We see, that the well known person, Darius McCollum, who is obsessed with trains and has a propensity to steal them has been busted yet again . McCollum has alleged that he has Asperger's syndrome. As a boy, he was obsessed by trains, particularly the New York transit system. He would hang out with the New York MTA workers who took a liking to him and showed him the ropes and ended up knowing more about the system than anyone else. But he had a compulsion to take the subway trains for joy rides and though he knew what he was doing was wrong. He has been arrested now 27 times in the last three decades, so averaging close to one arrest per year. Apparently, not being able to find a train, he took a bus for a joyride.
Personally, I am skeptical that McCollum actually has any sort of ASD. He was able to get married (though now divorced or separated) and the fact that he was able to relate to the NYC MTA employees and they took a liking to him makes his diagnosis suspect at least to me. There is no question, however, he has some very severe OCD issues. I feel, however, that his circumstances are highly relevant to the thrust of this blog, as I will point out below. when McCollum was arrested last, autism's gadfly gave his take on the matter I inquired as to whether the neurodiversity movement would actually give a shit about this person. "Jypsy" pointed out to me that there had been some effort to assist Mr. McCollum and she had personally been involved in these matters with the persons who were interested and were trying to help defray some of his legal costs. I found the relevant info online and I emailed the people who were involved to get their take. They were happy that I took an interest and told me McCollum was in North Carolina, staying at his mother's and gave me his phone number. Intrigued I called the number and a person alleging to be McCollum answered the phone and we chatted for a bit. He told me he had tried very hard to stop his compulsion and had taken various SSRI medications used to treat OCD issues but nothing had helped. He seemed resigned to the fact that this was a lifelong issue and there was nothing he could do.
His lawyers tried to use Asperger's as a legal defense without success.
I was still in correspondence with Ari Ne'eman back a couple of years ago and asked him if ASAN was planning to do anything to help McCollum and he stated that McCollum was not an issue they were pursuing.
This was before I had read Ne'eman's interesting essay where he talks about how curing autism would be morally reprehensible and he was claiming that autism should never be used as a defense against criminal behavior under any circumstance. In spite of this fact, Ne'eman later claimed that Zaqhuery Price, who assaulted some teachers in a special ed school should have the charges against him dropped.
When I pointed out these inconsistencies in my post, various members of the ND community pointed out to me because this was an 11-year-old boy and the teachers somehow were to blame because they did not accommodate his disability properly that this should be some sort of exception to Ne'eman's rule.
I wonder how they feel about McCollum, a 45-year-old man, particularly in light of the fact that he may have an ASD (assuming gadfly's skepticism is incorrect). Would Ari Ne'eman and Socrates throw the book at this guy and lock him up in a cell and throw away the key? Would they claim that curing McCollum of his compulsion would be morally reprehensible and that he should go on stealing trains, yet say that he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law? Or would ASAN and ND claim that this behavior should be accepted? Or would they claim that society had somehow failed to accommodate McCollum and that if society learned how to utilize the strengths of autistics and ended discrimination against autistics, then McCollum would not steal trains? Inquiring minds want to know.