Springingtiger's Blog

Further reflections on Gary McKinnon

t has been hard to suppress tears of joy as I have been reading the Daily Mail coverage of Teresa May’s announcement that Gary McKinnon will not be extradited to the USA. The cancelling of the bail condition that barred him from accessing the internet is almost as important.

I have said before, and I make no apology for repeating myself, that to remove internet access from someone with Asperger’s syndrome amounts to cruel and unnecessary punishment. Since his internet access was removed McKinnon has in effect been in prison, he has already served a ten year sentence! For many people with Aspergers the internet is the preferred instrument of communication and to cut us off from it is very much like gagging an average human, or removing them from human contact. Deny an average human internet access and it will make little difference to them, they will simply revert to spoken conversation. Just because someone with Aspergers is physically capable of speech does not mean they either want to use the spoken word or that they can communicate effectively by speech. It is difficult to converse with ordinary humans because they neither speak in sentences, nor order their material logically, nor even sequentially. Text based communication allows the person with Aspergers, not only the time to process the input of others (which may also involve correcting it), but also the freedom to reply at the pace they find comfortable. Spoken communication can be difficult, painful (literally) and sometimes physically impossible. Processing the content of someone’s speech can be impossible when one is also having to cope with extraneous auditory and visual stimuli. Sometimes even the proximity of other people can render speech difficult. Text based communication allows one to focus on and process one source of information, to take the internet away from many people with Aspergers is to deprive them of most their meaningful social interaction, it’s a bit like solitary confinement.

Many people with Aspergers have serious difficulty in socialising and may, as Gary McKinnon has been, avoid social interaction, or even, avoid other people altogether. To deprive these people of access to the internet is to further compound our isolation and when, as in Gary McKinnon’s case, they are also suffering from depression this is unjustifiably cruel.

Gary McKinnon has already served a ten year sentence. He has been tortured for ten years, because those in whose hands his fate lay had no comprehension of through what pain they were putting him. Should Gary McKinnon stand trial in the UK I hope the years of suffering he has already endured will be allowed to offset any formal sentence he may be given.


1 Comment so far
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Thank you! The importance of being able to process conversation in our own time in order to be comfortable socializing is hard to explain to someone without Asperger’s.

I wrote a short essay for a writing class about this exact subject–what it is like to social in person, and how I prefer/long for my virtual friendships. Titled, A Voice in a Fake World, Asperger’s on the Inside, I posted it on my blog here: http://www.aspiewriter.com/2012/09/a-voice-in-fake-world.html

It is my hope that others will understand our struggles, or at least try to see it through our eyes. Gary McKinnon, in my opinion, has suffered enough; ten years of loneliness and isolation. That is most certainly like solitary confinemnet.

Comment by Aspie Writer

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