edinburghaspergers.blogspot.com/2011/02/invitation-to-autocratically.html A link to an item on Edinburgh Lothian Asperger Society‘s blog inviting the innocent trapped ordinary members of autocratically restricted group PHAD in Fife to escape from it. As it ends: “all the innocent members in it must be able to get out without having the aspie scene lost to them, and to find refuge in the rest of the scene unintimidated and no longer obeying any of that cult regime over who they may contact. Join us, or use us as a base to bypass that controlling society and to reestablish your local scene in a form with free contact again. “
[Later insert: Phad shut down very quickly, by 2013, from having no one willing to serve on its committee any more under these Orwellian conditions. It was an object lesson in why bullying coups in groups fail: they destroy the groups they happen to, because they make nobody want to take part in them any more. Phad’s site is still up in the dormant state they left it in when the committee collapsed.
Though Phad had been a nice group in the noughties, it had always been run by one strong leader through a committee used to following like sheep. In 2009-11 it turned into a form so controlling of its members’ communications and informed state, that it compared with how cults work.]
By leadership decision the society imposed on its adult group a so-called “strict code of conduct”, the group itself having no say over its introduction, which says they are not allowed to communicate with each other, using contact info given in their contact list, for any other purpose than to arrange social meet-ups. They never do arrange meet-ups, either: how can they feel close enough to each other to do that with all their contact censored? How is such a ban enforceable, it has been asked? Data protection law, designed to fight spam and junk mail, can be misused to set conditions like this to what types of messages folks consent to receive using their data. But in that group, the trap comes from how this rule was first imposed. It was announced to be in effect without advance notice, before its contents were even declared, and before the members had any chance to make known to each other their own consents to receive other types of messages. So they can’t make that consent known to other members who have not already consented to them to have it made known to them, and who for the same reason can’t make that consent known either. So any 2 members are trapped in a vicious circle of neither being allowed to open up closer terms of contact with the other.
Members were cut off from each other, and from receiving info from outside the group by email from other members. The leader hence holds control of what they receive. This Orwellian rule was introduced openly for the purpose of preventing members discussing with each other anything going wrong with the group, without having to go through the leader. Needless to say they have no democratic blog like ELAS’s.
Consider too that in this now low attendance and socially dead group whose meeting [“last week” at time of this original post in 2011] was actually abandoned, it is clear that a large proportion of the contact list is of lapsed or ex-members, yet their ability to contact each other or the remaining members be contacted by them remains under the same restraint. They had no say over it, if they even realised it was happening. Watch out for this if you are joining or visiting any aspie groups in central/south Scotland: do they follow ELAS’s model or the other group’s?
Phad also appointed a spokesman for the ruling committee on all issues to do with the contact list and banned all contact with any other committee members about those. Are you keeping up? Layer upon layer of paranoia. No sensible thinker can feel safe in an organisation that behaves like that: like a cult, tying you up in gags on talking about what is happening to you and hogging all power to the leadership. How are we going to retrieve our fellow spectrumites entangled under these tricky controls they have never had proper opportunity to consent to? Is that the challenge to its legality that will break it?
Contact with this committee’s members about its own decisions, except the spokesman, was also banned !!! If the spokesman can imtimidate the person he is writing to, like this, then the same intimidation hangs over any committee members that step out of line. This kafkaesque tangle of bans on who may contact who and about what, grew into a monster. It allowed no way to find out whether all the committee are behind any decision or spoken for by any answer and no means for dissenters to be discovered or to advertise their own existence. In such a situation, to set out these obvious facts in public and not succumb to the undemocratic threatening into silence, was actively a duty of not defaming the committee members: any of them might not be behind the shockers hissed in their name and might be gagged and in fear.
The whole aspie scene in Scotland should be concerned with this problem, to help our own colleagues get out of that controlling trap without ending up cut off from the aspie scene unjustly.