Saturday, 13 October 2012
Honesty is not an excuse to hurt others:
Hello there to all my readers,
What's my post on? Well, as an Autistic, people often say that I'm blunt. I can be brutally honest, and yes, I can be hurtful without realising that what I said would be hurtful. However, being honest is not mutually exclusive with being nice. I may not bother lying to you about my opinion, but I won't say something I know be tactlessly cruel and I do listen if told I've hurt someone instead just of getting bent out of shape, I may disagree, but I do listen, and sometimes that shifts my position a lot over time, I am not the same person I was just a couple of years ago, I have grown a lot during that time, mostly because when people called me on the shitty hurtful things I said, I listened and thought a lot about them.
Sometimes people say when I explain my difficulties that I just want a license to be an "asshole". Nothing could be further from the truth, I just want folks to remember that I don't get what may seem obvious to them, and often just require an explanation not being treated like I'm being deliberately clueless to hurt people. I also want them to respect that I look at the world in a completely different way so won't make the connections they will, and for them to understand that and to listen carefully to me in turn to understand me.
Fact is, I hate being told I've upset someone, because I feel bad for being that asshole. Even if they're clearly being a drama queen, I feel bad for possibly hurting them. A little me-centric I admit, but the point is just because I'm often blunt doesn't mean I'm an asshole by default. I do try not to be after all. Also it brings up the issue that people often manipulate me by crying victimhood.
Odd thing is, I've come across plenty of neurotypical people who really do use "I'm being honest/speaking my mind" as a reason for why they shouldn't be responsible for what they say.
Seriously, there is no requirement of being "honest" and "speaking your mind" that turns you into someone who doesn't even consider other people have feelings, emotions, difference viewpoints and might genuinely find your "honesty" to be upsetting.
Also even if you are being "honest" and "speaking your mind", it doesn't mean that what you say can't be ignorant, ill informed, hurtful, bigoted or otherwise harmful to others.
I find too many people who trumpet "freedom of speech" really mean "I want the freedom to say things without being challenged or having it pointed out that I'm saying harmful things". Freedom of speech does not mean "freedom from being responsible for the intentional or unintentional impact of what you say".
Also you don't get to demand control of how others feel, think or see what you said, because you don't like how they responded to it. If you want freedom of speech, you also have to grant freedom to others to have their own thoughts, feelings and responses without trying to censor them by calling their responses inappropriate if you don't want to be responsible for the impact what you said had.
Your intentions are not magical and do not control what happens and how other people react once what you said leaves your mouth/is posted online. You can do harm even if you do not intend to do so.
How is it that an autistic gets this when some Neurotypicals do not?