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Autistic Rationalist Goes to DEI Training
Epistemic Status: Intersectionality Fiction
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Trainer surveys the ad-hoc corporate training room at the unexpected interruption. She’s new to the job, a youngish, overweightish, nonwhiteish, femaleish recent graduate from the Lehigh University Department of Literature and Social Justice, who was thankful to be able to find gainful employment given her lack of qualifications for most other corporate positions. Her careful strides carried her through a little over half the room, passing out worksheets from the OASIS DEI education packet, whose clear instructions state to engage each of the attending corporate stooges in a deep discussion about the relative worth of each intersectional race, sex, and gender category in an attempt to educate them on proper Rightthink according to the latest Kimberle Crenshaw blog.
“Sir I haven’t even finished passing out the exercise yet.”
“Yeah but I’m done. This was really easy.”
The Troublemaker sits in the front row, a youngish, maleish, nerdish, underweightish, glassesish employee with a plaid shirt, disheveled hair, and beltless jeans. The Trainer salivates. The perfect target. She will use him as her example just as she saw her professors do at Lehigh, hoisting him up for embarrassment and social punishment in the front of the class like the straight guy who gets called on stage to pick up the queen’s tips at the drag show. His evisceration will serve as the example to bring any other potential troublemakers in-line. She finishes passing out the worksheet.
“Here you go.” The Troublemaker turns in his paper. “I presume the ones listed without a gender are male, right?” he asks. “If any of the rest are female that will change my answer a bit.” She glances over his answers without reply. “I ranked them for you,” he offers, being as helpful as possible.
His coworkers sit silently, terrified of the way this conversation is going to go. They know in advance what they’re in for. They’ve known The Troublemaker three months so far, and speculate in quiet circles about whether he’s been diagnosed autistic or whether he’s just a giant geek.
The Trainer glances at the sheet.
The Trainer opens the dialogue. “I see you left off the most athletic one on the list. Why?” Her eyes sparkle. She’s seen this before.
“Obviously because he’s gay,” The Troublemaker replies, as if that were the purest and most logical thing to do, oblivious to the trap being laid.
“And why do you believe that? Do you believe gay people are inferior to cis heteronormative people?” The Trainer’s own training kicks in, as she starts to warm up the lingo repository, tapping her education.
“Oh god no, I like gay folks. I think I might actually be gay to be honest. But the first thing you have to do is make sure all the breeders get on the spaceship.”
Pencils drop. An overweightish whiteish man in the back coughs and holds his largeish whiteish fist up to his mouth to cover his smile. The rest of the employees knew this was going to happen. They dreaded it. “Here, I’ll annotate the worksheet for you,” offers The Troublemaker.
“That will not be necessary” responds The Trainer, clutching his answer sheet, mirroring the behavior of her collegiate educators. She’s seen this before. Whenever someone Aspergerish pushed back on the class material, her professors would invariably cut them off, shelf their questions, or prevent them from going into detail about why they didn’t exactly buy the Social Justice Topic of the day. Redirect towards the interlocutor’s subconscious racism, she tells herself.
“That’s ok I’ll just use this blank one” he says, obliviously helpful, and begins scrawling out the reasoning for his answers on a spare handout in short strokes from a red pen. He never leaves his cubicle without his red pen.
The Trainer struggles to find the thread. She can’t nail him for racism because he’s included the black candidate, the Asian candidate, and the Muslim candidate, but he’s also included the armed racist. What’s this guy thinking? Is he trying to intentionally sabotage the discussion somehow? Perhaps a different vector will yield results.
“I see you left off the disabled novelist and the Jewish man as well. Do you think this sort of ableism is appropriate to convey to the new generation of humans on this planet?”
“Obviously,” the Troublemaker replies, without apparent remorse for his shocking statement. “Done” he says, and passes his rationale sheet back to the Trainer.
Without hesitation The Troublemaker launches into his explanation.
“The first thing we obviously have to do is identify the problem. The human race is about to be extinct unless these eight people can repopulate it, and repopulation means making babies. So every woman on the list has to go, flat out. Leave no woman behind, because they’re all going to have to pretty much stay pregnant their entire lives or else the human race dies.”
The Trainer’s jaw drops. She begins flipping through the OASIS booklet to see if they anticipated this sort of behavior.
“The pregnant wife is obviously number one on the list because she’s a two-for. You get to put two humans in one seat by putting her on, and we also know she’s fertile, which is a bonus for the baby making operation. The twenty one year old woman is the next most fertile one, so she’s in the two slot. I figure the female movie star is the three slot and the native American lady is the four slot on the basis that most women who get sexually assaulted are pretty young, but if it turned out the movie star was older than the native American then I’d switch the order. Doesn’t really matter though because they both get in.”
In her entire undergraduate Lehigh career The Trainer never once heard such a stream of misogynic filth. This Troublemaker unabashedly presumes that women’s place is to make babies and doesn’t even think twice about it. She attempts to address this disgusting claim before being immediately cut off. “Are you presuming that the only contribution women can make to the mission is…”
“They can obviously help out with other stuff while they’re pregnant,” he says, excitedly moving on to his next ranking option. “The racist cop gets the five spot because he has a gun and because he’s strong. I figured since you listed ‘armed’ as if it was some kind of personality trait that he and the gun were a package deal, so I chose him next.”
The Trainer’s head spins. “You think transferring Earth’s gun violence problem to another planet is approp…”
“There might be alien monsters there to defend against, or things to hunt for food. That’s also one of the reasons you pick the militant black medical student at number six. I get that he and the cop aren’t going to get along at first, but they’ll work it out once they both realize they’re the protectors of the new tribe. If he’s militant he’s probably strong, and if he’s a med student he’s probably smart, so he’s got the best blend of genes on the whole space ship. He’s going to have to do a lot of the impregnation, and you also need a doctor to treat injuries and birth babies.”
The Trainer leans against the white board, trying to think of a good way to interrupt The Troublemaker, but her training slowly unravels. Who could possibly think that racism was that easy to solve? The Troublemaker continues.
“So the first six are all obvious and flow straight from the need to repopulate the species by the baby making operation. The final two slots are basically an exercise in picking the least worst final two options. You can’t take the gay dude because he’s not a breeder. You can’t take the old Jew because he’s not going to be as prolific a breeder as the rest. If the clergyman is Hispanic, chances are pretty good he’s Catholic, and Catholic priests aren’t breeders either so cross him off. What’s left is a novelist with a physical disability, an Asian boy about to hit puberty, and the father of the baby that’s on the ship in slot one. The Asian boy is probably only going to need a half ration of food so that’s good, and he’s got a lot of good years ahead of him. He’s also by odds got a better than average chance of having an above average IQ, which will be helpful. I mean, depending on what part of Asia he’s from that is. Accountants may not be particularly useful on the new planet, but they’re not dumb and have competency in mathematics, which is going to be more useful on a spaceship than writing. You also don’t want to break any families up if you can help it, because rebuilding the family unit on the new planet is going to be important. And the novelist is going to be a burden on the planet because of his disability.”
The Trainer stares into space, her focus dissolving, a panic attack forming in her lower belly like a spider crawling slowly up her digestive tract towards her cortex. The Troublemaker continues.
“Any other choice would be a danger to the future of the human race, really. I love this exercise. It’s really interesting because it strips all the modern social stuff away and focuses on the sorts of things necessary for a cave tribe to persist in a hostile environment prior to modern society. It’s classic Evo-Psych but sci-fi. This class is going to be way more fun than I thought.”
“Let’s take a ten minute break.”