Last year the Psychologist and Baptist minister George Rekers who is famous for anti-homosexuality pseudo-science was discovered to be hiring gay escorts from Rentboy.com. Lots of LULZ there.
But the story didn’t end there. It turns out that George Rekers did some research on a child who ended up committing suicide as an adult, and the circumstantial evidence suggests that George’s actions are directly related to the suicide . The Rentboy.com affair doesn’t seem so funny now.
The Box Turtle Bulletin has a series of articles about Kirk Andrew Murphy’s suicide and the roles of George Rekers and Richard Green in all of this , the articles are well written and generally appear to be well researched – I recommend reading the articles if you can stomach them (lots of nasty stuff is described).
The section answering the question of who’s responsible for the mistreatment of Kirk Andrew Murphy  where they describe the use of ABA (AKA the Lovaas Technique) is interesting. Ivar Lovaas worked with George Rekers in such “research” and published a paper with him. The term ABA gets an immediate hostile reaction in the Autism community, but until now I hadn’t realised why so many people hate it so much. It seems that to some extent I made the classic mistake of misjudging the reports of Autistic people who are unable to present their case well (as opposed to the psychologists who can present any position very well even if it’s utterly insane). In the past I had the impression that ABA wasn’t inherently bad, it was just implemented in a bad way in some cases – now it seems that ABA was designed in an evil way right from the start.
There is one massive problem with the Box Turtle analysis, he says “Behavioral analysts don’t dig around much into people’s feelings, fears, dreams, family relationships or childhood memories. Indeed, in cases like autism, Lovaas’s specialty, those avenues of exploration would be irrelevant“. It could be that Jim Burroway (the Box Turtle writer) is merely quoting someone else without attribution, but even so saying that the “feelings, fears, and dreams” of a group of people are “irrelevant” is just awful, a statement that denies the humanity of a group of people can’t be quoted without further explanation.
In his article about ABA Jim refers to childhood Autism as “a condition for which there is no hope for interior change” . I’m not sure if he’s just saying that Autistic children are incapable of learning or whether it’s all Autistic people, in either case it’s nonsense in terms of science and nasty as well.
Generally I expect that members of various minority groups will show more sympathy to each other than they receive from the general population. Jim’s posts are a great disappointment. I understand that he would be rather stressed about the horrible things that George Rekers et al did, but even so he should be able to avoid that sort of thing. Jim is obviously a very talented writer and can do better.
One might think that Jim’s posts use the word “Autism” to refer only to the people who are non-verbal (or in other ways less capable than the huge number of Autistic people who work for companies like Google and IBM). But that’s no excuse either. You can find blogs and essays written by non-verbal Autistic people that describe their experiences if you care to search for them. It’s obvious that they are people too and deserve to be treated as people not objects. Abusing Autistic children to try and make them impersonate NT children is no less evil than abusing children who don’t fit gender norms.