Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lindt Logic: How the Autistic Community United with Humor in the Face of Ignorance and Dismissal

On March 10, 2015 Lindt Chocolate posted a tweet from Autism Speaks (@autismspeaks) on their US Twitter account (@Lindt_Chocolate) that they would be hosting their 6th annual Gold Bunny Celebrity auction in support of the organization. Autism Speaks has received criticism from primarily Autistic activists as well as some non-Autistic allies for its rhetoric regarding Autism and its allocation of its funds in the ten years of its existence.

(For more information on some of the reasons Autism Speaks is criticized, Boycott Autism Speaks has a list of reasons on their website: )

For the most part, Autism Speaks has been silent towards its protesters, an irony when their motto proclaims that “It's time to listen.”

One method of protesting the organization is contacting corporations who sponsor it and informing them of the actions the organization has taken. Most sponsors have taken to ignoring the boycotts entirely, but Lindt decided to take an odd turn; they technically responded to some of the protesters, but showed that they clearly were not aware of the content of their messages.

Both messages are identical, aside from the Twitter handles of the persons involved: That Lindt Chocolate “(Thanks us) for (our) perspective” and that we should “contact Autism Speaks with questions.” This demonstrates a lack of attention to the protests in question, as the people who were contacting Lindt were not asking questions about Autism Speaks itself but were either asking why Lindt supports them or explaining that because Lindt supports them that they would no longer be purchasing their products. Contacting Autism Speaks would do nothing to resolve either of those points. I myself demonstrated the audacity of shifting the responsibility to the organization being sponsored in one of my responses:

The fact that Lindt showed ignorance, willing or not, to the parties in question shows, to me at least, that they are not truly compassionate or attentive towards the autistic populace, and merely seek a mutually beneficial commercial relationship with Autism Speaks for a tax break and public relations purposes, as the organization still has a large public footprint as an organization related to autism.

This is a major problem with corporate sponsorship: Very rarely do corporations demonstrate any kind of ethical analysis when donating to charitable organizations. If the organization has a high profile and is tax-deductible, that is all that is needed for the corporation to donate to it, no matter where the money goes or the actual message the organization sends. And in the case of Autism Speaks, the organizations donating to it ignore the very voices of the people the organization claims to represent.

In reponse to Lindt's absurdity in their response to the autistic protests, I revived a tag called #LindtLogic and purposed it for humorful demonstrations of the meaning of Lindt's response.  After a while, another autistic commenter joined in.

The fact that the autistic community has rallied together in support of each other and against organizations that seek to speak for them rather than with them is an amazing phenomenon, and I hope to see it continue in the future.