crumbled under the social pressure, she then posted messages calling him a racist, skepticon then posted a message appologising for the offence caused. And you say there is no evidence of him being thrown under a bus?

    “Ever since he shot that video and edited it to make it look worse than it was* he’S been quite happy to grant interviews to outlets that actively foster hatred against black people.”

    I think some of these outlets took advantage of him and his video to be honest.

    “His video is being used on Stormfront and his friends apparently told him in quiet about the harm he’s doing”

    Well he can hardly help that can he. It went viral.

    “Nevertheless he thought that panel was a good idea.
    He let people know several times that he would be there all weekend and happily answer questions.
    That doesn’t sound to me like somebody who is overwhelmed by social contact and uncomfortable with being at the centre of attention”

    It sounds to me like some PR agent got hold of him and persuaded him to do stuff he should not have done. I’m guessing you do not know that much about autism and autistic people. If you did you would perhaps have a different take on this matter.

    “He came off as somebody who quite enjoys all that attention”

    That really is not the impression I got at all.

    “All this anxiety about lots of social contact and personal space were noticably absent when he tried to force his way into a space where he was told repeatedly that he was not wanted, getting access to people who did not want to talk to him”

    I see so you are denying his experiences as an autistic person because it does not suit your agenda. Not cool. Really not cool.

  42. 46

    Where did the people here, some of whom are on the autistic spectrum, diminish or deny Schierbecker’s autism or his reaction to being called out on his racist actions, ivan? What I’ve seen here is that people have demanded that the person who transgressed on others against their wishes not be excused his transgressions because he’s autistic. I think that’s actually the goal of autism normalization — that you don’t misattribute character flaws to autism and pretend like they just can’t be helped. Especially not ones like violating others’ consent, when the autistic folks I know are hyper-aware of consent because they don’t generally get subtle social cues and take people at their word when they say “no”.

    I can’t help but feel that as a person claiming to work as an autism advocate, you’re doing autistic folks (like those here arguing against you) a grave disservice when you make fallacious claims to bolster your own playing of Oppression Olympics, your lack of understanding of intersectionality, and your evident ongoing belief that you get special dispensation for bad behaviour because of your being on the spectrum.

    To prove a point about access to “public” spaces and whether you get free reign over them when others say no, I’m saying no right now. I’m turning off your mic. From now on, you come out when I have time to deal with you, and not a second sooner.

    I just saw a notification that you posted while I was typing this — I am not sure if that comment is staying out, depending on its contents, because you’ve run roughshod over this comments section all night and have done more than your share of damage to autistic people and to the attempts to re-rail this discussion as being about fallacious claims of “free speech” in the face of brutal racism in the meantime. Let me go throw your info into the moderation queue and find out what you just said.

  43. 47

    All this anxiety about lots of social contact and personal space were noticably absent when he tried to force his way into a space where he was told repeatedly that he was not wanted, getting access to people who did not want to talk to him

    I see so you are denying his experiences as an autistic person because it does not suit your agenda. Not cool. Really not cool.

    Nope. Wrong. What Giliell is saying here is that Schierbecker repeatedly violated people’s requests for personal space and requests for respect of their wishes to not be interacted with. Ignoring direct requests to be left alone is not “the autistic person’s experience”. The opposite of that, in fact, is true. The autistic folks here in this thread have told you so repeatedly. Stop excusing his transgressions just because he happens to feel particularly uncomfortable when those specific kinds of transgressions are aimed at him.

    I’m leaving the comment out because it probably already notified everyone here. But you’re not getting a ninth turn at the microphone til I can deal with you myself.

  44. 48

    Since Jason’s turned off ivan’s mic, I really shouldn’t reply, but fuck it.

    You seem agitated. Please try to remain calm there is no need for rudeness.

    Go fuck yourself

    So sorry your counter analogy is simply inaccurate.

    Please continue going and fucking yourself.

    Anyone stick their tongue out and tell other party to “go away” when they don’t like something they say, my 3 year old does this quite a lot in fact.

    And when you’re done going and fucking yourself, pretty please with sugar on top start from the beginning and fuck yourself some more.

    Have a nice day 🙂

  45. 49

    A panel on the freedom of the press vs. the journalistic ethics of reporting on marginalized groups, could have been a really interesting and important debate. But that would have required somebody from the other side to pushback against the mainstream narrative that the 1A means reporters get to go wherever they want and everyone must talk to them, be quoted, video’d, photo’d regardless of their consent. With all the obvious privacy and safety concerns that the protestors have given the toxic and dangerous climate on campus, a discussion of the role that respect for the protestors should play in the professional conduct of a journalist, would be a good thing. I know this panel was thrown together on the fly but Skepticon surely could have gotten somebody who teaches/practices journalism and has experience in covering protests who could have advocated for the importance of respect and the idea that just because a journalist may have the right to be somewhere that does not mean that ethically they should be there. Ie- there is a point where a good journalist backs off and respects the space/people they are covering. Elon James White*, Jelani Cobb, Imani Gandy, Wes Lowery** are all people that off the top of my head, they could have reached out to who could have weighed in via Skype at least. It would have also been nice to have somebody up there who could have given Schierbecker a little primer on the concept of de-centering the White perspective/feelings/priorities.

    The centering around this guy’s feelings is staggering. After several days he decides to go to the police because while Click offered a full apology, she didn’t convince him, or consent to an interview. Ie- she didn’t do it his way. Also, note how Danielle pushes the narrative that charges against Click are at the discretion of the police as if Schierbecker had nothing to do with it (aside from running to the police to press charges in the first place.) Ugh.

    *For anyone interested, you can hear Elon discuss the matter on this episode of ThisWeekInBlackness, starting around 24:30. He tells of the instances reporting in Ferguson and Baltimore where he was denied access to people/spaces and chose to respect those wishes and found another way to report.

    **For all the pearl-clutching about Schierbecker’s 1A rights, Lowery has a much better example from when he was arrested (government) in Ferguson for refusing to leave a MacDonald’s that reporters were using as a safe space. I wonder if all the people outraged over this current situation made much of a fuss when it was a black reporter.

  46. 50

    ivan

    Danielle arranged the press conference, this went on for over an hour, he faced hostile questions, he crumbled under the social pressure, she then posted messages calling him a racist, skepticon then posted a message appologising for the offence caused. And you say there is no evidence of him being thrown under a bus?

    I think some of these outlets took advantage of him and his video to be honest.

    Well he can hardly help that can he. It went viral.

    It sounds to me like some PR agent got hold of him and persuaded him to do stuff he should not have done. I’m guessing you do not know that much about autism and autistic people. If you did you would perhaps have a different take on this matter.

    Say, does Schierbecker have any agency at all in your model of advocacy for people on the spectrum?
    I know, several people who are on the spectrum have told you already and as somebody witha kid on the spectrum I would like to add my voice: Stop advocating. You’re worse at it than Danielle Muscato is at PR. You don’t treat people on the spectrum as rational agents but like kids who cannot understand the consequences of their actions and who should therefore be shielded from them.

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