24 March 2008

Funds Lost

As you may probably know, recently Autism Speaks sent a notice from its team of about 30 lawyers to a 14-year-old autistic advocate who had set up a parody website of Autism Speaks. One of the things they were suing for was funds lost (in the amount of $90,000, if I'm not mistaken).

Aside from the obvious irony of an organization that purports to speak for autistics suing an autistic person for speaking out, it struck me as hilarious that they were claiming they should be reimbursed for funds lost. Even if the amount they claimed weren't so ridiculously high, isn't the whole point of speaking out against an organization to persuade people not to support it (which would include financially)?

Yeah, funds lost is kind of a goal. Well, funds lost isn't quite specific enough.

Funds redirected is our goal.

I would be fine with the continued existence of Autism Speaks if they stopped funding genetic research and seeking a cure (that money would be much better spent on services that help autistics today, rather than never). And a name change would be nice, too. Unless they had a significant number of people on the spectrum in positions of real power to guide and direct the organization, they shouldn't claim to speak for us (anyone know of the organization Voice of the Retarded, a parent-led organization that lobbied for institutionalization).

Basically, to claim that your organization deserved compensation because someone else spoke out against your organization and thus people have been persuaded not to donate to your organization, would be like if George Bush sued that website that compares him to a monkey for "votes lost". Absurd, isn't it? I thought so too.

1 comment:

Wrong Planet (alex plank) said...

Autism Speaks had no legal standing to take down the site (parody is clearly protected under the 1st amendment in the constitution) and I'm sure they knew that.

But being threatened by lawyers is sometimes enough to get someone shut down something perfectly legal because many people (especially kids) wouldn't know that what they're doing is perfectly legal.

What Autism Speaks did is referred to as a Chilling Effect. It's ethically wrong. Fortunately the whole incident backfired and the parody site got considerably more attention than it would have if autism speaks had never threatened the kid.