Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Age of Autism's All About Debate...Except When They're Not

The primary reason that I started this blog was because, for reasons unknown to me, I was banned from ever commenting again on the Age of Autism blog. I took a serious look back at the comments that I had posted and perused their commenting policy and, apart from getting slightly off topic on a thread, couldn't see where I had violated the policy. When managing editor Kim Stagliano stepped in to warn everyone that we were getting off topic, I apologized (though I think that that post, along with a few others in the exchange, never saw the light of day).

I even sent a polite e-mail to Ms. Stagliano asking what I had done to warrant being banned from commenting over there. The only response I got was an auto-reply. I continue to wait in vain.

In March, one of the other regulars at AoA, JB Handley, posted a curious statement, claiming that they do not censor at Age of Autism. No, they screen posts so that parents don't feel safe:

And, Orac, the reason they screen posts at AoA is so that parents of children with autism have a safe environment to talk within. If they wanted debate, they can come to your lovely blog, so we all serve our little purposes, keep up the good work.

Reading the regular comments over there, though, one would think that they can handle themselves pretty well. The level of vitriol and name-calling is quite high. Yet, somehow, their censorship editorializing only appears to be applied selectively. As I pointed out before, "whore" is a word you'll see there quite often, used to describe pretty much anyone that questions their ideology.

I'm not the only one who has experienced this kind of thing. There's Countering Age of Autism blog (now just Countering) that Kim Wombles started when she ran into trouble at AoA and Free Speaker's Age of Ignorance.

You would think that with all this evidence that Age of Autism is an insular echo chamber in which ne'er a contrary word is heard. That they are closed off to debate or rational discourse.

Well, you'd be wrong. Kim Stagliano herself says as much:

Readers, we're all about debate and we do sometimes wade into controversy - that's OK! The day AofA plays is "careful" or tells our contributors that they can't get into a controversial topic we're cooked.

So, although they ban people for no apparent reason, although dissenting voices are rapidly shouted down, espite the mudslinging and insults, Age of Autism is all about debate.

Head on over there and debate them. Let's see how long Kim and her fellows let you stay.

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