I have a principle of not supporting organisations I believe are harmful. I vote with my feet and time. I don’t think this is an unusual position.
Autistica is one of the organisations I do not support. They took various decisions which where controversial (such as AIMS), but they then doubled down on it by directly misleading autistic people who had worked with them. I saw first hand the harm they caused.
Normally this isn’t an issue. There’s plenty of space in the world for me to focus my support elsewhere. I don’t attend or contribute to autistica events. I don’t take part in research they fund etc.
It’s not been an issue.
Until this week. Where I screwed up. I agreed to contribute to an event a few week ago without being aware that the event organiser works with autistica. I didn’t do my homework before agreeing to speak at the event. I messed up.
Once I found out, I withdrew from the event. Not an easy decision (in ~10 years or public speaking I’ve withdrawn from 2 events!) but the right decision to take based on the principles I hold.
It’s very easy to erode a principle with many small steps. The way to keep a principle is to have the hard conversations when situations go wrong and to be held to account.
I screwed up by not doing my homework. I am sorry. I have apologised to the event as it’s my fault that their plan has been disturbed. I never should have accepted the invite. In the future I will be more careful with my actions. I am changing my process to prevent this happening again.
Going through with the event was never an option once the new information came to light.
I don’t think people who work with harmful organisations are bad people. I understand there are complex power dynamics at play. My situation is much simpler.
I don’t really have much more to add. I’m writing about this because I want to be open in my failures as well as my successes.