Sunday, June 22, 2014

Remembering the Future: Hachette vs. Amazon

I ordered two shower caddies about a week ago. Shower caddies are objects in which girls carry shampoo and loofahs to scuzzy outdoor showers at camp. These can be difficult to obtain in New York in June as half of the city's kids head off to camp. As a mother of three I've developed a pretty keen sense of when to give up the physical search  for such necessary objects as these. Prior to the shower caddy purchase, I had been boycotting Amazon. This, in response to L'Affaire Hachette-Amazon. 

Why might I, a poet whose over-the-transom-manuscript Hachette imprints would never even consider--much less publish--take the side of Hachette in this dispute, especially given the fact that Amazon been very, very good to me? Amazon has granted me the luxury and liberty to purchase bedsheets, soccer cleats, floor-lamps, curtain rods and birthday decorations online, This convenience makes all the difference in the world to a writer, like me, who churns out copy/writes books while trying to feed, clothe educate, nurse and serve as personal secretary to three busy New York kids while taking care of their big house. 

Selling my books (poetry, independent small press) through Amazon has made it possible for my children's teachers, students, former students, church ladies, friends and relatives to buy my books with a click. 

But shower caddy relapse notwithstanding, I continue to engage in a tentative boycott of Amazon. 

For now. For I am ambivalent in the extreme.  

When it comes to books in print, I'm old school. I am old enough/have been writing long enough to have a stack of poems on onion skin. As teacher, I taught students to love books. I taught my children treat books like sacred objects. I was ornery and reluctant in going from typewriter to word processor, and slow to use the Kindle device I received as a gift. Once I did begin to use an electronic reader, I was quick to want to replace the portable library (comprised of all beloved novels she is reading and rereading) my 15 year-old schleps back and forth from school with a Kindle--for reasons osteological. I do most of my reading in the bathtub (Don't try that with an electronic reader.) and I am never happier than when surrounded by books. Our family has a splendid home library, and when my children were younger, I often did housework with the computer mouse in my front pocket repeating this phrase each time one of my offspring asked for it: "Read a damned book!"

I militated, on the domestic front, for the removal of television from our home when my children were young, never dreaming I'd see the day when writing on television would excel that in commercial films. But this came to pass. Episodes of The Wire and True Detective were by far more well-written than any commercially successful film released during the first runs of those television programs. Who saw that coming? Some media experts, communications nerds and futurists, I suppose, who recognized that the mode and means of making writing public has always been in flux. 

Cave painting to slab carving to papyrus to paper to computer screen. Poet Allen Ginsberg's famous advice to writers applies: "Remember the future."

Many fine poets never get paid, but I am a poet who occasionally does get paid, thanks to Amazon. That alone is not a good reason to take the side of Amazon in the current publishing conflict. 

It is, however, not nothing. 

The principles at hand at matter. Hachette, for now, appears to be the lesser of two evils.

When I broke down and ordered those shower caddies, however, I did so more out of ambivalence than weakness, because I know that that anyone who sees Amazon versus Hachette as a bout between David and Goliath doesn't understand how Hachette wound up where it is today. If Amazon is Goliath in this, Hachette is a smaller Goliath, with a smaller pebble for his sling-shot and a belly full of Davids he gobbled up about five years ago.

Still, what lover of belles lettres wants to see a corporate monolith that also sells soccer cleats and plungers become the only bookseller and publisher in the game? Not me. 

Publishing has steadily become more and more profit-driven over the past few decades. Hachette is in the fix it's in today because five years ago, together with its fellow "Big Five" publishers (which, until Random House and Penguin merged about a year ago had been a "Big Six"), Hachette hoovered up several smaller imprints. An oligopoly was formed, profit margins became everything, and a commitment to literary excellence became dispensable. 

It seems now that Hachette's Big Five chickens have come home to roost, but the truth is that those birds have have been crapping all over publishing for decades. Rupert Murdoch's/News Corp's "Big Five" Harper Collins has been jockeying to buy Simon & Schuster since 2012. If that happens, "Big Four"publishing will be left in charge of literary quality control.

There's something bizarre and absurd in taking Rupert Murdoch's side against a company that has made it possible for me, a poet, to sell an extra few hundred books, but Hachette is not (yet) News Corp and--it's complicated.

My kids tease me for having said, "Soon that book you're reading will be a chip in your head," one too many times, but that book will be a chip, in the not too distant future. The book in print is headed for extinction. Is that sad for me, whose idea of a good time is making Latin verb flashcards? Sure.  

But we can't stop the future. Nor can we deny that the book in print represents a very small part of how literature through the ages has been made and transmitted. Like (I suspect) most poets, I tend to move through my reading and writing life with an broad awareness of how literary history has been, and a focus (macabre to poetry outsiders, but common among poets) on the remote possibility of... a posthumous career. That sensibility informs my parsing of the Amazon-Hachette matter.

Poetry which I read today (in translation) to my children existed 2,500 years before Gutenberg. This truth casts a certain slant of shadow upon the notion of those vaunted (corporate) gatekeepers I keep hearing hearing about. As beautiful as books are, the typeset book made out of paper comprises a relatively small part of poetry history. 

I believe that little small press poetry collections might be the very last books standing, long after the gargantuan publishing oligopoly has breathed its last. Poetry and Torah scrolls, maybe. (the true Davids.)

Poetry isn't even a footnote in Hachette versus Amazon, but it should be. 

Poetry may not sell, but poetry is necessary. We poets have always taken the means of producing poetry books into our own hands. Poets were way early to DIY, and inveterately DIY before printing presses came into being. Poets have a long history of taking pleasure in the physically making of books. Poets have always printed their own work. Poets were journalists before journalists existed. Poets were lyricists before music could be recorded. Poets will probably be publishing books in print long after the book in print has fallen out of favor. 

We poets are the literary cockroaches of civilization.

Why doesn't poetry sell? One reason that poetry doesn't sell is that publishers don't sell it. Sure, big traditional publishers will throw in a collection by a Poet Laureate, an inaugural poet—or best of all--a safely dead canonical poet--to class up their imprints; but really, traditional publishing throw poetry, for the most part, under the bus a long time ago. 

I see this as their loss, and a symptom of the increasing anemia of the publishing field. Poets have been so long consigned to our “poetry doesn't sell” ghetto that discussions of the Hachette-Amazon conflict don't even take note of us. The best poetry writing being published to day is given to us by small, independent and university presses. The gatekeepers at Hachette don't even read the stuff. 

About 45 years ago, my father, a young NYPD cop in his 20's with four kids, no money, no agent, a GI Bill-financed/City College night school degree and a wife willing to work as his typist, proofreader, editor and secretary; sent his pretty good novel to 20 or so publishers. He never hit, but received dozens of personal rejection readers from top houses. Some of that correspondence came from editors doing second and third readings. Some even offered critiques and direction. That is “gatekeeping.” 

Not long ago, a young writer could send an entire manuscript (not a query) of a first novel to a major publisher and receive a response. Today, an emerging novelist could spend an afternoon scouring a Hachette imprint's website looking for a way to send that first novel only to find either that submission guidelines are not addressed, or that the imprint in question does not read “unsolicited” poetry or “unrepresented” (without agent) fiction. 

That's the noble gatekeeping those advocating an Amazon boycot aim to defend.

I find it hard to see Hachette subsidiaries like Disney Publications and Time Warner as high-minded “gatekeepers” under siege in the Amazon skirmish. 

Hachette finds itself scrapping today because five years ago, Hachette sat down at the table of capitalism run amok with the other four (five) families, gobbled up a bunch of smaller companies Pac-man style; threw down with earners--making sure to keep writers like Donna Tartt and Sherman Alexie in to class things up, gorged themselves, and in their gluttony let some very juicy scraps fall to the floor. Jeff Bezos saw that at least some of it was good, thus, Amazon's Create Space was born.

The Big Five divided up the the territories and commandeered a market-driven racket. Are any of them really in an ethical position to object to Amazon's pricing strategies or choice to become a publisher? Probably not. 

I'm a political progressive. In general, I don't embrace free-market arguments because a) I view greed and usury as sinful, and b) because free markets are rarely free. I don't like the idea that Amazon may be aiming to monopolize publishing, but it gives me the creeps to see a gargantuan capitalist entity (in this case, Hachette) expecting progressive-minded consumers to express righteous outrage over Amazon's daring to throw a big punch. Part of me feels as all of those Big Five Goliaths should eat their Caveat Emptor. 


Hachette does not have to sell on Amazon. Hachette can sell books elsewhere. Also, Hachette authors could organize, and walk. There are, thank Heavens, laws that constrain media monopolies. It should go without saying that those laws are good ones and should apply. On the other hand, there's also a legitimate anarchistic argument to be made in Amazon's favor; Amazon took the fate of many writers out of the hands of a corrupt oligopolistic elite, and turned the means of production over to writers. 

For now, I tend to think that a dishonest, over-stuffed, snoring guard at the gate is better than no guard at all.  

Media experts tell me that those who worry about an Amazon monopoly are are na├»ve how things work. The concern that traditional publishing could wind up edged by Amazon out may be real, but the chance of an actual Amazon monopoly ensuing as a result is unlikely. 

We have already seen a glimpse--in Apple's response--of how things might play out were Amazon to try for a monopoly. Apple, a company with obvious monopolistic tendencies and a penchant for exploitation of workers, has offered to sell Hachette books Amazon refuses to sell at a discount. Some applaud Apple's quickness to defend Hachette. Google could come next. 

What adds a degree of difficulty to choosing a side in Hachette versus Amazon is that the latter has made it easier for independent presses to distribute their work during a time of transition which has many fine writers without jobs or opportunity to publish their work. 

During the mid-to late 1980's I knew many freelance writers of non-fiction, interviews and investigative journalism who earned a few dollars a word on magazine and newspaper pieces. Then came the 90's and the internet. Magazines and newspapers shrunk and folded. Many freelance journalists and essayists left the field, and some found themselves writing for a tenth of that erstwhile going rate. 

A newspaper lover, I found this shift disheartening. But as digital journalism took hold, I saw many superb writers make the jump to digital formats. I also saw many who had survived the print bloodbath and managed to hang on to those three-bucks-a word gigs looking down on their online counterparts thinking them suckers. That's why an uncommonly bitter Salon post written by Laura Miller “Amazon is not your best friend: Why self-published authors should side with Hachette” took me by surprise. 

The writer of this piece, who published a book on Hachette six years ago, riled against "self-published" authors in a Captain Queegish piece in which she argued with curious, almost hysterical fervor that self-published authors should "side with Hachette." In the piece, she characterizes "most" self-published authors who defend Amazon as vengeful amateurs who "really, really, really hate traditional publishing, which has either rejected them or (in the case of authors who use Amazon to make their out-of-print titles available once more), let them down." I found it ironic that such an "old-school" metric might be applied in a piece that, fifteen years ago, wouldn't even have counted as a proper publishing credit on a resume or CV. 

I have been knocking around publishing and the New York writing world for four decades. I know lots of authors. I don't know a single one, whether "Big Five"published, indie published or self-published, who “hates” traditional publishing. Miller argues that "sometimes" self-published authors "in fact" actually wish to see Amazon destroy  traditional publishing:
"In fact, it sometimes seems that self-published authors hate traditional publishing far more than they love Amazon, and because they believe Amazon will destroy traditional publishing, they’re happy to cheer it on." 
There are many fantastic authors on Hachette: Donna Tartt, Alice Hoffman, Sherman Alexie--Alexie published a lot of his early work on Hanging Loose, a small independent press with a bad-ass, DIY history--But is clear that the writer of the Salon piece believes that a Hachette book deal catapults any writer who can nail one into the big leagues which is just not true. 

Does the fear that a Big Five book might not, in every case, confer "Major League" status explain the hostile tone of Miller's diatribe against self-published authors?   
"it is publishers who have engaged in 'monopolistic' practices because not everyone who wants to publish with a traditional house has succeeded in winning a contract." 
In other words, self-published authors who fail to win book deals from a traditional publishers, traumatized by rejection, develop rejection rage which leads them to embrace the false idea that traditional publishers are "monopolistic." This, according to Miller, explains their allegiance to Amazon.

Isn't it more likely that these supposed "unedited drivel" purveyors are sticking with the fella they came in with? Maybe those self-published authors side with Amazon because Amazon helped them publish and sell their work and not because they harbor a monster hate on traditional publishing.    

Has Hachette even been accused of "monopolistic" practices by anybody? "Oligopolistic?" Of course. 

The Salon writer's use of a baseball analogy to characterize the workings of publishing tells a lot: 
"It {“viable self-publishing industry} provides a minor-league system where they {publishers} can track the emergence of popular writers without having to risk any of their own resources in developing new authors’ careers. Then they can skim off the cream."
When scoop they do, “Big Five” are rarely interested in literary cream. The best example of what happens when the Big Five deigns to scoop is that which gave the world E.J. James's "unedited dreck," Fifty Shades of Grey, published by Vintage--so don't blame Hachette.
But back to the baseball metaphor. Follow the Salon writer's  baseball “logic” thread and imagine super-selling Hachette author, megachurch televangelist Joel Osteen as Mariano Rivera, and maybe the superb poet Brian Turner as some farm team scrub waiting to go “up to the show.” Disney Publications (Hachette subsidiary) might be the Yankees, Time Warner Publications (Hachette subsidiary) might be the Red Sox, and at the All-Star game we might see Paul Deen batting cleanup.

An desperate to preserve the status quo position of corporate gatekeeper permeates the Salon writer's discussion of self-published authors. It is almost as if the self-published author poses a threat to her. She is not alone in this paranoia  This very ethos is large part of what is wrong with publishing today. One comes away from Miller's discussion of "overlooked gems," and the "awful lot of unedited dreck" that has "poured forth…" leaving "More casual readers…put off," and "others" embracing the task of "separating the wheat from the chaff," feeling like something in publishing is dying.  
The model changed when people began to jump on stories and get out in front via online publication. The Max Perkins factor went the way of the over-the-transom slush pile reading and publishing across the board got sloppy. Miller advances an inaccurate theory about the self-published author's difficulty in obtaining proper book editing support, but but book editors, many of whom trained in traditional publishing, are doing well now because even mid-list Big Five authors aren't content with their degree of copy-editing muscle. Everyone uses book editors now, and the bestow them charge by the hour. Miller is wrong about them. And she is wrong, as well, to ignore that despite all their money and power, Big Five publishers release plenty of dreck too. 

Miller points out  that "...even really bad writers are convinced that they are good writers." I guess that is true, but when I read a line like that and remember that in his own day, Walt Whitman wasn't even considered a poet--when I recall that Charles Dickens was seen by many as a hack--I notice how gratuitous and mean such a statement is. 

Miller makes a valid point when regarding pricing. Authors deserve to be paid.
"Publishers have long expressed concern that Amazon’s willingness to sell e-books at a loss (that is, less than it pays for the e-books themselves) is aimed at lowering the perceived value of books in the public’s mind."
My chief reason for choosing not to buy books on Amazon--for now, for today--is that I don't want to see prices of even lousy books determined in accordance with Amazon whim. I'd rather pay more for a book on Powell's than help Amazon use price fixing to get the fiscal upper hand in this. 

Low prices, however, do not siphon "value" from books. This is important to say because our thinking about what a "successful" book has declined so much that, to some degree, we think books are good because they sell. This is a vile and godawful way to see things. 

Those sweet $1.00 paper Dover Books publications of treasured poetry introduced many who would not otherwise been able to know about or afford, say, a volume of Keats, to poetry? I bought Moby Dick for $.99 on Kindle a few months ago. Melville's novel is no less priceless because it was cheap. 
I have been waiting for poets to weigh in on the Hachette-Amazon dispute, and wondering whether our opinion even counts. 

Poet and fiction writer Sherman Alexie has done so famously, via (Hachette author) Stephen Colbert's showAlexie has a lot of cred, because he's a fine, versatile wonderful writer who has been holding his ground for a while now, in his overall resistance to the digital book revolution. He's not whining about how far his advance failed to stretch, or suggesting that Hachette made a major league author out of him. Alexie's is a voice to watch in this.  
There's another reason to be ambivalent about boycotting Amazon. It appears—and I could be mistaken--I hope to be mistaken—that some authors continue to sell through Amazon while exhorting consumers to boycott Amazon on principle. Those who do this remind me somewhat of Harry the union leader in Hugh Selby Jr.'s Last Exit to Brooklyn. Opting out of selling on Amazon may be beyond some authors' control, but shouldn't those--especially ones with books out on Hachette--be clamoring to have their books unlisted with Amazon as they urge me to go to the mall looking for storage baskets and and pillow cases?

Like many lovers of literature I have long regretted that traditional publishing is more interested in putting time and talent behind celebrity memoirs, page-turners, and kitchy non-fiction memoirs, but I can't push away the awareness that Amazon's conduct with Hachette has been thuggish. 

Amazon is wrong to strong-arm Hachette by delaying the mailing of Hachette books. Amazon is wrong to draw Hachette writers into its capitalist tug of war. Amazon should treat all its books with equivalent regard. But Hachette, and the other four families, are wrong too, wrong in having spurned literary fiction and poetry in order to play by the free-market rules. 

I know from my experience with them that there are some brilliant editorial, curatorial minds operating within the “Big Five” imprints and in the literary agencies that work with them, but too often the best and brightest of these are precluded from shepherding the highest quality work they can find into print by the same countervailing mercantilism that led Hachette to this moment. I hope that when the Amazon-Hachette dust clears, traditional publishing might expand and forsake some of their money-making rubbish for tomorrow's $.99 miracle--tomorrow's Moby Dick

I vacillate on whether to support Hachette or remain neutral but what never wavers is my support for poetry. We had Homer 2500 years before Gutenberg came along. Walt Whitman, self-published Leaves of Grass. Charles Dickens self-published “The Christmas Carol.” Like Dickens, Mark Twain made a living by talking about his books, not by selling them. Shakespeare was a DIY artist. And almost 250 years ago, Thomas Paine sold more copies of his self-published book Common Sense than some “Big Five” authors will sell in their lifetimes. 

That's how publishing was in the future.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Time For Autism Speaks To Zip It?

My son Jack, a young man with Aspergers, a "disorder" on the autism spectrum, was about 13 when Dr. Wang, a Chinese medicine practitioner he sometimes sees for treatment of anxiety and inattentiveness asked me to--as we, in our family, quoting author Mark Haddon, like to call it--"do chatting" a young father of a young child with autism.
This young dad was intelligent, charming and formal in manner. His four-year old son was boomeranging around the small waiting room. Thus, I deduced quickly that Wang was hoping a few encouraging words from me might help to put the distraught father who was contending with a fresh diagnosis of autism at ease. The young father had heard that Dr. Wang has had success with helping children on the spectrum, and he wanted to know know whether acupuncture had really helped my son. My answer? An unequivocal "yes." But, I emphasized, "It was not a cure."
The young father continued to talk about about his boy in a tone I found both desperate and loving. The boy was his firstborn son. There were cultural issues; the parents were were from a culture the man characterized as rigid and not so open as he might wish to children with disability. He asked for advice. I recommended some things--Love mostly. I emphasized that the kid would be fine if he obtained all the extra support he needed. I believe the man thought my commentary rather useless, at first.
The beautiful, timid mother of the boomeranging, non-eye-contact making boy returned from the restroom just as Jack was leaving the treatment room.
We made introductions all around. Jack extended his hand to both parents, nodding deferentially, formally, as he did, saying "Nice to meet you." A mensch. He then scrunched down to greet to the flapping, smiling little guy in an endearing (to me at least) a four-year old friendly way. The boy noticed the bigger boy and smiled.
Jack then grabbed the bathroom key from the receptionist's counter and headed for the men's.
With Jack's departure the mood changed. In an almost irascible tone, the father of the four-year old challenged me. He insisted that his son was "much worse off" than mine. I believe he was offended that I should speak in so cavalier way about his son when my own child was so obviously almost "normal."
I set the young dad straight. I told him that at age four, Jack flapped, boomeranged, perserverated, obsessed on stairs and doors and time and people's ages; that he ignored my directives and declined more often than not to provide (the much hyper-fixated upon, in my opinion) eye contact. I told young dad that along the way Jack has required therapeutic school, special programs, and paraprofessional support even within special programs.
"My son was just like that at four," I said tilting my head to the adorable little stimmer.
I could almost see the utterly palpable weight sift off of the young father as I went on about all of Jack's erstwhile oddities. It, I believe, was just what the doctor (Wang) had ordered. Wang wanted to see the father protract--which is , ironically, something people with autism sometimes find difficult--to see the kind of improvements that are truly possible.
In order to live fruitfully, safely, independently, humorously, healthfully and lovingly in the world, many people with autism need lots of help. The very good news is that a little help goes a long way.
Enjoy that iPad? Many (a disproportionate number, I suspect) of the engineers responsible for inventing and improving the much-cherished contraptions on which we so depend, are people with "Big Bang Theory" (TV reference) autism.
Like Andy Warhol's paintings? He probably had Aspergers.
How about perfectionist Glenn Gould "going ham" on the ivories as he plays The Goldberg Variations? You think that is a wonder? The experts suspect Gould had autism.
Music and nerdy science fields are lousy with these wonderful 'autismic' creatures who think our neuro-typical preoccupation with eye-contact and small talk is a crock.  Albert Einstein anyone?
But I don't like having to "go there"--by "there" I mean toward the conspicuously ingenious-- when I write about autism support because it distracts. Most people with autism are not geniuses. Most are regular people with some... I'll say "irregular" features. Just as the guy who teaches your child to do Algebra or to play piano is usually not a genius, so too is the average guy with autism, not a genius. That underneath their ticks and irksome behaviors may lurk genius is not the compelling reason for proactively embracing people with autism by providing them with what they need.
We should all support people who need extra support, whatever their neurological, physical, psychiatric or psychological challenges because it is the ethical course of action. If decency alone does not provide incentive enough, then pragmatism should. It is penny-wise and pound foolish to deny children with developmental challenges the services they need; yet school systems, insurance providers and our government do so regularly, as a matter of course. Ultimately. we all pay a penalty for our failure in this.
I'm not one to whine about how difficult it is to raise a child with autism because in many ways, my autistic son Jack has been an easy guy to rear. He's his Mama's light. He has always been sweet-natured, verbal and odd. But rearing even a so-called "high-functioning" child with autism can be (work-load-wise) like having an extra kid or two. Even very high-functioning children with autism need a lot of daily support, a host of therapies and services and high-quality education. Managing the interventions of a child with autism can be a full-time job and the costs of these interventions can be exorbitant. I (who know a thing or two about education and children) imagine taking care of one child with autism and low function can require as much time and labor as caring for ten neuro-typical kids.
My son Jack was a white, middle-class child who received most of the services he needed. I pulled him out of school twice--once for an entire semester. I taught him to read at home. I rescued him from one of the so-called gems of his (NYC public) school system wherein an incompetent principal warehoused him and other "Autism Spectrum Disorder" students for a price. I contest with medical insurance agencies regularly, and with his school districts annually in order to arrange for therapies he needs and an appropriate educational setting. It's a big job.
Jack had the benefit of excellent teaching most of the time, a superb psychotherapist, a top-flight pediatrician, and talented speech and occupational therapists. He had two involved parents and two extraordinarily devoted, intelligent, creative, smart-mouth, bad-ass sisters who made it their business to help shape Jack into the man he is today.  He also had the good fortune to grow up with loved ones who did not regard him as "diseased," or as being in any way absent from his own human experience.
Autism Speaks co-founder Suzanne Wright was correct in writing, in a November 11, 2013 Op-ed piece which appeared on the Autism Speaks website, that a "national plan is needed." Unfortunately she was wrong about almost everything else in that controversial blog piece. The tone and message of the aforementioned statement received much well-deserved criticism, and Wright alienated many in the autism community, including accomplished author John Elder Robison who is the father of a young man with autism. Robison, who also has, but does not "suffer" from autism himself, resigned from the board of Autism Speaks in response to Wright's November 11, 2013 message.
Some might argue that the choice to frame the neurological irregularity we call autism as some kind of incurable pathology might be a rhetorical means for getting the government to stand up and take notice: a case, perhaps, of the advocacy ends justifying the means. But misconceptions about autism abound, and they pose threats to us all. Comparing the autism to a scourge is both hostile and stigmatizing. With so many misconceptions and erroneous presumptions about autism in the air, we should be parsing and debunking--not heaping more half-witted notions onto the malarkey pile.
Some have suggested that Suzanne Wright was just being a zealous grandmother, feeling the pain of parents of children with autism. I don't buy it.
Autism Speaks has a history of being sloppy.
According to the advocacy group BoycottAutismSpeaks, less than 4% of proceeds goes to programs that genuinely help those who need it to live more independent, fruitful lives. IfBoycottAutismSpeaks's breakdown is accurate, way too much money is bankrolling expense accounts and first class flights for autism bloviators committed to waxing prosaic on the putative plague of that is autism.
Listen to the voices of people who have autism. They are objecting. These opinions are, for me, the opinions that count.
Meanwhile, we should stop making eye-contact with Autism Speaks.