Jared’s Corner: How NOT to do “Autism Advocacy”.
A few days ago, I posted a rant to the Autism Rants FB page. This post involves that rant, but also expands on it.
Things got WILD.
I'm a food blogger. That's how I earn my income, 100%.
I have been self-employed my entire adult - and teen - life, as I'm fairly unemployable with my particular flavour of autistic traits.
As a food blogger, I routinely have to deal with theft of my IP. It's always obnoxious, having to deal with people who feel entitled to MY work and put it off as their own.
How I Learned of Jared’s Corner
Like many food bloggers who have to deal with IP theft, I subscribe to a service that alerts me to image theft.
My work is documented by an agency, which then goes after those who steal the IP with post-use licensing invoices, and will take them to court on my behalf.
There are set licensing fees that depend on how the photo was used, the circumstances involved, etc.
Still some work on my behalf - I’m salty that I should have to waste my time because of the entitlement mentality of others - but it’s nice to be able to put the collection/legal stuff off to someone else.
Well, the other day, it was brought to my attention that Jared's CORNer - a popcorn food truck in Tulalip Washington - stole one of the images off my site - my Game Day Fruity Glazed Popcorn recipe - and use it to promote THEIR product.
I did what I’m supposed to - click through to their site to verify that it is my image, that it’s not someone I had given permission to, etc.
... and that’s when I saw all the puzzle pieces.
Dehumanization: Adding Insult to Injury
IP theft always bothers me.
IP theft by a commercial entity bothers me even more.
IP theft by a commercial entity with puzzle pieces* ALL OVER their brand, and with the following on their "about me" page:
"Jareds corner is dedicated to helping find solutions & bring awareness across the spectrum, for the needs of individuals with autism and there[sic] families. We will be doing our part by donating a percentage of our annual yearly income to autism awareness; in order to increase the understanding and acceptance of people with autism!!" ?
* Puzzle pieces are generally seen as dehumanizing by the majority of the autistic community, including by me.
I’ve previously written two pieces involving that subject, Let's Talk About the Autism Puzzle Piece, and Symbols Matter, Words Matter.
Jared’s Corner, where do you get off stealing the work of TWO autistic people - the cook AND the photographer - to use on a site that uses "autism awareness" as a branding point!?!?!?
"We recognize the need for a powerful voice & who better to do that than his parents."
No. Who better to speak for autistics, than AUTISTICS. Even the ones you STEAL FROM.
So, this instance of IP theft felt much more personal than the others.
Don’t Piss off an Autistic with a Social Media Account
Here’s the thing.
Like many autistics, I can get pretty obsessive when it comes to matters surrounding the theme of justice.
Usually, that has to do with OTHER people, not really justice for myself.
As this felt so intensely personal, I decided it needed my personal attention - beyond what the IP theft agency does.
So, I wrote my rant about the situation and shared it.
A friend pointed out that all of the photos on their site looked like they were taken by different photographers, and were likely all stolen.
... she was right. So, I started reverse image searching the other photos.
Apple Pie Bourbon Flavored Popcorn
Cinnamon Sweet & Salty Popcorn
Cinnamon Toast Popcorn
Among their photos, they had stolen from at least one other popcorn business, a few bloggers - including a woman of colour - and from a prominent, well-published pastry chef in the USA.
That last one?
Was via her food photography on Fine Cooking, a publication by Meredith Corporation. You know, one of the biggest food media companies in the world?
Smooth move, Jared’s Corner.
I alerted everyone involved, and filed my DMCA report for the removal of my image from their site.
Jared’s Corner Popcorn Truck Reviews
While this was going on, a handful of people left reviews on Jared’s Corner’s Facebook page, mentioning the fact that they stole IP from an autistic person, and were representing their products with stolen photography.
Here’s the thing: Like many marginalized groups, the theft of work by “majority” people - in this case, a white-presenting allistic man - is a major issue. (I've since been informed that he may be Indigenous.)
The entitlement mentality there tends to supersede any possible thought to the marginalized community/communities being stolen from.
Allistics stealing the work of autistics, passing it off as their own.
White people stealing the work of POC and passing it off as their own.
Men stealing the work of women and passing it off as their own.
... and all three of those happened here, when Jared Parks stole the work of several bloggers - all female, at least one autistic, and at least one black woman.
Obviously, people are going to be upset by it.
My Review of Jared’s Corner Popcorn Truck
I decided I would leave my own review, as one of those that they had stolen from:
“This business stole from me.
I am an autistic blogger, and it's deeply heartbreaking and offensive to see my work - without payment or attribution - on a site that's:
- Riddled with dehumanizing imagery. FYI, the autistic community generally tends to see puzzle pieces as hate symbols, and for good reason. I invite you to do some reading on that whole subject.
- Uses MY neurology as a marketing gimmick.
- Has also stolen the work of other bloggers, including a woman of colour.
Using autism as a sales ploy and saying your business is "powered by Autism!" while stealing the work of autistics is a hell of a look.
That said, I am open to negotiating a post-usage agreement.
Will you be paying me - and others - for what you stole?”
Jared’s Corner’s Response
Jared decided that the best thing to do would be to write up a non-apology response, throw his unnamed “web guy” under the bus for the theft, tout his “advocacy”, talk up his product...
... and invite everyone who had an issue with the fact that he *stole* IP from an autistic person to *buy* his product.
I can’t make this crap up.
He cut and pasted that review to everyone who had a problem with his theft/misrepresentation issues.
“I apologize if the images on our website are place holder images right now, when I started I had none. I do not know we’re[sic] photos came from I figured on line. Thank you for bringing to my attention I will be talking with our web guy that built the website.
Right now I’m still on the corners still building our name & raising awareness for my son but for the autistic community as a whole.
We are not built out for online sales right now, we are striving for that day and rest assured it will be of our own brand & product when we are able to turn on online orders, the site is pretty much used for information purposes about our business & dates & times.
To be honest I personally feel the product we have is an exceptional product with a killer brand & at a fair price.
Again sorry if the place holder imagery offended you & I don’t want u or anyone else to think since we as a small local rooted business are trying to pull the wool over peoples eyes on what there getting.
I encourage you & any others to come out & see for yourselves what we are about & try the product if we don’t see you stay blessed.”
.. He even pasted that as a response to MY review.
My Rebuttal to Jared Parks
I saw RED.
“Jared Parks dude.
You literally stole MY PROPERTY, and your response is to cut and paste this nonsense?
1. Take responsibility for YOUR ACTIONS, rather than passing the blame. You knew that the photos on the site were not your product. Obviously.
2. You, as an allistic, do NOT get to speak for the autistic community. You are absolutely not raising awareness for MY PEOPLE by stealing from two autistic people.
3. I don't care what your business situation is, it does not justify theft.
4. If you can take your video selfies, you can snap some cell phone photos of your actual product, rather than misrepresenting it with STOLEN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.
5. Why is what you think of your product supposed to matter to me?
6. "Sorry if the place holder imagery offended you" is a WILD thing to say to the person you stole that imagery from.
7. Yes, using stolen photography is pulling the wool over your customers' eyes.
8. Just so we're clear, you're inviting me to pay YOU for your product, as a response to you STEALING MY WORK?
9. Don't say "stay blessed" when you don't grasp "thou shalt not steal".
I’m going to get back to this in a minute, but I’ve got to go on a bit of a tangent here for a minute:
The Problem with “Autism Parents”
At this point, it was clear that they were going to dig their feet in, convinced that they had done nothing wrong.
This is actually a very common thing with “warrior parents” specifically, but also of other non-marginalized people deciding that they’re an “ally” (saviour) for a marginalized group.
No matter how much a marginalized person - in this case, multiple marginalized people - from the community that the “saviour” is purporting to help says anything about the harm the “saviour” is doing to those marginalized people, it will be ignored.
The “saviour” person knows best, after all, and is definitely a better voice for the marginalized, than the marginalized themselves.
I see this all the time in the autistic community. Parent “allies” will speak over autistics, actively harm the community, and be convinced that they’re doing what’s right / doing what’s good for us / doing it out of “love”.
You see this all the time when it comes to matters of race, as well.
White saviours that think they know better than those impacted, dictating to people of colour just what is and isn’t racism... in the eyes of that white person.
The thing is, when a marginalized person brings up the harm that an “ally” / non-community “advocate” is doing to them or the community, that “advocate” needs to shut up, listen, and change course ... not tell the harmed person that they - the “saviour” - really ARE a good ally, that they are doing “good work” for the community that they don’t even belong to, etc.
... and all of the same can be said for these "allistic saviours".
Narcisism in Allistic “Advocacy”
Non-autistic (allistic) parents of autistic kids tend to go one of two ways:
- They can be decent allies, listening to autistics, and work to build a good life for their autistic kid.
These people usually understand that listening to autistic adults and building a society that is good for autistic people, in general, is a good thing for their kid, specifically.
- They get very narcissistic about their child’s neurology, and basically adopt it as their OWN personality.
They believe that the whole world needs to revolve around them, “because” their kid is autistic.
The kid tends to be absolutely secondary here, the real focus is supposed to be on that parent, and all the inconveniences and “hardships” they face as a parent to an autistic kid.
They will have puzzle pieces everywhere, shirts identifying them as parents to autistic children (usually in ways that are utterly disgusting and dehumanizing to autistics), and they do media interviews about autism.
... speaking over actual autistic people.
Autism becomes their personal brand, and they aren’t even autistic!
Profiting off Autism
In some cases, it goes beyond being their personal brand, it literally becomes their BUSINESS brand.
Many decide that the attention from friends and support staff isn’t enough, they want to profit off their child’s neurology, and off the autistic community in general.
This, as you can imagine, generally ends up extremely toxic and damaging to the autistic community.
Autism Speaks* is a great example. It was founded by Bob and Suzanne Wright, as a result of their grandson being diagnosed as autistic.
Their org started out with a $25 million donation, and has brought in tens of millions of dollars annually, with only a small percentage of it going towards programs for autistics.
They personally benefitted - wildly - from marketing their grandson’s neurology... and they did it to the extreme detriment of the autistic community.
* Autism Speaks is generally regarded as a hate group by the autistic community. They are an incredibly toxic, eugenicist organization.
I’ve personally never heard of a “charity” more despised by the people it purports to support, than Autism Speaks. I’ve written about them before: Autism Speaks Does Not Speak For Me!
You also see it from the wildly narcissistic memoirs or documentaries that are written by “autism parents”.
Entire screeds written about how difficult their lives are, because of their autistic kid.
Some of these will vividly describe the abject child abuse that they have subjected their kid to - unapologetically - and they profit from it. That abuse tends to be used as a selling point, making news of their book go viral.
Toxic ‘autism parents’ are shameless about using OUR neurology to advance their careers and line their pocketbooks.
... and any attempt by autistic people to point out the harm that these people do is viciously fought back against.
Our fight for our own human rights and to be treated with dignity comes second to their new brand and income source.
They are now financially invested in using our neurology for their gain.
Jared’s Corner Appropriation of Autism
And here we come back to Jared’s Corner.
Had Jared and his wife - a partner in the business - been that FIRST type of parent, they would have stepped back, been horrified with their actions, and worked to make it right.
An actual apology would have been made, and they would have paid for the work they stole.
They would have even followed up on my suggestion to do some reading on why the autistic community sees the puzzle piece as hateful, and they might have even considered rebranding, to avoid harming autistics with that hateful imagery.
But nope. They’re the second type of parent.
Rather than look at the fact that they stole from one of the marginalized people they purport to be advocating for, they’ve been doubling down and taking it as a personal attack. (More on that in a minute).
This is the autism parent equivalent of white tears.
How dare we point out that they’ve harmed our community in any way! Don’t we see what good ALLIES they are?
No, they will be keeping their puzzle pieces, their “Powered by AUTISM!!!!” (Gross), and the claim that they donate to “autism awareness”.
Actually, on that note, does anyone else see red flags when a company claims to donate “a portion” of their earnings - no actual numbers - to a vague idea?
If you’re going to market yourself based on “charitable” donations, you should probably actually give the name(s) of the organization(s) being donated to.
... or is “autism awareness” just a way of saying that they’re paying themselves, as people who “raise awareness for autism”?
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO “HMMMMMM”.
Jared’s Corner Doubles Down
Rather than do what’s right, Jared and Kristie Parks (Kristie Fryberg on Facebook) immediately enlisted their family and friends to positive review-bomb their Facebook page, to try and cover up the fact that they’d stolen work from multiple people.
This involved the wife/business partner herself writing a positive review of her own business, along with at least one daughter, and several other people with Parks or Fryberg as a surname.
To add insult to injury, most of these new reviews involve very specific references to the couple’s “autism advocacy”.
Note: Before this incident, this Facebook page hadn't received any reviews in several months. This was a concerted effort to drown out those speaking up about the theft and misrepresentation.
In addition, one of their adult daughters actually laugh reacted MY review, and posted the following in response:
“for a website that doesnt sell anything what do you want a cut of nothing lmao”
Note: If you look at the earlier screenshots of the stolen images, they absolutely were selling the popcorn online. I don't get the point of lying about something that was online, the internet is forever!
... to which I replied:
“Krislyn Jo you think that people can steal and use images as long as they're not selling anything?
Professional photography is subject to licensing fees, regardless of use.
Using photos to promote a product is commercial usage, btw.”
She has since been copying and pasting that response to several other reviews, and people - including several autistic people - have been attempting to set her straight.
Jared’s Corner & Autism “Advocacy” / Awareness
Real great “autism advocacy”, Jared’s Corner.
You stole work from at least 2 Autistic People.
You refused to acknowledge or apologize, and chose to throw a supposed “Web guy” under the bus, and tout your product instead.
Rather than listening and learning, you chose to cover up, ridicule, and attack the victim of your theft.
This is not raising autism awareness.
This is predatory, disgusting behaviour from non-autistic people.
This situation is ongoing as of the time of publication, and I will be updating with anything else of import.
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