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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Sunday 18 May 2014

Doug Ford the Sociopath Gets Challenged

You might think Doug Ford would take counsel before opening his mouth about issues of mental health and cognition given that his brother is, among other things, a drug addict.  I wouldn't - like many others in Toronto, I have suspicions that Doug Ford is a sociopath.

 - superficial and portray themselves as smarter than others
- delusional
- figure they can get away with anything (like blatant cash bribes)
- they lie, all the time, with ease and confidence
- feel neither guilt or shame
- don't learn from mistakes; they double-down
- their heart "goes out" to no one - not even their own brothers

Does that sound at all like Doug Ford, the Worst Brother Ever?  You see where I'm coming from then.

So, back to Ford's comments about autism.  He mentions "violent behaviours" like screaming.  How does he feel about punching your own friend, beating a friend, barrelling through an elected official to go join a fight or saying things like "get her a shot right now or I'll fucking break her..."?

Autism is not a cause of violence.  That's a facile, ignorant comment made by simpletons looking for a quick answer.  Violence is not a product of mental illness, the way we tend to view it.  If that were the case, we'd have to label a lot of hockey players and fans as mentally ill, wouldn't we?  They engage in violence and calls for violence all the time. 

Violent behaviour is a response to that which makes us uncomfortable, which we feel threatens us.  We respond to threats reactively, the same way we pull our hand back from a hot stove or feel an urge to lie down while in high places; this threat-response behavior manifests as stomping on a bug, smacking a child who talks back, promising consequences to employees to question us or screaming at a world that feels threatening, seems not to make sense.  Like Rob Ford does, or like some autistic kids do - depending on their circumstances.

There's really no difference - the reactive behaviour is the same whether you're flipping out at Pride or screaming because nobody's communicating the way you do.

Which is what happened to Jacob Barnett for ages.  Haven't heard of him?  You will - he's the autistic kid who many think will be the next Einstein/Newton.

Temple Grandin was misunderstood by many - now she does TED Talks.

Winston Churchill had mental health issues.  Abraham Lincoln had mental health issues.  It's quite likely that Stephen Harper could be diagnosed with a "mental illness" - as Bob Rae was.  These aren't weak men - they're dynamos, catalysts, outliers.  You'd be surprised how many "mentally ill" people have shaped the course of human history.

What we don't get - what people like Doug Ford, pathologically incapable of understanding others as they are don't get - is that different isn't bad.  It's different.  It's the interaction that defines good and evil.  The more empathy you have, the less sinful you become.

Being black, or gay, or tall, or autistic doesn't make you good or bad.  These are all aspects of the elephant, one trait amongst the many combinations that make us all unique. 

When we focus on the negative, we become angry, fearful, reactive (and violent) to. 

When we seek comprehension, we are inquisitive, patient, engaging and, ultimately, powerful in that special Ender Wiggin way.

Rob Ford has, through his illness, shaken a status quo that was desperately in need of being shaken.  He is a parody of all the norms we have come to accept of politicians.

Doug Ford is something even more extreme - a glimmer of what we could become, as a society, if we choose to focus on what irritates us instead of seeking common ground.

We can opt to stand against that which we disdain or makes us uncomfortable, as the Fords do - but that's a path that history teaches us has a dead end.

The alternative is to get beyond our own stigmas and learn how to understand, rather than react to.

When we learn to look beyond ourselves, that's when community truly begins.

Doug Ford sees himself as tough, better-than, shiny, independent.  There's nobody better than him - certainly not some autistic upstart.  Why, Dougie could wipe the floor with an autistic nobody, physically or verbally.

Hey Doug - I've been diagnosed as on the autism spectrum; that makes me your inferior, right?  But I'll bet you're not brave enough to go toe-to-toe with me in the arena of ideas.  You've got nothing but bluster; I've got everything, including the facts.

I've called you a sociopath, Dougie - I'm telling you that you're a lesser-than.  Are you going to take that?  Want to prove you're smarter than I am by disproving everything I've written here?

I'm betting you aren't.  Shows how weak your position is, doesn't it?

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