I am happy to announce that PETA’s recent, “Got Autism?” billboard has been removed by the advertising company hosting it. The billboard misinformed the public about the autism spectrum by falsely implying that milk consumption was the cause of autism. Such advertising contributes to a state of public hysteria about the autism spectrum, fueling the fear and resulting prejudice that marginalizes us from society at large.
It is unacceptable for autistic people, our families and supporters to be used as instruments in PETA’s political agenda or that of any other unscrupulous interest group. Our community came together to communicate the need for a swift withdrawal of this ill-informed piece of advertising, and I’m pleased to say that were able to achieve a swift result.
That we were able to accomplish this so quickly and effectively speaks well for the autistic community and the cross-disability rights movement. Thank you all for your support.
If you’d still like to indicate to PETA the need to avoid exploiting the autistic community in its future advertising, you can write to them at email@example.com as well as call them at 757-622-7382 and dial 0. You can also sign our petition on this topic, further indicating to PETA and the world that it does not pay to try to attack and exploit the autistic and cross-disability communities.
Incidents like this show the need for a strong and activist autistic self-advocacy movement, working closely with the broader disability rights community. By uniting on issues like this one, we can work to address the persistent biases that pervades the public discourse about autism in specific and disability in general. As we speak, the blind community is uniting against false and offensive depictions of their community in the new movie “Blindness.”
Over the last few months, disability rights activists from all parts of the community came together to fight against outdated and damaging portrayals of people with intellectual disabilities in the movie “Tropic Thunder.” Less than a year ago, the disability community united behind our successful effort to stop the NYU Child Study Center’s “Ransom Notes” ad campaign, which portrayed children with disabilities as kidnap victims.
Like any other community, we have the right to be treated with respect, in media, in service-delivery and in all aspects of society. While responses to offensive depictions of disability in popular culture are not the only battle in the broader struggle for equity, inclusion, quality of life and opportunity for all people with disabilities, this issue must remain an important priority. Culture helps to shape the reality we live in.
By challenging the exploitative and offensive public discourse on disability we find today, we can advance a broader agenda for disability rights. The disability community is on the march and we will not be stopped. Thank you once again for your effective action on this issue. I look forward to working with all of you once again in the future. Remember, “Nothing About Us, Without Us!”
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network