Dear Dale Bryk,
Thanks for your comment made today responding to an entry made over a month ago about your appearance on The Colbert Report. However, I wish you had read the comment you were responding to and made any effort to deal seriously with my concerns.
This is what you wrote:
Please learn more about this issue before taking action. YOU WILL STILL BE ABLE TO BUY INCANDESCANT BULBS! The legislation in question simply requires light bulbs to be more energy efficient. Manufacturers supported these rules because they knew they could make better light bulbs, and they have already done that. Incandescent bulbs that use 25% less energy but provide exactly the same light that you currently enjoy with the old ones are already available in stores. They are more widely available in CA where the standards are already in effect, but they are beginning to show up on shelves everywhere. LEDs are another great choice and they are substantially more efficient than CFLs. But the main point is, you will not be required to use CFLs if you don't like them! This one provision will save our country $10 billion every year on our national energy bill and reduce tons of pollution from power plants. Michelle Bachmann is not right!!
You accuse me of claiming that incandescent ( a word you should really learn how spell) bulbs will be banned, but of course that is not what I wrote. I wrote that current incandescent bulbs will be banned-- and that's a fact. You also do not address any of the actual concerns that I did bring up. Here they are again, in numbered form, in case you have interest in dealing with them.
1. Lighting that meets the needs of people with autism is not currently universally available-- please send me any research you have available that indicates that the choices you list have been tested with people who have sensory problems with light
2. I am worried that lighting that meets my needs will be prohibitively expensive. Please send me any information you have that indicates that lighting that meets my sensory needs will be reasonably priced or that you or your organization have recommended any steps to lessen the financial impact on people hurt by your new lights.
3. I am worried about the impact on myself and others with sensory problems caused by lighting in public spaces. Please send me any information you have indicating that the concerns of people with sensory issues are being given any attention as public buildings change to the new standards.
When I called your organization the day after your appearance, the person I spoke to thought I must be referring to mercury in CFLs when I called to voice the concern that the NRDC was ignoring the impact of this legislation on people with autism who are caused physical pain by fluorescent lighting. I was laughed at and hung up on when I became flustered, and was later emailed some information that did not address my concerns at all. When I responded to that email with a request for information explaining how this legislation would not harm people who are hurt by harsh light, I got no response.
Ms. Bryk, I would like to believe that you are not the sort of person who goes on TV and encourages people to laugh at the concerns of the disabled without finding out anything about them first. I'd like to believe that at some point someone in your organization showed people like me anything like basic respect. So, please-- send me the research you are relying on that indicates autistic people who are sensitive to light will not be hurt by this legislation. Send me the names and contact information for the autistic people you discussed this issue with before deciding it was a joke.
Stephen Colbert has to eat his cereal and catch his bus.
It's official: I hate Autism Awareness Month! I'm used to actually being able to keep up with what's new in the world of autism and making intuitive decisions about what to share with you. I'm deluged! Deluged with celebrities wearing dumb hats and selling purses. Deluged with inanity like what city is best to live in if you're autistic.
I'm blinded by the blue light.
BIG OFFICIAL NEUROTYPICAL AUTISM is speaking so loud that they drown out the voices of the people I'm interested in right now.
I've had to go on a brief vacation to the Overlook Hotel. It's hard to navigate, but quiet and very beautiful. Fortunately, they've added internet access (entirely wireless!) so I'll be sending you updates.
If you want autism news for the next couple of days, you'll have to visit the Facebook page.
This website is haunted by special interests.
And it's Friday.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Light Bulb Ban|
Dear Mr. Colbert,
Because I've followed your career for many years, I know that you have a genuine concern for people with autism. You've shown this both by helping to raise money, as through your participation in Night of Too Many Stars, and by helping people to understand autism by hosting guests like Dr. Paul Offitt. That's why I was disappointed to see your segment last night ridiculing the concerns of people who are caused pain and irritation by fluorescent light bulbs.
Your guest last night talked about how superior new CFLS are to older ones. That may be true for neurotypical people, but people with autism report that they continue to be irritating. The cycles at which CFLs operate cause flickering which most people do not see, but can cause people with autism to feel anything from mild distraction to painful headaches. Although newly wired buildings with brand new fixtures are less likely to have this problem, in reality, most fluorescent lights still buzz in a way that can be almost as irritating.
Living with autism means living in a world which feels hostile to me in many ways. I cannot help being as bothered by sensory issues as I am. The lights in many places hurt me. After January 2012, I am afraid that lights that do not hurt me will be harder to get, more expensive, and less powerful. I worry about the effect it will have on the price of lighting my home. I worry that I will not be able to visit any of my friends for extended periods unless they promise to keep all of their lights off-- another way that I get to ruin the party. And I worry that there will be no public spaces that are not uncomfortable for me to be in. Shopping is already traumatic for me because of the light and the noise. It's going to be worse.
I cannot blithely assume that new products are going to magically appear to meet my needs, as your guest suggested. Those of us with autism are only 1% of the population, and many of us have a great deal of trouble speaking up for what we need. We already have to buy special versions of so many things-- even underwear that doesn't hurt is expensive! We need products that aren't on the market because we are such a small niche.
And we are, in case you didn't notice, still in a recession. Schools and government buildings do not have the money to upgrade entire lighting systems for the sake of 1% of the population. Businesses are going to go for the cheapest options rather than the most autism-friendly ones, and many more of us are going to be forced to work in places that cause us pain.
And maybe the savings in money and the benefits to the environment are so worthwhile to you that it's worth causing 1% of the population a lot more pain and irritation. But that cost should be included in the discussion, and it shouldn't be ridiculed. Please consider doing a segment on the legitimate concerns of people who are bothered by CFLs. I know we aren't as entertaining as vanity and Easy Bake Ovens, but we matter at least as much.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but Michelle Bachmann is right. Please contact your Representative in the House and ask him or her to support her "Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act," which will repeal legislation prohibiting the sale of current incandescent light bulbs. No one seems to be discussing the impact of this legislation on people with autism, and I am very worried about it. If you are bothered by fluorescent lights, this is really a last chance to let people know about our concerns before it's too late.
I initially thought the competing Jon Stewart/Stephn Colbert rallies were a brilliant idea. What better way to combat Glenn Beck's looniness than with a one-two punch of satire? Stewart made fun of Tea Party extremism by going to the opposite extreme, suggesting people carry signs with messages like "I disagree with you but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler." As usual, Colbert found a way to be even more extreme than Beck. Of course, I'm not able to remember any of Colbert's specific bits because, also as usual, he was more successful at being polemic than being funny.
Colbert's heart is certainly in the right place. I still admire his courage in attacking the Bush administration to their faces when the vast majority of those in the media were still kowtowing to them. I think eveything he does is motivated by a sense of morality that comes out of his (very liberal) Catholic faith As James Martin says in an article focusing on Colbert's faith, “He is preaching the gospel, but I think he is doing it in a very postmodern way.” But preaching-- although Colbert does it well-- isn't funny. And his anti-hero personna-- which is very funny indeed-- is also extremely grating. Often, if I mention something I've seen Colbert do, someone among the people I'm talking with will want to talk about much they dislike him. This seems to happen more with him than with any other entertainer I enjoy, and I think it's due in part to his extreme personna and the very didactic nature of his material.
Pushing Jon Stewart into a polar opposite of Colbert has made him equally polemic, but much, much duller. The Daily Show has been useless in the last couple of weeks. Not because there hasnt been ample material in the news to make fun of, but because the show is too focused on praising Stewart, selling their book, and touting the virtues of being sane.
Here's the thing: sanity and comedy don't mix very well. It doesn't work to try to directly from encouraging people to be fair to making fun of people. Satire is an essential part of a reasonable society, but reason and rationality are not funny. Yes, John Stewart is a powerful advocate for American sanity, but he needs the freedom to be crazy in order to be funny.
Last night's rally segment was a brilliant (but unfunny) satire of the mistakes our too-sane president has made in dealing with the willing-to-act-completely-crazy Republicans. Watch the clip (and read my thoughts about it) by clicking here.