Isn't being disabled enough
I run a drop in centre for people with Aspergers Syndrome, I only wish some of the fools behind this decision (both in the US and the UK), had come along and got to know of few of them or similar people before making starting the extradition process.
They would meet people that may be highly intelligent but completely naïve; Aspergers is a social communications disorder. What does that mean? Well first off it means that they do not understand social rule like speaking out of turn, what may or may not be appropriate, how to read facial signals. On the communications side they are usually very lonely because they do not know how to initiate a conversation, they can learn some techniques but they don’t really know what to expect in return or how to respond to it.
Aspergers is at the high end of the autistic spectrum, the word spectrum is used because it affects all of the seven senses and every person affected has a differing degree of disability within each sensory area. They may be hyper or hypo sensitive to certain type of light, sound, smell, vibration, taste as well as being affected by balance and location.
YES is it a disability, it is very hard for people to understand it and so there are many people out there who are undiagnosed. I have met several who were not diagnosed till in their late forties / early fifties and each says it was a relief because they always felt different from “neurotypical” people (NT’s).
The other aspect of Aspergers is that they think in a robotic way, they thrive on routine and rules, but their innate ability to spot inconsistency in NT’s mean that they quickly see when we break our own rules. They can become fixated on any subject, for Gary it was UFO’s but along the way he may well have become fixated on computers and or the military. If he watched a film like Wargames it is likely that he would come away thinking that it was perfectly acceptable to hack into a Government computer as long as the underlying reason was not malicious and or there was a important (to him) purpose. At the same time, frustrated by a lack of response he might well escalate his behaviour, especially if he was trying to notify them of the lack of security in their systems.
The core of the disability is anxiety, when things don’t go as expected (rules or routine) or if they have a sensory issue they may react in an unpredictable manner. To observers this may be shocking as they may become repetitive, start shouting or just panic. To them it is as if the whole world has fallen from under them so it is difficult to bring them “back down to earth”. During this anxiety attacks it is extremely hard to reason with them, the easiest way (if possible) is to give them what they need and then prepare them for such change. Otherwise they may just need time (potentially many hours) to come to terms with the change or issue that has upset them.
In our enlightened society, would we punish a blind person for inadvertently breaking the law because they could not see? Of course not! When you know and understand this disability as I do you realise just how unfair and inappropriate this whole saga is.
If you want to peep through the window into the world of Aspergers you might have a look at the Aspies for freedom forums http://www.aspiesforfreedom.com/forums.php ironically they argue that Gary should not be treated any differently but this just highlights the fact that they do not understand some aspects morality (a social skill).
The fact that Gary left notes on US systems saying things like “It’s Gary again, you guys have still not plugged the back doors to this system”, shows that he was not malicious and had no comprehension of the wrong that he was doing.
Ironically GCHQ employs people on the autistic spectrum like Gary because of their incredible ability to unravel codes and for their amazing attention to detail that we mere mortal NT’s miss. This often involves creating a special working environment with no phones or florescent lights and dealing with any individual issues.
I see little point in mounting appeal after appeal to go against the law because that is all judges can deal with, we need to appeal to the people behind the decision to extradite him and that means directly to Barack Obama who has thus far shown himself to be quite a sensible US President.
Diagnosis of Autism and Aspergers is currently running at a rate of close to 1 in 100, so chances are someone you know is affected. I always think that there is a little bit of autism in all of us, sadly we continue to misunderstand and malign because we do not take the time to understand.
In the UK we already have our own shameful Aspergers tragedy, the case of Piers Bolduc who was wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia and sent to Broadmoor for over 14 years. Don’t let them make another such mistake, please write to Barack Obama directly via the white house website (see link below) and ask him to intervene on Gary’s behalf.
For further information about Autism and Aspergers Syndrome visit the National Autistic Society website at www.nas.org.uk
If you want to understand how vulnerable someone like Gary would be in any corrective institution then go read “send in the idiots” by Kamran Nazeer.