Springingtiger's Blog


Autism Awareness: Truth, honesty & Asperger’s

Not long ago I commented on the changes to privacy settings on Facebook, I suggested that if someone is sufficiently open and content with who they are, they have little reason to be concerned about what social networking sites may reveal about them. I think it is fair to say that Asperger’s tends to bring with it a truthfulness whether we want it or not. I also reflected why this directly impacts on the case of Gary Mckinnon. Here is an earlier post on the subject

Recently I reminded my wife of the problems I once caused in the ticket office of Glasgow Charing Cross Station. She suggested that honesty would be a good topic for a blog.

I had travelled back from Dumbarton but there had been no conductor on the train. On arriving in Glasgow I went to the ticket office and asked to pay. Unfortunately the clerks were unsure of what to do as the situation had never happened to them before. I have to admit now that I was not intentionally being honest but I was aware that I had not paid for my journey and sought to remedy that. I think I would have liked not to have paid, but I couldn’t not pay.

After I was sent down from University (another story) I was once arrested for reset (receiving stolen goods). An acquaintance asked me to look after a shoulder bag for him. I returned one day from teaching English to refugees to find policemen in my room. I was arrested and questioned, why did I have the bag? because I was asked to look after it. Did I know it was stolen? yes – I wish he hadn’t told me. Why didn’t I report it? it didn’t occur to me. When they asked me if I had any distinguishing marks I listed them all. Afterwards my friends couldn’t understand why I didn’t lie but I just say what’s so. The Judge admonished me as he was of the opinion I was not deliberately dishonest and warned me against the company I was keeping. Why did I look after the bag, surely I knew it would lead to trouble? Actually it never occurred to me, I do what I do and unfortunately current action is almost always disconnected from future consequence. I can logically think through a sequence of cause and effect when given time, space and the prompting to do so but generally I don’t for my own actions except in painful retrospect.

My family never tell me anything they want kept a secret because I answer questions truthfully, that’s the way I am. I can keep a secret as long as no one asks me, if they do it’s out! My wife says that one of the things she likes about me is my total inability to dissemble. I can say things that are patently untrue as long as they are ridiculous enough not to be believed. I can say things that are untrue as long as I believe them true but I am incapable of lying my way out of anything. This does not mean I am honest if I could lie on occasion I might, it could be useful to be able to.

I know a lot of people can’t understand why when confronted with allegations of hacking Gary McKinnon made no attempt to conceal what he did. Just as when he was entering US Government websites he made no attempt to conceal his activities. I think it’s because it never occurred to him he was committing a crime just as it never occurred to him to lie about his actions. If he is to get a trial before a jury of his peers the jury should consist of people with Asperger’s (or at least their families). To put him before a court of neurotypical people from a totally alien culture in a strange country will almost certainly ensure he will not get a fair trial. A fair trial in Britain would be difficult, in the USA against a government determined to make an example of someone who has roundly embarrassed them a fair trial is impossible.

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